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Free your brain from trivial decision making
Old 09-08-2014, 01:30 AM   #1
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Free your brain from trivial decision making

I recently read a blog post about simplifying your life, specifically freeing your brain from trivial decision making. The advice given was, for example, to eat the same thing all the time and wear the same thing everyday so that you don't have to burden yourself with relatively unimportant questions like "what's for dinner?" and "what am I going to wear today?".

It reminded me of my grandparents. They ate the same thing and dressed the same way every single day of the week except on Sundays. They always bought the same tried-and-true brands. They never tried new recipes. They did not follow fashion trends. In other words, they found something that worked well enough for them and just stuck with it. They did not waste time and energy trying to constantly find better or the best of anything.

We live in a world where we have the luxury to face many more choices than they did. It seems like we are always looking for newer and better recipes, coffees, wines, restaurants, gadgets, etc... I sometimes find the choices overwhelming and the endless decision-making process tiresome.

What about you? Do you enjoy trying new things all the time, or are you happy to stick with the tried-and-true?
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Old 09-08-2014, 02:44 AM   #2
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I think it has a lot do with my personality type, and a proclivity for repetitive behavior rather than as the result of a conscious desire to free up time, but I tend to live like your grandparents did FIREd. I eat almost the same things every day. The main variety in my diet comes from the occasional meal out. I dress simply, only replacing clothes when the existing ones are close to wearing out. For the most part, I only spend money on things that add demonstrable value to my life.

Thinking about it, this way of living is typical of a low-budget LBYM type. I suspect there are quite a few people like that here.

I don't need that much variety in my life. I like routine; in fact, I find enjoyment in my daily routines.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:53 AM   #3
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The advice given was, for example, to eat the same thing all the time and wear the same thing everyday so that you don't have to burden yourself with relatively unimportant questions like "what's for dinner?" and "what am I going to wear today?".
I don't burden myself with those decisions, I leave all that to my wife.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:56 AM   #4
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I don't burden myself with those decisions, I leave all that to my wife.
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Old 09-08-2014, 05:15 AM   #5
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When I was in the Air Force, I didn't have to think about what to wear each day. There was a simplicity in it but, I prefer having some level of choice. Regarding food, I do find myself eating the same thing in short/medium stretches. I'll find something I like, then eat it all the time for several months. For example, I just discovered the "Earth Bowl" at SweetGreen, and I could eat that every day for a long time.

I think it's when we get to a point of 'overwhelming' choices, that point differs for each of us, that we become irritated by "choice." For example, I don't like having too many clothes; it just seems a waste to me. I also find myself mildly irritated when the person in line in front of me orders a "vente 3 1/2 pump caramel chai non fat extra foam latte with sprinkles" or whatever. In my mind I'm saying, "Really?" and picturing my Grandmother smiling as she stirs sugar and cream into her coffee and enjoys it with the sunrise.

Yep, too many choices. But, it doesn't mean we have to take them all. We can choose to not choose.
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Old 09-08-2014, 05:25 AM   #6
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Choosing clothes is fun and I hope I never have to give it up. Maybe that is one reason why people often associate being old with being dull, boring, and sad?

Growing up, I didn't have many new clothes. I recall being 8, in the 4th grade, and asking my mother (who was still in bed) on schoolday mornings, "Mom, what should I wear today?" "Put on what you had on yesterday," she'd say, and turn over. After I'd worn the exact same clothes for a week, the teacher started asking questions After that, I myself put out my clothes every night before bed to be sure they were different. I had just enough clothes to make a different outfit for 5 days in a row.

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I recently read a blog post about simplifying your life, specifically freeing your brain from trivial decision making. The advice given was, for example, to eat the same thing all the time and wear the same thing everyday so that you don't have to burden yourself with relatively unimportant questions like "what's for dinner?" and "what am I going to wear today?"
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Old 09-08-2014, 07:22 AM   #7
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"What's for dinner?" (and "cook in or eat out") is one of the most important considerations of my day!

'Relatively unimportant' indeed!!
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Old 09-08-2014, 07:37 AM   #8
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"The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to. ... No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it. " -- Richard Feynman

Which again reminds of my favorite current quote -- "I regret having wasted so much of my life thinking about things that never happened."
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Old 09-08-2014, 09:43 AM   #9
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I often follow routines because they work and often save time.

I hate shopping for clothes so when I find something I like that fits well I'll often buy several of the same style in different colors and therefore often look the same but slightly different.

As for food, I hate to cook so often end up eating the same things for long periods of time. But I love trying different restaurants so the more choices the better in that regard.

So for me it just depends on the subject, sometimes routine is good and sometimes its not.
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Old 09-08-2014, 10:05 AM   #10
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Taking the food part to the extreme is Rob Rhineharts idea with the Soylent movement - just drink your people chow.

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“Food was such a large burden,” he told me recently. “It was also the time and the hassle"
The End of Food - The New Yorker
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Old 09-08-2014, 10:07 AM   #11
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I often follow routines because they work and often save time.

I hate shopping for clothes so when I find something I like that fits well I'll often buy several of the same style in different colors and therefore often look the same but slightly different.

