22 August 2009

There IS growth in simplifying your life.

I recently shared on my feed an article about an article about the myths of simplyfing your life. If I agreed, I wouldn't have much to write, but fortunately, I do not.

First, simplifying and going zen are two different things. Here goes the article:

The objective (if it can be said to have an objective) of zen is not happiness, but to be free from desires. When one is free from desires, he is content with the situation or the here-and-now. When you accept everything as it is, there is no need to have or pursue anything (including possessions, responsibilities, or desires) and one can simplify. There is no change and thus there is no personal growth.

So maybe there is not much growth in zen. But you don't have to be zen in its strict sense to simplyfy your life. Simplifying is to me about getting rid of distractions, of unnecessary things, not all things possible.

The problem with zen is that it's trying to eliminate all the emotions, desires, etc, good and bad. It's not living life to the fullest, but rather the opposite. It's about not accepting the price of unpleasure for getting pleasure. It's sacrificing the good stuff not to have to deal with the bad. I'm not trying to make it sound bad, it's all a mattern of an ethically neutral personal choice, it's just that for me, the more intense way of life is more appealling.

On the other hand, I love simplifying. I love growth, and these two go really well together. Here's why.

1. Simplifying is a goal. Reaching your goal is growth.

It works for any goal. I remember once seeing classmates reading a magazine about fishing and my first thought: what could be more boring than fishing? But to these guys, it was something big. Goals are very subjective: even the smallest goal can be great for someone (remember learing to walk? not so much impressing anymore, is it?) and even the biggest goal can be discredited: what's the point of you speaking 12 languages if I can never talk to you when I need to? My point is proved already.

Okay, but growth for the sake of growth... there must be something more. Well, there is.

2. Letting unimportant stuff go is growth.

Simplifying to me was, among others, shopping less. I had periond of time in my teens when I would enter almist any shop I passed by, always looking for new clothes and make-up - mostly tops and lipstick. Now I'm trying to make a better use of the things I already have and the time as well. Letting it go was more of a natural process than an achievement, but here is growth.

3. Letting small things go leaves more room for the big ones.

The day you realize something is not worth caring that much (my lipsticks don't really define me as a person, do they?), you also realize what is more important. On one hand, the inequality between people and make-up products is obvious, but when you get upset because these great shoes one sale were sold out in your size and you discard the birthday wishes from your friends, you could use a little reminding. We all do at times, and when we get it, that's what I call growth. (I won't even mention where the saved time and energy can go.)

4. Simplyfing makes you happier.

Okay, happiness isn't really growth, but it helps. Here are the most appeling examples to me: having less stuff so there is less to clean and organize, bulk cooking so you spend less time in the kitchen (cooking feels to me like something I have to do and it gets me frustrated easily), unsubsrcibing the old newsletters so you don't have to delete those e-mails anymore and can find the time to write one to an old friend, finally configuring that program right to free yourself from the repetitive task, working out at home or outside so you don't have to budget, pack and plan for the gym and other similar little things.

Just remember: everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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