Simplicity: Then and Now

“Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity.
Put others first.
Desire little.”

Lao Tzu

Over the course of the current year, life has become far more difficult for many than we previously thought possible. With the rise in riots, the Coronavirus pandemic, economic depression, and more facing us today, it seems as though the luxurious lifestyles most took for granted vanished almost instantly. Many were forced to readjust their existence due to lockdowns and rules changing while others had to worry about keeping a roof over their heads simply because they lost their jobs.

As this has all occured, many were forced to appreciate the simpler joys of existence while others long for a return to a pre pandemic lifestyle. Will masks and social distancing force people to get along with one another or will they decide to remain divided and hate one another simply for being different? We may not know the answer to that, but one thing is certain. Life is becoming far too overcomplicated because the news is traveling faster than our minds can process it, so people are forced to react instead of giving themselves time to know when to act and how to act during this crisis.

For most of us, the answer might be as easy as just trying to keep things simple. Don’t worry about the news. One can keep it at arm’s length and be aware of the world, but don’t let it complicate your life anymore than it already has. The best anyone can do is to continue their business uninterrupted if possible. If anything, one can strive to improve their circumstances as opposed to despairing over what they don’t have.

This is not the time to try to keep up with the Joneses. This is the time to store up what one already has and ensure to stock up on supplies. This is the time to save money like you never have before. This is the time to make sure you have more than enough money to keep a roof over your head until 2020 is over. This is the time to keep in touch with your loved ones. This is the time to build new connections in real life. Now is the time to focus.

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it. Just as great and princely wealth is scattered in a moment when it comes into the hands of a bad owner, while wealth however limited, if it is entrusted to a good guardian, increases by use, so life is amply long for the one who orders it properly.

– Seneca, On the Shortness of Life 1

It’s not easy to stay uninvolved if you live in a major city where the protests and lockdowns are affecting how you live. If anything is clear though, it is that you need to start living. Stop going from one day to the next with nothing done. One task at a time is more than enough. One hour each day accomplishing whatever mission you may have to undertake to make your life better. Keep it simple. Don’t try so hard to multitask and focus on what is most important.

The stoics knew that we only had control over our choices and nothing else. One can’t control these events much like they couldn’t control the fall of the Roman Empire or the transfer of power from one emperor to another. What they could control was their attitude and reaction to life’s curveballs. It would be far better to worry about yourself instead of trying to change government policy. One may have to live on less. Time may have to be devoted to the tasks you should undertake instead of arguing online about what Trump or Biden are discussing on Twitter.

This doesn’t indicate doing nothing at all. It just means to start living simpler lives. Living below your means isn’t the worst idea to have during a time where most can’t even go to a bar and meet women. Gyms can only operate at 25% capacity, so maybe using bodyweight exercises can’t hurt instead. You have more options than you think if you’re willing to prioritze what is important as opposed to what is superficial.

If we can find nothing else positive about this current year, then there is one thing that we all know now. We can live on less than we think. Humans are amazing at adapting to whatever life offers for better or worse. We don’t have to complicate our lives with following the latest fashion trends or tryimg to impress the hot girl at the club anymore. People can do the things they love without shame as long as there is enough discipline to keep yourself sharp and focused. I’ll just leave everyone with this one last quote to take with you on your journey through these difficult times.

“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”

Plato

Until the Next Daydream…

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