Hello there, lovely people! If you are like me and you always juggle with many hats at once, you naturally seek ways to make things easy. And part of making things easy is to simplify and get rid of anything that doesn’t serve you – be it a habit, a source of distraction or stuff that clutter your life more than they make it good. With this in mind, a few years ago, I started reading about living with less.
Before you organize, simplify!
(the simple living concept)
I read lots of articles, different blogs, personal stories, tips, and books, (I’ll definitely post more on that), which actually help me better understand what the “less is more” concept is really about. Honestly, I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned and how this has changed my life so far.
The art of simple living.
In this age of excess and extremes, many people are turning towards a simple life with less stress, less stuff, and more purpose. The “simple living” movement is a natural response against the clutter, the busyness and the “work more, buy more, be more” culture, promoted by our society. The concept is popular not only among the millennial (though I believe we are a major driving force) but also among people of all ages.
“Simple living” is a lifestyle, which can be implemented in many different ways, but the main focus is on making more space for what matters to you by freeing from the excess and being more intentional with what you surround yourself with. This is more than just a minimalist design or owning less stuff. It is a way of living, which promotes being focused, staying healthy and having more experiences rather than belongings.
The way I understand it, the simple living concept contains different voluntary practices which aim at simplifying one’s lifestyle. These practices may include, for example, reducing one’s belongings, which is generally referred to as “minimalism”, or increasing self-sufficiency by eliminating stress factors and employing healthy habits.
The art of living simply may be characterized by being satisfied with what you have, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to refrain from luxury and indulgence or live an ascetic life of extremes. This is a voluntary lifestyle choice, which is very different from living in poverty or depriving yourself of things that you need and want. The way this concept clicks with me is based on the idea of being organized, having time for things that matter to me and making life easy and stress-free where possible.
Less clutter, less stress!
I started the journey to simplicity at the end of 2016 with the realization that I have too much stuff. Stuff, which always keeps me busy and takes my focus from the things that I want to do and the experiences that I want to try. At the same time, this stuff makes me spend time organizing and trying to find a place for everything. And I don’t refer just to my belongings. I believe, all of us, who have the luck to live a life where all our basic needs are met, have way too much clutter in our head and our surrounding than we actually realize. What we truly need, however, is usually space and time for the things that really matter. And, of course, less stress.
Its been three years now since I first got acquainted with the simple living idea and the more I dive into the concept of living with less, the more I start to understand the sources of my stress and to eliminate them. That, so far, has resulted in more time for myself, more focus, less clutter and, more money saved from purchases that I would have, otherwise, made impulsively and without a clear idea of their usage. Pretty awesome, huh? Especially the money-saving part. 😀
So, how can you start?
Well, there is no universal path to the “living simple” lifestyle, and, to be honest, “simple” does not really mean easy. I think it’s hard, in fact. For me, the key is one step at a time.
“Come on, inner peace. I don’t have all day.”
As a start, one can try being more intentional, thoughtful, and purposeful in your day life. It is also a good idea to start with just one area in your life that you would like to simplify first. Or maybe just ask yourself the question, “What does enough look like for me?”. Defining what “enough” means for you can really help you with this journey.
One thing I remember I did, in the beginning, was to discard duplicates. This was a small, yet a big step, which immediately gave me the feeling of more space and order. Then I slowly moved to declutter and downsize my belongings and my distractions over time until I got to a point where I am happy. Now I can say I have a clearer idea of what is enough for me and what is excess. And that helps me to maintain simplicity in more areas of my life.
If you don’t know where to start, you can try to walk through your home and put in a box everything that you have two sets of. Then put that box out of sight for a month and see how you feel about it. If you don’t miss anything or don’t remember what is in there, then you probably can live without it. You may also like to start with another area of your life like your career, your relationships, or your time management. The point is to make things as uncomplicated as possible.
My suggestion is to get a clear idea of what simple living is and the benefits that it can bring in your life. What has really helped me was to ask myself the question “What does simple living mean to me?” One thing that I know for sure is that each one of us is having their own unique idea of what simple living is and how it works in their lives.
At the same time, it is very easy to get caught up in someone else’s expectations of what simple living means to them. That’s why it is good to have a clear idea of what does it mean to you personally. Because be sure that it looks different for you, your partner, your relatives or your friends. And, speaking from my experience, it is very important that we learn to define, and stand up for, our own definition of living simply in order to make it work for us.
Some of you may define this lifestyle as a means to be more purposeful. Others may need simple living to slow down and to dedicate some quiet time for themselves and their thoughts. Spending time with family and friends may also be a way of expressing simplicity in your life, as well as setting time for creativity or being in nature by spending more time outdoors. What I have realized is that having less clutter in your mind, in your to-do list, and in your surrounding is somehow so liberating.
Am I good at constantly keeping things simple? Of course not. I am still struggling with balancing everything. Life happens. There are times when our days get busy, and there is no way around it. There are times when, despite our best efforts and intentions, our definition of simple living goes out of the window for a season.
However, I believe that what matters is to try to make intentional, purposeful decisions, and to build habits that make your life easy. Of course, you have to be willing to think outside the box and to do things a bit differently than those around you. But that comes also with knowing yourself and getting a firm grasp on your values and priorities. Take responsibility for your life and plan ahead, so you aren’t left with the flow. Say “yes” to the things that are essential to you and “no” to the unnecessary. It takes self-discipline and willingness to get outside of your comfort for a while until you find out what works for you.
Simple Living Resources
If this is an idea that has captured your attention and you would like to explore further, here are a few amazing books, which you may like to check:
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – This book will take you through a guided step-by-step process of organizing, decluttering and storing your belongings, this way simplifying your living space and making it more peaceful and clean.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – If you struggle with having too many interests, like me, then this book will show you how not to fall prey to the temptation to try and tackle them all at once and have more focus on what’s important.
The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine Jay – A book about having enough but not limiting yourself to a bare minimum. Its more about valuing space and defining what brings you joy and peace.
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