Keep It Simple Stupid

Sage ReddyHappiness, Health, Wealth

Do you look forward to doing dishes? I didn’t think so. No, haven’t met anyone who’s thrilled about tackling that huge pile of dishes in their kitchen sink each night. Except me, of course. But enough about me. Let’s talk about you.

Did you know that the dirty dishes in your kitchen sink can teach you a lot about life? The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book.

Isn’t it odd that with all the time-saving devices money can buy these days, we have less and less time on our hands? Why is that?

I’ll tell you why. While time-saving gadgets do saves us time, they end up giving us even more stuff to do. More than we would have on our plates if we didn’t have these gizmos. So much for saving time!

Take your trusty dishwasher. This modern marvel does all your dirty work for you and saves you plenty of time in the process, time you can put to good use. Hopefully, you’re using this time to do more of the stuff you wanna do in life. Like watch TV.

Jokes aside, I’ll be the first one to admire a hi-tech dishwasher, especially one that can read my mind and cook my meals. Even so, I refuse to own one. I do not like dishwashers, period.

I don’t have an Amish bent of mind, mind you, and quite enjoy technology. Just try parting me from my iPhone and you’ll see what I mean. Then what gives?

In my view, dishwashers are more trouble than they’re worth.

First, look at the all the steps involved with a typical dishwasher: unload old dishes, load new dishes, add detergent, turn on the machine. And if you really want your dishes clean you must remember to soak them in the sink first. If you forget to soak (which I always did), you’ll fare better if rinse them lightly before you toss ’em into the washer.

And this was the last nail in the coffin for me, as far as dishwashers go.

If you’re going to go through the trouble of soaking or rinsing before you drop ’em in the washer, why not just go ahead and wash ‘em while you’re at it? It only takes a few seconds longer and you do away with all the other dishwasher nonsense.

Then there is the headache of having to remember if the dishes in the washer are clean or dirty? Who knows? They look clean, but they don’t smell clean. Did you run the unit last night? You can’t remember. Ok, so you forgot, but maybe your partner did. She’s more on top of things than you are. Or so you think.

Perhaps you did turn it on after all, but did you add the detergent? You don’t remember. So you stand there and shake your head. What if the dishes look clean because, you know, you’ve been doing such a fine job lately of rinsing them before loading the dishwasher? Ah, to hell with it. No one will know.

Life without the dishwasher

No matter. You can’t imagine life without your trusty ol’ dishwasher. So trust me, I’m not going to take it away from you. But humor me for a moment, will ya? Let’s do a mental experiment. Let’s pretend you don’t have your dishwasher anymore. Dishwasher: poof! It’s gone. How will you fare?

You’ll hate it, but you’ll survive.

Now let’s take this experiment further. I want you to stop using it for some time. Say about a week. Can you do it? Sure you can. But why?

You’re about to find out. And what you do will be worth its weight in gold.

You think I’m nuts, but you’ll do it just to show me that you can. Besides, you’ve always wanted to be on the TV show Survivor. Now’s your chance. Compared to Survivor, this ought to be a walk in the park.

“But how will I manage without my trusty dishwasher?” you think to yourself privately.

Why, you’ll just have to do them by hand. Just like they used to a hundred years ago. The first practical dishwasher was invented by a woman named Josephine Cochran in 1886. Dishwashers, however, did not begin appearing in homes until the 1950s.

And now you can’t imagine any home without a dishwasher.

For the next whole week, you labor away at your kitchen sink each night without your good ol’ dishwasher to assist you. Naturally, the dishes now take forever. And you soon tire of all this unwarranted extra labor. How did people ever manage without these time-saving gadgets? you wonder.

As a married man, you’ve found that you and your wife can’t go for more for than a day without doing the dishes.

By the end of the week, even as you curse me under your breath for keeping you from your dishwasher, you have a new revelation. It’s the kind you’ve never had before, something that came about as a result of not using your automatic dishwasher. What is this revelation?

Here it is: “I have too many dishes!”

Granted, you’re not single anymore, but why does a childless couple need so many darn dishes? You haven’t got a clue. So you just scratch your head and walk away baffled and befuddled. All you know is this: it does not make much sense.

Then later that day you have this insight: “We have more dishes in our kitchen because we have a dishwasher. If we had to clean these dishes by hand we wouldn’t buy so many darned dishes.”

Life simple

A week later, rather than run to embrace your trusted dishwasher like a long-lost pal, you decide you want to prolong your “no dishwasher” experiment. ” Another week won’t kill me, you tell yourself.

You don’t hate me anymore, continue to labor away at the kitchen sink each night, and another week rolls on by. At the end of which you have three more amazing insights about your life:

Insight 1. Not only do you have too many dishes in your kitchen, you have too much of everything. You and your wife have too much stuff in and around the house. A lot of this stuff is what you’d consider a “want,” not a “need.”

Insight 2. You’re a procrastinator. Shameful yet true: if you can put something off until tomorrow, you will. And why do you do that? Many reasons, but a big one is this: you’re just too overwhelmed by everything on your plate these days.

Insight 3. You’d like to simplify your life. You want to change. Actually, you’re hungry for change. You just don’t know where to start. Even so, the desire to change is so strong you can actually taste it in your mouth.

This last thing is significant. Why? Because the old you liked change—as long as nothing had to change. Now that you’re hungry for change, question is what kind of changes will make you happy?

Anything that’ll simplify your life, you shout.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

You’re going to simplify your life, starting with your kitchen. Seized by this desire to simplify, you put away 80% of your dishes, leaving out only two of everything. Two bowls, two plates, two forks, two spoons, two knives, two spatulas, a ladle, a small pan and an awesome skillet. Everything else is out of sight, out of mind.

Your sparse kitchen won’t impress your mother-in-law, but, boy, will she be ever so impressed when she sees what you can do in the kitchen with just these few things.

Over the next few days, not only do you cook more than ever before, you actually look forward to doing your dishes. As does your wife. Now you have to do them three times a day. If you don’t, there won’t be any to eat out of. But cleaning is now such a breeze! Often, it’s just a quick rinse and you’re done.

Could life be this simple?

What’s even more interesting, your new obsession with simplicity has now spilled over into the rest of your house. You and your wife are now determined to keep only what you absolutely need and use everyday. Everything else has gotta go.

You’ll sell it or donate it.

Six months later, you feel lean and mean. And you look it too. Both in body and mind.

Strange, but getting ridding of all that unnecessary stuff at home has had some other unintended consequences: (1) Your head is much clearer now and you can remember stuff much better than before, (2) You lost weight without going on any kind of diet. That flab around your waist? Poof, it’s gone. (3) You have an endless supply of energy now, again for no apparent reason. (4) Now you have more leisure time than you know what to do with.

Actually, you put it to good use. You play the guitar instead of watching TV and eating potato chips.

In short, you and your wife have your life back.

And it all happened because you chose to take a long and hard look at the dirty dishes in your kitchen sink. And you chose to simplify.

Here’s to your newfound joy of the simple life!

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