Steps offered to simplify one's life in talk at Vernon Senior Center

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Oct. 4, 2013
Joanne Harrison-Becker said 'editing' one's priorities is a way to simplify their life, when she spoke at the Vernon Senior Center on Sept. 30. Photo by Steve Smith.
Joanne Harrison-Becker said 'editing' one's priorities is a way to simplify their life, when she spoke at the Vernon Senior Center on Sept. 30. Photo by Steve Smith.

Vernon residents learned a few lessons on how to simplify their lives at a workshop on the topic by Jo Anne Harrison-Becker on Sept. 30 at the Vernon Senior Center. Harrison-Becker has a master's degree in gerontology, and presents lectures on a variety of topics at senior centers throughout the state, including wellness programs on memory, chronic worry and gratitude. She said that people of all ages can use some help in simplifying their lives.

To start the workshop, she asked the participants to write down what a simplified life means to them, and then what they hope to get out of a more-simplified life.

“It's a journey,” she said. “I've been working at it for a long time, and I still have a ways to go.”

Harrison-Becker gave several tips for simplifying one's life. Getting rid of items in one's home, she said, can be difficult, but one has to “just do it.” She said books that have value, for example, should be brought to a bookstore and sold.

“My suggestion is to do a little at a time,” she said. “As far as something that is sentimental, try to give it to somebody – find a good home for it. If you think it's something that's worth money, find somebody reputable, and bring it to them. You do get a good feeling afterward.” She said that when a person's home is disorganized, their mind is disorganized.

“Evaluate your commitments,” she said, adding that people should look at everything going on in their lives (and even write things in a journal), and then go through the list and determine if there are too many. If so, some things need to be cut. “Sometimes that takes a lot of soul-searching,” she said.

Evaluating one's time – what they do on a daily basis – and then similarly cutting things that aren't necessary, is another path to simplification.

Multi-tasking is also not good, she said, and is actually harmful to people's memory, especially as we get older. “What happens when we get older, is we're not focusing and concentrating, because it gets more difficult,” she said. Instead, people should try to live in the moment, and enjoy whatever it is they are doing.

“Whatever your tasks are,” she said, “allow yourself enough time for whatever the task is. If you don't like dusting, but you know you have to do it, enjoy doing it.”

A big tip for simplification is to learn to say “no.” “I know that can be very difficult,” Harrison-Becker said. “But, that's very important, because when you don't learn to say no, and take on 10 people who need things like rides to the grocery store, or whatever, what's going to happen to you is it's going to affect you in mind, body and spirit, and that's not going to help you.”

Other tips include limiting one's buying habits, limiting one's media consumption, and spending more time with people you like.

Harrison-Becker said she could list more (she claims to have a 72) items to help simplify one's life, but needed to simplify that list for the program.

For more information on Vernon Senior Center programs, visit

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