Cultivating a Simplistic Mindset to Reduce Stress
By Lindsay Leimbach
When we think of living with simplicity, we often think about using less and having less. This thinking sounds easy, but it can become a struggle for most of us very quickly and can add stress.
The reason is that the mindset of wanting more is a natural human response. When the brain likes something, it will release the chemical dopamine. Dopamine feels good to the brain, so the brain wants more dopamine. This reaction, in turn, makes us want more of what caused the dopamine to be released.
The key to not becoming trapped and stressed in this cycle is to appreciate what we have now in the present moment. Appreciation and gratitude release dopamine. The brain will be content with the Present Moment without feeling deprived if appreciation and gratitude is activated.
To calm the wanting mindset, it is important to be aware of a common belief, “If I have more, I will be better off and happier.” This is a FALSE belief that our society feeds us by encouraging consumerism. As defined here, consumerism is a basic driving force of our economy based on an ideology of excessive consumption urging continual purchasing. Through the continual bombardment of advertising, consumerism makes us believe that “if only we had a new car, an upgraded kitchen, or a new gadget,” life would be better. However, consumerism does not consider what is truly important to us and what holds true meaning.
As a result, much of our mental energy is focused on getting what we think we want from imaginary outside standards and influences. This subconscious wanting mindset can bring forth endless suffering and stress because we are looking for something outside of our self to bring us happiness.
Fortunately, the path of a Simplistic Mindset is built around being aware, accepting, and eventually, freeing ourselves from this constant subconscious wanting and grasping. This path is filled with gratitude in the Present Moment.
There are Four Mindful Steps to achieve a Simplistic Mindset.
1. Being aware of the wanting mindset is step one. One must FACE and acknowledge that we want something other than what we have. When we acknowledge this, we can remember that this wanting mindset restricts our ability to appreciate what we actually do have in the Present Moment. A wanting mindset can block our positive energy.
2. Accepting that our mind wants more without judging ourselves, for this thought, is the next step. FOCUS on what is in our mind and ask, "What are the underlying reasons why I want this? What is the benefit of obtaining this? And what is the actual cost (financially, emotionally, and physically)?" Focus allows us to understand our real motivation and true need. Ask, "Does what I want to have a deep importance and meaning to me?"
3. After Awareness (Facing), Acceptance and Understanding (Focusing), the third step is feeling gratitude for what you have right now, in the Present Moment. This gratitude will loosen the emotional grip and stress of the subconscious wanting mindset. This step is FREEING. Our energy can then freely flow in a calm, creative mindset.
These three steps will allow you to freely and creatively explore what you want and need from a nonjudgmental point of view. This will bring you to the calm, freeing, Simplistic Mindset. With this mindset, your choices can FLOW. Being in the Flow is the final step. Life does not feel cluttered or manipulated by outside imaginary standards or influence. Facing, Focusing, Freeing, and Being in the Flow will bring forth the Simplistic Mindset.