Steps to Simpler Living, Part 1: Choosing Simplicity
After all, the first step to getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t. - Yuko Henden
Choosing minimalism and purposeful living is hard. It goes against the grain of our materialistic, bigger-and-better culture. It refutes the shiny but empty promises of the American dream.
But that doesn't mean it's not worth it.
There are many reasons people choose to pursue simpler lives.
Choosing to live more simply can save money!
If we have less stuff, we don't need to have as much space to store it. For some, that can mean having a smaller home. For others, it can mean getting rid of an offsite storage unit. Or maybe it just means not buying so many storage containers to have to hold everything.
No matter how it manifests itself, choosing to own fewer possessions as a step toward living a simpler lifestyle costs less financially.
It also means buying less in the future-- fewer gadgets, replacements, bright and shiny new things. Because a simple lifestyle is grounded in the idea that more things don't bring more happiness, people who ascribe to a simpler way of living don't feel the need to continually buy more stuff.
Instead of buying a new phone when they're eligible to upgrade, they might hold onto their old one that works just fine and put the extra money toward a nice meal or a day trip with their family.
Where they might have before bought new clothes every time their wardrobe got boring, they now choose to enjoy the freedom that comes with having a closet full of their favorite items, even though there are fewer items in it, because it makes decision making easier and makes them happier to love everything they have.
Pursuing simplicity means having to choose priorities. We can't simplify without having to cut some things out in order to make room for others.
Simplicity requires reducing. It demands focus on fewer things. As Essentialism author Greg McKeown says, "Less but better."
The ultimate goal of a simpler life is one of less overwhelm, frantic living, and chaos that results from trying to do too many things all at once.
Imagine having a to-do list for your day that has ten things on it. If you don't designate any one of them as a priority, how do you know where to begin?
If you set five New Year's resolutions, how can you allocate enough energy to see them all through?
If instead you prioritize your to-do list and resolutions (and in all likelihood, make them shorter as well), you'll find that you have more energy to put toward each one because your energy isn't being divided among so many different things.
By focusing on some things, prioritizing them above the rest, we can do fewer things and do them better. Instead of spreading ourselves too thin, we can go deeper, invest more, and flourish in the areas that are most important to us without having to worry about the less significant things.
Many people choose to slow down and simplify so they can spend more time with their families.
When we're living on autopilot, caught up in to-do lists and ideas of all the things we "should" be doing in order to keep all our plates spinning and achieve whatever it is we think we should achieve, we don't consciously think about our priorities. We might work late every night to try to impress our boss. We might stress about having all the details just right for a family get-together. We might work and work and work to save money to buy a bigger house.
But are those the things we want most in the world? And are we willing to sacrifice time with our loved ones in the process?
Think about it. If we're trying to keep our cluttered homes clean, overfilled calendars organized, and lengthy to-do lists checked off, we won't have enough time left to spend with our people.
If instead we cut out some of the busywork that keeps us from spending time with our family and friends, we'll find that there was enough time all along-- we were just spending it on the wrong things.
Some people cut out extracurricular activities so their family can spend more time together instead of apart. Some cut out television so they can spend more time in conversation or playing games or taking trips. Some just get rid of the extra stuff so they can spend less time cleaning and more time laughing with loved ones.
Simplicity is a journey, and it looks different for all of us. But it does require a choice. What makes you want to live a life of greater simplicity? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
What To Do When Decluttering Makes You Feel Miserable by Yuko Henden, featured on Becoming Minimalist
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