I’m one of those black and white thinkers. I like things to be right or wrong, cut and dried, yes or no, organized and in place at all times. When I decide to do something, it’s not halfway; I’m either all in or all out. I’m not comfortable with blurred lines, fuzzy thinking, grey areas or indecision.
The problem is, there are a lot of situations, beliefs and scenarios in life that just aren’t clear, and when we try to force everything to fit into a set of specified rules, we end up removing opportunity for learning and personal growth and empathy. We end up pushing people, new ideas and experiences away.
For someone with my personality, and I think for many people, it is best to leave room for change, for new viewpoints or experiences that may expand our thinking. The only way I have found to do this is by broadening my perspective and allowing for differences.
Take simple living for example, when I first started researching the lifestyle, I thought I had to follow a specific set of rules, commit to owning a specific number of possessions, eat only organic food, own 33 pieces of 100% fair trade clothing and make sure my carbon footprint was 0.
I thought if I wasn’t doing ALL of those things, I couldn’t call myself a minimalist or say I was living simply. If I messed up and made an impulse buy, overspent at Christmas or ate KFC for dinner once in a while, I was out of the club.
All I really had to do was broaden my definition of simple living and minimalism, to recognize the fact that no two minimalists look the same, they may both believe in owning only what you need, consuming less, taking care of the earth and other people, but their methods of going about it are going to be different. I needed to change the ‘rules’ from being the methods used, to the end goal.
Most of us share the same ‘end goals’ in our lives. We want to be happy, healthy, financially secure and loved. Our means and methods we use to get there will vary greatly from person to person, and that’s okay.
Every person will walk a different path in life to reach these goals. Some paths will be easier, some more difficult, but I think most people will agree they are all still trying to reach the same end point, happiness and love.
For myself, I choose my paths carefully, and once I’m on them, it’s full speed ahead. It’s that black and white thinking coming out. But, I am also not afraid to change course to reach my goals if I see a better way of getting there, that’s part of the journey. As Confucius said,
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
If you’ve been considering taking the path of simplicity, meander down the trail for a bit (don’t meander too long!) and see if life is better. Start with decluttering your car, or just one room. Cook dinner at home one more night this week.
I think you’ll find the benefits are hard to miss. If you see it’s bringing value to your life, add more ‘methods’, not rules, which will continue to move you towards your end goal.
Don’t get stuck thinking you have to do it all perfectly from the beginning, or not at all. Choose your own path and methods to simplicity, just go down it with all your heart and determination.