Why Simplify? (and what does that have to do with sleep?)

by admin on May 30, 2011 · 0 comments

in Midlife sleep


Many of us can’t sleep because there’s simply too much on our minds. Or too much to do. Or too much left undone.  A classic topic for mental ponderings (and not the innocent soporific kind) is the remains of the day and what’s not completed.  Another favorite object of our thought is worry – over relationships, our health, our money or our future in general.  We try to put all this aside in favor of sleep, but, like a bad penny, it just keeps coming back.  What to do about this may involve some daytime work, not just work on sleep.  As ­­Charlotte Bronte has said, “a ruffled mind makes for a restless pillow”.  How true this is.

What does it mean to simplify life?  Just to do fewer of the things than we now do? Or to do things that take less time?  I don’t think so.  In a key way, simplifying means to do more of the things we value highly. To get greater satisfaction from the things we do by shifting the proportion of things we “must” do compared to pursuing the things of great importance to us. This will be different for each person.  How much time do you spend each day doing things that are part of your cherished value system and your life goals? Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful”.  So says John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design.

Our grandparents did not have the luxury of making such a choice, often having to work from sunup to sunset just providing for their basic needs.  In our modern day world, we have cutting edge technology and household devices, convenience food and round the clock news, banking and entertainment, yet we seem less fulfilled than ever before. We lack even the satisfaction that our grandparents seemed to have with life.

To “get back to basics” means less to worry about and more of what’s really high on our “Values In Action” list – the one we haven’t made yet. To get from here to there will not be simple. It involves moving some of our cherished mental, and often physical, clutter.  A surprising number of us are unsuspecting mental hoarders, it seems.  Clearing mental clutter is the subject of another of my favorite themes – mindful living.  But this is the topic for another day.

In the meantime, read Leo’s blog and take just one of his many ideas for simplifying, implement it, and see if you don’t sleep better.  Get back to me on that.

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