In Categories, How to Live the Good Life, Inspiration

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

how to live a more simple life

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

  1. Declutter your home – go on … if it’s not beautiful or useful, get rid of it. This means sentimental pieces too.
  2. Make time to have an uncrushed breakfast, with time for a cup of tea or coffee and a little time to mediate or read.
  3. Realise that to live more simply, you have to let go of some of the things you’re used to.
  4. This can in itself be challenging because it’s hard to give things up.
  5. So do things in stages. Put items in the garage and see if you miss them.
  6. If you don’t miss them for a month – give them away or ditch them.
  7. Cut the cable – to cable TV – say goodbye to crappy ads and time wasting programmes that add no value to your life
  8. Retail therapy? Nope. Shopping for things to fill our homes (except for essentials) is a waste of time and money.
  9. Decide upon your needs and write off your ‘wants’.
  10. Don’f fill your life with distractions. Concentrate on the here and now and the pleasurable small moments.
  11. Make time to exercise and spend time with your family.
  12. Stop playing video games, and cut down the time you spend on social media.
  13. Create an environment for connection, a picnic, a camp fire, camping, put your phone away and enjoy each others company.
  14. Think Social Cosiness  – it’s about how much you listen to the person sitting opposite you.
  15.  Have a day each week when you don’t worry one jot about how you look.
  16. On the weekend have a nana nap if you want one.
  17. Remember it’s not written in stone that you have to be busy every moment of every day.
  18. Eat simple home cooked meals using fresh ingredients.
  19. By adding more and more (exciting) things to do in our lives, we add more and more overwhelm.
  20. Don’t put too much emphasis on excitement and distractions because they are only temporary.
  21. Focus on fulfilment rather than money as a measure of success.
  22. 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

And possessions?

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)

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Showing 18 comments
  • Jess_EssentiallyJess

    Everyone seems to be talking about decluttering lately!
    I’ve been working on it slowly. I did my makeup table on the weekend and I love how neat and tidy that is now.

    • Johanna

      Hello Jess, that seems like a good start 🙂

  • Reply

    Hello Jo,
    Simplifying life for me has resulted from working part-time, adjusting to less income, and relishing more time to spend growing things, cooking some home-grown produce, and indulging in my love of craft. I certainly can’t lay claim to having very few material possessions, however I am a minimalist. Whilst not everyone’s life can necessarily have a nice easy pace, I think that there are many people who are almost addicted to busy-ness, perhaps because materialism and pursuit of the mighty dollar is of paramount importance to them, or perhaps because they fear the quiet, solitude, or silence of ‘space’. I love this post and your tips Jo, and the Zen Habits.
    Warm regards,

    • Johanna

      Thank you Jo. Seems as if you have managed to simplify your life to create more ‘space’. I was interested in your comment when you say some people are addicted to busyness and the pursuit of wealth because as a hangover from the 80’s this was once true for me too.

  • [email protected] Baby Brothers

    I’ve just recently started living a simpler life and sorting my possessions. I’ve thrown out so much stuff and we have renovated our kitchen to include what makes me happy – a barstool to sit at with my coffee from my new coffee machine while my new speaker plays my favourite music! It is the simple things that can make us happiest, it’s just discovering what those are! #TeamIBOT

    • Johanna

      I can picture you at your barstool with a cup of coffee listening to music Haidee 🙂 Yes, I agree, we must first decide what makes us happy, and then de-clutter around that idea.

  • Linda Fairbairn

    I think a simpler life really means a purer life – a life that tunes into your true essence – rather than the image one puts out as a front, and to which the trapping latch on to.
    I’ve just clicked through to Leo’s link and I love one of his final statements:

    “Your attention is your most valuable possession. Give it as a gift to the people you love most, not a bunch of clowns on the Internet. Give it to the work that matters most, not distractions.”

    And on that note – I’m off for 30 minutes of mindfulness in the mangroves 🙂

    • Johanna

      Hi Linda, I hope you had bunches of natural mindfulness in the mangroves this morning. Sounded just perfect 🙂 What a way to start the day and tune into your essence. And thank you 🙂 What an inspiring quote you’ve picked from Leo – it is imperative to remember, and so easy to forget.

  • Nina

    It’s a paradox of modern life that the more wealthy we get the more complicated life seems to become. My big lesson in simplifying things is to reduce my social media intake. Although I’ve almost managed to eliminate TV out of my life, my head now seems to be constantly buried in a computer or phone 🙁

    • Johanna

      Hello Nina, I know the paradox is alive, well and kicking. You think things can only get better and then you can almost feel like you’re drowning. Well done for almost eliminating TV. Like me though, it seems the phone and computer are much harder to ignore 😉

  • Ingrid

    Great post Jo … very profound and so true.
    if it’s not useful or beautiful – get rid of it – yes I love it however, therein lies something of a dilemma – what is useful and beautiful can be subjective – but stick with that analysis and you will progress …

    • Johanna

      Hello Ingrid! Thanks for popping by and thank you 🙂 I know, it is a dilemma and very subjective – Dave and I rarely agree on what to keep and what to get rid of and we’ve been married for nearly 30 years!

  • Rae Hilhorst

    I am simplifying my life slowly. You realise as you get older that you just don’t need all that stuff. I imagine once you retire you have a light bulb moment and realise that material possessions are even less important and that what you have will last a little longer. As I’m older I buy quality over fashion or trend so items don’t need replacing so much anymore x

    • Johanna

      So true, Rae. I wouldn’t have said this a few years ago, but it’s dawning on me slowly. Quality over quantity and if things wear out first decide do I really need them, and worse still – do I really still need two of them!

  • Life Images by Jill

    I really enjoyed this post Jo. I think there is a message in there for all of us. I agree that living a simpler life is the way to go, and decluttering should be high on my list of priorities. I know when we moved a lot I threw out a lot, but now we have been in this house for over 20 years things have accumulated around me. I am a terrible hoarder. We had a garage sale where I got rid of a few things, but there is so much more I could get rid of I am sure. I need a declutterer to come to my house, but it frightens the life out of me giving that choice to someone else! I’ve also enjoyed a simpler life exploring things I enjoy since I retired. I love the sound of “A table in the orchard”. Maybe it will be yet another book I will buy and add to my book collection…. Wonderful post Jo.

    • Johanna

      Hi Jill, thank you 🙂 I do know what you mean about giving anyone else the reins to decide what to keep and what to throw out. When we left South Africa, Dave would take things out of one door and put them on the charity heap and I’d bring them back in another door and quickly pack them in a box! You will love A Table in The Orchard. I think Michelle must have had you in mind when she wrote (and photographed) it.

  • Kathy Marris

    I really enjoyed reading this article Jo. I think I am guilty of living in clutter (not the crazy old woman type of clutter!), but I do tend to hold onto possessions that I no longer really have use for. I would love to simplify my life a lot more. When we were travelling around in our caravan I felt completely free and I managed with very few possessions. I often wish to have that life back again! The things in life that I enjoy the most are always the simple things. Thanks for reminding me of this. 🙂

    • Johanna

      Hi Kathy, and thank you. Yes, we do sometimes need to be reined back into just looking at what’s important and what isn’t. When we lived in ‘the cave’ (a studio flat) in Perth last year, and I could only have the number of clothes that would fit on on a hatstand, and the kitchen was like a shoe box without an oven that worked, we thrived and felt strangely free of entrapments, much like you must have felt travelling around in the caravan.

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