We are too busy, overstimulated and overextended. We’ve been taught that the answer is more: more things + more commitments = more happiness. But in reality we are so wrong—more is often much much less. The thinner we spread ourselves, in our commitments, relationships, and passions, the further we get from real and rewarding interactions.
I recently read an article entitled “Simplify” on zenhabits, one of my favorite blogs penned by Leo Babauta. Of the list of nine simplifying habits named, one stuck with me…wash your bowl. He wrote:
“When you’re done eating, mindfully wash your bowl. When you’re done with anything, get in the habit of pausing before moving onto the next thing, and cleaning up after yourself. Put your food away. Put your clothes where they belong. Put your keys in one spot. Clean the sink before you leave it. This simple habit will keep you mindful while saving you lots of cleanup later.”
It’s so true, isn’t it? We don’t “wash our bowls” anymore. Literally, many of us don’t wash our bowls because we have dish washers that do the washing for us. But figuratively, the issue is just as prevalent. We don’t take time to do things anymore, and in doing so our lives have lost a sense of intentionality.
The evidence? The evolution of multitasking as a bragging right. How many times have you heard a friend or coworker champion themselves as the ultimate multitasker? How many times have you claimed this right yourself? You check your emails, read the newspaper, and drink your morning coffee all at the same time, but do you really feel better for it? Aside from the fact that you aren’t actually multitasking (your mind is just rapidly switching between tasks), you are robbing yourself of the simple pleasure of seeing a task to completion. You aren’t just washing your bowl, you are doing the laundry, working out, and making dinner all at the same time. And what do you get in reward for your frantic efforts? Stress.
After all our exertions, we rarely emerge as calmer, more collected beings. Instead we become proverbial chickens, running around long after our heads have been cut off. So what do we do? How do we fix this growing epidemic of more? Simple, we simplify.
Start by washing your bowl—it’s time to do things with intention again. Whether it’s taking out the garbage or grabbing dinner with a friend, dedicate yourself to the task in front of you. If you’re on your computer, don’t leave Facebook looming in the background (I am very guilty of this). If you’re on the treadmill, don’t try and fit in all those calls you’ve been meaning to make. Exist in the present, wash your bowl, and live in the satisfaction of knowing that you set out to do something and then did it.
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