Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, teacher and politician who lived between 551 and 479BC said, 'Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.' If Confucius said this in response to the way people lived about 2,500 years ago I wonder what he would think of the way people live now.
I try to keep it simple but often find myself guilty of complicating things without thinking. It may be by cluttering my house with things I don't need, trying to fit too many activities into each day or making something more complicated than it needs to be. It is even possible to do this with friendships where one gets things way out of perspective resulting in hurt and misunderstanding.
Some activities sound simple. Let's go camping. Okay, we need a tent, sleeping bags, some sort of mattress and something to cook on or a way of utilising an open fire. Throw some water, food, and basic clothes in the car and let's go. However, this doesn't suit some people who want access to power so they can use a microwave, television and DVD player. It's not sounding simple any more and I haven't even mentioned glamping.
Having friends over for a meal can be a simple barbecue. The kids might be happy with snags, white bread and some tomato sauce. However, a barbecue can become complicated, especially if you are trying to outdo the fancy spread the Jones's hosted last weekend.
There are articles on the internet and books about simplifying life. Some have useful tips but everyone's needs are different. Each person has their own ideas about what is important and meaningful to them. Your needs will vary depending on the life stage you are currently in.
Some people don't want to simplify their life. Those in a relationship with someone of this mindset may have to compromise or they may decide to continue on as they are. The idea of simplifying their life may cause too many arguments.
For me, I just keep asking myself if a particular object, activity or person makes me feel fulfilled. If it is important to my life at the moment it is worth keeping.
If not, I consider parting with it. I find it quite difficult at times because it is easy to automatically continue to do what I always have. Often I accept something is important because it is what other people are doing or I have read it is what I should be doing.
Sometimes I ask myself if people in the past lived a happy life without a particular thing and the answer is often 'yes'. That may help me decide I can live without it. But wait a minute, my parents never had a computer. Please don't take my computer away.
Keeping life simple can be an ongoing struggle. However, it can be worth the effort, giving one a sense of freedom.
Another great and insightful article! You raised some thought-provoking questions. I agree...when matters are simplified, they are easier to maintain for one thing. I know I often have complicated things, and then just not kept them up. I always enjoy your articles because you examine all sides of an issue...