Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot across the internet about books that have come out recently. To Hell with the Hustle and the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and Less is More. I’ve heard about these books from Youtube and Instagram and podcasts. This idea that we need to slow down and declutter our lives has been all the rage in these past few months.
I feel like the reason we’re so enamoured with this idea of slowing down and decluttering is that we’ve started to realize having more and doing more isn’t enough. Jim Carrey said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they’ve ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” If he is at the point where he has everything he dreamed of, why isn’t it enough?
Over Thanksgiving break, I watched this provocative documentary called Generation Wealth by Lauren Greenfield, and it depicted people with so much wealth and how all they wanted to do was get more. To be more. Do more. Get more. It was fascinating and it was horrifying. It showed America’s Black Friday shopping with a critical lens and really took a deep look to what wealth was doing to us as a society.
Here in the West, we actually have a pretty good amount. For the most part, we have a roof over our heads, we have three meals a day, we have access to various outlets for entertainment, and we can get an education. Compared to most of the world, we are wealthy. However, we always want more. Parents of children send them to fancy schools to get high paying jobs so they can buy a big house and more stuff. And the thing about having more stuff is that we always want more. Nothing is ever quite enough.
The thing is we’re all too busy in the chasing of all these things – that job, that college degree, that spouse, that the present moment is lost on us. What we have now doesn’t matter because we are blinded by what we don’t have.
Another issue of the lives we all choose to live is how stuffed they are. UVA’s culture can feel like every moment of downtime is wasted time, and that is found in the family culture as well. Parents stuff their kids lives with piano lessons and soccer practice, hoping they’ll find something they’ll enjoy or at least, have something to put on college applications. But in order to stumble upon what you really enjoy, you need space. Time left alone to be bored and wonder at the world around you.
I’ve written about the fear of boredom before, and it’s crazy to think that the generation of children that’s growing up on tablets and iPhones will never be bored. They’ll have endless amounts of scrolling the Internet and watching Youtube and Netflix to their heart’s content. While we still know what boredom is, it may be good to teach them to sit in it. If only we were able to do that ourselves.
We’re the burnout generation. We’re exhausted. We’re switching jobs left and right. We have multiple streaming services. We have so much choice that it is paralyzing. It makes sense that some people are waking up and starting to realize that the path we’re going on has some consequences and not ones we’d like to have in our futures.
I think the reason we all end up consuming way more than we thought we ever would is because everyone else is doing it. When we follow people online who are always shopping or always have the latest gadget out there, no wonder we find ourselves wandering to the store and reaching for our wallets.
Some active steps to apply some rules to your life so you don’t feel exhausted all the time and you enjoy what you have:
Do some inventory.
What exactly do you have? Maybe you’re like me and you think you need new shoes, but when you look at your closet, you see you have 10 pairs of shoes you haven’t worn in the past two years. Perhaps you’ll start wearing them or maybe they went out of style and you want to donate them.
Do inventory on all the parts of your life. What clothing do you have and what do you wear? What parts of your job do you like and what parts do you hate? How does your environment feel to you? What do you need to change? What can stay the same? How are your spending habits? Are you in debt? Make a plan to get out of debt. Start a savings account. Are you exercising? Are you journaling regularly? Who is adding value to your life? Who is removing value to your life?
Look at areas like possessions, career, relationships, personal health and development, spirituality, and assess what is good and what needs work.
Make some time for boredom.
Perhaps you’d like to meditate. If you’re like me, you hate sitting still and want to incorporate long walks in your life. Or before bed, you drink some tea and think. Make some time in your life whether in the morning, evening, whether daily or weekly, and just be bored. Allow your brain to wander. Boredom is good for creativity = https://time.com/5480002/benefits-of-boredom/.
Relax. Give your brain the space for new ideas to flourish. Give yourself time to do nothing and enjoy how that feels.
Do yourself a favor and be bored alone. Blaise Pascal says, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Let there be room to develop your own perspectives and ideas without the fear of what someone else thinks or not getting their approval.
Make one day sacred.
The idea of a Sabbath is one of Jewish tradition and it is one that is absolutely missing from modern day life. Before the 1970s, there used to be blue laws that restricted activity on Sundays. It would be so mail carriers would have a day of rest and it allowed for the practice of religion. Nowadays people work on Sunday or spend their Sundays as a time to get their lives together, instead of actually relaxing.
Spend one day a week doing things you love. That could be knitting. It could be watching a good movie. You could hang out with friends. You might make dinner with your family. Dedicate one day to giving your full attention not to getting more or doing more, but being more fully present in your life, either to the ones you love or to yourself.
That’s it, folks!
I highly recommend reading the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry as I’ve read it and it has caused me to reconsider some of my habits as a college student.
How do you eliminate hurry? How do you slow down? How do you love what you have?
Gifs: https://giphy.com/gifs/please-hurry-13sozYO4hmSMUw, https://giphy.com/gifs/snail-veronicadearly-veronica-dearly-PjaCaSrrMAxenQVl7f