What Is Simple Living and How To Start
What exactly is simple living? We hear this term so much these days, but what does it mean and how do we live simply in this modern-day?
Simple living is really what you make it. For some, this means getting back to an old-fashioned way of living. Making your own food from scratch, gardening, maybe even living off the grid. For others that lifestyle may seem complicated and not simple at all. For some, it means getting rid of all of their stuff. Many people don’t feel that possessions are what’s in the way of a simple life, it’s a busy schedule that makes their life feel complicated.
In a nutshell, I think the simple life is one that is intentional. One where you are purposeful about how you spend your time and your money. A life where you do what is truly important to you and you say no to the things that suck the life out of you or that steal your joy. You put your time and money towards things of value. Letting go of the status quo and maybe letting go of what others think of you!
Start with Your Mind
Simplify your mind. Mental clutter can come from so many sources these days. We can be bombarded with news, inspiration, education, and any type of information we could imagine! Here are a few ways to clear the mental clutter.
Turn off the News
I want to be informed as much as the next person, but fear sells and the news is in the business of selling. They always have been and likely always will be. If you are constantly clicking around on the internet or tv for news and current events, take a break. You will find that the world isn’t nearly as awful as it is on the news or in your mind. Think about the last year…would you have known there was a worldwide pandemic if the news hadn’t told you there was one? I may get some backlash on that one…
Walk Away from Social Media
Before I had a blog, I was not on social media at all. I had none of it. You know what? My mind was better off for it. People look for inspiration in these places, I get that. I like to be inspired as much as the next person. However, do we really need to be “inspired” all throughout the day every single day? I’m pretty sure I came up with great creative ideas on my own long before Instagram or Pinterest. Remember when we looked at books or magazines?
This is not to say you should never be on those platforms. I mean I have a business that depends on traffic from those other platforms. However, we really need to acknowledge when there is a problem. If you find yourself becoming discontent or feeling irritable after being on social media. Give yourself the liberty to walk away. Free up that mental space!
It is often said that comparison is the thief of joy. Please remember that social media does not tell the whole story. No one has a perfect life, no matter how much money they have or how many followers. Each and every one of us have our own problems.
What is mindfulness? It is the practice of being fully present and aware of where you are and what you are doing. This will be much easier if you do the two above this. However, there can be other mental distractions besides tv and the phone. We can dwell on the next thing on the to-do list or just the next thing in general.
Take the time throughout the day to enjoy your life. Take it in, really look at it, and process everything about it. Enjoy the good and sweet moments. Make note of the moments that aren’t so great. Take the time to think about those moments as well. Put those on your prayer list and see if something needs to change in a certain area. The idea is to live in the moment and really process it.
Living each moment in gratitude, even when it’s difficult is a great place to be. Being thankful for the opportunity to learn. In each and every circumstance we can usually find something to be thankful for. Remember Pollyanna? Get yourself a Pollyanna attitude and be glad!
Let thankfulness be your mindset each and every day. Enjoy that first sip of coffee in the morning, be thankful for it, live in that moment, and be grateful!
Delight Yourself in your Everyday Tasks
Much of our life is made up of mundane tasks. Loading the dishwasher, brushing our teeth, driving to work, sweeping the floor…you get the idea. None of these tasks are particularly noteworthy or inspiring. However, we can take the time to be grateful for each and every task. We can pray and thank God for a family to serve food to as we load the dishwasher, we can praise Him for the food that we just ate. We can thank God for running water or a car that runs or a house to clean.
How about delighting yourself in a job well done. I often hurry through the task just to get it done. What if I slowed down and actually tried to enjoy doing a good job of caring for my home. Taking pride in my floors that aren’t covered in food and scraps of paper.
I know…this one is contrary to my nature as well! I am rarely satisfied with doing only one thing. If I am going for a walk, I need to be praying or listening to something. While I am on a webinar, I am usually writing a blog post at the same time. If I am brushing my teeth, I am also doing lunges. During homeschool table time, I am making something. It’s kind of obnoxious really. There are few things that you can multi-task really well, walking and listening is one that can be done, but many tasks suffer if you don’t give your all to them.
The other day I caught myself doing it on a ridiculous level. I was working on a rag rug…post coming soon on that! While I had that project out I also had a piece of plywood out on the table and I was mixing up paint colors to decide what color I wanted to make this next project. I was going back and forth between the two projects and shockingly I wasn’t really accomplishing anything. My husband walked into the room and gave me a look that made me stop and realize what I was doing. I get so caught up with every idea that is spinning around in my head that I often find myself fluttering around trying to do too much at once.
I am speaking to myself here, slow down, make a list and do things well and thoroughly one at a time! Your brain will thank you!
