Are you drowning yourself?  Is the "more, more, more" mentality that we've all been raised with, actually robbing you of your life?

We're told we should have more stuff.
We should have more friends.
We should have more money.
We should be getting more done.
We should be exercising more more more.

We scramble around every day, trying to just barely tread water.  And some of us are drowning.

What if that was all wrong?  What if we are actually moving into a time where "less, less, less" is the mentality?  I think that we are.  I think that is exactly the shift that we are undergoing.  It is a bit painful right now, but once we get through it, we may find that by having less of everything, we actually have more of life.

But let's break this down.

The more stuff you have, the more stress you have.  This is true.  You are worried about picking it up and putting it away.  About dusting it, about storing it.  About what will happen if someone steals it.  If your stuff is good enough, is the newest, bestest.  And when it breaks, then you have the stress of fixing it.  Or getting rid of it.

The truth is, even just looking at it all can be stressful.

If we shifted our focus to a mentality of less.  We would be thoughtful about what we bought, making sure that it was of high quality that would last us a long time, and would serve many purposes.  We would have space in our home.  We would be able to live in a smaller space, meaning we would save money on rent.  We would also be saving money because we wouldn't be buying things.  And when it came time to move, we wouldn't be so stressed about packing and moving it all.

You know something else all that stuff is costing you?  Creativity.  Because, if you needed a particular item, and didn't have it, you'd have to come up with a creative solution.  When I moved in to my first apartment, I remember that quite well, not having every thing I was used to at home, and having to come up with some solution.  Like putting a plate over a dish to store it in the fridge, since there was no tupperware.  Or using towels as pot holders. 

We are a creative being, and by having less stuff, we get to really utilize our basic nature - the ability to improvise.  It can actually be quite fun.  And if you REALLY need something, what a great way to bond with your neighbors and friends, to SHARE.  Just like the good ol' days.

Some of us feel like the more friends we have, the more popular we are, and that means we are just more likeable people.  It can be a mark of self-esteem, how many friends we have on Facebook.  But our email is overflowing with responses that need to be sent out to all our friends, and our calendar is filled with getting together with every person, and we don't have time for ourselves.  And we end up being spread so thin, some of those people that truly matter in our life get only a meager portion of our energy.  And then more stress, of all the people we haven't gotten back to, haven't seen, haven't connected with.

If we shifted our focus to a mentality of less.  We would look at what friendships really mattered to us, truly fed us.  We would look at those friends, and nourish them, creating a deeper, more meaningful relationship.  And we would truly be fed in exchange.  We would have relationships that matter. Because most of us have a variety of friends - those that nourish us, those that we don't really get much out of, and those that drain us.  Why don't we invest our energy the same way we invest our money?  We would also free up those people to have more nourishing relationships as well.

And we would also have more time to truly nourish ourselves.

Okay, this is probably going to be the hard sell.  Because, who doesn't want more money?  But the truth is, the pursuit of more money robs us of what we actually want with more money.  With more money, we want freedom, we want relaxation, we want peace, we want happiness.  And so we chase after it, and work hard for it, and stress about it.  We end up in jobs that we feel stuck in, stressed over, and unhappy about.  And we are in those jobs for over 40 hours a week, most of our lives.  And end up accruing costs in the process.  The cost of commuting, the cost of clothing to outfit us professionally, the cost of eating at work, the cost of the junk/activities/whatever that you have to use to cope with all of this.

If we shifted our focus to a mentality of less.  If we focused our lives on living on as little money as possible.  We would feel free to do work we truly enjoyed, or perhaps only work part-time.  We would enjoy the simple pleasures of life, you know, the ones that actually bring that feeling of peace and satisfaction.  Like watching the sunset, or smelling the autumn air, or watching your children play.  We would connect with each other more, because we wouldn't have televisions, gameboys, and computers getting in the way.

It is amazing how calming and rewarding living simply can be.  What if you changed your mentality, looked at your finances, looked at what you could live without, and found out the number that you needed to live.  And what if you just focused on earning that number.  And anything excess you just put away for winter, like a little squirrel.  Why do you have to be rich?  It isn't going to solve your problems and make you happy, it will only bring you stress.  And protesters.

This is a big one for me.  I feel like I should be doing more, more, more.  I write out a long list of tasks, and then add to it.  Then I look at that list, feel overwhelmed, and do some brain numbing activity to escape from the stress of all the stuff I have to do.  And then at the end of the day, when I get half of the tasks done, I feel like a failure because I didn't get them all done.

This is something many of us fall into, trying to cram as much as possible into our lives.  Because there is this pressure to do, do, do.

If we shifted our focus to a mentality of less.  We would only allow ourselves 3 or 5 tasks a day.  Which would make us prioritize down to what was truly important, and free us of busy work.  We would approach those tasks with focus, which would allow more creativity, and more sense of accomplishment.  "They" keep saying that multi-tasking is really really bad, because it causes you stress, and actually makes you LESS productive.  So, if you only had three tasks to do each day, you might actually get more done.  And you'd certainly have less stress.  There is so much we think we have to do.  But you know what?  We have plenty of time.  What is the rush?  Slow down, enjoy life, and focus on doing a few things really well, instead of lots of things half-assed.

And here's a new one!  This one is really fighting against the grain.  But we just may have a culture of focusing on too much exercise.  We watch the Biggest Loser, and we think if we exercise for 5 hours a day, that we will have that perfect, healthy body.  That somehow we are bad for NOT exercising 5 hours a day.  And so either we put in tons of time at the gym, or we put in tons of time at the TV (running away from the thought of all that exercise).

Something I recently learned:  all that hard cardio (running, etc) actually releases cortisol in the body.  And my dears, cortisol is the stress hormone.  Our bodies were built to live in a primitive environment.  And the only time our ancestors did hard cardio (like we think we are supposed to every day), is when they were running from danger.  Like a tiger.  Or someone out to attack them.  So when we do that, our body goes in to panic mode and begins to shut down a lot of our systems, to prepare for an attack.  Bottom line, it isn't a good story for our bodies to endure this in the long run.

If we shifted our focus to a mentality of less.  We would exercise in ways that were enjoyable and not stressful.  Like taking a nice walk with the family, or going dancing.  We could just focus on the pleasure of using our bodies, and not feel like failures because we weren't running 10 miles a day.  We could simply tune in to our body, and its needs, feed it appropriately and healthfully. 

We could stop being so hard on ourselves.  And get down to really living.

Because isn't that what all of this comes down to?  If we focus on less, we can get down to truly living, instead of being distracted by all the shoulds.

Let go.