I spend a lot of time thinking about simple living. I can’t help it. So I have all these simple living ideas that bounce around in my head. I found myself writing them down because they were good things to remember and sometimes I would need a quick reset. And now I’d like to share them with you.
Simple living looks different for everyone
You know what? If you want to practice simple living – you can.
I don’t care if you hate gardening. Or if you don’t cook. Or if you like living in the city. To practice simple living is as easy as two things.
1. You have to know that something in your life doesn’t feel right.
2. You have to be willing to do something about it.
The first time I tried yoga, the gal on the video said it’s called a yoga practice because you do just that – practice! Simple living is exactly the same sort of deal.
Whether you live off the grid and raise goats and chickens or you’re an urban working couple who simply learn how to say no to a few of their commitments – you are living more simply than you were before. Simple living is as personal as spirituality. In fact – for some of us – it is a little bit spiritual.
In many cases, less really is more
When I say this, I’m thinking mostly of things that use up your important time. Stuff is a time sucker because it requires care and maintenance. It also breeds clutter which creates stress and more time to manage it.
Too many commitments on your time creates stress and that constant feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. I’m talking about your time, but also your kid’s time. Overscheduled kids who never get any down time with nothing on the agenda aren’t happy. They’re stressed too.
So learn how to say no. No to things that rob you and your family of that most precious thing – time.
People over stuff – always
The short and sweet of this is that if you’re busting your butt working extra hours to afford wonderful things for your family – stop. If you’re working super hard to feed and clothe them, that’s a different story.
Trust me when I say that your family and friends would rather see you than see your fancy new car. Your kids would rather you take them to the park than play on their fancy new swing set in the backyard.
When we eventually made the decision to have me stay home with the kids it meant a lot financially. We’re very lucky in that it hasn’t meant huge sacrifices for us – although I know it does for some.
The thing that we gave up in the short term was the extra sense of security that extra money coming in the door meant. And that’s pretty darn important to me. But I realized as soon as I had my first kiddo that buying things for her just wasn’t the same as being with her.
Disclaimer: Me staying home is right for our family, but it’s definitely not right for everyone – and that is awesome. I’m just using it as an example of a different choice we made. When I worked full-time, we bought an awful lot of stuff for our oldest daughter out of guilt. Trust me – I do not want to get into the stay-at-home mom vs working mom debate…been on both sides – they’re both hard.
Stuff is not bad – in moderation
I love all things techie and wine and new towels. And we love us some art supplies in this house. We have stuff (more than we should – same problem as everyone else.) Stuff is not the enemy. Stuff that controls your life IS.
If you love to buy stuff – develop a love of getting rid of stuff too. If you feel like the stuff in your life is taking over – there’s a problem. But if it’s not – stop worrying.
Stuff – just like wine and chocolate chip cookies – is awesome in the right amounts. Not too much and not too little.
Comparison is a happiness killer
Boy oh boy does this one strike a chord for some. Stop comparing yourself to so-and-so. They are not you. The more you compare, the more you won’t be happy. I know it’s really really really hard to stop comparing. But you gotta.
Trust me – the only question you should ask yourself is “did I do my best?” Not “is my car better than Ron’s?” or “why can’t I be as thin as Rose?”
Your life will instantly be more simple the minute you stop comparing yourself to others.
Doing things for yourself is a powerful thing
There’s a certain rush that comes with doing things for yourself. I find that making anything homemade gives me a little kick of happy. I love it more when I made it myself. I love it when I mended it or created it myself. And even when your homemade costume isn’t as fancy as that one at the store – there’s star power in saying you made it yourself.
Everyone needs time outside and time for quiet
Let me get on my soap box for just a second. At this point I’m pretty sure that everyone understands that I think the most valuable commodity we have is our time. And I’m saying you should spend some of it every single day on two things – being outside and being quiet.
Take a hike, garden, sit on your porch, walk through the park – do whatever you need to do to get your bum outside. If you love multi-tasking – take a walk by yourself – then you’ll get your quiet time too.
Find 10 or 15 minutes (or longer if you can swing it) to just be quiet. No cell phone, no TV, no laptop, no tablet, no distractions. I promise it’s amazing.
Frugality is as easy or as hard as you make it
Frugality is a bit like long distance running – it takes mental toughness to do it, but in the end it feels great. I’m not gonna lie – sometimes frugality makes you feel sorry for yourself. Waiting on things you want to do or buy is challenging. The one thing I have noticed though is that vacations where you set aside money in advance are more relaxing. Cars that are paid for seem cooler. New tech gadgets that didn’t go on a credit card are even more fun to play with.
Frugality is all about your attitude. If you’re convinced this is the right thing to do (whatever your reasons) and you move through life feeling good about your choices then it’ll be a whole lot easier than if you throw yourself a pity party all the time.
Being kind to all living things (our planet included) is always the simple choice
I find that being kind never feels wrong. Maybe it’s just how I was raised, but when I choose kindness it feels right.
Sometimes the simple path isn’t the easy path
Making changes in your life to spend less money or make more things from scratch or say no to commitments on your time that you don’t love is hard. Change is never easy.