Refocusing the Grey Matter

I’ve been going through a lot of inner dialogue the last 6 months or so. Even more since the immediate aftermath of the brain surgery. The first 6 months following the surgery are still foggy and were so wildly up and down from physical, emotional , and chemically prescribed variances “Roid RAGE”.  I feel like I’ve gone thru many changes in my perspective towards life and what I find to be truly important.

I came across the concept of  “minimalism” three months ago and have been attempting to refocus. I’ve always struggled since I was a young kid with materialism and accumulating stuff. I know I have an addictive personality and I am more predisposed to crave things. Realizing this and coming to terms with this fact has helped me to see the importance of adopting an approach such as minimalism. Or simply put, the attempt to live a fuller, more meaningful life with less emphasis centered around material things. By taking things away (unnecessary possessions) & only keeping things that have intrinsic value, we in theory have more time and energy to focus on more important things in our day to day.

So far I’ve been doing a fairly good job at stripping down the wardrobe to only clothes I “love”. I’ve tried to donate or recycle almost everything during this phase. This in my opinion was the easiest place to start in terms of pairing down.

I’m also trying to focus more on Jen, Odin and soon to be baby #2. I’ve started to set aside time for daily meditation and reading. Less time on the internet and TV (although TV & video games will always admittedly be tough for me). I’ve deactivated my Facebook  account, as I’ve found it only serves to mindlessly “surf” other people’s carefully crafted versions of the people they want others to think they are. It has become too easy for me to look at these staged snapshots and get jealous or try to aspire to things that shouldn’t matter to me. I still allow for the occasional Instagram post or browse. Maybe I will eventually decide to strip this away too, but for now I find it to be less distracting and more singularly focused than Facebook.

I instead try to read more. Everything from philosophers, and spiritual teachers on improvement to entertaining novels. Minimalism isn’t about just removing “stuff” & certainly isn’t deprivation. It is a conscious decision to realize that it isn’t things, such as  bigger houses, more money , cars, clothes etc. that will make me happier. It is trying to ultimately refocus on my family, friends and cultivating gratitude daily. Do not get me wrong, I am not renouncing all my things and living the life of a monk. I still plan on buying new things, and holding on to anything that I love and I find adds value.  I just hope that by removing some of the excess, I can spend more time with my family and carefully buy “experiences” instead.

It took brain surgery to start this shift in focus, but really it has been the two years after that have cemented it for me. Since I was young I always believed that as soon as I could make the salary of “XX $ figures”  I would be happy. Well , having crossed well past this imagined threshold for a few years now, I was experiencing no additional happiness and ultimately had new perceived “problems” as a result. With more disposable income, I felt I needed to buy or consume “accordingly”.  With added things and clutter comes more  to clean, organize, manage, insure for loss, and worry about. My hope is that after I’ve carefully removed distractions I can continue to grow as a person, husband and father.

Since time on earth as a conscious being is the most precious commodity, I need to treat it as such. No day is guaranteed to us. I want to try to stop stressing about what I “need to make me happy” and be happy now. There will be bumps in this approach just like any other, but I am confident that there will be more learning experiences vs letdown that comes from material losses.

My hope is that Jen and Odin will come along for this ride with me. Maybe they won’t be as enthusiastic, but perhaps they will find bits and pieces they find applicable to them. I will try my best not to preach or push on others as I admittedly struggle with that at times. But if I take more time to be self-aware and work on these “flaws” in myself, I can do nothing but grow. That is ultimately what it should be about when attempting to make a shift in our approach to life.

Some reading this will think this is worthless, or maybe even weird. That is fine. A few years ago, I would have read this post and said the same thing. The only reason I am posting is for those who may be going through, or have gone through a hardship of their own. It is often through these trials that we find we need new perspective or approaches. Like anything, take only what you find useful and discard the rest.

In the meantime, I will try to be more grateful, while attempting to live in the moment and enjoy every day I get on earth vs. stressing about what I do not have or think that I need.

As one of my favorites Bruce Lee said “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”.


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