Tuesday, April 9, 2013

5 Simple Pleasures For Today

I love to periodically stop and revel in life's simple pleasures. Sometimes we get too busy and take them for granted, failing to savor the moment. They aren't usually big things, but if you can learn to appreciate them they can help make your day. In an effort to not let these moments go to waste, I am going to post 5 simple pleasures once a week.

So, without further ado, here are 5 randomly chosen "simple pleasures" I enjoy:

1. Freshly ground coffee in the early morning

2. Snacks and a really interesting movie

3. A walk in the park/woods

4. Looking at the stars on a clear night

5. Sleeping in on a rainy day

So...what are 5 simple pleasures that you can think of today?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Benefits of Solitude

Solitude is a lost art these days. We live in a time of increased connectedness, and while I recognize the beauty of this global community, I do think there’s a need to step back from it on a regular basis.

Some of my favorite activities include being alone and away from all the sources of stress that can come from the outside world. I love to be alone with my thoughts and just disconnecting, finding the quiet.

Don’t get me wrong: I love being with loved ones, and chatting with a friend over common interests is something I appreciate. But solitude is an absolute necessity for me.

Here are just a few of the benefits I’ve found from solitude:

Allows you to reboot your brain and unwind.

Helps to improve concentration and increase productivity.

Gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice.

Provides time for you to think deeply.

Aids you in working through problems more effectively.

Increases your self-esteem, which positively impacts your outside relationships as well.

There are many more benefits, those are just a few off the top off my head. The real benefits of solitude cannot be expressed through words, but must be found in doing.

So disconnect and find moments of quietness for yourself today. Make time to be alone. You don't have to be a hermit or a monk to reap the many benefits of solitude. Just make time for solitude, and I guarantee you'll be in agreement with me about it's importance. :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

5 Ways To Live More Simply

In a world that is becoming increasingly more complex, do you long for a simpler, more satisfying life?

Extravagance is often gaudy. We overfill our homes and our lives with so much clutter that it robs us of our ability to appreciate true beauty. Simplifying our surroundings gives us a new lens through which we view the world. A simpler life is just plain better!

Letting go of the unnecessary physical, as well as emotional clutter in your own life leads to less worry, lower expenses, and more free time. It will likely also lead you to experience improved emotional and physical health, greater clarity and focus, and increased spiritual connection.

Here are 5 ways to reap those benefits for yourself by living more simply:

1. Determine the areas in your life that are too cluttered
Upon reading this tip, most people think in terms of their material possessions. While that is a part of it, it is certainly not the whole picture. Minimalism also applies largely to relationships and obligations. Be on the lookout for ways to streamline everyday tasks that are time-consuming and not particularly gratifying. Some activities you will find that you can let go of completely, or at least spend less time on.

Relationships that are a constant source of stress and negativity may also require an honest assessment of whether you really want them to continue moving forward. Do these relationships cause you to doubt yourself or worry? Life is too short for that, my friend. Read my post below titled "What's in Your Backpack?" for more on this.

2. Stop buying things you don't need
Try to find ways to be more complacent with less. How often do you shop when you are bored, only to regret being broke later on? This tip on living simply means that you should find healthier ways to spend your time and money. None of us need more regret. And remember, when it comes to simple living, less really is more!

3. Stop overworking yourself
How consumed are you with what you do for a living? Many of us seem to claim that "who we are and what we do are two different things", but do we practice this theory? Given the time frame that most of us generally work (8 or 9 until 5 or 6), the best hours of the day are gone by the time we’re done. There isn’t much left to do but eat and sleep. This can’t be life, right?

Time will never be money. You will never be able to buy more of it. That should make the management of our life a top priority. Life does not last long enough to spend too much of it doing things we don't like. It's that simple. There are quite a few upsides that a shorter work week would produce: more leisure time, time with family, lower stress levels, better sleep patterns, and thus better overall health and an improved - more simple - quality of life.

