Let’s kick off this brand new year with some words of encouragement, amidst what a lot of us feel is a sea of chaos. This encouragement comes in the form of an offering of how to perhaps take a different approach to living your life this year. I’m here to tell you that you can change the world, but it starts with you!
I truly believe that it’s really as simple as this: the busier you make your life, the more out of control it can become. That’s not to discourage you from being ambitious, of course, but rather it’s crucial to keep things simple if you want them to be manageable. Simple. Manageable. Flourishing.
Think of it like this: you’re the king or queen of a kingdom (your life). The larger your territory (all the things you cram into your life), the more likely you are to both get lost during your wanderings and also not be able to handle all the goings on. This translates to depression and anxiety, in case it hasn’t clicked yet.
So choosing to be the king or queen of a nice, small kingdom means that you can easily cast your eye across the whole realm. Nothing is hidden. It’s not overcrowded. You can pay attention to detail and prune all the hedgerows. There’s space to roam, without worrying you’ll get lost, either. Surprises are welcome, because they’re manageable, not chaotic. Is this analogy making sense?
In this kingdom, it’s impossible to expect to maintain control over everything. No one likes a control freak anyway. Instead, be a driven king or queen, but one that listens to it’s people. One that can interpret the state of the kingdom with level-headedness. It’s no secret that trying to maintain control will only ever cause suffering. Many things that come our way in life are indeed external – thus out of our control. Holding onto the view that ‘things should be different!’ will only perpetuate inner negativity, disappointment, and discontent. Listen to your people and you may even find you learn a thing or two.
So, you’ve got your small, manageable territory. You have decided that you’d rather not try to take over an entire continent because then there would be no free time to relax, go hiking, go to the beach, or spend time with your family. Even though there is the allure of power and you’ve heard that other parts of the world have gold buried beneath their soil, you know that all the time spent looking for it would take away from those activities you find enjoyable. It simply isn’t worth it.
With this time spent doing those things that you love, you are able to focus wholeheartedly on your people when they come to you with concerns. You can also rationally assess any decisions that need to be made to better the kingdom. You also have the capacity to encounter surprise visits to the kingdom with open-mindedness. You can see them as opportunities, rather than threats.
For some bizarre reason, we nowadays seem to aspire to be busy. This thinking has plagued our planet. A life crammed with one burden after another, one endless ‘to do’ list allows no time or space for quiet. It allows no opportunity for us to take in life’s mysteries or gifts.
We can also think of it like this: if our life only consists of 5 activities or aspects, that means each aspect gets 20% of our time. That’s a pretty hefty percentage. There’s no need to rush with that kind of percentage. If our life consists of 100 aspects, each one only gets 1% of our time. And the likelihood is that we’ll spend that 1% of time worrying about how we’ll handle the other 99 things!
Richness comes in quality, not quantity. Now, we’re all different and some of us are naturally able to handle more than others without reaching a crisis point. But, what’s important here is acceptance. It’s important to listen to what your body is saying and when it’s screaming ‘too much!’, listen to that. Don’t compare how much you are doing every day with anyone else and feel inferior. The beauty of the uniqueness of us all is that we can each offer something special. Where one person might be able to divide their focus between 50 things without feeling stressed, another might be limited to 10, but take real pleasure from cooking – one of those 10 things – and enjoy cooking for the person who fits in 50 things but can’t cook to save their life. A little bit of give and take is the theme here.
If you’re stressed up to your eyeballs, if you feel like your doing the motions but not really living, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate. We need down time for our own sanity and happiness. We need stillness to balance the business of life on the go. Remember your ideal kingdom. Try taking this approach in 2017 and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.