Back in 2010, my life looked pretty great (on paper). I had a lovely, happy baby girl, I was married to a wonderful, hardworking man, and I was running a small hand-made jewelry label. We had recently moved to the mountains, were currently renovating, had just returned from a Fijian holiday, and I was pregnant with our second child.
I knew how lucky I was. And yet I was filled with a bone-aching despair. Life was pushing down on me so hard that it took my breath away, and I couldn’t figure out why. All I knew was that I was constantly striving for more. More stuff, more toys, more clothes, more busyness, more, more, more... Somewhere along the way I’d learned to equate more with success and success with happiness.
A few weeks after our second child was born, I was diagnosed with severe postpartum depression. Looking back, I’m fairly certain I’d been struggling since before our first child was born but had maybe been a little better at hiding it or convincing myself that it was what life was like as an adult, a partner, a mother.
As part of my treatment, I spent an hour a week with a psychiatrist. It was during one of our sessions that I began complaining about everything I "had" to do in life. All the things I needed to achieve, own, do, or be. All the ways in which I could never sit still, never be present, and never fully soak in the joyful details of my own very lucky life. There was always more to do, and I was tired.
She looked at me for a moment and asked, "Have you ever considered simplifying your life a little, doing less?" I admit that I was initially offended by the idea. I’d always prided myself on the fact I got a lot done in my day, on being the person people asked themselves, "How does she do it?"
Turns out that wasn’t working out very well for me.
I went home and Googled, "How do I simplify my life?" and found myself deep in the archives of Leo Babauta’s blog, Zen Habits, where I discovered a whole other world of people who were saying no to more.