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Why is Simplicity So Difficult?

August 31, 2012

I’m working on some “Ag in the Bible” posts for the next few weeks (one of the few things I schedule to allow a day off from the blog!) and it occurred to me the quest for simplicity is difficult for many. It’s hard to slow down. From the news to the media to the next best thing, life is instant in the moment. We see headlines of newspapers and think “I saw that as breaking news 2 days ago.” It’s easy to forget not everyone is plugged in online. For those that are, and seek a simpler view, it can be difficult. Here are some ways to take those first steps towards making things simple.

1. Honor simple truths. These are things that used to be called common manners, but now in some areas are overlooked or even ridiculed. Say thank you and please. Share what you have. Be kind. Be content with what you have. Trust Him. Conversation with a friend – ask what simple truths have guided him or her through life. What ones guide you?

2. Choose uplifting entertainment. Television, movies, music do influence not just youth but adults. I remember my mom being alarmed as we sang with the radio to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” lyric. None of us grew up to be murderers or convicted of anything to be in prison. There is little question though that it does influence, as would listening to Mercy Me.

3. Help someone. Each night when I sign off  of Twitter it’s with a tag of “make a difference for someone.” This usually doesn’t take a large amount of time. In larger aspects Amish barn raisings and quilting bees are a helping hand, as is the many incidents of farmers showing up to help a widow or injured farmer harvest a crop. On a smaller scale it’s helping move something, working with that guy down the road who has 3 acres of hay to cut or taking some extra produce to a family in need. Resolve to create a community of kindness. Giving and receiving – ask for help, give help. We all have talents. Use them!

4. Take time for poetry. Be it traditional history or cowboy poetry on topics agriculture relates to, take a few minutes to slow down and ponder a poem.

5. Consider the big picture. No matter if it’s a disagreement with a friend, a discussion with someone with different views or any one of a hundred other situations, step back. Look at not just the cow but the whole farm (metaphorically speaking!) – step back and look at the situation. Consider if it didn’t matter you wouldn’t care enough to take part in the situation. Look for positive in seemingly negative situations.

6. Don’t confuse things with happiness. People see things and assume much – a newer pickup in the driveway, expensive real estate, nice home and it’s easy to think you’re rich. They don’t see the payments you’re scrambling to make, the attempts at pulling those ends together to make them meet that seems almost constant. Meet someone for lunch, spend some time with a friend…do those things that make life matter. Things are tools – if we have time saving tools use the time saved wisely.

7. Give something away. This could go along with #3 but not necessarily. And sometimes it costs us nothing but time. Have a tree go down on a fence? It needs cut up, and you have enough wood for the year. Who in your church or community could use a gift of wood before winter? How about the clothes your kids outgrew? How about the extra from the garden, or precious time to spend with someone who just needs someone to listen? Give something away that you don’t need, so someone else may enjoy it.

8. Value yourself. So often we think others are better. It can be seen as arrogant or proud to think too much of ourselves…but if we don’t value ourselves who will? And how do we treasure someone else if we think less of ourselves? Embrace that – it’s what God and others see and it makes you unique.

9. Less is more. This doesn’t mean live in poverty. An artist carved beautiful elephants from stone, and was asked how he did it. He answered simply that he chipped away everything that wasn’t an elephant. What is necessary and a part of your life? What hinders *living*? We prune bushes to make them healthier. We free space for them to grow better, even though it temporarily cuts them back. Clear out what you don’t need, clear time in the calendar for the little things that matter. Create space by getting rid of those things that you don’t enjoy but they take space, time and money. Evaluate possessions and activities – what is most meaningful and essential?

10. Enjoy what you have. Appreciate tools, clothes, decorations and lives that surround you. Appreciate and use what you have. Don’t save the “good stuff” for “someday” – use the good dishes for Sunday dinner. Dress up for an evening out even if it’s just for a dance recital or play the kids are in. Enjoy your home, farm, surroundings. As many have found, it can all be gone tomorrow in a storm, fire or other things out of our control. Make the memories…make LIFE!

These things sound simple – and they are! But the rush of life sometimes it’s so hard to practice. Do it today – one thing a day. Don’t put it off! Memories are waiting! Embrace it!

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