Saturday, October 3, 2009

book ~ simplify your life

Brooke let me borrow this book from her and I want to post my highlights from it, sort of a book report on it (so that I can remind myself later after I have returned it to her)

Simplify Your Life
by Elaine St. James

Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends worth the name, someone to love and some to love you, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink, for thirst is a dangerous thing.
-Jerome Klapka Jerome

Like many others (the author writes), I had bought into the Bigger is Better and the More is Better Yet philosophies of the 1980s. We gradually began to realize that, rather than contributing to our lives, many of these things complicated them far more than we'd been willing to admit. We'd always known the Joneses weren't worth keeping up with, but we finally had to face the fact that the only thing we'd ever gotten from a power lunch was indigestion. The time had come for us to get off the fast track.

The goal of a simplified program is three goals:
#1 things in my/our lives (home, car, clothes, diets, finances) to be small enough and few enough and simple enough that they can be taken care of yourself/ourselves
#2 free yourself/ourselves from the commitments, the people, and the obligations that kept me/us from having time to do the things I/we really want to do, not felt I/we should do.
#3 want my/our life to be consistent with the desire to live in harmony with the environment.

Remember: One person's simplicity is another's complexity. The secret to happiness is not getting more but in wanting less.

#1 Reduce the clutter in your life:
If you haven't used it in one year or more, get rid of it. The idea is not to deny yourself the things you want, but to free yourself from the things you don't want.

#3 Use "Speed Cleaning" to clean your house:
(read Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell and the Clean Team)

#13 Keep Your Plants Outdoors:
It's time we realize that the photographs in the home-and-garden magazines don't necessarily reflect reality. They made having indoor plants look so easy, when they're anything but. Consider a window box (if you don't have a yard or patio to enjoy), visit your botanical garden, at the very least, don't replace it when t dies.

#22 Build a Simple Wardrobe:
Men already have simple wardrobes. First, pick a simple, classic style that looks good on you, and then stick with it. Forever. Second, build combinations of outfits that work as a uniform...two or three of the same similar style but in different, muted shades...each item should go with every other item. It is possible to create a simple, functional, feminine wardrobe by following the same principles men follow when it comes to fashion. (Didn't care for third point don't wear jewelry, don't carry a purse and wear only one heel height).

#23 Reduce Your go-Go Entertainment:
Most people come to realize the best things in life are free, and that doing less can mean having more - more serenity, more happiness, more peace of mind. Make a list of the things you and your family really love to do. And then arrange your life so that each day you have time to do as many of the things you like to do as possible.

#30 Don't Answer the Phone Just Because It's Ringing:
Just because it's convenient for someone to call you at this particular time does not necessarily mean it's convenient for you to answer.

#37 Take a Vacation at Home

#39 Live on Half of What You Earn, and Save the Other Half:
We've become a nation of spenders rather than savers. We spend far more than we need to on stuff we don't really require. Start by cutting back 10-15%, gradually building up to 50% over a year or two. Living simply is not a matter of living cheaply or of feeling deprived. On the contrary, it's an opportunity to get in touch with what is really important in your life, and to reach a level of moderation that will create not only a feeling of contentment and security, but also a sense of being in control.

#40 Rethink Your Buying Habits:
Designate one shopping day. Do I/we really need this? Will it just be one more thing to end up in the back of the closet? Delay the major purchases. See how long you can live without it. Try to come up with a creative solution rather than a buying solution to a perceived need.

#52 Do What You Really Want to Do:
Figure out what it is you want to do, and then arrange life so you an do it. It will be worth whatever complications you have to g through to get there, and it will definitely simplify your life in the long run.

#54 Work Less and Enjoy It More:
Cut back on your workday by 10%. Build time into your schedule for interruptions that are unavoidable time robbers in today's business world (phone calls, unplanned meetings, searching for misplaced papers). You will find you get more out of your workday.

#55 Stop the Busy Work:
Prioritize before you start work, and then don't do anything unless it's on your list, a lot of busy work will just evaporate.

