The Forgotten Art of Simplicity

I remember a time when I hated sitting around doing nothing. My days had to be packed with things to do, places to go, people to meet or I felt like I would go crazy. And somewhere along the way I had to make peace with having too much time and too little to do. I think it happened because I left the craziness of India for the eerie quiet of an American town. Uprooted from everything familiar, I had no one to meet and not much to do as I waited for my husband to come back home from work. I slept the hot afternoons away and watched mindless TV. I imagined that my brain was slowly turning into mush. Then came motherhood with its flurry of activity. I went from super bored to super busy. My brain benefitted from the constant repetition of nursery rhymes and games.

I stayed home and took care of my kids. I did not attempt to juggle a job, kids and the home. Many thought I was incapable, dumb, just a housewife and even felt sorry for my kids who had to stay home all day with boring mama instead of getting structured instruction from a group of teachers and learning social skills which can only be taught in schools! Anyways, long story short, one day I woke up and realized doing too much is not the answer to a fulfilling life. I always had time for the kids, time to cook a delicious meal, time to chat with friends on the phone. Time to care about stuff other than deadlines, meetings, shopping, athletics and social events. Simple is how I like it and I can’t for the life of me understand why people have to do a hundred things at once and then get all stressed out. Everyone wants to squeeze as much as they can from every single minute, every single day.

Even kids have to do extracurricular activities everyday of the week so they don’t end up watching TV or playing videogames all day. My kids do stuff outside of school but I only do stuff they like and enjoy and I keep it to one or two activities. More than that and I feel like I’m spending most of my time at practices or in the car driving them to performances and games.

Around the holidays you can just feel it in the air, the hustle, the bustle, the need to get things done, to follow traditions even if you don’t feel like it. It is so much pressure to cook, decorate, buy the best gifts and entertain that many miss the joy of the season – family, togetherness, love and giving from a full heart. Most holidays started off simple but over the years we have added so many layers of fluff to it. Underneath all the fluff is the real reason to celebrate and we each have to get to the bottom of it.

Simplifying my life meant changing my career goals, working from home so I can be there when the kids get home or doing part-time jobs. My priorities made it easy for me to choose what was important for me. My husband simplified his life by avoiding commute and working from home. My friend got her mom to come help her out as she transitioned from a full-time mom to a consultant.

Simplify your life, simplify everything you do. Being is more important than doing. So be there for your loved ones this holiday season. Spend quality time with them. Say no to events you really don’t care much about but feel obliged to go to. The end of the year is a good time to review your life and see what works and what doesn’t and pruning and simplifying things so you start off the new year refreshed and happy. Let your mantra be less is more and invite peace and stillness instead of activity and busyness into your life.

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