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3 Things You Need to Stop Doing to Live a Simpler Life

3 Things You Need to Stop Doing to Live a Simpler Life

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Confucius

This week’s article is about a few mistakes I have made.

About a few destructive habits that can make life quite messy and unhappy.

And it is about what you can do instead to replace those mistakes and habits with something better.

This article is all about uncovering simplicity if you find yourself having overcomplicated your life.

1. Stop overthinking things.

Few habits and mistakes are as common as getting stuck in overthinking. I used to do it all the time.

And it led to a lot of analysis paralysis, to little action being taken on what I deep down wanted and to so much time and energy wasted.

What to do instead:

Set short deadlines.

When you have all the time in the world to consider something then that can often wind up in you spending a lot of time thinking about the situation at hand from every conceivable angle. I have found that learning to set short deadlines is really helpful for this, although it take a bit to practice.

So for small decisions like if should go and do the dishes or go and work out I usually give myself 30 seconds or less to make a decision.

For somewhat larger decisions that in the past would have taken me days or weeks to think through I set a deadline for 30 minutes or for the end of the workday.

Say stop in a situation where you know you can’t think straight.

I know that I am more vulnerable to negative thinking and overthinking things when I am hungry or when I am close to my bedtime.

And so I have learned to stay away from thinking about anything important during that time. And if such thoughts with a negative twist still pop up then I tell myself: No, no, we are not going to think about this now.

Because I know that I will be back to thinking clearly and optimistically again if I just get some food or sleep.

I highly recommend finding your own situation(s) when you are more vulnerable to overthinking or pessimism. And to catch yourself and redirect your thoughts at such times.

2. Stop making your daily work busier and more complicated than it needs to be.

It’s very easy to get stuck in the same old rut at work or in school. To spend your hours there like you usually do and like most of the other people do too.

With a lot of time spent on busy work, procrastination and on being stressed on weekends or just before a deadline.

What to do instead:

Breathe and find what truly matters in the long run.

First, sit down and take a couple of deep breaths to relax and to focus your mind.

Then ask yourself: what is the most important thing I can do today?

Think about what would matter most in the long run when you ask yourself this question. Find just that one task.

Get started with that one task.

If you have trouble taking action and are slipping into procrastination then go smaller.

Tell yourself: I will work on this task for just 2 minutes.

Make getting started so easy on yourself that there is very little or no inner resistance in your mind.

Because if you just get started then it’s in my experience pretty easy to keep going for a while longer and to make a real dent in the task or even completing it.

3. Stop overcomplicating your relationships.

The fun, excitement and joy in a relationship of any kind can often be greatly reduced by simple and common thought mistakes.

Two such mistakes I have made a lot in the past are to try to read minds and to go full in with creating drama.

What to do instead:

Ask.

Trying to mindread usually winds up in creating nightmare scenarios in your own mind. Because reading minds is pretty much impossible and so it is very easy to project your own worst fears onto what this person might be thinking.

So instead start cultivating a habit of being a bit more direct. Cultivate a habit of asking and more clearly communicating to better understand each other.

Question your own drama.

There can be a sort of pleasure or excitement in creating drama and making something bigger or more negative than it is.

In the short run and even more so in the long run it tends to be quite destructive though.

So start questioning your own drama.

Ask yourself:  Will this matter in 5 years? Or even in 5 weeks?

Ask it before you start creating and spreading drama to the people in your life. Sure, the issue at hand may still have to be addressed but simplify it to what it truly is before you do that to avoid unnecessary conflicts, anger and hurt feelings.

And don’t forget to question other people’s drama too by asking yourself the same question. Just because they want to create drama doesn’t mean that you have to get drawn into it.

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  • latifa galiyah

    Thanks dear Henrik …these emails meaan alot and this one of today has made my days more easier..

  • Mark

    Hey Henrik,

    You’re right about overthinking things. I do it all the time and make things more complicated than they are and end up stressing myself out.

    Being an introvert, I tend to think everything through and keep things inside of me. I assume a lot. When you overthink you also worry about things that could happen to you in the future and that are not presently there. I worry all the time about my financial/job future and stress myself out.

    Having a history of thinking negatively doesn’t help my case. It’s very difficult not to think and worry about your problems. I tend to either live in the past and relive regrets or live in the future and stress and depress myself over stuff that could happen to me.

    It’s extremely difficult to live in the present and be happy. I feel like I’m always spinning my wheels and never getting ahead in life.

    Sometimes I wonder if life is really worth living anymore and just feel like ending it all. I don’t think I’ll ever do it BUT feel like doing it because I think about it as a possible practical solution to my problems. That’s the simple, easy way out for me to have peace with myself …

    • Awh Mark! I totally understand your feelings! I’ve been in that kind of situation too 🙂 Sometimes it’s hard to stop overthinking, but here’s what I’ll say to you: “this too will pass”.. Whatever it is that you’re going through at this moment, know that now is not forever. This may sound cliche, but this world is not our home. I’m a Christ-follower and I know that once I leave this earth, heaven is awaiting on me. Ending your life won’t help you in any ways.. I can’t help you much but know that you can do all thing through Him! ?? I’m praying that you will find peace and joy in God, because this world can’t give us such peace and joy.

      Cheers,

      Mima

    • Same! I don’t think of ending my life but I’m always afraid of what others think and I’m unable to accept myself. Help me henrik! Can you please post about this? How to embrace yourself and not worry about being judged

  • Marvin

    Great post, loved it … keep up the good work !

  • Bill

    Great 3 points. I especially like the idea of thinking before creating drama for yourself and/or others around you. Most things I get upset enough won’t even matter in 5 minutes or 5 hours!

    I’d also add to not let perfect be the enemy of good enough. That’s something I struggle with. It has to be just right or it’s a failure…obviously!! Easy to say tho 🙂

    I love your posts. Keep up the great work!

  • Great article. I read this article properly. This is one of the best posts. Thanks sharing this article

  • Florence

    Heya this post was great as usual but I just wanted to thank you for this especially today because I have been stressed out,burst out in a load of tears for about 2 hours and yelled at people who were being really hurtful towards me and my sister in my house today and his has helped me smile abit. Thankyou x
    throw kindness around like confetti – love, don’t hate.

  • I agree with the short deadlines. I found it very useful to set short deadlines instead of long-term .

    Whenever I had set long-term deadlines, my work had become a burden for me. I did procrastination. I was busy but I was not productive. Long-term deadlines sucked my times and even a lot of days.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing the post. It’s worth reading.. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Lauren

    Thank you so much for taking the time each day to encourage others through your uplifting blog.

  • Such an amazing article. You’re a big inspiration to many.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the information. It is very encouraging as well as educative.

  • I really like your blog write-up which is obviously informative & fantastic…. Keep sharing more… Thanks a lot!!!

  • Robyn

    I absolutely needed to read this! I will have so much ” procrastination anxiety depression” thinking all day about the laundry I need to switch out so it doesn’t end up stinking. And it’s like I have to literally climb a mountain the way Im being over this SMALL task?

    • Robyn

      By the way I Just gave myself thirty seconds to put the dishes up from the dishwasher and the PRESSURE of the HUGE 30 seconds had me right up and it was done Bam!

  • TurboTim

    Hi Henrik,

    Is a neat article to read and a quick reminder to myself as to how to prioritize events in my life.
    I want to point out taking deep breaths in a difficult situations can provide a short timeout and also to provide more oxygen to the brain. You have no idea how many times it saves my life by using this technique.

    Thank you for such a nice article.

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