This fantastic quote summarizes something that I’ve been trying to focus on recently in my daily life:
“Whatever the tasks, do them slowly
so not do any tasks with the goal
of getting them over with.
Resolve to each job in a relaxed way,
with all your attention.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master
In our daily lives, we often rush through tasks, trying to get them
done, trying to finish as much as we can each day, speeding along in
our cars to our next destination, rushing to do what we need to do
there, and then leaving so that we can speed to our next destination.
Photo by Aaron Geller
Unfortunately, it’s often not until we get to our final destination that we realize what madness this all is.
At the end of the day, we’re often exhausted and stressed out from
the grind and the chaos and the busy-ness of the day. We don’t have
time for what’s important to us, for what we really want to be doing,
for spending time with loved ones, for doing things we’re passionate
And yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to live a
simpler life, one where you enjoy each activity, where you are present
in everything (or most things) you do, where you are content rather
than rushing to finish things.
If that appeals to you, let’s take a look at some suggestions for living a simple, peaceful, content life:
- What’s important. First, take a step back and
think about what’s important to you. What do you really want to be
doing, who do you want to spend your time with, what do you want to
accomplish with your work? Make a short list of 4-5 things for your
life, 4-5 people you want to spend time with, 4-5 things you’d like to
accomplish at work.
- Examine your commitments. A big part of the
problem is that our lives are way too full. We can’t possibly do
everything we have committed to doing, and we certainly can’t enjoy it
if we’re trying to do everything. Accept that you can’t do everything,
know that you want to do what’s important to you, and try to eliminate
the commitments that aren’t as important. See this article for more.
- Do less each day. Don’t fill your day up with
things to do. You will end up rushing to do them all. If you normally
try (and fail) to do 7-10 things, do 3 important ones instead (with 3
more smaller items to do if you get those three done). This will give
you time to do what you need to do, and not rush.
- Leave space between tasks or appointments. Another
mistake is trying to schedule things back-to-back. This leaves no
cushion in case things take longer than we planned (which they always
do), and it also gives us a feeling of being rushed and stressed
throughout the day. Instead, leave a good-sized gap between your
appointments or tasks, allowing you to focus more on each one, and have
a transition time between them.
- Eliminate as much as possible from your to-do list.
You can’t do everything on your to-do list. Even if you could, more
things will come up. As much as you can, simplify your to-do list down
to the essentials. This allows you to rush less and focus more on
what’s important. See this article for more.
- Now, slow down and enjoy every task. This is the
most important tip in this article. Read it twice. Whatever you’re
doing, whether it’s a work task or taking a shower or brushing your
teeth or cooking dinner or driving to work, slow down. Try to enjoy
whatever you’re doing. Try to pay attention, instead of thinking about
other things. Be in the moment. This isn’t easy, as you will often
forget. But find a way to remind yourself. Unless the task involves
actual pain, there isn’t anything that can’t be enjoyable if you give
it the proper attention.
- Single-task. This is kind of a mantra of mine, as I talk about how to single-task all the time. But it’s an important point for me, and for this article. Do one thing at a time, and do it well.
- Eat slower. This is just a more specific application of Tip #6, but it’s something we do every day, so it deserves special attention. See this article for more.
- Drive slower. Another application of the same
principle, driving is something we do that’s often mindless and rushed.
Instead, slow down and enjoy the journey. See this article for more.
- Eliminate stress. Find the stressors in your life, and find ways to eliminate them. See this article for more.
- How and why to slow down. This is such an important point, that I’m going to point you to two other articles on this: here and here.
- Create time for solitude. In addition to slowing
down and enjoying the tasks we do, and doing less of them, it’s also
important to just have some time to yourself. Read this article for more.
- Do nothing. Sometimes, it’s good to forget about doing things, and do nothing. Here’s more.
- Sprinkle simple pleasures throughout your day.
Knowing what your simple pleasures are, and putting a few of them in
each day, can go a long way to making life more enjoyable. Here’s a
list of 75 simple pleasures.
- Practice being present. You can practice being in the moment at any time during the day. Here’s how.
- Find inspirations. Learn from the best. Here are 5 inspirations for being in the moment.
- Make frugality an enjoyable thing too. Instead of delayed gratification, try enjoying life now while saving for later.