Step out of the rat race and enjoy life. How can we achieve a less stressful life with an over-scheduled family that has too much to do and never enough time to do it? Work, school, and social commitments have us racing from event to event, seldom with the time to savor the wonder of the good life God has given us. Less is more!
Have you ever contemplated how calm and peaceful people are when they have very little to “clutter” their lives? In our motivation to be active, be involved, and acquire goods we often find ourselves to be exhausted, stressed, and never satisfied. Give some thought to how you might re-prioritize what goes on the calendar, how you could reduce your possessions, and be more satisfied with a simpler life having what you need rather than what you want. Think about practical ways to separate the wheat from the chaff in your life and the life of the family you lead.
1. Matthew Chapter 19 19-20
The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?’ Jesus said, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’
2. Wisdom Chapter 1 : 1
Love uprightness you who are rulers on earth, be properly disposed towards the Lord and seek him in simplicity of heart.
1. Paragraph 2470
The disciple of Christ consents to “live in the truth,” that is, in the simplicity of a life in conformity with the Lord’s example, abiding in his truth. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth.”
2. Paragraph 533
The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life: The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus – the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us. . . A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character… A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the “Carpenter’s Son”, in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work. . . To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern their brother who is God.
Small Group Questions
1. What have you done, or heard of others doing, to simplify their lives?
2. How do you and your wife decide on when “enough is enough” on the calendar.
3. What guidelines or rules do you have in your home as far as number of activities for children?
1. “Simplify Forum” http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=470791
2. Seven Levels of Intimacy – Matthew Kelly – This book serves as a good reminder of why we need to simplify our lives, reevaluate our purpose in life, and the priority we give to our relationships.
3. How to Simplify Your Life – Jeff Cavins – on CD
1. Make a family project to go through items in the garage, make liberal use of the garbage can, and have each child pick out items that you will take to St Vincent DePaul. Next week…the basement!
2. Commit to giving “nothing” a regular spot on your family calendar. Keep holy the Sabbath.
3. If you get a new item (coat, shoes, bike), be sure to give the old one away.
4. Sign up for no more than one team/club per season!
5. Unplug at the dinner table and on vacation.
Reid Rooney / Kevin McDonough / Anthony Your
Ten Ways to Simplify Your Life – by Jennifer Ottolino
In this very fast-paced world, it seems impossible to simplify our lives. But consider this: how much time and energy do you waste on the unnecessary? How much time do you waste because you can’t find things? How much energy do you waste telling yourself all the things you should do?
We often make life much more complicated than it needs to be and somehow we convince ourselves that our lives must be filled to the max. We over-schedule our lives, and then wonder why we feel dissatisfied. In turn, we end up spending the majority of our time on the things that don’t matter to us.
Here are some strategies to help you weed out the unnecessary and simplify, simplify, simplify.
1. Extend your boundaries
It is okay to say no. If you are not comfortable committing to a task, or something doesn’t feel right to you, then don’t do it. We often get in trouble because we ignore our gut feelings, and most of the time it leads us down the wrong path.
2. Drop your to-do’s
Drop the to-do’s that have been on your list for a couple of months. Get rid of those tasks that you keep telling yourself that you will get done but you always find something more interesting/important to do. If you have not done them by now, they are not important and are merely draining your energy.
3. Remove clutter
How much time do you waste looking for things? Do you have stuff that you need to get rid of? The more cluttered your space is, the more stressed you are going to feel. When you remove clutter, get rid of stuff that you no longer need, and your life will run more smoothly. In addition, you will create a space for new things to enter your life.
4. Define your values
Determine what your values are and live to those values. We often feel conflicted because how we are living is out of sync with our values. For example, if your number one value is family and your job requires you to work 65 hours a week, is it any wonder that you feel unsettled and unhappy? When you’re clear about what is important to you, it will be easier to let go of things that don’t fit.
5. Examine your Beliefs
What are your core beliefs? Some of your beliefs maybe limiting your ability to let go of tasks and projects that don’t add value. If you believe that you create value by being busy, it is much harder to let go of tasks. If you believe that the only way to make money is to work hard, then you will always work hard. Remember, we look for circumstances in our lives to reinforce what we believe.
6. Create priorities
Determine one or two things you want to accomplish within the next year for your career/business, home life, relationships, and self. Work only to those priorities. If your goal is to develop a new income-generating product line, then that is where you should spend significant time focusing your attention.
It’s very easy to get distracted from our priorities, because there is so much information out there that attracts our interests. How often do you get diverted to other projects and never finish what you were originally working on? What happens? The year goes by and you did not accomplish any of your objectives. When new ideas do excite us, get an idea notebook and write all of your new ideas down for future projects. One note, if you find yourself working on everything but your stated priorities, it may be time to reexamine what you think you want.
7. Give yourself permission to relax
We live in a culture that has taught us that relaxing is the equivalent to being lazy so we have created lives that are bursting at the seams and don’t give us time to think. There is another way. Give yourself permission to relax. Revel in doing nothing. Give yourself time to just think and do nothing. You will be amazed at all the new and interesting discoveries that come to you.
8. If you are struggling – let it go
If something is a real struggle, or you can’t come up with a solution, drop it for a while. Giving yourself a mental break will allow your brain to rest and therefore create new ideas. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and had an aha? This happens for two reasons, 1) because you are relaxed, and 2) because you were not trying to direct your brain’s thoughts. Giving yourself a mental break from a challenge is a great way to consciously create that aha.
9. Take care of yourself
Isn’t it funny that we take better care of our cars than our bodies? Take care of your body and mind. Eat things that bring you a sense of energy and lightness. Eat to fuel your body. Exercise your body to reduce stress and clear your mind. Exercise your brain with new activities. This will go a long way in helping you feel more calm and relaxed.
10. Have fun
Why is it so hard for us to have fun? Make time each week to do something that brings you joy. Do something completely silly. Have fun with yourself. Laugh. Forget all the other stuff for a while and just have fun. You will feel a whole lot better.