I recently came across this Steve Jobs quote and it made me think of my recent journey into minimalism and a more simple life:
“That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex; you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” -Steve Jobs
What do you think he means by “get your thinking clean”? Here’s what I think:
Ignore Messages of Media & Society
The things we are bombarded with in the media, whether internet, radio, social media, magazines, or commercials, encourage us to live a life that is anything but simple. We’ve become indoctrinated to believe that we need all of these things in our life to be complete and to be “doing it right.” Things like a new car, the latest tech gadget, this makeup item, that sweater…the list goes on. We should go have wild Saturday nights out with friends at the latest, most hip restaurant or club. Our kids should go to prestigious schools and be involved in a gamut of activities.
We see and hear these messages everywhere, so often that we likely don’t even realize it. Eventually we start to believe that we need to have or do these things to be successful. They crowd our mind, obscuring the things that are really important to us.
In order to have clean thinking we need to learn to ignore these messages We have to learn to see through them or not even see them at all. Once we separate ourselves only then are we able to focus on what truly matters to us.Once we separate ourselves only then are we able to focus on what truly matters to us. Click To Tweet
These messages from the media and society also cause us to put undue pressure on ourselves to be something or someone and fit into this little mold. For example, I recently accepted that despite the trends and how cute they look on my friends…I really am not a skinny jeans and boots kind of girl. I’m not comfortable in them and don’t feel like they flatter me. So I got rid of the skinny jeans and boots that had collected dust and I felt free.
Such a small gesture greatly simplified my morning routine. It helped me narrow down my wardrobe to items I truly love and feel good in. It eliminated morning thought processes such as this, “What to wear? I haven’t worn these skinny jeans and boots in a while, so I really should wear them. But ugh, do my legs look short and fat in this? Are they too tight? But everyone’s wearing them. Never mind, I’m just going to wear my favorite jeans and flip-flops.”
That whole thought process is time-consuming, negative, and can contribute to decision fatigue. Accepting things about ourselves and what we really want and enjoy (despite “encouragement” from the media) can allow us to focus on things that make us feel good. It eliminates pressure and negative thought and is very freeing.
It is hard work
Like Steve Jobs said, you have to work hard to get your thinking clean. You’re basically untraining your thought processes and rewiring your mind! We develop habits easily and subconsciously and the way we think and take things in becomes a habit. We have to break those habits and replace them with new ones that focus on what is important to us, not what society or the media wants us to think is important. Hard work, but incredibly worth it. Eliminating the noise and bringing in simplicity allows us to really focus on the things that truly matter to us. It puts our lives in line with our values and desires.