The research is in: Simplicity is the fast track to happiness, health, productivity, and success. How so?
The lessons of meditation.
Meditation is training in simplicity, reducing distractions, first by physically removing them and in advanced stages by mentally removing them. "A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity."
Studies of meditation and its impact tell us how effective it is in reducing stress and improving productivity and health outcomes. Forbes lists some of the most interesting studies in recent years. Findings include:
- Meditation helps preserve the aging brain
- It reduces activity in the brain's "me center"
- Its effects rival antidepressants for depression and anxiety
- It reduces anxiety--and social anxiety
- Short meditation breaks can help kids in school
The lessons of clutter.
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute published the results of a study on the effects of clutter in the Journal of Neuroscience. "The conclusions were strong--if you want to focus to the best of your ability and process information as effectively as possible, you need to clear the clutter from your home and work environment. This research shows that you will be less irritable, more productive, distracted less often, and able to process information better with an uncluttered and organized home and office."
The lessons of multitasking.
A recent Stanford study that shows that multitasking slows us down and lowers our IQ. "The researchers also found that people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch from one job to another as well as those who complete one task at a time." In "The True Cost of Multitasking," Psychology Today reports decreased productivity of up to 40 percent with multitasking. Others report that stress levels are higher among multitaskers and health suffers as a result.
These are just a few studies. In all three areas, there are many additional studies with similar results. The lesson here for us is that simplicity is the path to a happier, healthier, more productive life and career. We can all benefit from coaching in meditation, clutter reduction, and singletasking, but what are some specific ways to apply these lessons in daily life?
- Simplify your personal space at home and at work. If your environment seems crowded to you or to others, you have too much in it. Get rid of things, or put them away.
- Simplify your life by limiting the activities in which you engage. Most of us want to please others, whether in our personal lives, our voluntary associations, or at work. Sometimes, though, you just need to say no. If you try to do too much, you increase stress levels, are less productive, and function more slowly. Your hyperactivity also has longer-term physical consequences.
- Simplify your life mission. First you have to know what your life mission is! Think about the things you'd like to accomplish in this life. Write them down. Prioritize. Make the final statement simple. In fact, if you can't get it written into one sentence, you probably need to eliminate some items. Measure what you do against your mission.
- Simplify your sense of need. Learn to differentiate between need and want. Write down what you really need in your life. Measure what you do against what you truly need, and try to eliminate many of those wants. Chances are good the wants will change before you get to them anyway.
- Focus. As you simplify and remove distractions from your life, cultivate your ability to focus on what remains. Those things that remain are your true mission and the things that you really need. Your focus will allow you to accomplish your mission and have everything you need.
People never say when they are dying that they wish they had spent more time at work or made more money or had more physical items. As you simplify your life and discover your true mission and needs and learn to focus on achieving your mission and satisfying your needs, you will find real fulfillment, peace, and contentment. You will live better and be more successful.