Last night I went to get a manicure. First thing they ask you to do is pick your color – sounds simple, right? Do I want pink, red or purple?
Nope. Most salons have literally hundreds upon hundreds of shades to choose from. Last night’s salon had not only 2 walls filled with bottles, but also every variation of pink, red or purple you could imagine. And the hot pink looks identical to the neon pink looks identical to the shocking pink.
Some may find it exciting or empowering to have so many choices in life; from nail polish shades to coffee flavors to cell phone cases. But I’ve started to appreciate the powers of constraint.
I recently went on an out of town trip, and when I packed I only brought one basic set of makeup: one lipstick, one eyeshadow, etc. It struck me while gone for that week how much simpler it was to not have to use any mental energy making decisions each morning about which product to use.
Instead of using that 5 minutes of brain power on makeup choices, what could I create with my mental energy? A pep-talk to start my day off right? A prayer for a friend in need?
My example of makeup selection may seem insignificant; try on these larger examples of constraint:
- Only shopping for clothing at one store. Gone would be the hours of online browsing.
- Making a regular rotating meal plan. No more wondering what’s for dinner.
- Checking social media once a day. If you know you’re only going to log in one time each morning or evening, then no more obsessive opening and closing apps all day long.
Minimalism is also a great form of constraint. Many people think minimalism means owning one outfit, in an apartment with bare walls and one chair. Certainly, some minimalists take it to that extreme.
But minimalism can also be reducing the number of items we have—think of it this way, how many coffee mugs or water bottles do you have in your kitchen cupboard? They all take up space, require washing and maintenance, etc. They take up mental energy-when you open that cupboard, is it simpler to look at one mug or 13?
We can embrace and apply constraint in so many aspects of our daily lives. Then think of how those extra minutes and extra thought space can multiply into something larger. It’s a way to give yourself the gift of time, which we could all use more of.
Guest blogger Sarah Beahan has been a loan processor and executive team member of Michigan Mortgage since 2002. In addition to her work at Michigan Mortgage, she is a certified Life and Weight Loss Coach, and owns her own coaching practice called Weighed Down Coaching.