Loren Lahav

How to Live a Calmer and Simpler Life

Remember the TV show “Friends”?

It’s hard not to. Even though the show was on in the 1990s, it’s still hugely popular today. In fact, it was the most binge-watched show of 2018.

And “Friends” isn’t just popular among people who watched it during its original run. It’s a favorite show among people who weren’t even born when it first aired!

Why is that?

“Part of the appeal is wish-fulfillment,” says Marta Kauffman, one of the show’s creators. “And another part of it is because they’re on social media all the time, so I believe they crave human contact. They crave intimacy and intimate relationships. They’re looking at screens all the time.”

“Friends” is so popular not just because it’s a funny and entertaining show, but because it portrays a simpler time. It’s about a group of 20-somethings who sat on a couch at a coffee shop and talked for hours, without distractions like phones.

They dated people they met out in the world, instead of people they swiped right on Tinder. And instead of taking pictures and videos of everything as it happened, they stayed in the moment.

Doesn’t that sound great?

Well, there are people who still live this way every day. And we can learn a lot from them.

This week, I’m visiting my 97-year-old aunt, who is: a) Awesome, and b) Lives an active and fulfilling yet simple life.

Every day, she gets dressed up as if she’s going to work. She sits at her desk and writes, sometimes about her husband, sometimes about one of us. She takes walks around the halls of her housing community. She plays Bridge and reads in a quiet nook. And she is very social.

The best part of visiting her is going to lunch with all of her friends. They actually sit down, eat and talk to each other. They’re not on their phones. They’re all present and they have great conversations with each other.

Honestly, whenever I visit my aunt I have so much fun, and I feel a sense of calm. We’ve all gotten so used to having technology around all the time that we don’t realize how much chaos and anxiety it brings into our lives.

It isn’t until we step back and experience a simpler routine that we realize how much peace is missing from our experience.

So, what can we do to cultivate some of that peace and simplicity into our routines? Here are a few ideas:

1. “Forget” your phone for at least a few hours a week.

Leave it in the car before meeting your friends. Leave it at home and go for a walk outside. Store it away in a drawer when you’re relaxing at home. Out of sight, out of mind.  

If you’re worried about missing an emergency phone call, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb,” and then in your phone’s settings, add an exception to allow phone calls through, either from everyone or just a few select people. This will turn off all your texts, emails and other notifications but still allow important calls through.

After spending a few hours away from your phone and realizing that the Earth is still spinning, you may choose to spend more and more time away from it. Hey, Chandler and Monica spent all that time at Central Perk without a phone, you can live without it for a few hours!

2. Go on a social media diet.

Remember life before social media? If you’re younger than 25, probably not. But for the rest of us, it doesn’t feel that long ago. We don’t need it as much as we think we do!

Spend one day, three days, a week or more without social media. See how it feels. You may end up liking it so much that you permanently spend less time on it or quit altogether.

3. Go out with your friends and encourage them to go device-free.

Ask everyone to put their phone in a stack or host a device-free party. You may find that people are reluctant at first, but end up enjoying it when they realize the quality of time you spend together is so much better.

See? It’s not that hard to live as we did in 1994 (and every year before that). We don’t have to be so committed to our devices that we sacrifice quiet moments alone and quality time with each other.

The internet is there for us when we need it—but we don’t have to rely on it every waking moment.

So, what will you do this week to simplify your life? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Have a great week … filled with simple yet gratifying moments! 🙂