Simple and Repetitive

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In my twenties and thirties, I sought out variety and spontaneity. Being surrounded by lots of friends, being in different places, doing a lot of new and different things. That was what felt like living, being happy.

Reflecting on how my life’s evolved into my forties, especially with kids, I’ve come to see simple and repetitive as the basis for happiness.

I recently had some travel for work as well as a family trip and it only confirmed what I had been feeling: the baseline life I’ve got going is pretty good, and it’s because it’s kind of boring.

I don’t have a much of a social life these days, maybe an occasional beer with a friend once or twice a month.

Otherwise, life’s followed this pattern week in and week out:

  • Weekdays: get kids ready for school, a morning walk, work, dinner with family, hang out with kids & put them to bed, clean up, work out, wash up, read, go to bed.
  • Weekends: breakfast with family, hang out with kids, lunch with family, do some writing, dinner with family, hang out with kids & put them do bed, clean up, work out, wash up, read, go to bed.

Some days – usually Fridays and Saturdays, I might substitute reading with watching a show.

Weekends are all about exploring the surrounding areas with the kids, a mix of nature and different playgrounds.

Weekends are wonderful, especially when the weather isn’t so bad. I’ve been taking the kids all over the Hudson Valley/Catskills/Connecticut/Berkshires visiting different parks, trails, and playgrounds. And sometimes it’s fine to just hang out at home and watch them run around our property.

The thing that surprises me is that I don’t miss the old lifestyle–leaving city life, the social scene, great restaurants, etc.

One theory I have on why I’ve come to appreciate living life this way: the somewhat rigid structure brought on by having kids–same eating times, no sleeping in, and hence always going to bed at a reasonable hour–has pushed me to simplify my activities. In turn, this constraint has enabled lighter mental load and pushed me to get the most out of a more predictable daily schedule.

I do experience variety and spontaneity, but within a set structure: my kids continually surprise and delight me with their growth and antics; the view of the sunsets from our home is never quite the same; I find great satisfaction in progressing through my various fitness programs; the 8 or so hours of work every weekday presents all manner of unexpected challenges.

While I don’t mind the occasional trip to an exotic place or a social gathering to catch up with old friends or make new ones, I do love the fact that I’m very content with the daily, mundane life and very much reluctant to interrupt it if I don’t absolutely have to.

This is not to say it’s all been easy and without challenges, but because I’ve embraced a fairly simple life, there’s capacity to deal with issues as needed.

And I’m motivated to keep things simple–no side gigs, no social clubs, limited volunteering (alumni board), and anything else that might require extending myself in ways that regularly disrupt the flow of the weeks as I’ve outlined above.

Simple, repetitive, boring. Sounds wonderful.

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