Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify. – Henry David Thoreau
Personal change doesn’t happen at once. It takes patience, commitment, and personal change takes a plan.
The need to simplify
The last seven years have been difficult – perhaps the most painful stretch in my life. The death of my mother, the unexpected death of my brother, the death of Mary Beth’s parents, our daughter’s near-fatal illness, and my wife’s brain surgery have made this stretch a challenge to stay happy and optimistic.
Even though there have been many blessings, the hard stuff has left me less receptive to noticing them. After Eric died four years ago, I hit rock bottom with an anxiety disorder that left me unable to see the positive things.
With the support of Mary Beth, I was able to turn the corner and begin feeling hopeful again. The other contributor to lifting myself out of the muck was to simplify my thoughts, my attitude, and my life.
Simplifying opened my heart to letting in more of what’s important. Simplifying my life has also made a big difference in my level of happiness; in my relationships, and in my peace of mind.
30 Days to Less Worry and More Peace
The path to less worry and more peace begins with right-sizing your life. Take the next 30 days to consider what’s most important to you. Focus each day on one simple thing so you can clear out the clutter and give yourself more time for what you love and value.
When you do, you may find you have room to enjoy your life.
What to Expect
Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight. No matter your worries or struggles, by focusing on one simple thing each day will create the possibility for more peace, better relationships and a clearer understanding of what you want.
Here are some simple things from my list. Each one has contributed to my healing. But to be clear, I didn’t just do these things for 30 days, I repeat them often so I can be stronger when the next blow strikes.
Day 1: Remember You’re Not Perfect
You are human – beautifully and imperfectly human. Grant yourself forgiveness for the mistakes you’ve made. Let them go.
Day 2: Create a Blessings List
It can difficult to see what’s good when the bad is happening. Be prepared my making a blessings list. Post the list in a spot where you can read it every day.
Day 3: Treat Everyone with Respect
Treat whomever you meet today as the most important person on earth. Give her respect. Show him kindness. When you do, the gift is returned in amazing ways.
Day 4: Dare to Dream
Open your mind. Free your imagination. Pursue your heart’s desire. And then brush off your dreams and allow them to see the light of day.
Day 5: Be Intentional
Take an honest inventory of what’s in your life. Ask yourself if you need all of the things that occupy your attention. Do things like technology or possessions add value or keep you from focusing on what’s important.
Day 6: Notice Your Spending
Track how much money you spend today. Is it responsible spending or is it mindless spending? Treat yourself now and then and hold to a thoughtful budget that will sustain you when the need occurs.
Day 7: Organize Your Email
Clean up your Inbox by deleting old emails, creating new folders for better organization and unsubscribing from newsletters you no longer read. Keeping your email under control will give you more time to enjoy your non-digital life.
Day 8: Be Present in the Moment
Give this moment your attention – and affection. Enjoy it and savor the gift of right now. Avoid the urge to multitask and embrace the art of single-tasking. One thing at a time, one moment at a time.
Day 9: Simply Your Goals
Write down your three most important goals and then make the commitment to focus 80% of your time on accomplishing them. Use the other 20% to manage the distractions as they arise.
Day 10: Ask for Help
You are not alone. Delegate complicated tasks and ask for help when you need it. Put pride aside and welcome the kindness of others.
Day 11: Do what’s Important First
Before your day is turned over to what’s urgent, focus on doing what’s important first. When the important things are cleared out of the way, you will have more energy to deal with the unexpected.
Day 12: Say No
It’s okay to say, “No” to trivial or unimportant tasks. Cut down on commitments that fill your time with too much busyness and not enough satisfaction.
Day 13: Nurture Your Strengths
Spend today acknowledging what you do well and then give these things care and attention so you can make them stronger for your benefit and for the benefit of others.
Day 14: Love Yourself
Love what you’ve accomplished, how you look and the way you think. Love everything about yourself today and then hold onto this feeling on the days when the self-doubt tries to sneak back in.
Day 15: Enjoy Your Perfect Day
Maybe it’s enjoying a delicious breakfast followed by reading a book, working on a project or visiting a friend. Give yourself this day and the simple pleasures that fill you with happiness.
Day 16: Do Nothing
Challenge yourself to do nothing. Stare into space and be comfortable with the stillness. Rather than glancing at Facebook during a free moment, glance out a window and clear your mind by taking in the quiet.
Day 17: Give Yourself Time
Budget extra time between commitments today. Don’t schedule back-to-back-to-back things to do. Use this time to reflect on what you have just accomplished and be intentional with what you need to do next.
Day 18: Be Grateful
Show gratitude for every gift in your life – whether you like the gift of not. Be grateful for your family’s love, for the job that provides the means necessary and for having another day to feel the sun warm your face.
Day 19: Change and Let Go
Be willing to let go of what’s no longer working for you. Truthfully acknowledge what needs to change so you can begin healing from what happened in the past.
Day 20: Become an Early Riser
Set your alarm to wake you 15 minutes sooner today. Use the early-morning quiet to savor your coffee a little longer, witness the sun peak over the trees or simply enjoy the peace.
Day 21: Eat Better
Plan your meals today with a focus on simple nutrition and your health. When you put care into your meal choices you are showing care for yourself.
Day 22: Ignore the Drama
When the office politics reach a crescendo, ignore them. Step away from the urge to be entertained by the mindless drama and step into the desire to experience calm.
Day 23: Purge One Room
Select a room in your home and tackle it with inspired gusto. Toss what’s no longer needed, create a place for everything, and take delight in the newly created simplified space.
Day 24: Do what You Love
Do what fills you up and stirs your soul. Paint, write, or build what’s on your heart.
Day 25: Slow Down
Take one thing you do and slow it down today. Maybe it’s your drive to work or preparing a meal. Savor what’s happening around you, and in you, during your daily commute or the dicing of the tomatoes.
Day 26: Increase Your Heart Rate
Take a brisk 30-minute walk or jog to get your heart beating a little faster. Increasing your heart rate improves your fitness and your ability to handle what life may throw at you next.
Day 27: Be Calm
Practice calmness. If stress strikes today, challenge yourself to find a calm state. Monitoring your breathing, meditation or prayer can help restore calmness
Day 28: Enjoy the Simple Pleasures
Delight in the sounds of your children playing, indulge in the chocolatey goodness or cherish your partner’s sweet kiss. Enjoy each simple pleasure all the way down to your soul.
Day 29: Cherish the Company of Others
Hang out with friends or plan a family movie night. Enjoy each precious second and let their love, laughter and companionship shower you with the simple comfort.
Day 30: Keep Learning to Simplify
Simplifying isn’t an end state – it’s a living state. Make the commitment to keep learning how to simplify so you can continue turning the chaos into a beautiful chorus.