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Some months ago a friend told me how she picks one word on which to focus for the entire year. I liked the idea so much that I decided to do the same. The word I chose to begin this practice was “simplicity.” I’ll admit there are times when I forget about it. However, I’m quickly reminded of my intention whenever life starts spinning into chaos and confusion or I start experiencing feelings of overwhelm. It’s then I know to take a deep breath, stop whatever I’m doing, and evaluate what’s most important in that moment.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as getting a cup of tea…practicing songs on the piano…going outside to feel the sunshine…petting the dog. When I physically remove myself from the situation and the moment of confusion, it’s easier to gain new perspective. I’ve found it works with people, too. While it may not always be possible to remove myself from someone’s presence, I can stop talking or mentally planning my next sentence. I can listen. I can see them more clearly in that moment of heightened awareness. I can connect with them soul to soul where words are not necessary.

zen_gardenThe practice of simplicity brings added benefits I had not anticipated. I’m learning to have Zen-like focus in all of my tasks and activities. While I’ve been an accomplished multi-tasker, I’m more willing now to limit my attention to one task at a time until it’s completed. I actually get more done by having dedicated focus on one single project rather than trying to do several at once. The quality of my work has improved. The moments of chaos and confusion happen less often. I’m able to work for longer periods of time without feeling nearly so tired or stressed. One step in front of the other. Back to basics.

I’ve also begun applying the idea of “simplicity” to my life’s greater vision. Everywhere I focus I consider how I can do things with the least amount of commotion, effort, money, time or energy. Sometimes this means delegating a task or project to others…taking my time to arrive at a decision…or just not doing it…right now. When I get into that mindset that I have to “make things happen,” then I need to look at whether its creation is a matter of forcing something (ego) or a sense of lack in my life (not enoughness).  In either case, it’s necessary to go back to taking a breath, being grateful for “what is” and giving more thought to the validity of the desire.

As I’ve simplified my life, I’ve made numerous changes. I’ve gone back to basics with my diet and nutrition… planted a garden… make my own laundry soap… visit more with family and friends… changed careers… am more successful in financial matters… enjoy a variety of creative activities… and am constantly grateful for my life and everything in it! It’s simple, but not always easy. Yet, so worth the effort and diligence required to calm my busy mind. I live more from a sense of peace than I ever have!

Such commitment to a simpler way of living and being means that I get to experience daily the basic feelings of happiness and contentment…love, serenity, abundance, and connection… to life, people, my work, and God… one purpose, one action, one simple thought at a time.

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