focusing on simplicity

I always choose a word of the year to focus on and apply to each week, and this year I was struggling to come up with what word to pick. I was going back and forth about a few, and one morning when I was doing my quiet time, it came to me: simplicity. This word applies to me in a lot of different aspects, and I’ve started to notice more and more throughout each day how much I fail at it, haha. I just started noticing how anxious I get when I’m at school and how easily I get stressed. A big reason for this is I let myself get so overwhelmed with dozens of tiny details and tasks instead of focusing on one thing at a time. I could write for pages about this topic, but I wanted to touch on the topic of simplicity and a few aspects of my life where I’m looking to apply this concept!

One thing I’ve noticed about myself is that it’s really hard for me to sit in silence. I’m always doing something, reading something, listening to something. It’s rare that my mind is completely silent or focused on my thoughts. I’m really trying to change this though, which is where simplicity comes in. Even if I am working on one specific task and not multitasking, I still have some sort of background noise. For example, if I’m on a run, I have a podcast in. If I’m writing an essay, I have jazz music in the background. If I’m bored waiting in line, I’m scrolling on my phone. My mind is constantly filled with content and media, and I hate it. I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this, but now that I recognized it, I start to notice myself slipping into those habits throughout the day.

Applying simplicity in my life means learning to sit in my thoughts and focus on one task at the time. To look up and be aware of my surroundings, instead of always thinking about my to do list. In a larger sense, simplicity means living in the moment and enjoying this season of my life, not wishing it was the weekend or spring break or graduation. It’s so hard! With the world of social media, there is constantly new content and media just waiting to be consumed. But I don’t want to live my life on a screen. I want to live with my eyes open to each moment.

I noticed this when I was at Kroger the other day. I usually grocery shop with a podcast and don’t talk to anyone at self checkout. But that day, I didn’t have my Airpods and at the checkout line, I saw the cashier checking on me to make sure my machine was working properly. I just had a little conversation with her, asking if Kroger had been busy that day and if she had a good weekend. It was maybe 2 minutes total, but I left with a smile on my face. If I would have been listening to a podcast, I wouldn’t have had that conversation with her! I want to have more meaningful conversations and talk to other people around me instead of being so focused on myself.

I’m really trying to apply simplicity to school by being aware of how I spend my time and how effective I am when I work. A lot of times, when I do homework I’ll have music or a YouTube video on in the background. Recently I’ve been challenging myself to work in silence or instrumental music. I actually get my work done a lot quicker, and I love being in a coffee shop with no headphones and the coffee shop music in the background. Don’t get me wrong, I will definitely still listen to my study playlists when I need extra focus, but it can be nice to not be sucked in to my computer with my headphones like I usually am. Focusing on one task at a time instead of three at once can actually boost productivity, because I can put all my mental energy into finishing one thing instead of spread out through three.

This post is getting super long, and there are so many other areas I can apply simplicity to. Friends: getting back to the basics and having focused, meaningful conversations. Health: whole foods, water, sunlight, not getting overwhelmed with dozens of “health products” or supplements or diets. Overall, I’m just working on training my mind to be okay with silence and simplicity. To notice my thoughts more and notice God’s presence throughout the day instead of always rushing to the next task!

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