Simplify, and Savor Life
Savor the simple.
‘The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.' ~Thich Nhat Hanh
These days we have an abundance of luxuries, but I've found that excess actually decreases my enjoyment of life.
Sure, we can get massive amounts of rich foods, feasting to our heart's content, stuffing ourselves in alarming displays of gluttony … but is that really enjoyable on a regular basis?
And yes, television can be fun, and so can ridiculously large parts of the Internet, but if it's always on, if we're always connected, doesn't that lower the fun factor?
Excesses lead to all kinds of problems, but the biggest problem is that life is less enjoyable.
I've been finding that simplifying things means I can savor life more fully.
Savoring life starts with a mindset. It's a mindset that believes that excess, that rushing, that busy-ness, that distractedness, isn't ideal. It's a mindset that tries instead to:
- do & consume less
- slow down
- be mindful & present
- savor things fully
It's the little things that make life enjoyable: a walk with a loved one, a delicious book, a chilled plum, a newly blooming tree.
And by simplifying, we can savor life to the fullest.
Some ideas I've been considering lately:
1. Coffee: Instead of ordering a latte, mocha, cappuccino with whipped cream and cinnamon and shavings … simplify. Just get pure, good coffee (or espresso), brewed fresh with care and precision, with quality beans, freshly roasted. Make it yourself if you can. Drink it slowly, with little or nothing added, and enjoy it thoroughly.
2. Tea: I recently had tea with Jesse Jacobs, the owner of Samovar Tea Lounge, and he poured two different teas from tiny tea pots: Nishi Sencha 1st Flush and Bai Hao Oolong tea. It was fresh, hand-made tea from real leaves, not a tea bag, and it was simply delicious. Drink it slowly, with your eyes closed, fully appreciating the aroma … wonderful.
3. Workouts: I've been a fan of simpler workouts recently. While others might spend an hour to 90 minutes in the gym, going through a series of 10 different exercises, I just do 1-3 functional exercises, but with intensity. So I might do some sprint intervals, or a few rounds of pushups, pullups, and bodyweight squats. Or 400 meters of walking lunges. Let me tell you, that's a simple but incredible workout. Another I like: five rounds 85-lb. squat thrusters (10 reps) alternated with pushups (10 reps). Today's workout was three rounds of 15 burpees and 800-meter runs. No rest unless you need it. These are great workouts, but very simple, and very tough. I love them.
4. Sweets: I used to be a sugar addict. Now I still enjoy an occasional dessert, but in tiny portions, eaten very slowly. What I enjoy even more, though, is cold fruit. A chilled peach, some blueberries, a few strawberries, a plum: eat it one bite at a time, close your eyes with each bite, and enjoy to the fullest. So good.
5. Meals: While the trend these days is super-sized meals of greasy, fried things (more than two people need to eat actually), I have been enjoying smaller meals of simplicity. Just a few ingredients, fresh, whole, unprocessed, without chemicals or sauces. My meals usually include: a breakfast of steel-cut oats (cooked) with cinnamon, almonds, and berries; a lunch of yogurt, nuts, and fruit; a dinner of beans or tofu with quinoa and steamed veggies (or sauteed with garlic and olive oil). These simple meals are better because not only are they healthy, each ingredient can be tasted, its flavor fully enjoyed.
6. Reading: While the Internet is chock full of things to read, I've been enjoying the simplicity of a paper book, borrowed from the library or a friend (borrowing/sharing reduces natural resources consumed). When I read online, I read a single article at a time, using either the Readability or Clippable bookmarklet to remove distrations, and in full-screen mode in the Chrome browser (hit Cmd-Shift-F on the Mac version or F11 in Windows). It's pure reading, no distractions, and lovely.
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Read more about simplicity in Leo's books, The Zen Habits Handbook for Life & The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life. More here.