Make a Schedule
Giving yourself a schedule will simplify your life. I am so guilty of spinning my wheels because I have so many things that I want to do, but I don’t always know what to do next! Getting your ideas and goals on paper…or in your phone will free up space in your mind.
This doesn’t have to be an hour-by-hour schedule, although you may need that. Even a loose framework for your day will help you to set reasonable goals and achieve them.
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Do the Hard Things First
Once you have your list of things to do, do the hardest one or the least desirable one first. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to do the easier tasks. Plus you won’t have that feeling of drudgery hanging over your head. You have freed up mental space by accomplishing the difficult task first!
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Set Attainable Goals
I am really bad at being objective about my goals. My husband often has to give me a reality check. He will see my list and say which of these do you want to accomplish today? I stare at him blankly and respond…all of them. He gently says, ok well that isn’t humanly possible. We could actually just do these two…why don’t you give me your highest priority?
If you struggle with always feeling like you are behind and have too much to do. Maybe you need to evaluate your objectives and let some of the things go. Likely you are like me and have some of your priorities out of whack.
Simplify your life by setting reasonable goals and get rid of that stress in your life.
Eat Basic Meals
If getting dinner on the table is an ordeal at your house, maybe you just need to simplify dinner. Of course, we want to enjoy our food, but basic meals are often very good and satisfying. Roasted chicken, roasted vegetables, and a salad make a tasty and nourishing meal. No special ingredients are required just some salt and some oil. Of course, stocking your pantry with basic staples will make dinner super easy. Keeping your favorite herbs and spices on hand is a great way to consistently make delicious meals.
Your meals don’t need to be Instagram or Facebook-worthy. No one really cares what you ate for dinner anyway!
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Capsule wardrobes and “mom uniforms” are popular for a reason. Getting rid of clothes that you don’t love, that don’t fit, or that you don’t feel good in simplifies your life. Likely you wear only a handful of the items that you own. Feel free to liberate the rest! Once it’s gone you won’t miss it!
Invest in quality clothing that fits well and that you feel good in. Don’t hold on to trendy out-of-style clothing or jeans that you hope to fit into someday. Just let it all go!
Take Time to Enjoy
Make sure you are taking the time to actually enjoy the life you are creating! I have to make myself stop and watch the chickens and cows. We dreamed about living on a farm for 9 years! What a fool I am if I don’t take the time to soak up the fact that I am living the life I dreamed about.
Make the Simple Things a Special Reward
My husband and I keep a Friday night date night. This keeps me going if I am having a tough week. Just setting a little reward can make the monotony a little less monotonous! This is almost always a trip to the local Mexican restaurant. However, it doesn’t have to be anything costly, it can be going for a walk together. We try to do this every single day when he gets home from work. It’s a little time to look forward to throughout the day.
Little outings with your kiddos every few weeks can make a world of difference in the simple life. Keep the outings simple. Ours are things like going to the library. Or visiting our older kids on Wednesday night when they work at summer camp. Having one little special thing all week is plenty. It keeps you going and gives you a little something to look forward to.
Keep these things simple. I didn’t say reward your kids with an expensive trip to the waterpark. Instead, tell them if you can finish your morning chores and school work by 1:00, we will go play in the sprinkler. Teach your children to delight in the simple things as well.
Remember that one of the keys to simple living is doing what brings you joy. For many of us, serving others truly does bring joy. However, a person with a servant’s heart can often be taken advantage of. This can cause conflict in the home and with relationships. A person that is too busy cannot be available when an urgent need arises. Learn to say no to things that conflict with your goals and your relationships in your family.
Look at the Faces of your Loved Ones
I sometimes have to remind myself to stop and really look into the faces of my children. Look away from cooking dinner, washing dishes, or staring at your phone and look at your child’s face when they talk to you. Don’t just nod and say mmmhmmm. Really soak up what they are telling you about. Enjoy the simple things that they enjoy. Stop and go look at the pretty turtle that they found, delight in the caterpillar that they spotted. Walk outside and look at the flowers that they want you to see. This is the simple life!
I hope that helps my friends, if so, Pin and Share!
It sure helped me! I love to focus on an idea and really work through it, it helps me to live with intention and purpose as well!
This is such a good post!!! You hit on so many areas of the modern life that then to get so very busy and just laid it all out in the most simplest form.
Thank you for stating the simplistic rituals that can sometimes be overlooked or forgotten.
I hope saving this one pin will show many others this wonderful message.
You are so kind! I needed that encouragement! Thank you!
Oh Jenn, I loved reading through this! So many good points.
So very many good and thoughtful things you pointed out! I’m doing many of them!!
Thank you, Liberty!