Simplify with Better Habits: The Discipline of Minding One’s Own Business

It’s taken me a while to get this one published; honestly, this is my fourth iteration of this post. Every time I wrote one, it either seemed too sanctimonious, too petty, or too self-deprecating to be useful. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had several experiences that left me confronted with both other people’s hurtfulness and my own shortcomings (more the latter than the former, unfortunately), and I thought I’d write about it since it’s becoming one of my “projects” in this journey to simplify life.

Don’t you love being “in the know?” I sure do. If I overhear some gossip, I’m curious as to what’s going on. If someone’s upset, I want to know why. If there’s heaviness and tension in the air, I want to know the cause. And along the same lines, I struggle with wanting to insert myself into conversations. If I overhear two people discussing something I’m interested in, or something in which I have helpful knowledge, my compulsion is to hop (uninvited) into the conversation and offer my insight, or experience, or the answer to the question they’re looking for. If someone needs help, I want to help them, sometimes even if it’s something that’s not my place to help with.

Do you ever find yourself wondering what people may be saying about you when you’re not around? I absolutely do. But here’s the problem with that: people don’t pay nearly as much attention to you as you think they do, which means that, if they ARE talking about you when you’re not around, it’s not usually a discussion of how sweet you are or how good you are at something. It’s often negative. A few weeks ago, I found out that someone I’m relatively close to snarked about one of my physical aspects behind my back. After I got over being pissed and feeling a little betrayed, it got me thinking. Why on earth would someone feel the need to criticize my appearance to someone they didn’t know well enough to realize they’d share that with me? Why does my appearance matter to someone else anyway (unless it’s impeding their life somehow)? But even more importantly: do I do that too? And, the unfortunate answer is yes, yes I have. Just as this other person should’ve been paying less attention to my business, thereby not ultimately tainting my feelings toward her, I should be minding my own business enough to keep from making that same mistake with others.

This article from Tiny Buddha offers insight; this preoccupation with others’ business makes us depressed, and removes our focus from learning to find contentment and thrive in our own circumstances.

The Bible tells us, literally, to mind our own business (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

The desire to know is natural; it’s part of being human. But just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

Minding my own business is a habit I’m seeking to instill in my simple-living journey. Ditching Facebook has been a wonderful start, and I’m hopeful that, as I continue to pare down things that create needless stress, I’ll have less of an urge to focus on the things that do.

Is this an area of your life that you need to work on, too? Will you join me?

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A Minimalist Christmas…or an Attempt, at Least

A vintage Kins-shot to start the post; I found lots of old pics on our external hard drive, so I saved some to include in posts for you.  This one was particularly cute, I think…Shelli was very interested in the camera.  you can also see her little shaved belly; they spayed her at six weeks; sometimes they do that to help them be more adoptable.  It helped us a lot because we couldn’t have afforded the spay fee.

I don’t feel like talking about food today.  Suffice it to say that I had too much of it yesterday and the day before and that I’m pissed about that and plan to eat extremely cleanly for the next week at least.  Also suffice it to say that I’ve learned a very important lesson about being a vegetarian at omnivore family gatherings:  I will need to bring a very good veggie dish to every one I go to.  Green beans?  Cooked in beef stock.  Turnip greens?  Same thing.  My options?  Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes.  I’m sick of them.  Anyway, on to other things.

One of the most fundamental aspects of voluntary simplicity is the idea of “minimalism,” or reducing one’s possessions down to what is absolutely necessary and/or important.  Possessions should reflect one’s values, and those values should not include amassing as much “stuff” as possible.  One of the first steps, I daresay, into a more simple life is taking inventory of one’s possessions and paring them down to the important stuff.

We’ve done this a few times; we’ve had two or three yard sales and have made decent money, but we’re still really bad about keeping stuff because “we might need it later.”  I’m over that.  We have an office that we can’t even get into, and the dresser in the bedroom is so covered with junk that I have to stand on tiptoes to put my hair in a ponytail in the morning.  Our mission for the next few weeks is going to be to get those rooms cleared out.

A truly minimalist Christmas is impossible for me; I’m stuck in the corporate world, and we have THREE, yes, you heard me right, THREE holiday “events” that we have to participate in.  And, as much as I like the people I work with, the amount of time/energy/money that we have to spend on those events is incredibly draining.  Then, our church puts on a musical every year, with six performances (and a dress rehersal) that ends up taking up an entire week of our lives, and then we need to fit in a Sunday School fellowship…etc, and the list goes on.  For me, this year, our commitments will not allow for minimalism (although watch out, because that very well may change next year), but at least I can take some steps now to help reduce the clutter and stress of the holiday season.  Here’s what I’m doing:

  1. cleaning off the dresser
  2. getting rid of articles/paperwork that I don’t need anymore
  3. putting away/organizing my shoes
  4. getting the bedroom closet so that we can store clothes in there again.
  5. starting on the office

Now, anyone can “clean.”  The point of the minimalist-driven clutter project is to take a very hard look at EVERY item and asking oneself whether or not it’s really that important.  Have you used it in the last three months?  four months?  If not, then you probably want to sell it, donate it, or chuck it if you can’t do anything else.  Don’t be overly sentimental; just let it go.

If you need help mustering up the courage to start, check out Far Beyond the Stars.  This guy is extremely serious about the minimalist lifestyle, to the extreme.  While the lengths to which he goes may not be for everyone, his philosphy is something that can really be taken to heart, and his tips are worthwhile, regardless of what level you’re comfortable taking them to.

Enjoy your Saturday!