#57 Simplify Your Eating Habits:
Healthy and nutritious diet.

#63 Beware Exercise Equipment, Fire Your Personal Trainer and Go Take a Walk:
Every day the expensive equipment or health club membership goes unused, the guilt level rises, which only increase the stress in our lives.We've become so addicted to compulsive, competitive behavior, that we've extended it to exercise, which, theoretically, we do for relaxation, and to improve and maintain our health. Now is the perfect time to get off it and go take a walk.

#67 Create Your Own Rituals:
The type of ritual I am referring to here is any special thing you can do on a regular basis that you look forward to, and that you think about with a happy heart. It's possible that you have been working so hard and moving so fast that you haven't taken the time to incorporate some personalized moments into your day.

#68 Learn to Laugh:
As children, we laugh naturally, but we gradually loose that skill as we become adults. Laughter reduces stress, relieves tension, and soothes the angry heart. Just imagine how much simpler your life would be if you learned to respond to stressful situations with laughter rather than with frustration, or anger or resentment.

#70 Learn to Meditate:
Medication is an effective way to maintain a simple life. Learning to meditate is not easy, nor are the results necessarily immediate. But both the physical and psychological benefits of a sustained meditation program are well known and well documented. They include a much greater ability to deal with the everyday problems we all face, and a calmness and serenity that result from few other disciplines. Most people also find that meditation produces more energy, more restful sleep, an increased ability to concentrate, and an overall feeling of well-being. Learning to mediate will give you a new understanding of your life, and will help you get clear on exactly how you want to live it.

#72 Clean Up Your Relationships:
Get out of a relationship that isn't working.

#73 Just Be Yourself:
Have you ever stopped to think about how much energy you spend - and how much you complicate your life - by pretending to be someone other than who you are? A good exercise is to sit down and go through all the major areas of your life and decide how each would be different if the only person you had to impress was you. How often we are untrue to ourselves because of the pressures of others.

#74 Trust Your Intuition:
All of us come equipped with a still, small voice inside. Unfortunately, our life-styles have become so fast-paced and hectic that many of us have forgotten how to listen to it. Learning to trust it will help keep your life in balance.

#76 Stop Trying to Change People:
We can't change other people. They change when they are good and ready. Most often what people really want is a supportive ear.

#77 Spend One Day a Month in Solitude:
Spending time away from the constant barrage of pressure we face can get us back in touch with what is real, and can help to alleviate the tensions of everyday life.

#81 Do One Thing at a Time:
Do we really get more done by trying to do everything at once? Maybe. Does it really matter? Probably not. Are we happier at this frenetic pace? Most definitely not. Start with a list, a list of things that really matter. Cut the list in half, then pick the most important thing and do it. Then, and only then, go down the list, doing each thing, one at a time. As much as possible, allow no distractions, no interruptions. You can learn to do one thing at a time, better, and happier doing it.

#82 Do Nothing:
It sounds so easy. Start with an hour. The idea is to just be with whatever is going on in your head without having to do anything about it. You'll be amazed at the clarity it will bring to your life.

#84 Just Say No
My weekdays are devoted, for the most part, to my work, and, unavoidably, there are deadlines and obligations I have to meet. But my evenings and weekends are my own. Simply say no. Thank you, no.
(read: When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J Smith)

#85 If You Can't Say No, Prevaricate:
"Thanks, but I've got plans for Saturday night."

#87 Learn to Reinterpret the Past:
Constantly reliving past events only complicates your life. Reinterpreting them as positive steps forward, and then moving on, will keep things simple.

#88 Change Your Expectations

#89 Review Your Life Regularly To Keep it Simple:
Maintaining simple life requires a certain amount of vigilance. It is not realistic to go through the steps to simplify your life and then think it will automatically stay simple. Old habits die hard. It's your choice to resist the fast track, whatever or however.

#99 Get Rid of All the Extras:
In no time at all, having extra sets of things can get very complicated.

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