I bought a plant on the weekend and it reminded me that keeping things simple really is key to a happy life.
I’m a self-confessed simple girl. I don’t like a lot of fuss. I don’t like complicated processes and I don’t like agonizing over decisions. I like to set and forget the annoying administrative jobs in life like paying bills, health insurance, superannuation, dentist appointments (and let’s be honest, I’m really really good at forgetting about those altogether!).
Like many of us, I get overwhelmed really quickly when there’s just too much going on. Too many things on the menu. Too many conflicting ideas about what’s good and bad for your health. Too many apps to help you track stuff. Bloody hell, there’s even too many varieties of canned tomatoes on the supermarket shelf. Just too much.
When it comes to decision making, my solution is simple, because like I said, I’m a simple girl. I make one decision and stick to it until it’s no longer working for me. For example, there are always conflicting views on nutrition and weight loss. There have been for years and there will continue to be as long as there is a market for insecurities. My stress-free choice is to follow one expert view and trust in that to help me make a simple decision. I don’t agonise over making wrong decisions because I’ve already opted to trust someone who has the experience. It’s less stressful for me and while my choice is working for me, I don’t question it. If it stops working for me, I’ll look elsewhere. That’s called free will my friends.
I’ve been trying to live my life this way for a few years now – mostly since I became responsible for making sure a small human is fed and watered (and sheltered and loved and all that palaver!). When you have kids in your life (or a husband!) you need to keep things simple because your time is precious. It’s a commodity that you trade in order to stay sane. So I trade complexity for simplicity – all the time.
My new plant, which I chose in precisely 90 seconds, is an example of this.
A dear friend gave me a gift voucher for my birthday. It was from a plant nursery that we visit frequently for their onsite café with cubby houses where we can forget about the kids…I mean lovingly watch them frolic …while we catch up. My friend knew I was in the market for plants because I’ve just moved into a new house that is crying out for green stuff. So she bought me a gift voucher. Nice right?
Well…over the years I have wasted many many gift vouchers simply because I get paralyzed by choice. The shop is my oyster and I can put that voucher towards anything I want. Except I don’t because I can’t fucking decide! I couldn’t even choose a candle when my husband thought he was being sweet (he totally was) by getting me a voucher from a fancy schmancy candle shop. I walked in twice over the course of three months trying to pick something and in the end I let the bloody thing expire. How freakin’ dumb is that? And that’s just one example.
Sorry, back to the plant… I walked in to this plant shop on Sunday and I knew that if I spent time wandering around the glorious greenery I was going to come home with nothing but bitter disappointment and the voucher burning a hole in my handbag (which, by the way, is the SAME bag I used as a nappy bag because I can’t decide on a new one almost two years after I’m no longer carrying around nappies!). I also arranged to meet my friend there, the one who bought me the voucher, so I absolutely HAD to enjoy spending her present to me.
So I walked up to one section of plants that I liked the look of, checked that they were hardy, set and forget types (keeping plants alive is not my forte) and grabbed the one off display that was already nestled in a nice white pot, took it to the counter and went and had my coffee feeling bloody marvelous that I’d just made a quick decision without agonizing. And it’s a lovely plant. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t think it’s still lovely in a month (if it actually lives that long). By then I will have moved on and it’s just a fucking plant. I’m not curing cancer. I’m not orchestrating the take down of a tyrannical government. I’m not causing grievous bodily harm. It doesn’t matter if I change my mind. It’s just a plant.
And that’s kind of how I look at simple decisions these days. It’s just a plant. No need for lengthy discourse about it. Just make a decision, enjoy it and get on with something else. Like having coffee in the sun. Or having your weekly meal plan sorted. Or making sure you exercise every day at the same time. As Nike say – Just Do It!
In my experience, making a quick decision, having a routine that helps alleviate day-to-day decisions and keeping things simple are great ways to keep stress, anxiety and depression at bay.
Of course there are times in life where deliberating over decisions is a worthy and necessary use of your time – not everything in life is a plant! But many day-to-day things are simple; we just over complicate things and live in fear that the grass is always greener (and clever marketing prays on our inherent desire to constantly look over the fence).
Sometimes our quick decisions may not be the best ones. But that’s life. And that’s OK. There’s always next time, and there’s always another plant on the shelf.