One of the things I have constantly struggled to do is to be present in the moment and live each day calmly and intentionally. I have a tendency to over-book, always say yes, figure things out, and control things. Unchecked, these tendencies result in stress, anxiety and worry. While some thought must be directed beyond the here and now, excessive planning and fretting over the future robs us of enjoying the present.
When our to-do lists are too long to appreciate beauty in the present moment, we are missing out on some of the greatest things life has to offer. It’s hard to focus on a conversation with a loved one when your mind is racing to the next thing on your list (and the next thing after that). You’ll never see that bright red robin with a fat belly skip across the front porch in the morning if your nose is buried in e-mails while you inhale your breakfast so you can rush out the door.
Between our busy, busy lives and countless forms of “entertainment” at our fingertips, we’ve become a rather distracted society. And as I seek simplicity in life, I’m finding that minimizing distractions is perhaps the most efficient road to a more intentional life.
Many, many things cause us to be distracted. Over-stuffed schedules and to-do lists, clutter and closets and drawers stuffed to capacity, pings and clings coming from our computers, phones and tablets, advertisements screaming at us from the radio, TV, internet and now, even screens in elevators on our way to the doctor’s office.
I’m not sure it matters exactly where you begin to reduce distractions in your life, as long as you start somewhere. Start looking at your life through a different lense. What are the things that you value the most? Would someone looking in on your life from the outside be able to see those things clearly? Are you spending the majority of your time on those things? If not, what needs to change? If yes, are you still feeling overwhelmed or stressed? What distractions can you eliminate?
I believe that God has a plan for my life (and yours!). I also believe that we have free will. That means that God is not going to shove His plan or Himself down our throats. We have to make a choice. Sometimes, we have to take a step toward His outstretched hand. Sometimes it feels terrifying to take that step, even if it’s small. Sometimes, taking the first step isn’t that tough but somewhere after that, we start to question and doubt and panic.
In the past year or so, I’ve probably given away close to 50% of our stuff. Most of it was shoved in storage bins, forgotten, unopened and un-enjoyed for years. Other things we gave away or sold were more difficult to let go of. I made the difficult decision to leave my job last June. We cancelled our subscription to cable TV. I’m staying off of social media sites for the first half of each day. I have less material things to keep up with, clean and organize. I have less on my to-do list. I spend less time watching TV and less time on the internet. I’ve re-discovered my passion for writing and creativity. I’m spending more time with the Lord and my family, friends and pets.
This is my journey thus-far and the power of LESS in my life is making room for MORE of what really matters to me. Your journey begins wherever makes the most sense for you, or wherever you feel God leading you. But you must find time to slow down and listen and look. Listen to God, to what He’s placed in your heart. Look for the blessings and beauty that surround you in the present moment.
Because I eliminated the distraction of social media and mindless internet browsing from my morning routine, I had time to play fetch with my dog yesterday morning before my training session at the gym. Because I decided to eat each meal without distraction, I saw a beautiful, fat, red robin skip across my porch this morning. Because I decided to give things away, I found a desire to own less instead of get more. Because I took a year off to seek the Lord’s will for my life, I’m writing every day.
Being intentional about life and how you spend your time matters. It might even matter in ways you’d never imagined!