In praise of simplification

Today was not a very good day. Or rather, it was a good and productive day, I just didn’t make it to work. Being “confined” at home meant I had some time to take care of things, and then read all those posts, websites, articles that I have been saving over the past weeks. And I came to the realisation that there is just too much clutter around.

Needing to have things in order, easily accessible, and as simple as possible is a must since I have been diagnosed with MS. It helps keep my sanity and my life in check. I have always favoured simplicity, it’s just that over the past decade it became more important.

Now, I know you will tell me something along the lines of “but I thrive in chaos,” or “I live in organised chaos,” or even “I am an efficient multi-tasker.” I used to think that way, but I found that simplifying life makes for a better and less stressful life.

I could sit here and advocate shaving off the excess in your life, even supporting a specific number of items that you are to keep in your closet, or books, or furniture. That is not what I am going to do though. Although I do believe in reducing clutter, and I do it myself every chance I get, that is not what I will do. Instead, I will approach this from a sort-of philosophical standpoint.

Picture this. You live in a place with minimal furniture, everything tidy and in order. Yet, you still feel stressed as hell. Because everything in your life is so haphazard. You try and catch up with all pop-culture developments, read all the latest news, be aware of what everyone posts on social media, work a high powered job, meet with all your friends. But you can not do everything. As I like to say, there is only 24 hours in a day, and its insane to try to do everything as fast as possible so that you can do everything in that time.

And here is the philosophical question. What would happen if you took a break from all that. If you decided to slow down and not do everything all at once? If you take the time to cook, paint, play with your kids, take the long route to your destination?

As I found out the world would continue to revolve around its axis. You would be calmer. You would be happier. Because there is some power that will let you know what is the “natural” pace you should be moving at. And you would actually realise how much of the world you were actually missing by hurrying all the time. As Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around for a while, you could miss it.”

I know this goes contrary to all modern day mantras, that advocate constant business. To the point where it has become a badge of honour to be busy, to be constantly on a phone, to be typing away. Feeling that slowing down makes you unproductive. I get it, it gives us the sense that what we are doing is important.

But why do we need this validation? What we are doing is still important, whether it is high profile, whether other people see it or not, or if it does not has some tangible result that can be enumerated (let’s not forget that unfortunately we live in a quantitative and not a qualitative society).

The issue here is (oh God, my family is going to have a blast that I just used that phrase) that slowing down does not make you any less productive or important. It gives you focus, and that focus might actually help complete tasks in a shorter time. More efficiently. More effectively. More accurately. And at the end of the day, with more satisfaction and, as I found, happiness.

So, take a moment. Look around. Smell the flowers. Feel the rain. You might actually like it better that way.

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