Choir Notes

A Simpler Life
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell • Program 4388

While serving in the president’s cabinet as United States Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich kept a hectic and pressure-filled schedule at the heart of the nation’s decision-making process. So busy were his days that he rarely had contact with old friends and saw little of his wife and two sons. One evening he called home and, for the sixth night in a row, told his young son he would miss seeing him before bedtime. His son responded with a request:
“Would you wake me, Dad, when you do get home?” 

Reich was hesitant: “It will be really late.” 

But his son insisted. “I just want to know you are there,” he said.

It was a wake-up call for Reich. He needed to simplify his life. He started by making a career change.1 

What would a simpler life look like for you? Can you picture it? Where would you start? You might begin by taking an inventory of what you do and why you do it. Too often, we pay little attention to what we really value and allow the less important aspects of our lives to consume us. A little introspection often reveals that in the grand scheme, positions and possessions are not as important as we sometimes treat them. 

Simplifying our lives may not require dramatic changes like quitting a job or moving across the country. More often it means increasing the time we spend with our family, close friends, and the people who really matter. It means cutting back on clutter—around the house and in our head, limiting what we worry about so that we have more time and energy for the important things that are within our control. Often it means saying no to requests that merely take time and have little lasting value. And it means finding renewal in relaxation, quiet moments, and the beauty of nature—ideally in the company of someone we love. 

Whatever simplifying means to you, don’t wait until your loved ones start to wonder if you are there. Decide what you can do to begin living a simpler life today.

1 See Stephen R. Covey, Everyday Greatness (2006), 386.

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