Embracing Simplicity in Our Life

Embracing Simplicity in Our Life

Do you sometimes feel like we live in a world where more equals better? More money, more clothes, more gadgets, more productivity, more growth, … It seems like a big part of our life is in fast-forward modus. We find ourselves entangled in the web of constant notifications, hectic schedules, and the pressure to keep up with the ever-increasing pace of life. We are all very busy and many people perceive being busy as being successful. But is that true? Personally, the older I get the more I feel a need to slow down and embrace simplicity. And I think I am not alone. I can see that more and more people see the art of slowing down as a necessity, not just a luxury. Research shows that if you go too fast, you overload your cognitive abilities, and they degrade. One of the leading experts on this topic, G. Claxton, analysed what happens to a person’s focus if they engage in deliberately slow practices like yoga and mindfulness. He is very clear in this: slowness nurtures attention, speed shatters it. So, how can we create simplicity in our lives and savour the beauty of a slower, more deliberate existence? These are things that work for me: 1. Disconnect to reconnect. In a world dominated by smartphones and social media, taking a break from screens can be incredibly rejuvenating. I discovered the Focus button on my phone, and it is very helpful to designate specific times during the day and especially in the evening to disconnect from my device. Instead, I choose to read a book, take a walk,...
Mid-life Transitions: How to feel alive

Mid-life Transitions: How to feel alive

Following on from my last post on mid-life (https://www.thepositivepsychologypeople.com/focus-on-mid-life-in-21st-century/), this one is also about mid-life, but here I am focusing on the experience of how to feel alive, even when things are changing for us. It can be very easy to become caught up in anxieties and fear for the future, especially when changes are not expected. Yet it is in these moments of change that we are more alive than ever. There is no one way to be when our lives are in transition, but here I suggest a few techniques which may just help you hold onto some of the awe in the world. How to feel alive “I don’t think [the meaning of life] is what we’re seeking. I think [it’s] an experience of being alive so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” Joseph Campbell The above quote is attributed to Joseph Campbell from the 1980s American series ‘The Power of Myth’. Campbell was a writer who studied mythology and religious texts for most of his life. He became an expert at understanding the patterns within stories which can be found across the many cultures and societies we humans have created for millennia. Campbell argues that despite the belief that we are all searching for some sort of meaning in our lives, what we really want and need is what he calls the “rapture of being alive”. This is when you feel fully alive, and all your senses are piqued and firing. It...
Five Considerations to Help Navigate Meaning & Purpose in Mid-life

Five Considerations to Help Navigate Meaning & Purpose in Mid-life

You may have heard of the term ‘midlife crisis’. As people approach their mid-thirties or forties, it’s quite common to experience a phase of deep reflection, introspection, and evaluate one’s accomplishments in life. Quite often people start to question whether it’s too late to start a family or change careers. Maybe they have been in their current job for a long time and are now feeling stuck, empty, or unfulfilled. The sense of safety and security they spent so long building is now too risky to jeopardise, yet reinforced each day they don’t act. Perhaps they are starting to feel life’s toll on their skin, body, and health; realising that they won’t be around forever and wondering whether people will remember them when they are gone. (The death of someone close could also be a cruel reminder of our limited time here). If you’re looking for some inspiration, keep reading as I’ll briefly outline 5 ways to help you find a sense of meaning and purpose in your life.   Being connected to something greater Fortunately, we are not alone, as these needs can be explained with Developmental Psychology. Erik Erikson outlines 8 stages of psychosocial development and specifically as we enter the mid-stage of our lives, we all have a hope to be connected to something bigger and nurture future generations. This is a likely reason people start to question the meaning of life, their legacy or whether it’s too late to have children. Knowing the meaning of life is extremely complex and subjective, which makes us feel uncertain and sense a lack of control. I want you...
Living Life Through Flow Not Force

Living Life Through Flow Not Force

Wouldn’t it be nice to feel like you are living life through flow? How great would it be if things just fell into place, with minimal effort on your part? Imagine the peace, the joy, the gratitude of a life like this. Let yourself imagine it for a moment. Let yourself seep into that feeling of grace, ease and flow. And now, look at your current life… Is it flowing? It is full of ease and grace? For many of us, the answer will be ‘no’. Many of us are pushing, forcing and trying really hard which can lead to frustration, resentment, exhaustion and more. But, it needn’t be this way. You can create more ease and flow in your life. I speak from experience and, I’d like to share some tips with you. The first thing is to recognise if you are living through force, rather than flow.   Are you forcing life? See if any of these are true for you: You feel a lot of stress and heaviness in life You often feel like you are ‘pushing against’ something You feel overwhelmed by external situations, people and things You feel controlled by external situations, people and things You feel powerless in your own life You are exhausted You are frequently trying really hard You become resentful and unhappy You may feel like a victim You may get angry when things aren’t going your way It takes a lot of effort to achieve what you want When you get what you want, you often lose it again If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, you are...
Lessons From Positive Psychology in my Life

Lessons From Positive Psychology in my Life

Positive psychology has helped me better understand my past and enabled me to see endless opportunities for learning, in myself and others. Since taking the time to reflect, I’ve felt less regretful when looking back on my life and much more hopeful when looking forward.   Learning makes people change One of the most memorable moments of my childhood was when my dad told me ‘you never stop learning’.  I’ve always been a curious individual and one of the many questions I dwelled on during childhood was what makes people change?  There are some people who seem like they never change, perhaps those who live with their parents for large parts of their lives or rarely venture outside of their hometown. On the other hand, there were people who I aspired to in school because they competed in national competitions and ventured abroad. While of course, some opportunities aren’t necessarily available to all, we not only learn from our own experiences but from other people’s too.   People don’t always need a solution Another thing I wondered about when growing up was why people came to me for advice, listened and then went away and did something completely different. It was so frustrating for me to see at the time, but now I think know why. People neither want nor need you to tell them what to do with their lives. In fact, it’s possibly one of the worst things, as it takes away their autonomy and sense of control (see Deci & Ryan’s self-determination theory). They either want you to listen (without trying to fix or solve) or...
The Liberation of Abandoning All Adjectives

The Liberation of Abandoning All Adjectives

Isn’t it nice when we get a compliment? It can give us a boost, somebody’s noticed us or noticed what we’ve done. A compliment is an expression of admiration, respect or approval and typically it leaves us feeling valued. However, my eyes were recently opened to a completely different way of thinking about this.   Ignore All Adjectives I passed on to a friend some praise that someone else had said about them. My friend gave a completely unexpected reply, she said ‘I am ignoring that, I ignore all adjectives.’ Wow, I had to know more, what did she mean ‘ignoring all adjectives,’ how does one even do that? She said for the last year she has been ignoring all adjectives that she hears about herself, the good ones and the bad ones and it has been really liberating. What an interesting concept. While receiving compliments is rewarding in the short term, it is only one person’s opinion and only their opinion at that particular time. On another day or another occasion they may say something completely different about us. They may no longer be pleased with what we are doing as it doesn’t fit with their expectation. On top of that we have to consider all the different people we come into contact with, some will show praise or respect in some way, some will be neutral and others will convey their disappointment.   Take Control If we react to everyone’s fluctuating opinion of us, we can be on an emotional rollercoaster, our mood rising with the compliments and falling with the complaints. However, by disassociating ourselves from...