When Less Is More Than Enough

January 1, 2007 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

“There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do.”

— Bill Watterson

Intuitively, most people recognize that the nature of our 21st-century lives presents us with an abundance of stimulation, including information overload via email, voice-mail and cell phones; TV, radio, and the internet; driving in heavy traffic on a daily basis; work and family – to mention a few. As a result, most of us are in a state of heightened stress arousal throughout our waking days – perhaps even during our sleep.

On the other hand, friends of mine recently spent a week on an island resort in Fiji. At the resort, there was no TV, no radio, no cell signals, no internet, no newspapers, no bars, and no stores. Outside of their dwelling were lounge chairs and a private hammock on the beach and, of course, access to the ocean. The little 18-hut resort did offer some activities, but you could do absolutely nothing if you chose to. The motto at this resort is “Where less is more than enough.” 1

Not all of us have the near-term opportunity to travel to a place that eliminates the excess of activity we are exposed to on a daily basis, and even that would only be temporary. Still we can minimize the stimulation we are dealing with in small ways in our day-to-day lives. Without escaping to a remote island, you, too, can become aware of and manifest how less can be more than enough!

The key to having this be successful for you is to take on small lifestyle changes, one at a time. First, recognize what is causing you to feel over-stimulated or what is usurping your attention the most. Then challenge yourself to determine a way to reduce that in a small, doable manner for one week; set yourself up for success. After attempting the lifestyle change you identified for one week, check in with your experience to acknowledge whether or not it has made a positive impact for you. If it has, consciously continue that small lifestyle change for another two months to encourage it to become more of a habit. Otherwise, make a modification to the lifestyle change you attempted, or choose another that might work better for you.

A few examples:

  • Turn off all of the optional sound (radio, CD, phone) while driving in your car; there is an excess of stimulation and information to attend to without adding any of your own.
  • Take a break from reading the newspaper, watching the news on TV, or listening to the news on the radio for a week. Be selective in terms of the source and type of information you are taking in. Often, watching, listening to or reading news becomes a habit – a repetition of, or unnecessary, content day after day – rather than a source of new and useful information.
  • Next time you have a gift-exchange with a friend or family member with whom you would like to spend more time, instead of using time to shop for a gift, consider using that time in a way you can spend together: by having a meal at a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, getting tickets to a performance you’d both enjoy, or doing something related to an interest that you share.

References:
1. Yasawa Island Resort, Fiji

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Julie Forbes, Ph.D. photo
Julie Forbes, Ph.D.

STRESS MANAGEMENT
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