What is living a simple life?
Simple living is something we’re hearing more and more about, but it’s so much more than just another trend. It’s a way of life, and one, I am excited to see, people all over the world are starting to adapt.
Chances are if you haven’t heard about the tiny house movement, the upswing in people practicing meditation, the various ways people are learning to eat healthier, or all the books and television shows about decluttering, then maybe you don’t own a TV!
All of these things, and more, are part of the simple living movement and it’s something I am beyond excited about.
The best thing about choosing to live more simply is that the definition of this is different for everyone. You can decide what feels right for you without having to get on board with what everyone else is doing. At its core, simple living is all about living with more intention in your life. Not just going through the motions, but intentionally making choices that you feel good about.
Simple Living can mean a number of things, some of which might include:
- Downsizing or decluttering your home
- Growing your own food or learning to eat healthier by reducing the number of processed foods you consume
- Choosing how you spend your time with intention
- Choosing experiences over material things
- Creating a daily routine that helps you feel your best
- Simplifying your spending and being more intentional about how you spend your household finances
Let’s take a look at some of the ways simple living might benefit your life.
Living a Simple Life
In the Home
Living a simple life in your home should, at the very least, start with decluttering. Would it surprise you to know that the average home contains over 300,000 things? 300,000!! Now, obviously that number will vary based on the size of your home and how much clutter you have around you, but that’s a lot of stuff that you probably don’t need.
If decluttering is your goal, start with just one area at a time. Letting go of your stuff may be harder than you think, but doing it a little at a time will help you feel better about it and give you the confidence to keep going.
Choose a closet, the garage, or the attic and get to work. Go through every single item in that space and decide if it’s something you want to keep. It should pass the “I use it” or “It brings me joy” test in order to hold on to it. If it’s broken or torn and has been that way for a while, it’s time to let it go. If you haven’t already fixed it, chances are you won’t.
Create “keep,” “trash,” “donate,” and “give away” piles so that every item has a place to go as you’re sorting. Once you’ve decluttered every area, only bring in new things if they have a purpose or make you feel good. Don’t just bring in stuff to fill space.
SLCG TIP: Still, stuck? Maybe the clutter is a bit hard for you to see. Read these 3 Steps to Take Before you Declutter and uncover the clutter you need to deal with. You might be surprised to find it’s much smaller than you initially thought!
For some people, simple living goes even further. It can mean downsizing to a smaller home or even living off-grid. These may be choices you’d feel comfortable with and if they are, go for it! If that’s not your style, that’s okay. You can just choose to live more simply in your current space.
With Your Food
For many people, simple living with food is all about making healthier choices. Choosing fresh food over processed and organic over non-organic. It can also mean preparing more of your own meals so that you have control over what goes in them. Making your own meals is far healthier than frozen and packaged meals.
For some people, making healthier food choices is enough. For others, it’s just the beginning. Simple living can also mean growing your own fruits and vegetables so that you can control how they’re grown.
Whatever you decide living a simple life means for you when it comes to your meals, it all comes down to fewer ingredients, fresher ingredients, homemade over-processed, and meals that fill you up, give you energy and take care of your body. In this day and age of over-processed junk food, we can all use a little more simple living when it comes to our meals so that we can take care of our bodies and our minds.
With Your Time
When it comes to how you choose to spend your time, simple living means making more intentional choices with the time you have. This means saying no to the things that no longer make you happy and yes to the things that do. Creating more balance in your life between your work life and your personal life. Reducing your obligations so that you don’t always feel stressed and burned out.
This can be a hard area to get a handle on for some people because they feel bad about saying no. But saying no to something you don’t want allows you to say yes to something you do. It means making your own happiness a priority.
Remember it’s okay to say no and actually, at times, it may be a necessity.
Reducing the amount of time you spend doing things you don’t want to do means more time with your family and friends, the people you really want to spend time with.
Here’s one very important lesson everyone needs to learn . . . “no” is a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and you don’t have to feel guilty about saying. If you’re not sure you can do it, practice saying it to the mirror a few times. Remember, being intentional with your time will make you happier in the long run.
Don’t just be intentional about the choices you make with your time, but also about how you spend your time. By that I mean, be in the moment. Enjoy what you’re doing and the people you’re with. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by things that aren’t important. Reduce your screen time and enjoy more face-to-face time with the people you care about; give them your full attention.
With Your Experiences
We’ve become a world that cherishes material things, but material things don’t create lifelong memories. Material things break or get old and get thrown away eventually but experiences create memories that last a lifetime.
Wouldn’t you rather your family have great memories than more things?
