Growing up, I remember staring out the window and being so damn bored. I used to get excited about trips to Wal-Mart or the mall because it meant I got to get out of the two-bedroom apartment I grew up in with my dad in the suburbs of Baltimore—and actually see other people that weren’t my classmates or my soccer teammates. That’s how bored I was.
So when I went off to college in Miami and then subsequently moved to New York, it should come as no surprise that I hated being by myself at home. In fact, I can probably count on two hands the number of weekend evenings I stayed in during my early-to-mid 20s.
I was a debaucherous dancing machine—and it was a blast. But it was also exhausting. As I inched closer and closer to 30, I began craving more “me” time to read, write, work out and pursue other passions that *gasp* did not involve the bar or a Mariah Carey or Britney Spears song.
I was learning first-hand that less is really more.
I felt stillness calling me back to myself. At first it was a whisper from my intuition—maybe you should consider the possibility of staying in tonight, Chris—and then it became a cry for help from my soul—if you don’t find time to take care of yourself, you’ll never grow up, Chris.
I think that’s what’s so powerful about stillness—and going back to basics in general. The more you peel back the layers of expectation and stimulation, the more in touch and in tune you are with your intuition and your soul. Ultimately, you know deep down what you need. All you have to do is slow down and get quiet enough to learn to listen for the whispers.
Below, tap into three essential truths I’ve discovered over the years as I’ve learned that minimizing can actually help you maximize your life—and your joy.
1. No matter the question, stillness is the answer.
Did your coworker throw you under the bus? Don’t get mad.
Get still instead.
Did your parents push you over the edge with their nagging? Don’t carry it with you for days.
Get still instead.
Did your significant other fail to remember something really important? Don’t get even.
Get still instead.
Why is stillness always the answer? Because it opens up a portal to your innermost essence so you can re-center yourself before indulging your ego or acting in ways that don’t align with your integrity and your light. Ultimately, stillness cultivates and calls forth kindness, compassion and warmth that might not make it to the surface if you simply indulge your emotions and act out of response to what is thrown your way on any given day.
Whether through visualization, prayer or simply closing your eyes and focusing on your breath, choosing to get calm and get quiet will inevitably help you realign with the energy of love and positivity as opposed to fear and negativity that so often is our first line of defense. When I’m feeling most triggered, I take it as a warning sign that I need to get still and take myself for a bit of spiritual check-up, so to speak. This pit stop allows me to recalibrate myself so that I’m focused on the path of the highest possible good for everyone and not simply resorting to lowest-common-denominator reactions, which are typically rooted in a lower frequency of energy that drags everyone down in the process.
This is not meant to say that you should not have boundaries or stick up for yourself. Quite the contrary, getting still is one of the most radical reactions you can have to a situation that calls forth the darker thoughts and feelings within you. It takes a lot of composure and self-awareness to take any negative energy and ground it or transmute it with the light of your innermost Being. Even after honing that kindness within, you may feel you need to cut ties with someone or protect yourself. And you are perfectly entitled to do so. Ultimately, this is about listening and becoming aware with the path that most serves the light not just within you but for the situation as a whole—which may not often be the path of first choice.
Especially if you feel like you’ve been wronged by someone else, stillness can reconnect you to the essential truths of life. The Universe is a self-correcting system that will automatically recalibrate in the direction of love.
The key is to get still so you can listen to what that soft whisper says within you. And stop listening to the hysterics of your ego and emotions.
2. It’s about memories and experiences, not things and possessions.
When you’re on your deathbed and you look back on your life, you won’t think, “I wish I would’ve bought that sweater,” or, “I really should have gotten that car.” You’ll likely think, “I wish I had forgiven sooner,” or “I am so glad I got to travel the world.”
Point is: Life is ultimately about who you are and the love you share—not what you own or what you wear. True happiness and joy emanates from within. And it grows in intensity and magnitude when it’s shared authentically with others.
When your happiness and joy is tethered to physical attachments in the world of form, it may provide temporary pleasure but it ultimately causes disconnection and pain. Why? Because anything external is ephemeral and can and will lose value in the long run. But anything internal is infinite and only grows in purpose in the long run.
A life spent obsessing over outer form is devoid of meaning and substance—and causes spiritual and emotional malnourishment. You will always crave more, but you will never have enough. A life lived in alignment with positive energy and spent spreading light and joy in the world pays dividends beyond your wildest imagination.
So invest in people and groups and trips and experiences that will help you share your gifts, connect with others and create new memories in the process. That’s where the real gold is.
3. Breadth and variety can be a lot of fun, but depth and loyalty are more fulfilling.
Our society is obsessed with two things: Fame and instant gratification. Social media reinforces a constant state of comparison to others that can make us feel like we aren’t doing enough or living a life that’s thrilling enough.
But that is a huge trap.
You do not need a certain amount of likes or a certain amount of followers or a certain amount of anything to live a life that’s truly meaningful and fulfilling. Truth is, trying to live a life that just looks good online doesn’t equate to being happy in real life. You do not need to run around and overextend yourself just to feel like you measure up.
Life is about shared experiences with people you can trust and around whom you can truly be yourself. So don’t be afraid to ditch the fake friends and followers in favor of a deeper, more authentic bond with someone who truly cares.
That’s how you live a life that shines both on and off the screen.
Do you agree that less is more in life? Share your story in the comments—or Tweet me at @crackliffe.