“Often one of the stumbling blocks to living a simpler life is our inability or unwillingness to change how we play some of the games that got us into these complicated lives in the first place.” ~ Elaine St. James, Living the Simple …
Elaine shares with us a unique perspective of life, a perspective in which we could think of everything that we do as games. And in a sense, she is right. The games we play have limits and rules, they have goals and objectives, and they have actions and activities. And our lives play out in much the same way–there are rules and laws to owning and driving a vehicle. There are goals and objectives to the work we commit ourselves to, and the relationships we create and maintain. And there are actions and activities that determine the course of our lives–and those around us–each day. And while the rules, goals, and actions are not the same for each of us, we all have our own set that is unique to us and applies specifically to our lives.
But where did we learn the rules that we follow? Moreover, do these rules help us, or do they hinder our efforts to live our lives to the fullest? The simple fact is that if we acquire rules from individuals or groups who are not at all happy or fulfilled in life themselves, we cannot expect those rules to have different results for us; we, too, will find ourselves faced with similar discontent, surrounded by unhappiness and lack of fulfillment in our lives. And likewise, if we follow rules from individuals who complicate their lives–saying yes to every request of their time, energy, and attention–we, too, will find our reserves have expired, and we will have very little left to give to our family, friends, and loved ones.
Though in the end, it is irrelevant where the rules in our lives came from and how we got to where we are now. What matters most is how we get from where we are now to where we want to be, and that requires us to be actively aware of those rules–examining them, vetting them, and figuring out if they are helping us or not. And if they are not, well then we need to learn how to play the games differently if we really want different results. Perhaps the overtime I picked up is making it difficult for me to spend the time I want to spend with my wife and children, and a vacation or a day of rest would best help me to collect myself and reenergize.
Our lives can be as simple or as complicated as we like. And for those of us who complicate our lives by spending too much of our resources, or by over committing our time, if we want our lives to be simpler and more manageable, it might be absolutely necessary–although difficult–to change our habits.
Make a change in your life that allows you to simplify it a bit.
Questions to consider:
In what ways has your life become complicated? How did those things happen or come to be?
What part of playing the game is most difficult for you? How is it difficult for you to change the way you play?
List five of the “games” that you play regularly; do they complicate your life, or help you to simplify it?
For further thought:
“To be always ready, a man must be able to cut a knot, for everything cannot be untied; he must know how to disengage what is essential from the detail in which it is enwrapped, for everything cannot be equally considered; in a word, he must be able to simplify his duties, his business, and his life. To know how to be ready, is to know how to start.” ~ Henri Frederic Amiel, Amiel’s Journal