“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
This article is about a few mistakes I've made.
About a few destructive habits that can make life quite messy and unhappy.
And it's 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'm more vulnerable to negative thinking and overthinking things when I'm hungry or when I'm 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're 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've made too often in the past are to try to read minds and to go full in with creating drama.
What to do instead:
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 temporary 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.
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.
Useful piece Henri. Appreciate your effort to help people get clarity
Once again a great post! I really like the point of making an effort to Ask rather than trying to mind read what the other person is thinking. So true that our minds are quick to project (our) worst imagined scenario when reality may be quite different. Thank you for encouraging us to communicate more clearly.
Have a great day!
All the posts in this blog are very inspiring. It feels very good to read. This is my favorite blog.
I really needed this. I’ve been stressing myself to the point of being sick because I’m trying to decide between two jobs. At the end of the day though it’s my life. I shouldn’t settle based off other people and it should be that simple. I don’t know why I try to complicate things.
Hey yeah Simplicity is the Key. I have been planning in Flow for over 14 years and I found something amazing. Simple Words about past, present and future was working out for me.
Very inspirational! Overthinking is something I personally struggle with, it is something that no one should face. Worrying about the little things in life is only going to make you unhappy, you need to relax and realize that it is okay to move on. This was really helpful in defining why there should be simple things in life that are not draining you by the overthinking caused in your head.
Definitely something I’ve always struggled with. For me, ADD runs in the family and I find myself making check-off lists for everything, but I’m often stuck in a rut going round and round just trying to decide on the best way to do something. So there can be a physical handicap to just creating new thought patterns, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from trying. More structure has never hurt anyone and brings peace and safe feelings to an indecisive mind.
Excellent post, Henrik. Thank you.
It was informative I’ll Come back to this sometime to reread it.
This is truly great advice – especially the point about negative drama (whether created by oneself or getting drawn into someone else’s drama).
Reading your crisp suggestions gives me strength and enthusiasm to face the day. Thanks a zillion.
Thank you for the incredibly useful advice and to remember to breathe.