4. Slow down and do less each day
Don’t fill your day up with things to do. You will end up rushing to do them all. If you normally try (and fail) to do 7-10 things, do 3 important ones instead (with 3 more smaller items to do if you get those three done). This will give you time to do what you need to do, and not rush.

Slow down. Try to enjoy whatever you’re doing. Try to pay attention, instead of thinking about other things. Be in the moment. This isn’t easy, as you will often forget, But find a way to remind yourself. This might be the most important step overall to living simply.

5. Find time for simple pleasures everyday
Knowing what your simple pleasures are, and putting a few of them in each day, can go a long way to making life more enjoyable. What are some simple things that make you feel good?

Remember that you don't have to drastically change your life in one 24-hour period. Take things one step at a time, and you will instantly feel the benefits of this lifestyle. Ask yourself, what is one thing I can do this week to simplify my life? These benefits are available to all of us. All we have to do is make a choice to live a simpler life. :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What’s In Your Backpack?

I recently watched a movie from 2009 titled "Up in the Air", some of you may be familiar with it. It stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a solitary guy who lives very simply. He is a motivational speaker, and his keynote speech is the subject of this blog post.

It is titled "What's In Your Backpack?" and the theme centers around how much our possessions, obligations, and expectations can really slow us down. He asks several questions that I think deserve pondering. Here is an excerpt from that speech:

"How much does your life weigh?

Imagine for a second that you’re carrying a backpack. I want you to feel the straps on your shoulders. Feel them?

Now I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life. You start with the little things, the things on shelves and in drawers, the knickknacks, the collectibles. Feel the weight as that adds up.

Then you start adding the larger stuff: clothes; tabletop appliances; lamps; linens; your TV.

The backpack should be getting pretty heavy now and you go bigger: your couch, bed, your kitchen table. Stuff it all in there. Your car, get it in there. Your home, whether it’s a studio apartment or a two-bedroom house. I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now try to walk. It’s kind of hard, isn’t it?

This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake, moving is living.

Now, I’m going to set that backpack on fire. What do you want to take out of it? Photos? Photos are for people who can’t remember. Drink some ginko and let the photos burn.

In fact, let everything burn and imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing. It’s kind of exhilarating, isn’t it?

Now, this is going to be a little difficult. So stay with me.

You have a new backpack. Only this time, I want you to fill it with people.

Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office. Then you move in the people that you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your cousins, your aunts, your uncles, your brothers, your sisters, your parents. And finally, your husband, your wife, your boyfriend or your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack.

Don’t worry I’m not going to ask you to light it on fire.

Feel the weight of the bag. Your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. Do you feel the straps cutting into your shoulders? All those negotiations and arguments and secrets and compromises and expectations?

You don’t need to carry all that weight. Why don’t you set that bag down?

Some animals were meant to carry each other, to live symbiotically for a lifetime. Star-crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not those animals.

The slower we move, the faster we die. We are not swans. We’re sharks."


And So The Journey Begins...

It all started back at the end of October. Going through a rough patch in my life, I found myself starting over from scratch...not by choice, but by necessity.

I needed to establish a better sense of order in my life. So after going through the process of a divorce and all the emotional trauma that it can bring, I stand here today starting fresh. And I couldn't be more happy.

The name of this blog is "The Simple Hedonist" because that is the best term I can think of to define the journey I am beginning. It fits my natural tendencies and preferences that have always been there, but that I am just now starting to understand.

Living simply means "de-cluttering" your life emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In doing so you'll free your mind and begin to operate out of a place of clarity. All the obligations and expectations will begin to fade, and you'll be left with a real understanding of what is important in your life. Sound liberating?

Hedonism is a philosophy derived from the Greek philosopher Epicurus. Basically, a hedonist tries to maximize pleasure while minimizing pain. The philosophy has been misconstrued to mean being slothful and delighting in carnal, "sinful" practices. However, Epicurus emphasized the importance of moderation and self-worth.

Putting these two terms together, you get "The Simple Hedonist". And so the journey begins. Come along as we discover new ways to enjoy life's simple pleasures. Join me as I embark on a new way of life. A life full of serenity and happiness. :)