The Hamster Wheel
There is an old Zen proverb “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” In our crazy hectic lives, even finding 5 minutes a day may seem like a stretch.
For most of us, a typical day starts early. We get up, prepare for work, get kids ready, drive, work, drive, make dinner, do housework/kid chores, watch 20 minutes of TV, sleep for a few hours and repeat the entire thing the next day. If we are lucky, we cram in a half hour workout. How can we change this, when it is just the way it needs to be?
I just recently read a book called Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver. Ok, to be honest, I LISTENED to the book on Audible while I was driving, but then purchased a physical copy because it was such a great book. She was leading this “hamster wheel” life in the guise of being able to give her daughter more. More what? More stuff, more expensive experiences and less of what a child really needs. We give our kids so many material things, thinking that is what they need of us. We go to work to make more money, then we buy more things, with money that we don’t have, because we work so hard, we obviously deserve to have more things. Do you see where I am going with this?
I know why we do it. We are trained by society to live in a material world. A better house, fancier car and nicer clothes are all signs of success. But what if we decided to slow it down? To downsize our house, change jobs and simplify things? What would people think of you then? Carver received news in a phone call that changed her life. A diagnosis of MS made her completely rethink her life. She vowed to make changes to give her more time with her daughter and more time with life. We only have a short time here, so should we not enjoy the journey?
How can you start to implement these changes? Do you even want to change? Will your partner go along with it? These are all very important questions to ask if you decide you want to jump off the hamster wheel and take back your life.
I see wellness composed of six pillars
- Simple food
- Simple movement
- Right work
- Solid relationships
- Spiritual health
- Financial peace
Where do you start to find this? I am going to jump around a bit here, so bear with me!
I like to start with financial peace and work from there. Take a few weeks of writing down all your expenses to see where the money goes. You will probably find ways pretty quickly to implement some savings. Maybe making your coffee at home in the morning and bringing lunch from left overs a couple of times a week would be a good start. Once you have determined where the money is going, you can create a plan (budget) that will help you start to reach some of the other goals.
It may not be possible to leave your job on a whim to find one that more spiritually or ethically resonates with you. Starting with the money part though, you can start to work towards that goal. Maybe you have always wanted to run a coffee shop or yoga studio (I have been fortunate to have done both!!), but you can’t figure a way to ever make that happen. Write down your goals, and let’s start working on a plan! If you get to spend your days doing what you love, it doesn’t seem like work!
Right movement, what the heck is that?? If you are struggling to find time in your day to pee it seems completely outside of reality to find time to practice yoga, walk or get to the gym. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”. You don’t need to start with an hour of hardcore workouts at the gym! Here again is where you need to start small. Do a few sun salutations on a break, walk around the building a few times a day, or stop at a park on your way home from work and get in a 20- minute walk. Once you start to make small amounts of movement a priority in your life, you will start to crave it.
Although food was my easiest one to implement, I know it can be a challenge for some people. Making simple breakfasts that you can take with you, and cooking in bulk one day a week are good ways to start, but can be really challenging. Add a veggie a day, skip one sugary drink or plan a meal at home one extra time a week. These may be small manageable ways to start creating a simpler way of eating.
As the other pillars start to fall into place, you may find greater peace in your relationships. You also may find some that need to be left with the old you. That is ok. Be open with partners, family and friends about your need to live a simpler, more mindful life. Share things with them, such as a healthy meal or an invitation to walk and talk. Relationships are such a vital part of us, that we need to make this a focus of our journey.
Our spiritual selves are very personal. We each need to examine our own faith, outlook and needs to determine the best way to proceed here. For me, it was finding yoga and meditation. I needed to become more in tune with myself to find my true spiritual nature. You may find a church, a meditation group, a yoga studio or some other organized space to suit your needs. Let this one happen. As the other pillars start to clarify themselves, this one becomes much easier.
So why am I telling you all of this? Didn’t we start with jumping off the hamster wheel? Yes, we did. These are the steps and areas in your life that will be helpful to find your true nature. You may find that the job you have is very fulfilling and working 80 hours a week at it is perfect for you! Simple food to you may be ordering prepared meals. Simple movement might be having a personal trainer come to your office twice a week. We all have different ideas of simplicity!!
Where can you start? I would love to have you sign up for a FREE 7-day introduction to my new program called The SimplicityQuest challenge!! Starting March 5th (or whenever you sign up if after that date!!) for 7 days, you will receive an email from me! Each day will be a short video and task that covers one of the Six Pillars of Wellness. This challenge is meant to help you to clarify what your “simple life” is, without judgement or pressure. You will be offered the opportunity to sign up for further work, but the 7 days will give you a good overview of these pillars!
Are you ready to join me? To sign up for the 7- day email series simply fill in the form below! I look forward to helping you on your very own SimplicityQuest!