How to live more simply
Something interesting has been happening lately. I have been dreaming of living a simple life. Craving it even. And I find myself moving toward it more and more each day. I also know that I’m not alone as I am hearing this more and more from friends and clients as well. Many of us are seeking this kind of quiet change.
It’s not necessarily a standard practice, this searching for simple. We all live in such crazily busy times. We glorify busy. How many hours we can work. How little sleep we can exist on. We stick our faces in our screens every minute we can, seeing who liked us and seeking constant validation.
And we play the game and raise the stakes, driving and striving and buying and hiding, distracting ourselves from the crazy until we are numbed down and stressed out beyond belief.
And for so many of us, it is never enough. We are raised for the most part with the achieving gene. To always want more. To be better. To get further ahead, higher up, with a bigger platform, or pay-packet, or client base or better title. And of course, more money is always better. And everything that it can buy.
But what if we decided to step out of that game? To leave that craziness behind? To opt for a simple life?
What would that even look like?
Now please, don’t panic. I’m not about to run away to a cave in the Himalayas and stay there for the next decade, nor am I asking you to. I live in the real world and have many of the same commitments that you do.
What I’m seeking and moving toward is a way to be in the world, but to live more simply within it. To get out of the game. To step away from the busyness. To stop needing everything to be bigger, better, more. To take it all down a notch whilst still fulfilling my purpose, doing great work and living a wonderful life.
Here are some things I’m learning about living a more simple life:
Creating routines: I used to have a story that routines cramp my creative nature. Not true. They actually create the structure for creativity to flourish. I now have a routine structure to my day. Waking time. Morning routine. Meal times. What I eat and drink. Evening routine. It’s simple and structured and takes out hundreds of decisions every day that are unnecessary and waste time and energy.
Simple and slow mornings: Creating space in the morning for self care, walking, being in nature, yoga and meditation ensures I start my day in the right headspace and at the right pace. No rushing. No email, work or phone calls before 9am and no clients before 10am. Space. If you start your day in a frazzle it will certainly continue in that way.
Clearing the clutter: Clutter is complicated. Piles of messiness, books, papers, boxes, clothes, washing, ironing, knick knacks, kids stuff, things that you will never use again….it’s everywhere. You can’t live a simple life in a messy environment. I am going draw by draw, cupboard by cupboard and clearing out my house. It’s going to take time. But every clear space is like breathing mountain air. And the mind calms with the less clutter there is.
Removing what is no longer in alignment: When you find your grounded centre and live life true to your values and integrity, then it becomes quite clear what is no longer in alignment. Part of living more simply is to either distance yourself or remove parts of your life that are no longer serving you, your purpose or your wellbeing. This could be a job, partnership, friendship, living place, belongings, or anything else that just doesn’t feel right anymore. That feeling is enough, you don’t have to rationalise it or explain it.
Stopping the spending: Do you know where your money goes? How much cash do you spend on irrelevant items, things you don’t need, magazines you won’t read, food you won’t eat, clothes you won’t wear, because you’re in the habit of doing it or you are distracting yourself from something you don’t want to deal with? I’ve recently stopped all discretionary spending. Again, this is a process. But with every purchase, from a banana to a new outfit for a speaking gig, I pause, breathe and check in: do I need it, will I use it, do I already have something like it, where else would this money be better spent or saved? It’s changing my mindset as well as my bank balance.
No more magazines: I’ve stopped buying magazines. My home used to be filled with piles and piles of magazines. And you know what? I hardly ever read them. I might flick through them whilst watching TV or on the exercise bike, but they were just taking up space and gathering dust. I now have subscriptions to two magazines, and I no longer go into the newsagent. I have saved thousands of dollars. I have less paper around my house. And think of all those trees. It’s all part of the less stuff equals more simple living.
Less social media: We are addicted to our phones and our apps. There’s no getting around it. That tiny hit of dopamine we get every time we check our feeds is like crack to an addict. In making my life more simple, weaning off so much time on social is critical. When we are in that constant cycle of who’s doing what and who said what, we waste time and energy and we invariably get stuck in the comparison trap which zaps our confidence and takes away our power. Less screen time. More breathing time.
Striving for less: When was the last time you actually strived for less? We are socialised to always wants more. But what if more wasn’t better? Searching for simple could be as easy as learning to be content with what you have right here right now. If you could let go of the expectation that more and more is better, and instead practice gratitude for all that is present and have that be enough, you free up energy and space and time for magic to happen. This is part of my daily practice right now. With amazingly simple results.
Idle time: I don’t fill my gaps and spaces with activity. When I look at my work calendar for the week and I see periods of time with nothing scheduled (very common and on purpose) I ask myself, “Am I meeting all of my commitments to my business, my clients and myself?” If the answer is yes, then I choose whatever I want to do in that time. Write, cook lunch, meditate, go for a walk, take a nap. I am free to choose. And weekends? It’s all about the idle time. Sit and watch the clouds drift past, stand in the sun, read a book, or just do nothing.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my Grandparents used to live, and their parents, and all those before us. In simpler times. When people would rise with the sun and rest when the sun set. When people took the time to lovingly prepare meals cooked with real food and then sit at the table to eat. When all food was organic because it came from nature. Where there was time and space and connection to nature and community.
I’ve also been watching this series on Netflix called Heartland. It’s about a family who lives on a ranch with horses and cattle. I think I like it so much because it represents what I am writing about here, and this journey I am on. Simplify. Searching for simple. Living a simple life.
An interesting thing happens when you create space. When you simplify. When you go back to basics. The right opportunities present themselves. New clients call. Creativity blossoms. Relationships bloom.
It’s all unfolding in its own beautiful way. Each day is another opportunity to remove something, strip something back, give something away, move more slowly, connect more deeply, breathe more freely. And to just learn to be, not become. To simply live.
I will be exploring this theme more over the coming months and sharing my thoughts. I hope they help you to consider how you can live more simply, and focus on what matters most for you.