Monday, April 16, 2012

Simplify: 106 Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life

I had a wonderful weekend at Glen Eyrie Castle in Colorado Springs. I was at a conference on simplicity and happened to take a few books on the subject -- it is so much easier to read when there is no TV or Internet, even cell connections are sketchy.

My first read on Friday was Simplify: 106 Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life by Paul Borthwick. This book is all about thinking through your life and choices. Learning to be deliberate and intentional.

"Simpler living asks why. Why do I need this product? Why should I believe the promises of a brochure? Why must I attend events that may or may not have significant purpose? Why respond to an opportunity just because it's there?"

Chapter 1 was about over-choice and it's impact on our ability to focus and stop multi-tasking long enough to finish something. I total relate to what Paul had to say, "Lack of focus often manifests itself in multi-tasking that results in unfinished projects. We begin a project, finish about 50 to 75 percent of it, and then lay it aside to pursue a new interest." Oh, and how true is this quote by Haddon Robinson, "Many people don't want to make good decisions; they want to make painless decisions."

The second part of each chapter is a list (part of the 106 Ways...) to help put the principles into practice. I'll share a few that I plan on putting into practice.

Chapter 2 was about discerning want versus need. Paul makes a great biblical case for really paying attention to wants versus needs. Proverbs 30:7-9 is worth spending some time really thinking about...maybe even memorizing for quick recall while shopping. Paul draws on Jerry Bridges' The Pursuit of Holiness to offer his four question formula for deciding right from wrong:
  1. Is it helpful physically, spiritually, mentally?
  2. Does it bring me under its power?
  3. Does it hurt others?
  4. Does it glorify God?
I putting this phrase into practice! "One day while we were looking at some sort of new household gadgets, I asked Christie if she wanted something,"No" she responded, "My house is full." That phrase -- "my house is full" -- has helped us say no to things -- even nice, desireable, on-sale, everybody-has-one things. We say no because left unchecked, our expectations can become our master. Tom Sine succinctly summarized, "Whatever commands our time, energy, and resources, commands us."

So how do you do are some of the "Ways to Simplify..." suggestions:
  • Buy slowly
  • Resist temptation
    • Window shopping in all forms induces buying (isn't that the truth!)
  • Beware the "want-makers"
  • Define your limits
  • Don't buy on impulse
  • Give it away
Chapter 3 was on staying fit. Enough said.  Chapter 4 was on how we spend lesiure time. Pause. Breathe. Move. Take a break. Chapter 5 was about living to the beat of a different drummer. On a day-to-day level, we can evaluate how well we are marching to the beat of God's drum by taking the Micah 6:8 test: 1) Am I acting justly? Do I care about fairness?; 2) Do I love mercy? Am I caring for people in need? Does mercy characterize the way I interact with others?; 3) Am I walking humbly with God? Am I striving to understand His agenda for my life or simply seeking His seal of approval on my own agenda?

Chapter 6 was a challenge to think and live with respect for time and others. "To live a simple lifestyle means to live intentionally beneath your potential standard of livng for the purpose of sharing your excess with others." I got a great tip in this chapter that I'll be putting into practice: "...we tag our clothes hangers once a year and remove the tag when the clothes are worn. If a tag is still there after a year, we know that shirt, skirt, or pair or pants should be given to someone who can use it."

Chapter 7, the final chapter, is on choosing to simplify. Knowing your motivation to simplify is so very important. I'll close with this, "A simpler lifestyle allos us to bujild our primary relationships."

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