Jump directly to the Content

A Simple, Balanced Life?

It is possible, says author Norm Wright in Simplify Your Life and Get More Out of It! (Tyndale)

Has over-involvement, clutter and busyness become the rule in your life? Do you find yourself hoping all the activity will result in a better, fuller life? Chances are good it won't, says counselor and author Norm Wright. In fact, a hectic existence ultimately wears at your marriage and your soul.

Why is our natural tendency to lead complicated, cluttered lives?

Society sends the message that we should be busy and involved. We end up taking on more and more only to find we don't have the time to finish one task before we feel compelled to go on to another. Also, our own unrealistic expectations keep us doing too much. We don't take time to consider what we're doing and why we're doing it.

How can we stop this self-imposed chaos?

We begin by evaluating where we're at and what we really want out of life. I came across one fact in writing this book that had a profound effect on how I now use my time. According to the research, by age 35 a person has roughly 500 days left in life to use as he or she pleases—once the time for eating, sleeping, working and such is considered. And I'm about to turn 60!

We whine about not leading simple lives, and yet we seem hesistant to take the steps necessary to change. Why?

Most of us don't like to attempt something unless we know we're going to succeed, and most of us don't know how to lead a balanced, simple life. It's interesting that people make the greatest changes in their lives when they experience a crisis. Only when the usual ways of handling problems fail do they consider a change. I'd like to see people make the changes before they reach the crisis stage.
It doesn't help that our society is geared toward the instantaneous fix for a problem. There isn't the emphasis on patience and endurance that there was generations ago. When people realize simplifying their lives is going to take work and time, they resort to the familiar, cluttered life they know.

Is it possible for spouses to help each other find ways to simplify their lives?

It certainly helps to have another's perspective. I've also found that writing things out helps a person "see" his or her life more clearly. But don't be surprised if a mate doesn't take the suggestions to heart. A husband or wife may worry about being controlled by a mate and will see that person as an adversary, rather than an ally

Besides the frustration that an overly busy, cluttered life creates, what else is affected when we fail to choose the simple life?

Our relationships suffer. If our lives are cluttered on the outside, that also means we're giving our energy to the stuff on the outside. We need to shift the focus from accumulation and activity to relationships. If we do, we'll find greater satisfaction in life.
Imagine not being depleted at the end of the day but instead having the energy for conversation with your spouse. By being in charge and making decisions that simplify the pace of life, we can regain control. I know couples who block off 15 minutes each day just to sit down together, hold hands and, if they feel like it, talk. Another couple, who work near one another, meet for lunch.

The complexity or simplicity of our lives, then, is the sum of our choices?

Exactly. A good friend of mine, who has three boys, decided the family would take a season off from organized sports and all the running around it creates. They did things as a family—rode bikes, studied animals in the forest. Everyone had a great time; the kids didn't even miss sports. My friend's sons returned to sports the following season, but they all continued to make family time a priority.

So we should be prepared to make some decisions that will buck the "do all, be all" trend?

In a broad sense, we need to put into practice the Scripture that says, "do not be conformed to this world." The world wants to shape us not just in terms of our values, but also in what we buy and how we spend our time. We need to ask ourselves, "Do I really need to be involved in this activity or project?" or "Do I really need the latest model TV or gadget?"

Interviewed by Louise A. Ferrebee

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign up for our Weekly newsletter: CT's weekly newsletter highlighting the voices of women writers. We report on news and give our opinion on topics such as church, family, sexuality, discipleship, pop culture, and more!

Read These Next


Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

Follow Us

More Newsletters