We are so quick to dismiss unpopular opinions but what if we gave them a chance? What if we thought about them differently, refusing to believe everything we think or everything we think we are supposed to think? My simplicity journey has challenged everything I think and because of that I’ve been able to change my life in many different ways.
Embracing all of these unpopular opinions simplified my life and changed it in a positive way, not all at once or overnight but slowly, gently and when I was ready. Now they are such a regular part of my life, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Once you’ve given these ideas a look, consider other ideas you’ve shut down for fear of what others might think or because they sound weird or unconventional.
1. You can wash all your clothes together.
Laundry is just one of those things that is not going to get extra time and energy from me. With the exception of a very rare case of a brand new pink or red shirt, you can wash all of your clothes together without taking time to separate whites and darks, towels and shirts, etc. See how bright my whites are even though I wash everything together? Because my wardrobe is small, I can’t wait around for an adequate amount of whites or darks. I wash everything together in cold water and line dry items so they don’t get worn out in the dryer. I go into more detail on this podcast episode. Laundry is often an example of where we make our lives harder and more stressful when we don’t need to. P.S. Don’t ask me about the last time I picked up an iron.
2. You don’t have to have a drinking problem to quit drinking alcohol.
The popular opinion is “everything in moderation” but I think we can all agree that not everything is easily moderated. Even the “I just enjoy a glass of wine at dinner” drinkers I know have crossed the moderation line and experienced fallout from time to time. The World Health Organization, says there is no safe amount of alcohol consumption that does not affect our health.
To defend my own drinking (to myself), I’d cite all the the research about red wine being good for your heart. This article (NYT Gift Link) unpacks the confusing research about drinking. Mariann Piano, a professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University says, “There’s been a lot of recent evidence that has really challenged the notion of any kind of what we call a cardio-protective or healthy effect of alcohol. The idea that a low dose of alcohol was heart healthy likely arose from the fact that people who drink small amounts tend to have other healthy habits, such as exercising, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and not smoking. In observational studies, the heart benefits of those behaviors might have been erroneously attributed to alcohol.” Dr. Piano said.
The unpopular opinion is that you don’t have to think you have a problem with alcohol to stop drinking. You don’t have to be labeled as an alcoholic or “hit rock bottom”. You can always decide that your life is better without alcohol and stop. I quit drinking in the beginning of 2019 and my life is better without it.
3. A sleep divorce can be good for your health and your relationship.
My husband and I have been sleeping in separate bedrooms for years. It’s one of the reasons we both sleep (on average), 7-8 hours a night. When I recently saw that Mia Mancuso, registered nurse and creator of The Sober Glow was digging into this topic, I wanted to share my experience. Reading her newsletter was a great reminder that the things we don’t talk about are often the unpopular opinions that could be really helpful for someone else.
Sleep Divorce may or may not be best for your relationship but don’t let shame or concern about what other people will think, or assumptions about intimacy stop you from being curious if you think you aren’t getting a great night of sleep. Instead, check out some of the resources that Mia shares in this article, I love you but I don’t want to sleep with you.
In addition to all of the healthy benefits that come with good sleep, consistent sleep gives me more space to be patient and understanding in my relationship.
4. Variety is not the spice of life.
Maybe variety isn’t the spice of life. If you want to experience decision fatigue, head into the grocery store without a list and shop for the week. Walk down the cereal aisle. There are more than 20 different kinds of Cheerios and who knows about how many other cereal choices live in that aisle (and that’s only one small section of endless options). That’s exhausting.
The paradox of choice
We are fortunate to have the freedom to choose, but according to Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, we aren’t happier because of it. Schwartz says, “When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control, and liberation this variety brings are powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates.”
I have the same few meals over and over again, I wear the same 33 items for at least 3 months and I enjoy routine. I don’t need something new to enjoy my life or to rescue me from boredom, frustration or from feeling other feelings anymore. Choosing from fewer options (in general) means no decision fatigue, more clarity and for me, much more creativity too. When we create boundaries around things that are distracting us from what really matters, our level of engagement in the things we actually care about becomes boundless.
5. You don’t have to work so hard to have a good life.
I worked really hard to have a good life, so hard that I wore myself out over and over again. Finally in 2006, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I decided that the old way of pushing through, nose to the grindstone, earning rest and going big or going home wasn’t working. We didn’t become happier, more fulfilled and connected by working hard, playing hard, going above and beyond and pushing through. Instead we ended up depleted, uninspired, sick, tired, and overwhelmed.
It’s time for a new path forward. We don’t have to effort through everything. We can ease through and rest through. We might not get through faster but we will get through healthier and happier. We are hard enough on ourselves and somehow become even tougher when going through something challenging like a job change, grief, a breakup or breakdown or not feeling well. Somewhere we started believing that pushing through was our only choice. It’s not.
I used to think that I was strong for pushing through. I thought I was good at it and that by doing it over and over again, I was getting stronger. Actually, the opposite was happening. I was wearing myself down, exhausting my body and my mind. Finally, I couldn’t push through anymore. When I started resting through instead, I realized I had it all wrong. I didn’t have to rush my healing, hide my pain or find an immediate solution. Next time (or right now), be gentle instead. Trade pushing, forcing and pretending for resting, relaxing and resetting.
Do what is best for you.
These unpopular opinions are working well in my life. They are opinions of course, so they might not work well for you, or maybe the timing is bad. That said, if you noticed a strong, “No! Never!” reaction, check in. Usually when I have strong resistance to something, I know it’s often worth exploring. After all, I don’t know what I don’t know. My life is better because I revisited these unpopular opinions that I used to have a strong negative reaction to. We are allowed to change our minds and take care of ourselves in different ways. It’s how we learn, grow and come back to ourselves.