More from and about
Elaine St. James
(biographical info at bottom of page)

  

I have a friend who has developed a special ritual for getting up in the
morning. She wakes up a few minutes before daybreak and makes herself
a special cup of tea ... She knew that even if the rest of the day turns hectic,
she'll have one memory of something beginning exactly the way she likes it.

   

So our lives get frittered away by a social engagement here, a luncheon there, an evening of television here, or the habit of working evenings or weekends or both on projects that we don't have all that much interest in.  And the things we really want to do, in our heart of hearts, get put on the back burner.  One of the things simplifying your life will do is free up time for you to figure out what really matters to you, and then enable you to arrange your time so you can do it.

      
When I think back to my hectic lifestyle, I have to admit that one of the reasons I allowed my life to continue to be so complicated is that I hadn't slowed down enough in recent years to figure out what I wanted to do, not only in terms of my work life, but in terms of a lot of my personal choices.
  
Often one of the stumbling blocks to living a simpler life is our inability or unwillingness to change how we play some of the games that got us into these complicated lives in the first place.
  
  
There are often many things we feel we should do that, in fact, we don't really have to do. Getting to the point where we can tell the difference is a major milestone in the simplification process.
   
I've heard from and talked to many people who described how Mother Nature simplified their lives for them. They'd lost their home and many or all of their possessions through fires, floods, earthquakes, mudslides, or some other disaster. Losing everything you own under such circumstances can be devastating, but the people I've heard from all saw their loss, ultimately, as a blessing.
    "The fire saved us the agony of deciding what to keep and what to get rid of," one woman wrote. And once all those things were no longer there, she and her husband saw how they had weighed them down and complicated their lives.
     

Living life fully doesn't mean having it all, going everywhere,
doing everything, and being all things to all people.
Many of us are beginning to see that too much is too much.

   

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There are often many things we feel we should do that, in fact, we don't
really have to do. Getting to the point where we can tell the difference
is a major milestone in the simplification process.

   

The need to make wise choices encompasses every area of our lives.
Since we have time for only a limited amount of stuff, we need to
choose wisely what stuff we're going to allow to take up that time.
Since we have only a limited amount of time to spend with friends
or to engage in leisure activities, we need to choose
our friends and our activities wisely.

   

It takes courage to buck the tide, but once you start to experience the freedom
that comes from actively creating your own interpretation of success, youíll find
it easy to move on from people who havenít yet figured out that having it all
or spending long hours at an unsatisfying job will never define
who they truly are, no matter how high the pay.

   
    
Elaine St. James is a best-selling author and has been acclaimed by The New York Times as the leader of the simplicity movement. She has appeared on numerous national and international television and radio programs, including The Oprah Winfrey Show and Good Morning America. She ran a successful real estate business before beginning the process of simplifying her own life in 1990. She and her husband now live in Santa Barbara, California.
  

  

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