My life can become so bloated. Honestly, when I think of how much stuff (physical or mental) I fill my day with it makes me want to vomit. That's why several years ago I started to embrace simple living.
Over the years, I've made advances into simplicity – starting with my first reading of Richard Foster's, Freedom of Simplicity nearly a decade ago. It was pure joy to start implementing some his insights and disciplines. What I learned in the early days was simplicity forced you to go through complexity. You've got to do a deep dive into the muck and the mire of your life – and then and only then, can you begin to move forward.
This year I took a fresh look at simplicity when I discovered minimalism. A new movement led by thought leaders like Joshua Becker and The Minimalist. Minimalism says get rid of stuff so you can focus on what matters most. I like that.
Like Jim Henson used to say,
"Simple is good."
So after a decade arm wrestling simplicty the biggest take aways is this:
Simplicity is not attained – it's maintained.
It's not enough to clean out the garage, empty your closet, and throw away a bunch of junk – you've got to have a process in place to maintain a simple lifestyle.
Like me, you've probably experienced the allure of simplicity but perhaps let it slide a little. This happens to the best of us. Here are three ways I have simplified my life in 2015. Steal what helps.
To maintain the fruits of simplicity in my finances, I closed a credit card and a checking account.
At the time I had two credits cards and checking accounts. This was already an improvement to years past, but I was longing for more. I was tired of keeping track of two sets of statements, paying two bills every month, and accounting for two cards – I decided I didn't need the extra points and perks, so I ditched a card. The same goes for the checking account.
Simplifying finances is a big piece of simple living. One of the simplest way I experienced the freedom of pruning my finances was my wallet had two less plastic cards inside. Which gave considerable relief to my buttocks. All jokes aside, it's been great to feel the liberation – my finances have become extremely easy to manage and it's freed my mind.
To maintain the fruits of simplicity in my home I pared down my closet after Christmas.
The accumulation of clothing can be a serious drain on simple living. My closets and drawers used to spill over with clothing options. I never really thought about it until I stumbled across the minimalism movement. After reading a ton of articles and blog posts, I began to see that a simpler life meant removing possessions from my life, and that manifested itself in many ways but first it was my closet and drawers.
After Christmas, new clothes were threatening my simple bare closet and sparse drawers. So here's what I did to maintain my hard won simplicity. For every shirt I received – I donated an older one. My wife got me a new pair of running shoes – so I donated my old pair. I also got a new pair of jeans (I had a hole in my older pair) and so I donated the older pair. The basic principle is don't let any new possessions inside your home without removing an old one. Not every Christmas gift I received was replaceable – I don't want to be legalistic about it. But those gifts you do receive that you have duplicates, replace them.
To maintain the fruits of simplicity I began eating primal.
A primal diet means that you eat like a cave man. You can eat meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. The foods you eliminate are breads, cheeses and any processed foods. By simplifying my diet, my food decisions became easy. Life became more focused and pruning gave way to flourishing.
The benefits to primal eating is a burst of energy that comes from eating high nutrient food, instead of eating pasta or breads which usually left me feeling sluggish and tired. Also it helped me lose a few pounds and maintain my ideal weight with ease.
I don't have to sell you on the merits of simple living. It's something we all long for. In fact, I believe it's self evident. Once you taste a little simplicity you want more. The difficulty is maintaining it.
Like John Maxwell writes,
"Life is very simple but keeping it that way is very difficult."
Is simplicity new to you? If not, how do you practice simplicity? I'd love to hear how you are putting it into practice. Please share your insights with the community.