pexels-photo-320007_live simply

How to simplify your life

Going back to a simpler life is not a step backward – Yvon Chouinard

Whether it’s work, personal commitments, or things you think you need to do (or all of the above!), you may really wish you could simplify—but that looks a little bit different for everyone. And how to make it happen is a whole other challenge.

TDS recently brought in an expert to speak with us about living simply. That session was so popular and helpful, we thought you’d like to hear about it too.

What does it mean to live simply?

For some, it may mean more time with family, for others it may mean decluttering your home.

“If you want to live simply, the first thing you need to do is identify four or five items or activities that are important to you,” says Emily Sandalow, the training consultant who spoke with us.

It might be helpful to actually write down the activities you think are important. For some, family, travel, work, pets, health and exercise are most important. Then, place a value on each. Value could range from these “individuals make me happy” and “the time spent doing these activities brings me pleasure” to,” these activities add excitement to my life.”

Then the question becomes whether you spend enough time with the activities you enjoy the most. If not, what gets in the way?

At our recent session, time, money and fatigue were some of the answers. Emily added that consumerism also prevents us from doing the things we value.

“Advertising gets us to think that we need to acquire things to obtain acceptance, love and power,” she said. For some, chasing that purchase or shopping leads to a “high.” For others, buying too much “stuff” leads to clutter and distraction while, for others, Emily said, it can mean financial distress.

Digital world

Our digital culture has also added another layer of busyness to our life.

“With our smartphones, the world is at our fingertips, but this can be overloading,” she said. We now have access to a lot of information, but it’s not enhancing our critical thinking skills. “Too many choices can lead to less satisfaction.”

And, while some use social media as a way to connect with others, others may use it as a way to compare their lives with others. Recent studies, Emily said, have shown that these comparisons lead to anxiety and depression. Finally, social media has also left us feeling that if we aren’t doing “it” (whatever “it” may be in that moment), we are missing out on something.

Emily suggests giving up Facebook or other social media for a week or two and see how your life is without it.

Regarding your phone, she suggested that if you find you are spending more time on your phone than talking to “real people face-to-face” it might not be a good thing. You may be using your phone to avoid talking with others or to avoid being bored. It could be time, she said, to try a technology-free weekend. You might also consider setting aside time each day to not use your phone.

Moving forward—simply

With the list of activities you enjoy the most in your hand, Emily suggests clearing away all of the non-essentials, identifying the needs versus wants, and then focusing on your priorities.

She said, “Instead of trying to live up to a standard that someone else sets for us, you live the life from the goals that make you happy.”

One final tip: Emily suggests people should be mindful of the day’s simple pleasures. Listen to the sounds of birds chirping, watch the sun set, enjoy a cup of coffee or the quiet of the morning. According to Emily, “There’s always something that brings comfort and joy.”

About Cheryl McCollum

Cheryl McCollum is an Associate Manager of Public Relations at TDS Telecom. She has 25 years of media experience. She’s worked as a newspaper reporter in Northfield, Minn., and Beaver Dam, Wi. She worked in media relations and advocacy for the Wisconsin Medical Society and the Wisconsin Bankers Association. She also worked in communications and advocacy for Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. She has a Journalism and Political Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She’s married, has two adult children and enjoys traveling, especially to U.S. state capitols.

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