There was a great article recently on Psychology Today called Surprising Advice For A Happier And More Meaningful Life.
Talk about a great headline.
That one will really pull you in.
Who doesn’t want to be happier and feel like life has meaning?
The trick that the researches used…I guess it wasn’t really a trick…was to get people thinking that time is more limited.
Limiting Your Time
The researches asked people this question:
If you were told that you were going to have to move away from your current town in a mere 30 days, how would you spend your remaining time there?
So it’s not as bad as telling people to think about dying in a month or anything like that. But still thinking about moving away gets you thinking about what’s really important in life.
What they found was that participants were still productive with work. In fact, they felt more productive, but they also spent more time doing activities they love while spending more time with people they love.
The folks also surveyed saying they were happier and more fulfilled in life.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Simplifying & Focusing
So what’s the key here?
The question is a good one. You’re moving away. You’re going to be taken out of your comfort zone.
Your time is limited and what you know will change.
That kind of shocks a person. I know it would shock me. I immediately think of things I would change and I guess that’s the whole point of the experiment.
If the result is that we become happier, more content and more productive then it’s probably time to start thinking about simplifying and focusing more in general.
Because that’s kind of what these people did. They looked at what they were doing every day and eliminated things. They got rid of what really wasn’t important.
And they still got things done. In fact, they didn’t let distractions come up as often. They were more productive at what absolutely needed to be done because they wanted more time for pleasurable activities like hobbies and time with friends and family.
Sweating The Small Stuff
It’s easy to sweat the small stuff. The days can get mundane. We try to inject a little life into our days by making things out to be bigger deals than they really are.
There’s something to be said for those folks that are kind of laid back and content with life. Sure, maybe they’re not all successful, but in my experience I would say that laid back people can be very successful.
They may not seem as neurotic or focused on the small things, but they’re often pretty efficient and productive. They focus on what really matters.
If your brain is always focused on the small things you’ll likely miss the big picture.
I think that’s what the question above kind of brings into play. Instead of getting bogged down in the day to day you’re kind of snapped back to reality. You think about the big picture. You think about what really matters and you realign your daily tasks.
It didn’t really say in the article, but I’m guessing that participants were complaining less in those 30 days. The small annoyances or issues in their lives probably didn’t seem as important when they lived as if they would be moving in a month.
Yeah, stubbing your toe hurts or missing out on a client hurts, but in the grand scheme of life it’s not going to make or break you.
In fact, you probably will have already moved on in a week or a month or whatever.
So I’m going to work on living more like I’m moving in 30 days. If it means a happier and more meaningful (and even more productive) life then I’m in.