Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

Life if Complicated No Matter What

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Aug 21, 2014 7:32 PM

Life is complicated. If you're poor, down and out, just putting a meal together, figuring out how to earn money and pay for child care, provide clothes, and make the leaky roof better can be overwhelming. If you're middle class or kind of well off, hooking up the new smart TV, deciding whether to stay or downsize, figuring out the best vacation opportunities for the price, investing wisely and working out plans for giving to relatives or charity can be overwhelming. If you're wealthy, hiring the right staff, working out the best legacy, handling massive  taxes in your or someone's best interest, raising responsible children and balancing social life and hobbies with actual work could be overwhelming.

When I used to go to Quaker meeting, a leader there told me that I obviously live simply because, for example, I wear jeans a lot. What a silly thought. Rather than gardening for food, sewing my clothes, or avoiding machinery, as some religious-minded advocates of a simple life recommended, I thought my life was quite simplified by hiring people to do the things I don't like doing, like cleaning, yardwork, and stuff like that. Actually, that's true, as long as they show up and do the work right without destroying anything.

What really makes a simple life? Transitions from a complicated life, like  moving, retiring or changing family constellations might have simplifying as a goal but can be hard and complicated during the process of change. A woman I know left her marriage to live with her female partner, and don't imagine that it was easy. A couple is moving from their large home full of memorabilia to a condo and it's going to be difficult. Some people think living alone is simple, but not if the person gets sick or needs any kind of help, like a ride to the airport or moral support. Sure, friends are great but they're often busy. People who live alone don't have some of the issues of relationships but there's no division of labor, either. They're responsible for themselves and everything.

Really, I'm not sure if there is such a thing as a simple life. I think every position in life or choice is a trade-off . You get something and give up something else. The only simplicity is in your attitude, figuring out how to focus on options and enjoy what's good. That is, if you're not living in a disaster or war zone, where just trying to survive is the only complication.

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