When I ask millennials ‘What would be a successful life for you? the responses range from being wealthy, being a top executive in their company, being famous and known, to setting up their own business, travelling the world and so on. However, when I ask ‘What is it that gives you lasting happiness?’ I get very different responses: ‘Making my mom happy, helping people in need, being in love, being understood and valued, providing for my family, enjoying quality time with friends’. It all boils down to devouring the simple joys of life and having fulfilling relationships.
Initially, I found it rather odd to see people have such different paths to success and happiness. Shouldn’t success make you happy? And isn’t being happy, being successful? However, as I continued digging deeper with those powerful questions, I realized that our definition of success is largely shaped (read distorted) by the society. You are only successful if you are rich, popular, at the top end of the corporate ladder with a huge mansion and a Ferrari, taking at least four margarita-soaked vacations every year. If you come to think of it, in the quest of worldly pleasures, our lives have become so complicated and cluttered, that we seem to have forgotten the basics.
The other day as I was working at a café, I could overhear a bunch of twenty somethings sitting on the next table discussing how tough the work environment is, how people have become so impatient and unreasonable. How bosses don’t trust you with deadlines and keep following up every day. They were trying to call the waiter but as it was a busy time, it took a while for their waiter and food to come. As they went on with their rambling, the waiter finally came with their food. One of them burst out and complained about the delay, in a rather rude way. He even went on to say the service is pathetic and he will never come here again. The waiter apologized profusely and called the manager who did the same.
With no intention to judge anyone, I was just appalled at the sheer dichotomy of words and actions, whereby they were whining and complaining about their work environment for those exact same behaviors of impatience and intolerance, which they were guilty of themselves, in another work environment, without even realizing it.
We have to be the change we wish to see in others. It does not work any other way.
If we want to live a simpler, happier life, we need to go back to basics and rekindle the values of empathy, tolerance, compassion, trust and love in ourselves.
Where do we start? For me, back to basics is a journey of simplification to a fulfilling, soulful life. I firmly believe that deep down we are all good human beings who are born and raised with good morals and values. As we grow up and let life happen to us, with all its issues and challenges, we get to a point where our core essence is suppressed and overshadowed. All we need is to de-clutter our lives from these complications and superficialities to reconnect with our core.
Easier said than done? Sure, here are my top 7 tips to simplify your life:
- Reconnect with your core and align your choices to it.
Know who you are and what is important to you. Step back to (re) discover your essence: the values and beliefs you hold dear and the strengths that you possess. Once this is done, align every choice and decision in your life to it. From daily activities to major decisions. Upon doing this exercise, I realized how important having ‘FUN’ is for me. Since we only have so many hours in a day, now I ensure that I do not waste time being bored to death in activities or with people that do not interest me.
- Free up your time to free up your mind
Slow down! What about that awesome to-do list of yours with a million and one tasks? Slash it down by half, yes that’s correct! Go through it again and think about every task on the list, do you really want to do it? Is it necessary? Can it wait until tomorrow? Have a want-to list instead of a to-do list.
There is compelling evidence that we get more done when we slow down. Don’t fall for multi-tasking, it is an illusion of productivity. Slowing down frees up our mind and allows for more creative and intuitive thinking. It makes us better listeners as we are present in the moment.
- Recover from ‘perfection-vitus’
Stop sweating the small stuff. Nothing in life is perfect and in your quest for perfectionism, you spend way too much time on things that could have followed the famous 80-20 rule. I’m the biggest culprit of being a perfectionist. Couple that with being highly results oriented and you get someone who will passionately work day and night to get the job done, almost perfectly, while hardly being able to enjoy the creative process.
- Spend 2 hours everyday ‘gadget-free’.
Ditch the screen! With all your hi-tech devices and tools, you are still working longer and harder. Wouldn’t hurt anyone to let go of them just for 2 hours a day. Without the usual overstimulation, you will realize how long those two hours of the day were and thank me for many important things you got done.
- Do not trade your life for money
Adopt minimalism as a lifestyle. Ok, I hear you, you don’t have to strip life down to its bare bones. Instead, after having the clarity of your core values, needs and wants, you need to take stock of all the material inventory you possess and assess whether you really have more than needed. Less is more. Investing in life’s experiences with people close to us brings the most joy overtime. Life is all about memories.
- Delete negativity from your life: thoughts, emotions and people.
Walk away from haters! Negative thoughts, emotions and people drain you by sucking all your energy. Negativity is contagious and toxic, it spreads like a virus, feeding off one another’s fears and anxieties. How to deal with it? See the tip below, the best saved for the last.
- Practice Gratitude and give back
Allow yourself to recognize all you have. Gratitude takes practice. In our fast paced lives, it is not something that will come naturally to us everyday. Make room for it by reflecting and counting your blessings. You could write post-its in the morning and put them on your fridge as reminders, or mark your calendar with all the things you are thankful for. Before you sleep, replay the movie of your day or week and watch it with the eyes of an unprivileged outsider (always works). Take a quiet, solitary walk and appreciate all the goodness of nature around you. Say your prayers and connect with your spiritual self. Once you learn this art, you would automatically want to give back and share what you have with others.
Want to take this ‘back to basics’ philosophy to your workplace? Want to increase your productivity by simplifying your work schedule? Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free session or visit www.directiondose.com to find out how I can help you.