The China Place
Between my junior and senior year of college in the summer of 2011, I studied abroad in China for three months. It was an opportunity to experience another culture, significantly improve my Mandarin, and satisfy a year's worth of language credits towards my degree. The best part, though, was an unexpected sense of peace and happiness that I found there. I have since named this happy place in my mind, "The China Place".
Life became simple for me and my American classmates in China. We didn't have our cars, social networks, or nearby family. My roommate and I didn't even bring our laptops. We could use a computer lab between 1:00 and 3:00 PM, and had no other internet access. We went to class, studied our textbooks, spent time with the locals, and ate Chinese food. Our teacher even distributed our spending money to us each week like an allowance. We were seven years old again, and it was great. Besides studying hard and some occasional homesickness, there was little to worry about.
The previous school year in America had been stressful. Now, with so few pressures, I was happier than I had been in a long time. I have been trying to recreate this state of mind: "The China Place", ever since then. It’s not the lack of responsibilities that I want, but the simplicity that led to the peace and happiness. I want that in my day to day life.
Maybe you can find your own equivalent to my "China Place". Based on the book Essentialism and my own personal experiences, I am convinced that less is often more. Try experimenting with cutting things out of your life, even things you think you like. Limit your personal internet use to two hours a day (for maximum effect, see if you can get blocked by "The Great Firewall of China", the internet censorship in China that keeps its rebellious inhabitants off of malicious sites like Facebook). See if cutting some of these things out makes your life a little more peaceful. Please share your results below in the comments section.