Seeking simplicity in 2015 (and hopefully beyond!)

As I’ve been talking to and hearing about others’ New Years Resolutions, intentions, plans and visions for 2015, I’ve noticed a common thread: simplicity. It seems to me that this year in particular, people are seeking simpler lives. They want to focus on human relationships, on being in the moment, on gratitude and appreciation. Many have labelled mindfulness as the latest trend, and questioned the push by corporations to use it as a way of increasing productivity. I say: What a WONDERFUL trend! Because while we all know people who roll their eyes when they hear someone has adopted mindfulness, meditation, yoga or healthy eating – are these not some of the most giving trends we’ve had in years?

I am the worst offender for allowing busy-ness to take over my life and my perspective. In my last post I shared a link to an article about the disease of being busy, which questions why we forgot that we are human beings, not human doings. At a time when I was contemplating how the hell I was going to get through 2015, it served well as a slap in the face for me. I’m the first to admit that my life is over-scheduled. I’m the Mum who can only catch up for the odd play-date once a week or fortnight, and the friend who can meet for lunch – in three weeks time. Unfortunately, this is largely unavoidable – with a shift-working husband, I juggle some of my work hours flexibly when he can be home to look after the kids, and I also try to ensure we have regular family-only time, which can often fall during odd times of the week. Like other families, we also try to find a balance between ‘free’ time and regular activities, such as swimming lessons.

While it’s difficult for me to simplify my life in this sense, there is one, very tangible area I can change. Because although I can’t squeeze more into my daily life, I still seem to find time to cruise social media. LOTS of time. Like many others, it’s challenging for me to focus on one thing – such as a television show – without checking social media on my phone or computer. I don’t just check one thing, either – I go through Facebook, Instagram, my five different email addresses – including my work email when I’m not at work – and when I’m desperate, Twitter. Scanning. Always scanning. Looking for something, and I’m not even sure what. Information? Entertainment? Connection? A way to stop my brain from resting or thinking its own thoughts? Worse, is that when I’m done checking each of these applications, sometimes I START AGAIN FROM THE BEGINNING. :-0

When I discussed this with a friend last week, she described feeling like a passive receiver of information, which articulated my feelings perfectly. ‘Like’ this and that. Do the Buzzfeed quiz, even though I know I probably won’t like the answer (the last one I did told me that if I was a TV Mother I’d be Marie Ramone from Everybody Loves Raymond). Read articles that have been suggested to me on Facebook, by The Guardian – instead of choosing the articles I want to read myself, from The Guardian website. I do this all the time. First thing when I wake up. Last thing before I go to sleep, and a hundred times in between, including when I’m with my kids. I even feel guilty about it, but it hasn’t stopped me.

I’ve always thought it was a skill to do multiple things at once, to multitask. I’m starting to regard it as a Terrible Habit, because it means that I rarely engage fully in one thing. My mind is always floating among many things, and consequently I feel scattered and overwhelmed.

So something has to change. As I’ve been working very hard on managing my mental health issues with meditation, mindfulness and positive thinking, I am now also committing to mindful social media engagement. Can such a thing exist!? The truth is, I like social media, and I see a lot of value and people power in it. I’ve had a very positive experience with social media in relation to this blog, and it has paved the way to new opportunities, experiences, concepts and people. So when I say ‘mindful social media’, I mean a shift away from the constant mindless scanning and checking, the click-bait articles and quizzes, and instead, committing to using it in a deliberate manner, perhaps a couple of times a day. Checking what I want to check, and then actually putting the phone down. PUT THE PHONE DOWN, ERIN. I suppose it’s a bit like having a couple of solid meals each day, instead of constantly grazing. To keep the scatterbrain away, and my anxiety, I need to stay in the moment – so I will try to resist the urge to ‘fill gaps’ with my phone – those waiting moments – and instead use those fleeting opportunities look at what’s happening around me: to people, to trees, to the sky. I can but try!

2 Comments

  1. shenANNAgans says:

    Human beings, not human doings…. Brilliantly put. I was talking with my mom on the weekend about being busy, the constant stream of information we take in from our social media, is really just another way of sabotage. I too have set some serious intentions to allocate my social media intake to set times during the day. 10 days of actively doing it and I am actually seeing a lot more free time in my daily life. πŸ™‚ Wishing you all the luck! Happy time saving.
    Cheers, Anna

    • Erin says:

      Thank-you Anna! I’ve only been doing this for a few days, and although I still have the ‘itch’ to check – in those quiet moments, or when I’m procrastinating – it already seems to have made other things easier, because I can focus completely on whatever task I’m doing. Good luck to you too! Thanks for the feedback! xx

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