From our featured contributor Lee Coello at Becoming Unencumbered:
Have you ever asked yourself these questions:
How can I live more efficiently?
What are the minimum requirements to maximize my life?
When I examine these questions for my own life I find an interesting relationship. If I acquire beyond what I really need I also accumulate more stress in my life. The reasons for the excess are rarely logical for my requirements, but instead tied to fears of not having, or at times, being enough. Fear leads to worry and worry is a negative, physically deteriorating stress. Having more then diminishes my quality of life. This is not efficient or viable in the longterm.
Stress is complicated and as a result causes complications in our health and thinking. Constantly seeking and grasping for more takes you out of the present. It displaces your energy in worry and issues outside of yourself, and usually out of your control as well. Focusing on what you cannot do squanders the energy you could use to your benefit today. This is wasteful and, by definition, also inefficient.
On the contrary, there is an inherent confidence in simplicity. Not needing to complicate or exaggerate our reality speaks to the contentment with what we have and where we are in the present. It keeps us in the here, grounded in the now. Being present allows us to better appreciate and feel gratitude for what we have or are experiencing. Our energy, resources and space in life are not misused. Simplicity is therefore efficient.
Given all this, if we want the maximum possible return on the investment that is our life, which means living efficiently, our best option is to keep matters manageable, simple and at an appropriate level of necessity.
But the relationship between simplicity and efficiency has an impact far beyond our inner selves. It extends to the world around us and the interaction we have with it. Plainly put, simplicity is also most efficient and sustainable for the world at large. Living simpler means living with fewer steps between ourselves and the naturally created and ordered world. The natural world runs on a well-tested system that does not require intense intervention, managing or updating to keep it useful and functioning. That is efficiency. And that is what I believe most of us want for our own lives.
“When we broaden our appreciation for simplicity and how it can make life more efficient, we become more aware of how keeping in step with the natural world also preserves it while helping us maintain a personally efficient and simple lifestyle.”
The parameters are simple, but follow a natural order: the more steps away from the natural (inherently simpler and more efficient) world it is, the more complicated it usually is, which then translates into a greater toll on resources, labor and energy demanded from the environment to produce it, increasing the output in either time, money or energy we will need to acquire or maintain it.
In choosing that which is more natural and simple, we therefore save the planet and ourselves countless precious resources and contribute to overall efficiency.
Now to be fair, I will say that leaving a lifestyle of complexity and modern-day, normal inefficiency can actually be far from simple. It takes a focused commitment to be defined by our own intentions and not that of the persuasive and very influential outside world. It also requires a clear vision of what we want for ourselves and constant reminders of what will or does not contribute to that outcome.
It is not life without issues or doubts, nor is it a magical fix for all that ails us or the world we live in. Our every whimsical want will not magically disappear, but over time with habit and consistency, the external voices and pressures grow quieter. Choices become easier and new behaviors and perspectives become second-nature.
The hope is that over time, with each choice we all make, if we seek simplicity we can collectively live in greater harmony and efficiency within the world and with each other.
Lee Chinshue Coello is a life-pondering, simplicity seeking mother of three dedicated to living simply and sustainably, but fully. With degrees in International Affairs and Public Health her particular interest is focused on the relationship between socio-economics and lifestyle management education. Through her in-person and online work she seeks to help others achieve healthier, more organized and efficient lifestyles for their own benefit as well as for the communities they interact within. You can read more about her personal experiences and insights on creating an intentional and efficient life on her blog Becoming Unencumbered or in her upcoming book Seeking Efficiency: A Better Way to Organize Your Life (summer 2013). Connect with Lee on Twitter and Facebook!