April 26th 2020
“The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” ~William James
Simplicity is one of the most underrated facets of life. I remember growing up around phrases like “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is” and “nothing good in life comes easily” and, as a result, I have lost my ability to appreciate or put my trust in anything simple. Whether it is a positive relationship that fell in my lap without warning or a daunting task that was way less complicated than I expected, simplicity has always been something I was rather weary of.
This mistrust in simplicity has often caused me to over-complicate my life by looking for reasons why thing that have come easy are false or a trap. I have learned to fear simplicity to the point where I often sabotage things that appear “sketchy” or “unreasonably simple”. However, I feel like learning to treat simplicity as a gift from life as opposed to a test or a trap could do a lot in not only improving my relationship with life, but also take the extra work and craziness out of things that I have made more frustrating on myself.
So how does one release control and accept simplicity into their lives? Well, as usual, I am going to be honest first and say “I am still learning and I fail quite often, but I have been putting a lot of thought in so I am simply trying to guide you through my thought process and not give you concrete advice that should be followed like it’s gospel.” However, I think the first step in accepting simplicity is finding where you over-complicate your life. Where can you make your own life easier?
For me, this is largely rooted in thought, but for others this may be largely rooted in ritual. By that I mean, I over-complicate my thoughts and drive myself crazy overthinking things that are actually quite cut and dry, while others may over-complicate their lives by adding extra steps to their routine or going out of their way to be “extra” to accomplish something relatively simple. Regardless of how you over-complicate your life, I feel like the first step to overcoming this over-complication is taking a look from the outside in.
So, I will use myself as an example:
- How do I over-complicate my life?
- Whenever something in life feels like it has come to easily to me; whether I have accomplished something quicker than expected or gained something with little to no effort, I question it. If I finish a task too quickly for work, I often wonder if I was careless or wasn’t trying hard enough or that I must of missed something. That has resulted in insecurity on my end as well as creating work for myself that wasn’t entirely necessary. If my boyfriend has been treating me nicely for no reason in particular, I often gravitate towards being suspicious of the kindness instead of being grateful. This is how I over-complicate my life.
So, now that we have narrowed down what areas I over-complicate, we have to focus in on how life would be if I simplified my thinking and accepted things as they are.
- How would life be different if I accepted simplicity?
- If I accomplished a task earlier than expected at work, I would use my additional time to evaluate my past efforts and improve for the future instead of fixating on the task that was just completed. I would stop creating more work for myself, convincing myself I need to work extra hours to prove myself, and telling myself that I am not doing enough. In my relationship, I would accept simplicity by just taking good moments and savoring them instead of being weary of good feelings as a sign of ulterior motives or deception.
So, the last step is figuring out how I am going to change my mindset so that the now can transition into the ideal. So, what steps should I take for appreciating simplicity in its truest form and stop over-complicating my life?
- Have faith that, if something came easy to me right now, it was probably a result of considerable past effort- Sometimes, I think we are hesitant to accept when things are simple because we grow used to them being complicated and when we grow out of the complications and find a place where things become more simple, we don’t trust it. Learning that sometimes growth leads to simplicity is a big step in not forcing complications on yourself.
- Know what to overlook- I started this post off with a quote by William James. Originally I was going to choose the quote “Life is really simple, but we insist on making in complicated” ~ Confucius because I thought it was the most logical choice. However, I found that the quote by William James made me think a bit more which is why I chose to include it. You see, I really struggle with knowing when to overlook something which, in turns, causes me to over-complicate my life considerably. Sometimes it is overlooking unnecessary roadblocks or insecurities that are disrupting the simplicity of life to find the best course of action. Not every detail has a higher meaning. Not every roadblock is a sign of failure or coming disaster. Life becomes much simpler if you just make the choice to overlook the details that cloud judgment.
- Realize that simplicity is almost always a gift if you are not careless- I’ve realized that life gives you a hand if you deserve one. If you work hard and you aren’t careless, you can trust when things come easily to you or when a situation is blissfully simple. Life doesn’t reward careless or lazy people true simplicity, just the illusion of simplicity. So, rest assured, if you put in the work and have grown enough for things to come simply, cherish that gift as a reward for your past complications and hard growth.
There are always going to be times where we over-complicate life and take the long way around. However, a large part of living a beautifully simple life is growing through what we go through and using the less simple parts of life to educate us and move us in the direction of simpler, happier situations.
Now is as good a time as ever to slow down and truly appreciate what things come easy to us and relish in them. For me, receiving love and sharing love with my friends, family, and significant other has been coming super easy for me, so I am not going to take the simple pleasure of being surrounded by love for granted because there have been so many times in my life where finding my place was incredibly complicated.
With so much of life feeling incredibly difficult right now, finding the areas of life where we can invite in a bit more simplicity is vital to both our growth and sanity.