For a long time now we’ve been contemplating living a more simple life.
You know, I think back to when we were first married and we really didn’t need or have many material possessions. Life was quite simple – work, eat, sleep and make a lot of merry. Housework didn’t enter the equation. Insurances weren’t required. Car services and licensing weren’t necessary (no car) and so on and so forth.
These days, now the kids are grown up, we’ve cut down to one car, and each time we move we do throw out a lot of possessions (we’ve moved a lot) but even so we still have far too much stuff for just two people living together close-ish to retirement.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget what’s important in life, isn’t it. At least it is until you’re confronted with horrible things like death or serious illness.
In an effort to become more focussed on what’s important, I’m trying to change my thinking. I’m paying more attention to the precious moments, and I’m trying to pare my life down into a simpler version of its former self. That’s not to say that I don’t want to age fabulously and live the good life, it’s just perhaps the good life with all its previous embodiments is changing shape.
I came across a new word recently, which perfectly embodies this life changing attitude.
The Danish word Hygge means social cosiness or wellbeing. It refers to a way of life rooted in togetherness and appreciating life’s joys. Apparently it’s one of the reasons the people of Denmark are some of the happiest in the world.
It means the absence of anything annoying or overwhelming but having the presence of gentle soothing things.
I like that idea 🙂
Unclutter your life
Leo Babauta says in Zen Habits that a simple life is: “A life uncluttered by most of the things people fill their lives with, and left with space for what really matters. A life that isn’t constant busy-ness and rushing, but contemplation and creation, connection with people I love and time for nature and activity.”
‘A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.’ ~Henry David Thoreau
I agree with Leo Babauta on so many things about simpler living, and I love some of the ideas he puts forward on his blog Zen Habits which include some of the following tips.
How to live a more simple life
- Declutter your home – go on … if it’s not beautiful or useful, get rid of it. This means sentimental pieces too.
- Make time to have an uncrushed breakfast, with time for a cup of tea or coffee and a little time to mediate or read.
- Realise that to live more simply, you have to let go of some of the things you’re used to.
- This can in itself be challenging because it’s hard to give things up.
- So do things in stages. Put items in the garage and see if you miss them.
- If you don’t miss them for a month – give them away or ditch them.
- Cut the cable – to cable TV – say goodbye to crappy ads and time wasting programmes that add no value to your life
- Retail therapy? Nope. Shopping for things to fill our homes (except for essentials) is a waste of time and money.
- Decide upon your needs and write off your ‘wants’.
- Don’f fill your life with distractions. Concentrate on the here and now and the pleasurable small moments.
- Make time to exercise and spend time with your family.
- Stop playing video games, and cut down the time you spend on social media.
- Create an environment for connection, a picnic, a camp fire, camping, put your phone away and enjoy each others company.
- Think Social Cosiness – it’s about how much you listen to the person sitting opposite you.
- Have a day each week when you don’t worry one jot about how you look.
- On the weekend have a nana nap if you want one.
- Remember it’s not written in stone that you have to be busy every moment of every day.
- Eat simple home cooked meals using fresh ingredients.
- By adding more and more (exciting) things to do in our lives, we add more and more overwhelm.
- Don’t put too much emphasis on excitement and distractions because they are only temporary.
- Focus on fulfilment rather than money as a measure of success.
- If you feel connected and loved, so many material things can fall away.
‘Let’s begin by taking a smallish nap or two.’ ~Winnie the Pooh
Reasons to live a simple life
In 10 Life Affirming Reasons to Live a Simple Life, Brooke McClary says, “There is so much more joy to be had when living a simpler life. The important things bring joy – the improved relationships and connections – the little things – a beautiful sunset, a child’s giggle, a bird in flight, the warmth of a room full of friends. You will have the time and energy to feel these.
Pip Lincolne a well known blogger and crafter who lives in Melbourne has written a book called, Craft for the Soul. She says …
“I wanted to write a book about creativity and happiness, and how to have nice times. I’m into happy moments not high pressured happiness. I think its good to know that the crappy bits of life help us to grwo into better people and create contrast – but we should celebrate the happy moments and be able to say to ourselves, I’m having such a happy time now.”
Michelle Crawford, a writer and crafter has written a gorgeous book entitled, “A table in the orchard”, about her slowed down and more simple life in a small cottage in Tasmania. She also loves tea and toast.
“Id been writing a blog about our life in Tasmania with photos and recipes and I got a call from Random House and they said we love your blog and the way it makes us feel and we’d like a book that makes us feel the same. We were seeking the slow life. I like to surround myself with lots of natural environment. Timber surfaces, wool, planters, fresh plants, good things to eat and candles. I find weeding very grounding and gardening is a great stress release for me.”
Achieving simple comforts
How important it is to have simple comforts and a sense of purpose in your life, and where can you find them?
“I think that pets, food, family, friends, and purpose are the most important things. Why do we wait until we are older until we find these things? We should focus on simple comforts and forget the noise. We’d get to know each other better. We are so busy surviving in life that we forget where we are going.” Pip Lincolne
For me, I have always loved collecting items on our travels. I think everything in your home should have some meaning. Things that have some connection to you or make your heart sing, they should be a reflection of you, not of some stylist’s overactive mind. My motto these days is if it’s not beautiful, meaningful or useful on a regular basis, then it should not be in my house.
Have you chosen to live a simple life, one that is more creative, less pecuniary, and somewhat lacking material possessions? Would you – Could you – Any tips?
Suggested Books : A Table in the Orchard, Craft for the Soul. (If you buy I stand to earn a small commission)