I have been supporting a friend through the slow decline of her mother as they withdraw her life support. Dying has a powerful and uncanny way of slowing us down, getting our attention, and awakening us to what truly matters.
There is a lot of expectation and confusion about what is truly important in our lives. There are so many options. So many choices. So many “shiny objects” that call for our attention.
Here’s a few ideas to help live more simply in a complex world:
- Stop and get your bearings. It’s an old and ironic habit to run faster when we’ve lost our way. It is always good to shut off the noise, turn off technology, and create a space to be still and listen to the voice inside. Journaling, meditation, prayer, or walks in the woods are all good tools that provide beneficial medicine.
- Set your own goal for a good life. I honestly used to spend money I didn’t have, on things I didn’t need, to impress people I didn’t know. Resist the tendency to follow the crowd and decide what your values are and do your best to live your life in alignment with those values. An Australian nurse named Bronnie Ware cared for people in the last three months of their life and recorded their most often discussed regrets. At the top of the list: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
- Give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all. When you stop saying yes to everyone, you can make your highest contribution toward what truly matters. Be sure you are saying yes to truly matters to you.
- Bring a little more kindness into your world. Maybe the Beatles had it right. All you need is love. Striving for more, pushing for continual growth, getting more “stuff” does not make us any happier. Here’s a poem written by my favorite author, Anonymous: “I have wept in the night, at my shortness of sight, that to someone’s need was I blind. But I’ve never once had, a twinge of regret, for being a little too kind.”