In this externally satisfying world we spend much time asking the world how we feel, and never reflect on what is happening inside of us. The amazing thing about life is that as we age our complications grow, but life remains just as uncomplicated and simple as always.
The basic premises of life have not changed. We still want the same things we did when we were kids playing in the sandbox at home, or chasing little Sally around the playground at school. But, humans have a way of screwing everything up by overthinking things. We get in our own way, complicating matters, and when the layers are pulled away what we find is that what drove us forward years ago still drives us forward today. We’ve changed. We have added layers of complexity, and with each passing year we weave more tangled webs.
Dealing with complications is not fun. Our webs grow out of our hurting past, the scars and times we’ve been kicked down. They grow out of our professional and personal failures, our perceptions of who the world thinks we should exist as, and how we failed to meet that standard. Our successes also define our complications. These complications take an otherwise straightforward and simple life objective of finding and being happy and make such a goal nearly impossible. This is of our own doing.
The proof that life does not become more complicated as we age, but humans do, lies in those small moments you find throughout adulthood when you think “this is what life should always be like.” I’m talking about those moments when reality makes sense and aligns with who you want to exist as. These rare moments are quickly overshadowed by other mundane aspects of life that we have classified as “adulting”- tasks that are essential to our longevity as humans, but compete with watching paint dry for an award on sheer tedium.
So, how do we simplify life and get back to that uncomplicated version of ourselves? There is a movement of people trying to find a way to do this. People are leaving their nice city homes and moving to small, remote towns, hideaways deep in the woods, flocking to suburbs to escape city life, or picking up and vanishing to countries outside the US in the hopes that their anonymity among the many can make life simple again.
We hope that by packing up our technological devices and children, converting our stressful jobs in to telecommuting positions, shouldering our struggling relationships and a gnawing feeling of isolation we can walk away from all the baggage that complicates life and simplify things in a new environment. Instead, we bring our web of expectations with us to that simple environment, and what starts out as an opportunity to start over turns in to a slow, tortured downward spiral to the same problems in a brand new environment.
What we need to do is look inside for solutions. The root cause of life’s complications is us. The world has existed in the same way for thousands of years, but the rules and structures we impose upon this place complicate matters. We strung wires across the land, cut roads through the wilderness, built skyscrapers and monuments to our successes and throughout all of this maturation our minds have not matured fast enough to keep pace.
We are cave dwellers living in a sophisticated society, trying to understand why the structures of culture we have created make life more complicated, not more simple. One answer lies in going within, and seeking out that internal simplicity. By focusing on finding and recognizing those things and people we appreciate for how they make us feel and for the value they add to our lives we cut away the things that do not matter.
When this baggage falls away the simplicity of so many things in life reappears. When we are in the thick of our own little worlds seeing this is impossible. In thinking about how to live a good life I recognize that a few things have served me well:
- Express Gratitude
- Find something you enjoy working hard at, and then work hard.
- Don’t care about the opinions of others. You’ll be dead soon and they won’t matter.
- Surround yourself with people that make you better
- Don’t dwell on failures or limitations
- Take the time to reflect.
Maybe I’m oversimplifying life. But, maybe you are over complicating things. Maybe, in an attempt to create an attitude of self importance you are just talking about being “too busy” and not focusing on the things that really matter. So, what are those things for you? And are the things that matter, the only “complications” you’re willing to accept in life?