Simplicity in Action: Matt’s Story
Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.
Will I remember this?
Will this make a memory?
That’s my simplicity in action: a question, big and bold, that I stop, breathe and answer when I find myself at the doorstep of any decision.
A few months back, I set myself on a mission. I wanted to answer one question: “what does it mean to live well?” After hemming and hawwing a bit, coming up with fancy formulas and a dozen different ways to try and maximize my happiness, I realized the answer had been pretty simple all along.
A life well-lived is a life rich with memories. Good or bad, these experiences shape our time on this planet, and—more often than not, I’d say—bring out a small smile when all the dust has settled.
The realization surprised me. I’d been chasing happiness but ignoring a simple truth: we can’t always control what life throws at us. We can’t always control how we’ll feel, too, any day of the week. And that thought lead to the next: maybe happiness alone wasn’t the whole picture.
Maybe I need the full spectrum of emotions. Maybe I don’t have to be happy all the time. Maybe I just need to try — to put the effort in each day to grow, learn, and give back to a world that has given me so much to begin with.
In other words, maybe I just need to try to make memories with every day I get. That’s the rich life I mentioned above, and that’s the realization that has slowly come to shape how I approach my daily routine.
When I want to buy something, now, I stop and ask the question. When I want to do something—anything, big or small—I stop and ask the question. If the answer is yes, I’ll dive right in. If the answer is no, I might dive in regardless — but I’ll do so knowing that I chose to, and knowing that I’m still giving a little more care and attention to how I spend my days than ever before.
“Will I remember this?”
It’s a simple question. Why not try and ask it yourself?
You don’t have to do it every time. (No one needs to be perfect!) But try and ask yourself, next time, whether that thing you want to do/buy/enjoy will stick with you longer than the time it takes to do/buy/enjoy it — whether it even has a chance of lasting a lifetime.
Most things don’t.
That’s why I started the Make Every Day Count project. I’ve compiled a list of 100 actions (memory-makers, I like to call them) that I’m working through, and I’m trying to flesh out my memory banks as I go.
And that’s why for day one of the project—#001, Take a Chance—I decided to do something a little different. You might even call it a little reckless. I decided to give up my upcoming 25th birthday to try and buy a school bus for the students of Kopila Valley, these children who walk sometimes up to five hours daily to and from school.
The idea terrified me. The challenge ahead nearly stopped the thought in its tracks. But I paused, breathed, and realized that no matter how this crazy goal pans out, I’ll come away with something special: a memory. Based on these early days alone, it’s one I’ll never forget.
When you look at it like that, the decision is pretty simple.
I want to live well. I want to live simply. Choosing memories might be the easiest way to do both.
When not writing, Matt Madeiro is very likely eating. Follow him on Twitter.
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