...
Agree about the clothes! One summer when I was teaching, I bought back to school clothes on-line, twelve polo shirts in 3 different colors and 3 pairs of khaki pants. Perfect, I was set for the year. I guess the students noticed what I wore because one day in the spring an entire class of physics students showed up in khaki pants and polo shirts.
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Old 09-08-2014, 10:14 AM   #12
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Agree about the clothes! One summer when I was teaching, I bought back to school clothes on-line, twelve polo shirts in 3 different colors and 3 pairs of khaki pants. Perfect, I was set for the year. I guess the students noticed what I wore because one day in the spring an entire class of physics students showed up in khaki pants and polo shirts.
LOL! My wife used to teach and her senior female Calculus students did the same thing to her one day. They all wore pencil skirts, cardigans and pointy toed heels! DW loved it.
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Old 09-08-2014, 10:35 AM   #13
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What about you? Do you enjoy trying new things all the time, or are you happy to stick with the tried-and-true?
Yes to all three.

We enjoy new things, we find reassurance in the predictable comfort of the tried-and-true (such as the company of each other) and we also look for ways to spice up the routine.
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Old 09-08-2014, 11:15 AM   #14
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I definitely don't burden myself with clothing decisions. I have 3 pairs of black pants and 5 pairs of black shorts. I have 15 tank tops, all identical except for color. I have 8 collared golf shirts, all identical except for color. Each night I set out an "outfit" for the next day.

I have approximately 20 "go to" dinners that we rotate through in no particular order. The 20 have changed over time as I experiment with new recipes.

I have little home decor. What I do have are either craft items I've made or items I've brought home during travel. I don't think about "style trends". My house is neat and clean and that is what is important to me.

I do like to try new food outside of the house. We usually eat out 2x a month so I get to "explore" during those times.

I'm drawn to simplicity and the small joys of life. I think that's the main reason I can ER.
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Old 09-08-2014, 11:51 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
I recently read a blog post about simplifying your life, specifically freeing your brain from trivial decision making. The advice given was, for example, to eat the same thing all the time and wear the same thing everyday so that you don't have to burden yourself with relatively unimportant questions like "what's for dinner?" and "what am I going to wear today?".

It reminded me of my grandparents. They ate the same thing and dressed the same way every single day of the week except on Sundays. They always bought the same tried-and-true brands. They never tried new recipes. They did not follow fashion trends. In other words, they found something that worked well enough for them and just stuck with it. They did not waste time and energy trying to constantly find better or the best of anything.

We live in a world where we have the luxury to face many more choices than they did. It seems like we are always looking for newer and better recipes, coffees, wines, restaurants, gadgets, etc... I sometimes find the choices overwhelming and the endless decision-making process tiresome.

What about you? Do you enjoy trying new things all the time, or are you happy to stick with the tried-and-true?
If I found these choices to be overwhelming, I would be vigilant about possibly impending depression. I don't mean to say that you are depressed, but for some this could be a reason for these feelings.

As for me: Like some others, I find clothing that I like and then buy that item in several different colors. I have about 10 of my favorite blouses in six different colors, and I make an effort not to wear the same color two days in a row. I like to choose colors according to the weather or my mood; if it is a dark, gloomy, rainy day, I will wear bright red, and if I am feeling happy and quiet, I will wear a soft inobtrusive blue color, for example. Perhaps once every two weeks I wear a style that is completely different from all the others, just because I want to shake things up.

We generally go to the same half dozen restaurants for lunch, although we might try a new one every couple of weeks (we did yesterday). We have a favorite meal at each, which we split. So in a sense we are eating the same things at lunch, but not day after day. When I was a child, my mother made a huge effort not to ever duplicate a meal twice in a month, because she felt that this practice could contribute to better, more complete nutrition (with teenaged boys in the house, there were no leftovers to warm and serve another day, either). I don't go to that extent when doing meal planning, but I do try to get some variety at dinner.
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Old 09-08-2014, 12:04 PM   #16
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If I found these choices to be overwhelming, I would be vigilant about possibly impending depression. I don't mean to say that you are depressed, but for some this could be a reason for these feelings.
Hum, yeah, I'm not depressed. It's just a reflection on my quest to simplify and streamline my life.
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Old 09-08-2014, 12:38 PM   #17
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I remember reading about Steve Jobs, who became annoyed at having to decide what to wear each morning, so he had a large part of an entire closet full of blue jeans and black mock turtlenecks.

I tend to eat simply, just because I always have, but I'm always looking for new ways to cook my favorite things.
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Old 09-08-2014, 01:00 PM   #18
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I have never been one to try new things, especially foods. I have a few foods I like a lot and cook and eat them often (and are good at cooking them). Makes for quick trips to the supermarket when there are only 20 or 25 different food items I ever buy. Same for going out to eat. If I find a few items on the menu I like and are made well, I stick with them whenever I go there. I never have any problem with eating the same thing for lunch or dinner a few days in a row.

Clothing is a nuisance to buy, but I can usually find something I like similar to what I already have bought or to replace something which has worn out.
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Old 09-08-2014, 01:27 PM   #19
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I have streamlined my wardrobe already and pretty much have an everyday uniform (t-shirt, blue jeans, black socks):

All my jeans are the same.
All my t-shirts are the same - except I have them in 4 colors (blue, green, grey, and black).
All my socks are the same, which is useful - when one sock develops a hole, the orphan can be matched to any other sock in the drawer.

When it comes to food, though, I am in the habit of cooking a wide variety of dishes. And sometimes I run out of ideas. When DW asks what's for dinner, it would be nice to be able to reply "the usual, dear".
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Old 09-08-2014, 01:47 PM   #20
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I don't burden myself with those decisions, I leave all that to my wife.
+1........But now she wants me to start doing it.
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