Complex living and decision fatigue
The complexity of life forces most of us into the wrestlemania of decisions from the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we close them again at night. Someone has estimated that most adult humans make 35,000 decisions every day, as many as 200 of them about the food we eat. People who study the human mind are now diagnosing the notable wear and tear of so many daily choices as decision fatigue. It is the mental depletion we mortals experience when our operating systems are firing at such speed around the clock. The laboratory people debate whether decision fatigue is a result of our complicated times or a product of sociological influences like family background, economic standing, educational preparation, among others. People of faith tend to emphasize the inner person when addressing most of the psychological stresses of life, something new like decision fatigue as well. The remedy for decision fatigue may be as basic as easing the pressure points. To simplify is the biblical answer.
Living the simple, contented life is a strong Scriptural theme. To simplify is to strip away many of the layers that clutter our minds and actions. The self-help people have given us the mechanics of do-overs, five easy steps to everything, and volumes of advice to solve every human malady, the psyche stuff too. To truly simplify, however, is a spiritual discipline. Consider this---
1. Jesus modeled simple living.
Many Bible passages underscore Christ's example of living the simplified life.
Two will suffice to make the point. .
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though
he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be
grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in
the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7, ESV
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but
the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."
Luke 9:58, ESV
2. Jesus taught simple living.
Once again, the Gospels record many instances of Jesus teaching the dangers
of entanglements caused by our affection for worldly things. Like before , two
examples will do---
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your
life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.
Luke 12:22, ESV
Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
Luke 12:31, ESV
3. In Scripture, simplicity begins in the human thought life.
Setting our mind on the right things is the beginning of life simplification.
Much of our decision fatigue happens because our thought life is cluttered and
distracted. Several passages reflect this teaching---
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:2, ESV
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the
flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things
of the Spirit.
Romans 8:5, ESV
Sure. There's plenty of practical data about relieving the decision fatigue that robs us of inner resources and empties so many of us of living the joy-filled life. Menu plans, standardized routine dress, one brand of toothpaste, and wise choices of other life functions can reduce many of the choice intersections that complicate life. But, getting our hearts and minds in order is a starting place.
So here we are on the threshold of fall. School has started, the routines of daily life are being hammered out by people already worn from break neck summers. Traffic is worse, the weather is unpredictable, the children have outgrown last years clothes, and college football season kicked off last night. Yes, of course, the porch needs pressure washing, the kitchen could use a make-over, the dirty clothes hamper is full, and there's nothing in the fridge. The to-do list is sounding alarms and our tendency is to be held captive by it. It's the basic life dilemma of deciding what will get my personal attention----what is urgent or what is important. This decision is basic to a more simple life. And, when we boil them all down, perhaps faith and family are the most important.
Knowing the difference between the urgent and the important requires wisdom. Oh me, culture says that means being old and experienced. But, that's not the deal. Scripture tells us to ask God for wisdom and he will give it. Check out practical James, again---
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without
reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one
who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that
person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-
minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1: 5-8, ESV
And, that may be the first steps along the path to a simplified life.