Little Lessons in Simplicity


Relationships with a dear person are on the verge of rupture, things are falling out of an overflowing closet, a dozen strangers are knocking on “friends” on social networks, there is no free space on the to-do list … information, it’s time to bring simplicity and clarity to life, conduct an audit and get rid of all unnecessary.

Making your own life a little easier does not mean letting everything go by itself, showing carelessness and frivolity. It means freeing up personal space, external and internal, in order to finally fill it with what is really dear, to focus on your needs, goals and values. Such restoration of order allows you to get out of a passive state and take responsibility for life.

A few tips on how to gain power over things, feelings, relationships.

1. Use “autopilot”

It would seem that the more conscious actions we make, the better. But this is not the case. The need to deliberately manage each step causes decision fatigue. This term was coined by psychologist Roy Baumeister of the University of Florida. If the energy that we spend on planning actions is running out, the brain tries in every way to avoid making new decisions. This leads to dodging, overwork, and illness.

The way out is to turn most of everyday affairs into a routine, says the artist and blogger Jana Frank, author of the book “Muse and the Monster. How to organize creative work ”(Mann, Ivanov and Ferber, 2017). Everything that is familiar to us, we do without the participation of emotions and with a minimum waste of energy. Don’t decide whether to exercise in the morning and shop on Saturday, just do it. The more daily habits you develop, the more you get done and the less stress you will experience. And for the task to become routine, you need to do it regularly, at about the same time. In twenty days she will switch to autopilot, freeing up the strength for creativity, communication, love.

2. Challenge your irrational beliefs

Unhealthy, destructive emotions often prevent us from living – they kind of blind us, deprive us of control over the situation and the ability to follow our goals. “What to do? Find out what irrational beliefs caused this emotion, change them to rational ones and only then act, ”explains the cognitive psychotherapist Dmitry Frolov. One of these beliefs is demanding expectations for oneself, others and the world (“people should always like me because I want to”). To challenge it means to understand that neither ourselves, nor other people, nor the world are obliged to conform to our desires. But we can try to influence all this so that desires become reality.

There are many complex phenomena in the world, but hardly anything can be called truly unbearable

Another belief is the devaluation or idealization of oneself and others (“I’m a loser if I don’t like it” or “I’m a tough guy if I like it”). To challenge it means to understand that everyone has advantages and disadvantages, the scale of which is subjective and relative. To challenge the third belief, “catastrophization” (the perception of trouble as a universal horror), will help remind that truly terrible events are rare and we have ways to deal with them.

Finally, challenging the intolerance of frustration – treating complex things as unbearably difficult – we arrive at the idea that there are many complex phenomena in the world, but that hardly anything can be called truly unbearable. As a result of this work, we will become more likely to experience healthy emotions, get more pleasure from life and cope with difficulties more easily.

Little Lessons in Simplicity

3. Get rid of trash regularly

Clothes, dishes, souvenirs, old medicines imperceptibly accumulate in closets and on shelves, cluttering up the space and disturbing the peace of mind. “Keep only what brings joy in the house,” urges Mari Kondo, author of the KonMari Method and the book Magical Cleaning (E, 2015). How? Remove all things from the shelves, hold each in your hands. Listen for warm feelings. If this thing makes you happy, leave it. The one you decide to get rid of, thank for the good service.

Objects that are dear as a memory of past events are sometimes the main source of confusion. Kondo suggests spending some time with the thing that is valuable to us, photographing it and coming to terms with the fact that it no longer belongs to today’s life.

Having thrown away all unnecessary things, you can start cleaning. “When you are cleaning, you quite clearly understand what you need in life and what you don’t need, what is worth doing and what is not,” she concludes. “And get rid of the secondary for the sake of the main.”

4. Return to the present

Why does this simplify things? “Because only from the current moment we are able to influence real life and build healthy relationships,” coach Natalia Mozhanova answers. Sometimes, communicating with a person, we experience feelings for him incomparably stronger than the situation that allegedly caused them.

Do a simple exercise. Write on a piece of paper the name of this person and the feelings that you have for him. Remember who he reminds you of, preferably someone from childhood. Think about how both of these people are similar: appearance, age, movements, actions, character traits – write down from 5 to 10 points.

It is important to separate the interlocutor from the “image of the past” and to realize that we are facing another person now

“Due to the similarity, you seemed to ‘put’ the image of one person on another and transferred those feelings to him, – the expert explains. – To return to reality, think about how these people are different. While it is not easy, focus on the differences as much as possible and write down 5-10 points. “

The exercise helps to separate the interlocutor from the “image of the past” and to realize that the one with whom we are meeting now is a different person. This reduces tension and allows for effective communication.

5. Become an “arch”

“If we want to unload our life, we need to load it with something fantastically useful,” says speech therapist Svetlana Shtukareva. – In ancient times, in order for the arch to stand firmly, a load was placed on top of it. But cargo is not synonymous with trash. This is the goal that will be realized, this is the demand of the moment to which we give life a meaningful response. ” The simplest thing that can be done to strengthen the “arch” is to look around carefully: what exactly at the moment requires us to the greatest extent? These can be very simple things, but necessary at the moment – to ask for forgiveness, bake a cake, change a diaper for a sick person, look at the sky …

“If you do not respond, then the opportunity to fulfill the demand of the moment will die,” the expert explains. “The immortality of something important depends on us, be it a word or a deed, – we can bestow life on something by realizing it in space”. We need such challenges to meaning, they do not complicate life, but, on the contrary, fill the “existential vacuum” (the expression of Viktor Frankl) with what is really dear to us.

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