The Choice To Live Simply

How To Live A Simple Life

I used to collect vintage dolls.  And vintage toys.  And books.  And clothes.  And shoes.  And.....well, lets just say I was addicted to "stuff".

And then we went on a quest to try and simplify our lives.  This wasn't purely about getting rid of stuff but, rather, simplifying our entire life.  At the time I wasn't positive what that looked like and, to be honest, that worked in our favor.  Flexibility is key as we've changed our route here and there and adjusted our sails as needed.

It started with me questioning things.  Why did our paychecks not last nearly as long as we thought they would?  Why did we need to accumulate so much stuff?  Stuff that we needed to move, store and clean.  Was striving for a bigger house in a better neighborhood going to make us happy?  Would we always be tied to so many bills?

I was in a job that, although was enjoyable, paid very little and it was stressful.  I was stressed that I would never make enough to help us get into the nicer home we strived for.  Stressed that we would never have the "stuff" on our wish list.  Stressed about all the hours I worked with very little return.  Stressed about the grocery bill which seemed to grow as my weeks became more hectic because I had no time to pre-plan.  I wasn't present and certainly wasn't living life in the moment.

What I found was that when I was surrounded by so much stuff, I didn't have clarity, was stressed a lot, spent a lot of time moving things from one organizational box to another, and continued to replay and relive circumstances.

Things needed to change.

Not being tied to "stuff" has been a freeing experience.  Less stuff equals more room {physical and mental}, more time, and less debt.  When you have space around you it gives you space in your thoughts.  Room to breathe.  It's the strangest thing.  For instance, when my house is a mess I'm tense and don't think things through nearly as clearly as when it's clean.  Do you relate?  If so you would likely feel a big change in stress and emotion by purging.

It's hard.  I'm not going to lie.  And you'll be tested.  For instance, when my mother-in-law passed away we were faced with a house filled with stuff.  Many of the items had memories attached and there were many cool vintage pieces.  If we'd kept everything we were tempted to keep our house would be chock full.  We didn't.  We let most of it go to other homes.  The reality is this.  If we are keeping things just to have them and they are put away in a box somewhere, does it make sense to hold on to them?  We still have the memories, we don't need all of the things. 

Although we still have too much stuff, in my opinion, it's 50 times better than what it was and we are continuing to actively work at decreasing it.

Some of the hurdles I have had to overcome {and continue to work at} include:

I had to redefine happiness for myself.
We determined what type of a lifestyle would truly make us happy.  A larger home in a nicer neighborhood as we'd once thought?  Nope.  We don't want to be tied to a mortgage for years, or a car payment.  A piece of property with a small house and a few animals was what we realized we truly longed for.  Something we can pay off in a reasonable amount of time.  It's not the lifestyle our friends or family live but it's the lifestyle we wanted for ourselves.  The pressure released of trying to work to save for that more expensive lifestyle was like a weight being lifted.

I had to redefine abundance for myself.
It was no longer wealth or collections.  Abundance, I realized, was about doing what I loved.  Spending time with people I love.  Abundance is a life in gratitude.

I had to redefine success for myself.
Success was no longer defined by position title, salary, or what we'd accumulated. Or busyness.  I had to decide where I wanted to give my energy, time and space to.

I had to focus on living intentionally.
It takes work until it's habit, but this is the basis of our lifestyle.  Enjoy the moment and embrace what's happening right in front of us.

We are currently back on the crazy treadmill only because we are starting a business and don't want to incur debt OR be in a circumstance of financial stress.  We realized that although we both truly enjoy what we do for a living, we would like to move on to what we are passionate about and that meant starting our own business.  So we continue to strive toward simplicity at a bit of a different pace temporarily.  But we are living intentionally, and that's a huge change from where we've been in the past.

Living simply is not about avoiding working.  We want to work and we want to make a decent {comfortable} income.  What we don't want to do is be focused on money and, therefore, tied to a career we don't enjoy.  Living simply is about doing what you love and loving what you do.

Living simply is also not about lack of owning any items at all.  You can still buy, but why not buy experiences rather than stuff?  Save to go somewhere you've dreamed to go and forego the weekly shopping trips to local stores because things are on sale.  Living simply is about surrounding yourself with items you cherish and owning your "stuff", not letting it own you.

Living simply is about saying no to things now in order to say yes to things you really want in the future.

Have you recently started your own path to simple living?

Other posts on Living Simply:
Grateful for the Extraordinary on an Ordinary Day
Living In A Small{ish} House
How To Live The Simple Life
25 Ways To Simplify Your Life
Voluntary Simplicity: Consume Less
Making Your Money Work For You
Living Within Our Means


Unknown said...

I think I'm on the journey, but its hard to say when it started! It wasn't a concious choice, we just started doing things differently. I think living in the country, where we don't have all the city conveniences (town water supply, sewage, shops 10 minutes away) makes you change.

daisy g said...

We are so alike in our thinking. We also prefer sending resources on experiences rather than material objects. It just makes sense, since time is not replaceable. The memories will be what is valued at the end of one's life.

I long for a smaller house on more land and all of the chores that go along with creating our homestead. It's a rewarding and honest way to live.

Blessings in your travels to get there...

Red Delicious said...

Great read and really has me thinking - love it!