This was my first trip home during the summer in 3 years. I forgot how much I love Ontario summers.. the heat, humidity, warm nights…
When I was a teenager, turning 18 could not come fast enough – I wanted to go as far away from home as I possibly could. I was curious and I wanted more than I thought a small town could offer. So, I got on a plane for the first time in my life, heading somewhere I’d never been, with no idea what to expect, completely on my own.
Though I would not take those experiences back for anything, this past trip home really got me thinking about what is important in my own life. There is something enchanting about living in a small town. And I’ve realized, if you’re not careful – living in a city for so long can make you lose sight of the beauty in simplicity.
“The grass is greener where you water it”, they say. I innately have the grass is greener syndrome and have to work very hard at watering my own grass. When I first moved here, it was simple – I loved everything about the city and that was enough. Fast forward a few years into “real life” and escaping the city and its complexities is a common daydream.
Enter my inner ‘paradoxical’ dialogue, “can you live small in a big city”? To move back home to a small town seems just as daunting as moving to the city initially did. You can’t unlearn or undo ‘complex’ life experiences, so I imagine living in a small town to feel limiting now. But can you live simply/balanced in a complex fast-paced environment?
The answer is yes. It really is that simple, and here’s how I believe you can do that:
Breathe through it.
This has become my favourite new saying. I have recently found the importance of breathing exercises and techniques to reduce stress and anxiety. Take a moment when you get home from your busy day to do a breathing exercise. Meditation practice is ideal, but start with breathing exercises. Just make sure you take a few minutes each day to connect with and be mindful of your breath. If this becomes second nature to you, breathing through a stressful situation or anxiety attack will be effortless.
Intentionally take your time.
It may take longer to get around a city than it does a small town but if you give yourself enough time and take your time getting places, you won’t feel the pressure of rush hour. Read a book while you commute, listen to music – use this time to do things you love that you may not have a chance to otherwise.
Spend time with Nature.
I want to say at least once a day, but the reality of this just may not be there. So at the very least, once a week. Try to find solitude if only for a few hours somewhere outdoors. Mindfully connect with and simply enjoy nature.
Water your own grass.
Take any energy you may be putting ‘out there’ wishing you had things you don’t, or things that your friends have, or things you see in the media, etc. – and put it into nurturing the things you do have. You can never be anyone other than you. So comparing yourself to others (the grass is greener syndrome) is just simply unrealistic. You can only have the best of yourself. So work on that, don’t wish you had your friend’s arms, or abs, or money – because you can’t, ever. What you can have is the best version of your own arms, abs or money – so make that your goal. And in the meantime, pick the things you do like about yourself and…
The power of positivity 101 starts with gratitude. This will be the first thing that any teacher, with any belief or religion, on the power of positivity will tell you. If this is something that you don’t practice daily, start small. Start with real things. Pick one thing each about; yourself, your job, your partner and your family. Focus on those things every day and give thanks to them – whether you say it out loud or not doesn’t matter, just say your thanks. Eventually you will naturally be thankful for these fundamental things in your life, daily. And when that happens – you will see how things for you to be grateful for will flow into your life abundantly.
A trick of mine is that I imagine my life without these things (I’m not sure if that is morbid or what, but…lol). Once you see that nothing is permanent and everything can change at any second, you will realize how grateful and lucky you truly are to have the things you may take for granted.
Everything in your life. Clothes, books, beauty products, negative people, EVERYTHING! Most of these things will be hard to let go of at first, but once you do it truly feels liberating. Choose quality over quantity in every aspect of life, always. This can only result in more room for good things and no room for unnecessary or negative things. Improving the overall quality of life, reducing stress you may not even realize is there.
If you can do this daily, do it! Even if it’s only 20 mins each night you get home.
There are many plants, herbs and even vegetables you can grow indoors. Choose something you like and help it grow. I like growing my own herbs, it’s easy and so gratifying to use fresh herbs you have grown yourself! Not to mention, they look and smell so nice!
Don’t confuse this with running away. Plan a get-away to relax. Intentionally. Leave the city there, unplug if you can and consciously shake the pace of the city off on your way out! Spend the weekend doing whatever you desire, be lazy, eat a lot, exercise a lot, do some sightseeing – just make sure you are only doing things you actually want to do!
Remember, home is where your heart is.
Your heart should live inside of you and everything you do. If your heart is pulling you somewhere, at least hear it out. If after you have done all you can do to live simply and your heart is still tugging at you for something different maybe it is time to leave the fast-paced city. But remember that “wherever you go, there you are”.