If, as they say, cleanliness (and clutter-free living) is next to godliness, then my future is bright.
It’s always been appealing to me to pare down unimportant things and filter out the excess information that quickly adds up to an overloaded life. Streamlining whenever possible comes natural and feels right.
Which is why you can imagine my delight when spotting the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta. Thumbing through it I could see how much he, too, values identifying what’s essential, staying focused on things that matter, setting limits on the non-essential stuff that easily clutters schedules, and seeing the positive impact this has on our lives.
Conventional wisdom says that in today’s multi-channel, multi-tasking world such a blueprint for bringing order makes a whole lot of sense.
But conventional wisdom, it turns out, goes only so far.
There’s a spiritual element worth taking into account here. It introduces a sweeping new measure of what’s essential and helps clarify what people could use less and more of in order to live a healthy, happy, productive life.
Those who feel driven to redeem their lives from the clutter and noise that add up to stressful living should consider that they’re actually responding to something deep and quite native to them – their spiritual nature and a spiritual universe -- and rebelling against that which is out of sync with both.
It should come as no surprise that a spiritual nature and a harmonious spiritual universe would find expression in being drawn to more calm, to more peacefulness and stability, and more harmony. It’s the impulsion to spiritualize human life. There are people in all parts of the world today who are responding to this impulse and gravitating Spiritward. They’re pursuing spiritual practices, praying, studying Scriptural texts, attending lectures and taking classes because they’ve felt something of the inspiration and life-altering effect of having a more spiritually-centered life.
The flip side of that coin is what happens to people’s health and lives when they drift in the opposite direction and allow too many unimportant things -- frivolous activities, gadgets, excessive socializing -- to occupy their minds. They end up falling behind. They forfeit efficiency and productivity and then they struggle with worry and stress. When they reach a point where they feel miserable and are in over their head in a materialistic world, they wake up to the need for less of it.
What can be overlooked in this stirred up state of mind is that the steps that will bring about needed change are pretty simple, and highly effective if they’re taken deep enough. “Think less of material conditions and more of spiritual,” is what keeps lives on a progressive track according to Mary Baker Eddy in her book Science and Health.
People who do this on a moment-by-moment basis have discovered how effective such a rule for living is and how following it gradually changes their view of themselves and of the conditions around them. They feel control being restored, not simply because they took control of a few moments in their day but because in those moments of quiet and prayer they’ve become more perceptive of the harmonious nature of a spiritual universe that is everywhere and that includes them.
As that happens – in the workplace, at home, or during the commute -- priorities begin to change, as do the decisions that impact daily life. People find that not only can their standard of life be higher and better, but a higher standard is deserved and quite natural.
That, to me, is the take away here. That’s why there’s widespread appeal in cutting out excessiveness, in clearing away distractions, in making time for contemplation and prayer, in living efficiently and with more grace, and in being productive. It’s actually natural and inspiring to aim one’s life in this direction and then live accordingly.
That’s also why people can stick with it when they do. They soon realize that this is less about creating a new life and more about reinstating the original one.