I went to see the new movie version of Little Women this past weekend, and I just loved it. It was so thoroughly well done, and quite captivating. I read this book several times over as a young girl, and I found the story just as engaging as I did then.
It got me thinking a lot about what is so appealing in the story to me. As I reflected on it, I realized a lot of what I love about the story is that it speaks, at least to me, to a simpler time. Taking place during the period of the Civil War, it clearly was not a simple time in history, and the March family had its struggles, but the values seemed simpler to me, more basic. Their life revolved around home, family, neighbors and what called to them, most notably in the personality of high-spirited Jo.
It made me want to think of ways that I can include simpler, more basic values and activities this year, and eliminate what feels superfluous. Taking some of my own important values into account, this is what I came up with.
- Limiting unnecessary communication. This seems to be an ongoing task for the foreseeable future but I continue to plug away at it! Email, cell phones, texts, regular mail, online forums, IM, are a way of life these days, but I’m concentrating on not letting unessential communications overwhelm me. I turn off my cell phone when I need to complete a task for work, and let calls go to voicemail if I know they’re not urgent. I’m limiting my social media more, too, and unsubscribing to email lists that are no longer relevant.
- Create and stick to routines for morning and evening. An easy way to keep life simple is to have routines for daily life. I’ve had a morning routine for many years, but it’s only recently that I’ve realized the equal value in having an evening routine. For me that includes turning off devices by 9:00 pm, and maybe winding down by watching a show with my husband, and getting to bed by 11:00 (most nights) to read.
- Simplify meals. It’s super important to me to cook healthy meals for my family but I don’t have the bandwidth these days for anything too complicated. That’s why I have about 10 go-to meals that I alternate cooking most weekdays, and I’m looking to add a few more. Ideas?
- Quality, not quantity. I’m trying to be more thoughtful about what I bring into my life – not just “stuff” but activities, associations, and the day-to-day that makes up my life. “Is this going to add to my life,” is a good question for me to ask. If the answer is no, I need to be willing to let it go.
- Slowing down. The idea of savoring the moment is a guiding principle in positive psychology. Its meaning is simple – to slow down and appreciate what we are doing in the moment. Most anything we like can be savored – a good meal, time with family or fur family, a beautiful blue sky, a song. The idea of Mindfulness – being present without thinking about what we need to do next, in the moment without distraction – goes hand in hand with savoring, and it’s something I’m trying to practice more.
- Making time for moments. It’s said that a life is made of moments, and I’m trying to take advantage of those special moments throughout the day and slow down and enjoy them – or make them!
- Read The Minimalists. Or anything by them. Check out their site: https://www.theminimalists.com
As I wrote this, I realized there’s more I want to say so look for Part 2 next time. In the meantime, what would simplifying your life mean for you? How would you do it? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so email me by hitting reply and sharing your ideas!
Coaches Action Step:
Is there something that’s taking up space in your life that no longer serves you, or isn’t working well? Consider if there’s something – a habit or practice – that you may want to think about reducing (such as being on social media) or something you might want to include, like consciously making an effort to live more mindfully, or slow down as you go about your day.