Wrapping Your Mind around the Simple Life
The American dream has downsized. A whole generation of people, having experienced a deep recession, have learned that despite a downturn in financial markets our ability to live within our means has never been truer. While many still cling to the idea that a large home, nice car and heavy cash flow are the ingredients to a fulfilling life, an ambitious yet sensible few are careful to not overthink it. Instead, a great shift away from living large has taken course and the millennials are along for the journey.
No longer, it seems, are some people aspiring to climb the corporate chain and cling to every new piece of technology. This movement away from technology and luxury reflects a search for simple things, the things that were still around when the markets crashed and fear for the future grew. Inherent in this transition is a realization that happiness is not something you find by trying to fit in, but something you find when you self-reflect.
The human brain is great at learning lessons based on external stimuli. We’re constantly making subconscious decisions based on simple questions – How did that feel? Did I like that? Do I like that person? Do I need to protect myself from that in the future? Does that contribute well to my sense of self-worth? The problem with these decisions is that they go unnoticed, but still impact our lives greatly! Every once in a while life throws us a chance to reflect deeply. For me, it was my birthday.
One year ago, I surpassed another decade of life and as I turned to look back I wondered, what should I keep doing and what should I not? All of the sudden my daily decisions rested before me and as I sat with them, I realized, I wasn’t satisfied. I thought, rather morbidly, if I was lying on my death bed what would I want to surround myself with, to engage in, to leave with, happy.
While the deathbed question serves to overdramatize the point, the root inquiry is one of great importance - In the end, what matters? If it isn’t the new gadget, the hottest trend, or staying relevant on social media, then what is it? The further along the road to happiness I drive the more I realized one point, a point that’s been made so many times before, happiness is the road itself.
A slight shift in perspective offers a new beginning. Sticking your hand in a bucket of ice water crosses the threshold of your comfort zone, but eventually you stop feeling the cold. I’ve discovered that the same principle applies to life. When you’re used to an office filled with daily tasks that need checking off, a trip outside filled with spontaneity and the unknown opens up the perspective to a new realm of possibility. If, for a minute, we made the assumption that the bucket of ice water was where we lived, then the heat of the sun would be overwhelming. Have you ever considered the possibility that we were meant to live simply, but somehow we ended up in the ice bucket?
Change your perspective and watch the world change around you. Stop asking yourself what you need to do to fit in with everyone else or rise above your peers. Give yourself a chance to just be. You’ll soon realize that the fruits of the simple life have always been waiting for you.