Oikos and Simplicity
Simple fact: options don’t make us happy. I am not going to spend any amount of print trying to prove that, it’s just the truth. There are books about it. Take it up with them, but for the remainder of this post, we’ll regard that as fact.
I wrote a few days ago on oikos, the church planter buzz word that just means your social network, the people you know. I suggested that creating a schedule for yourself to maximize your potential for impacting people would lead to a simpler and possibly happier lifestyle.
“Norm!” everyone yells as the chubby guy walks into the bar, which is fitting because the theme song for the tv show Cheers wraps up with the line, “you wanna go where everybody knows your name.”
In the modern day equivalent, “How I Met Your Mother,” Barney says, “Ted, you keep going to the same bar, you’re in a rut.” Ted replies, “It’s not a rut. It’s routine.” To which Barney replies, “What is the first syllable in rut-ine?” And he is right. It is routine. He and his friends sit at the same table in the same bar in every episode. They know Carl the bartender and Wendy the waitress well.
These two shows one that ran from 1982 until 1993, and the other which started in 2005 and is ongoing both reflect the desire we have as people to be plugged in, wherever we are. We desire relationship in a world where we have fewer and fewer close friends.
But that’s not what this post is about. It is about the fulfilling power that simplicity has in our lives. Everyone has written on it from pop-culture writers like Chuck Klosterman in “Here’s Johnny,” where he mourns the loss of shared experiences due to 500 cable channels. People aren’t seeing the same things any more.
Barry Shultz is credited with the application of this to consumer products. In his book Paradox of Choice he lays it out pretty simply, “Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.” You can listen to him talk about that a little more in his TED talk which I highly recommend.
So, building for yourself a life and where your life is predictable and you are utilizing fewer options you will have a life that is simpler and therefore more fulfilling.
What does this have to do with oikos?
When an element of choice is taken out of things (It’s Thursday. Thursday night is movie night) then you have a certain amount of stress cut from your life, it is a decision that is already made for you. If there is a group of friends who are doing this with you then you have the added bonus of being with friends. If you are routine then you have the ability to invite anyone to any event and know what you’re doing that night. If you have a variety of events (church, game night, bar night) then you have several things to invite a person to based on their interests.
In short, having established plans at established locals reduces the amount of ambiguity in your life. This also leads to greater relationships with the people at each of those locals: church, restaurant, bar, grocery store. If you’re in the business of meeting new people and getting to know who they are, this is one effective way to do it as well as add simplicity to your life.
About coleyoakumMy name is Coleman Yoakum. I am formerly a student at Harding University. Today you can find me in Detroit Michigan doing what I can to expand the Kingdom of God and preparing to start an intentional community in Pontiac. I enjoy reading, writing, photography, music and politics. I am sure that all of these things will find their way to this blog from time to time. Twitter: coleyoakum Facebook: Coleman Yoakum Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Flickr: flickr.com/photos/coleyoakum/
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