A bit over a year ago, a couple of weeks after the death of my mother, I received an email from a blog entitled ‘Becoming Minimalist.’ I don’t know why I received it; I do not remember expressing interest in the topic of removing possessions as the driving force in my life. I like to think that someone who knows me sent it to me because they knew I need it.
I read the post and created a folder called ‘Simplify’ to save the ones I liked. I have not even developed the habit of reading the posts when they arrive in my mailbox each week, but I know that I have that as a goal and have them there whenever I am ready to dig in. Just seeing the email arrive reminds me that I also have as a goal to simplify my life.
When I received today’s post, I was reminded again of something I learned a long time ago but seem to need regular lessons in. The lifestyle I live often gets in the way of the lifestyle I think I want to live. As I once learned in a Twelve Step program, I behave as if I am a human doing rather than a human being. Part of the reason for that is that I have placed so much importance on success in my job and the ownership of nice things. I think I must be constantly doing in order to maintain what I have and get more of the same. That is not really all I want in life, but it is how I behave.
When I was a child, I learned that developing different patterns of behavior took a constant focus on that new pattern and practice of it. As a psychologist, I taught clients how to do that. In my daily life, I forget that over and over again. It is as if I never learned how to change one habit and create a new one. Had I read the post I received last Friday, I would have been reminded again that there is a science to change and we can all accomplish it.
Part of the reason for my ongoing re-learning of these lessons is that I usually focus outside myself rather than inside. While I have always experienced an internal locus of control (for all you psychology-types), I have for some reason spent my energy on behaving to a certain effect in the world rather than on regularly re-confirming a commitment to a certain way of being and developing the patterns of behavior which accomplish that.
I did better when I was a therapist; helping others learn to decide what they want to be and to behave in that direction helped me do the same for myself. What do you do; what circumstances do you create that allow you to become more of the person you want to be each day? Your comments and suggestions are welcome.