We always thought when the children had left to pursue their own lives, our own lives would become simpler. We’d have time to learn to play the guitar. We’d make time to read—or write—the Great American Novel. We’d take long walks along the lake, enjoying the cries of the seagulls and the wash of the waves. We’d meditate every morning.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, we set more and more external goals, always thinking we’d have time to pay attention to ourselves later.
LATER IS NOW!
Before you start to make excuses about how you really can’t leave right now to stay at that ashram in India for six months, consider the benefits of simplicity.
What Is Simplicity?
Simplicity is focusing on what’s really important. It’s getting rid of all the unnecessary things that are diverting you from your true goals. No one can define simplicity, because it’s different for each person.
Downsizing is a practice of simplicity. Decluttering is a practice of simplicity. Even meditation is a practice of simplicity.
Simplicity Reduces Clutter
Simplicity is especially important for older people for one predominant reason—clutter.
Did you know older people are more at risk for hoarding? “Living alone, inheriting property of deceased loved ones, lack of space, depression, dementia and lifelong personality disorders—all place older people at greater risk,” notes Dr. Linda Rhodes.
A Princeton University study indicated that physical clutter decreases performance and increases stress. By overloading your brain, it impairs creativity, too.
Home organizer Jennifer Phelps has observed the effects of too much stuff on the minds of her clients. “When your closet (or your house) is full of things from your past, things that only remind you of who you were, you very literally have no room for who you are now and who you are becoming,” she remarks.
But it’s not just physical clutter that causes problems. Mental clutter, such as spending too much time on Facebook or listening to rock music while writing or constant alarms from your smartphone, also affect the way our brains work.
Mental clutter uses valuable processing resources in our brain. Researchers say the cause of many older people’s problems with memory may simply be that we soak up too much irrelevant “stuff”. Con artists may use this lack of clutter control to manipulate older adults, the study indicates.
Rewards of Simplicity
Simplifying our life reduces or eliminates the mental and physical clutter that can make our lives more difficult. Simplifying offers the following benefits:
- Clarity. The research above shows that the clutter in our daily lives can drown out what’s important. Simplicity helps identify what’s important in your life.
- Focus. When our brains aren’t bombarded with useless information and our environments aren’t cluttered with reminders of the past, we can focus on what we want to do and how to do it.
- Creativity. Getting rid of distractions in our environment enhances creativity.
- Money. If you buy only what you need, you save money.
- Performance. Diversions prevent us from attaining peak efficiency by using brain processing power that could be put to better use.
- Stress relief. Overstimulation causes anxiety and stress, while simplicity eases both.
- Better sleep. Remember those nights when you couldn’t sleep because your brain couldn’t stop racing? An uncluttered environment can improve sleep.
- Spiritual growth. By getting rid of what we don’t need, we focus less on material possessions and more on spiritual matters.
Simplify Your Life!
Simplify your environment. Get rid of the things you don’t need. Go through each room of your house, as if you were moving to a much smaller space, and identify items you don’t need. After you’ve sold or given them all away, do it again.
Simplify your schedule. Are you wasting an hour on Facebook each morning? Do you go to events because it’s expected of you? Imagine spending that time on meditation or learning a new language or painting or volunteering.
Simplify your mind. Is your mind still seething with resentment from a slight you experienced years ago? Are you still upset because your mom liked your sister better? Let it go. Meditation helps. Another method is to journal your thoughts every day.
Simplify your goals. Write down your goals and examine them. Are they really what you want? Pare them down to the essentials.
Simplify your debt. New car, home renovations, travel...if you buy less, you need to do less to pay for it, thus freeing up time. If a large part of your income goes to paying for possessions, reconsider your need for them.
Simplify your obligations. If you spend hours each week mowing the lawn or cleaning the house because it has to be done, consider alternatives, such as hiring help or downsizing.
Set aside your have-to's and focus on your want-to’s as a resident of The Admiral at the Lake. Enjoy maintenance-free living within this vibrant community that includes an indoor pool, a salon and spa, gourmet dining, creative arts classes and more.
The residents, who come from nearly every walk of life, refuse to call The Admiral a retirement community, because we’re still as active as we ever were. The Admiral supports an ageless spirit. Schedule a personal tour online or by calling 773.433.1801 to discover how you can become part of the creative, energetic community.