Choosing experiences not only create memories, but they also build a strong bond for your family while also becoming learning experiences for both you and your kids. Experiences allow you to do things as a team instead of everyone going off in their own direction with a smartphone or other device to sit and stare at.
Choosing experiences over material things not only reduces clutter, but it also allows you to live more fully, which is what simple living is all about.
You’re spending your time and your money with intention.
With Your Routine
What does routine have to do with living a simple life? Creating a routine helps you to be more intentional about both your time and your thoughts. Knowing there are things you want to do every day to improve your life helps you to make better choices about how you spend the remaining time in the day.
Having a routine helps you to create a rhythm to your life, one that leaves you feeling happy and calm, reducing your stress.
Your routine can be doing the same things at set times every day or having things you want to do daily and fitting them in when you have the time. Some of the daily routines that support simple living are meditation, exercise, reading, journaling, limited social media time, and daily chores. All of these things can help to bring focus and order to your life, helping to make your life simpler.
With Your Money
Simplifying your spending habits can be a challenging part of simple living. It can often mean giving up things you’ve become accustomed to.
Some of the comforts of life.
But being more intentional about how you spend your money will allow you to live more simply. It means choosing the necessities in life by getting rid of some of the things you don’t really need.
This can mean simplifying your cellphone plan. While you need a phone, you probably don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with your very expensive plan. It can also mean getting rid of cable and opting for less expensive streaming services. Living a cash lifestyle instead of using credit card and living debt lifestyle. Canceling gym memberships and instead opting for a workout at home. Cooking dinner instead of eating out.
Once you start tracking all of your expenses you may be surprised at how many things you don’t really need. To simplify your spending habits, start by tracking all of your expenses, everything. Keep a small notebook on your person if you need to so that you can write things down throughout your day. After doing this for a few weeks to a month, start looking for areas where you can cut back.
For instance, can you make your latte at home instead of stopping at the coffee shop every morning?
You’ll be amazed to find that you’re spending more in some areas that you weren’t aware of. Once you start cutting back, you’ll have more money for savings and for enjoying experiences with your family. And by cutting back, you’ll be naturally simplifying your life by reducing clutter, processed foods, and other expenses that aren’t beneficial to you.
While all of these things will bring more focus and intention to your life, simple living isn’t the answer to everything. There are some things you need to be aware of before you adopt a simpler lifestyle.
Simple Living Won’t Solve Your Problems
In the beginning, it can be a hard adjustment.
Getting rid of your stuff, eating healthier, making intentional choices about how you spend your time, they can be hard things to do and continue to do. And, they won’t solve all your problems. In fact, doing these things may point out problems that you didn’t even know you had.
Looking at how you’ve spent your time and your money in the past can be a harsh reality that can be difficult to face. But it will teach you a lot about your personal values and the type of person you want to be. At the very least, it will start you on the journey of becoming that person. The more you experience simple living, the more empowered you’ll feel about other choices you need to make.
Simple Living Won’t Make You Completely Zen
Decluttering, being more intentional with your time, and creating a daily routine are all great, but somedays they’re not enough. You will still have those busy, stressful, even overwhelming days. Days where it’s easier to grab drive-thru on the way home or skip your evening yoga time because you just can’t deal with it.
There will still be laundry to fold, your kids will still be screaming, you will still have unexpected bills, and someone will always want more of your time than you think you can give.
That’s the reality of life today.
Simply living will not solve these problems. But it will help you deal with these days better so that you can get through them and have a better day tomorrow.
Less clutter means a little less to clean up. Meditation gives you more focus and reduces your stress levels. Healthy eating means it’s okay to cheat once in a while. All-in-all, simple living will help you deal with the chaos of your life a little easier.
Simple Living Isn’t a One and Done
Choosing a simpler life is a choice, one you need to make again and again. It’s not something you can do one time then check it off your list. It’s a lifestyle choice. A way of living every day. And in the beginning, it will take a lot of effort. Especially if you feel like your life is incomplete chaos and spinning out of control.
Simple living is something you have to practice all the time; with every choice you make.
Yes, the choices will get easier over time once they become habit, but it will be difficult in the beginning. You have to really want it to make it happen.
But remember, choosing a simpler life will make your life happier and more fulfilled.
Simple living is what you choose to make it. You can dive into all of these areas of your life or start by just dipping your toe into one. The choice is yours. But once you start simplifying, you’ll find that you feel happier, healthier, more focused, and you’re enjoying your life much more.
It will encourage you to make more choices to live a simple life taking you on a journey that will benefit not only you but your entire family.