Do you ever feel like you’re being pulled in 20 different directions at once?
Like there’s always so much to do, and so little time to do it in?
As if no matter how hard you work, you’ll never be finished?
Like you forget what it feels like to just stop and b r e a t h e?
I know how that feels. I’ve been realizing lately that my life is overly complicated. That is confounded by the fact that I am an incessant worrier, an over-planner, and an extremely intuitive possibility-seeker. I take on much more than I can handle, have a hard time giving up on things in case something might happen down the road where I need it, get easily overwhelmed by work, and do a horrible job managing time well.
And on top of that, I live in a culture which is dictated by time-wasting, mind-rotting distractions.
We, as a culture, are better off than any other time period. We have internet, electricity, good health care, stable government, more food than we can handle–in fact, our biggest problems health-wise are that we often have too much of something, not that we are deprived of anything.
So, in this world that I live in, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed.
Over and over again in the Bible God tells us to be quiet and listen. To be still, and know that He is God. And I have a hard time with that. I have a very hard time being still. Not doing anything, but just sitting in his presence. And I feel that we, as a Christian community, severely lack that.
So I’m issuing myself a simplicity challenge.
I am going to systematically purge my life of excess things, emotional baggage, time commitments, messed-up priorities, and the like, so that my life is back to the basics. Back to what I need rather than what I might need. I’m going to try and get back to finding joy in simplicity and the little moments, like taking walks, or writing in my journal
And I’m inviting you to join me.
Here’s my philosophy:
We, as humans, are created with five basic categories: health, spirituality, relations, creativity, and self-actualization. The reason we become disillusioned with life, faith, and each other is that we stray outside of these five basic categories and add others, like opinions of others, media, etc. This doesn’t mean that I think these things are wrong, I just think they need to be kept as sub-categories rather than become a major part of our life.
Let me explain.
Currently, when I want to relax, I generally turn on Netflix. It’s sad, I know.
We were not created to sit around for 16 hours out of a day. We simply weren’t. We, as humans, are still animals, and were created to be active.
I personally find that after I’ve gone for a run, or completed a crazy workout, I feel so relaxed, so calmed, and so free. Endorphins really are God’s gift to us–our body’s natural drug. So why not take full advantage of it? God created us with these amazing bodies that can do such cool things–so I’m going to try and push myself to my limits more and more, and see how far I can get.
I have a hard time living in the moment. I like to plan for the future, and know what’s going to happen. But when I run, or when I’m doing anything active, I’m able to just focus on the here and now, and that is such a therapeutic experience. It’s honestly the best way to relax or release anger in a healthy, helpful way.
Besides, at the end of the day, which are you going to regret–spending that hour and going for a run outside, or spending that hour and watching re-runs of an old TV show?
Often I find that we use the internet and various other media inputs to fill a gap that’s been created by our lack of actual communication.
I’m a bit of a text-addict. I’m constantly having a conversation with someone, but the problem with texting or IMing is that it isn’t real conversation. You never really get to know the person–you just learn facts about them. A person is so much more than just which school they go to, who they like, what their favourite movies are–a person is how their voice changes when they’re telling a story, what makes them laugh, how patient they are, what they like to do in their free time, who they are when no one’s watching. None of that you can truly experience over texting.
I’m not saying that all conversations have to be face-to-face. But what I am saying is that I’m going to make more of a conscious effort to engage in more meaningful conversation. More phone calls, coffee dates, and even writing letters to old friends and family members. There is something about real communication that brings a sense of security and intimacy that just chatting never can.
God created us in His image. And God is the ultimate creator, so wouldn’t it make sense that we would have this innate desire and need to show our creative side? I’m not saying everyone needs to go buy a watercolour set, but there are so many ways to be creative.
We are losing our creativity. I think one of the major tradeoffs we make when we become consumed by media is that we lose our own creative drive. We’re constantly stimulated, and so we have no reason to try and entertain ourselves anymore. We stop writing, drawing, painting, etc., because we don’t have enough time to just sit down, turn everything else in our life off, and create.
Personally, my creative outlet is writing. I journal about everything. I write prayers, rants, praise, simple accounts of the day–anything that I feel like I need to work through or say. But until recently I have stopped. I went from spending about 30 minutes a day writing to absolutely nothing for two years. So I’m going to try and get back into that, and see how it helps with my relationships, self-awareness, and overall quality of mood.
There’s something so encouraging at looking back on the day and being able to actually see some result. Even if it’s just a 4-page journal entry, a sketch in a notebook, or a random sewing project half-completed. We have an innate desire and need to create, so let’s find it again!
There’s a branch of psychology called humanism which pretty much states that the difference between humans and the rest of animals is that we have the possibility and innate need for self-actualization. We need to see that we are improving, as people, and that each of us are becoming the best “us” we can be.
Disillusionment comes when we feel as though we are achieving nothing–like we’re the same as we’ve always been. We see no results, we feel like there’s no hope. And a lot of the time we don’t see the results because we’re wasting so much time on other things.
So I’m going to get back to the heart of the matter. I’m going to study because I want good grades and love to learn. I’m going to practice guitar because it’s something I am good at and can improve in. And I will measure my results and mark my progress.
This is the most important. We are created to worship. We were created to love and serve God, and without that, what else do we have?
So let’s stop focusing on being distracted, and let’s stop turning to things like food and media for instant gratification, and start focusing on Him who sustains, Him who provides, and Him who fulfills.
Care to join me?