We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but we always had just enough. My younger self thought that some day I would have a huge house, full of stuff, with lots going on for myself. Now that I’m married, older, and living my own life, the idea of having “a lot” gives me a queasy, dreadful feeling. When I think of a friend’s mansion or their car collection or their rooms full of stuff or parents running around to the point of exhaustion just so they can keep their kids “busy”, I think “Too much work!”
After living in France for a couple of years, I’ve realized how complicated the simple act of living can be: home ownership and maintenance, car ownership, health and work administration, and so on. Life in France can be so complicated and time consuming that one better be darn sure, if not determined, to get whatever it is they want because it is certain that obstacles and setbacks will occur. It’s not bad, per se, this is just how things work here.
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Now, I literally think of the hours one must spend cleaning or organizing, dealing with paperwork or calling professionals to fix this or deal with that, and all the hours worrying about Lord-knows-what. When we think of the stuff we want, we tend to forget about how much work and effort and heart ache and time we’ll never get back that goes into having it – and we certainly don’t want to acknowledge that much of what we have owns us instead of the other way around.
I’ve learned to look at things and ask myself, “What am I going to do with this?”, “Is this thing going to save me time, energy, and hassle or waste it all?”, “What am I going to do with it when I get tired of it?”, “Can I make money from it when I’m over it?”, “Is this recyclable?”. If I can get through these series of questions with justifiable answers then I’ll take it on, otherwise it’s not worth it. Through this process of questioning, I’ve realized that much of what we buy and do is wasted on the idea of ownership and having and it’s this idea that creates complications and invites unnecessary burdens.
By focusing on living a simple life, I’ve become less impulsive and find myself wanting less, I don’t compare myself to others as much and I no longer feel bad if I don’t have what the next guy has. I now like to focus on appreciating and reinventing what I already have, creating financial and emotional security rather than working on material accumulation or gaining approval. Nor do I care how others perceive me, because I feel secure knowing that I’m creating the life I desire with the limited amount of time I have on earth. When we look at the grand scale of things, we will eventually realize much of what we stress over doesn’t serve us.
Surviving as a human being is already complicated: parenting, marriage, home building, work, etc. We make things ten times worse emotionally and physically when we want more than what we really need, dividing our attention between what really matters and what doesn’t. Considering that much of the world lives on ten times less than what we have and yet we find ourselves constantly lacking and unhappy is a travesty. Why do we do ourselves the disservice of complicating our lives?
Each day, I say a little mantra to myself: peace, enlightenment, and abundance. This mantra is what keeps me centered and focused on my life’s priorities: creating peace for myself and others, developing my relationship to God and my human family, and welcoming abundance of not only financial blessings, but the abundance of joyful moments, laughter, breakthroughs and constructive, life-changing challenges.
By focusing on these priorities, I’m able to reduce the physical and mental clutter that often drags me down, keeping me from enjoying my relationships, my human experience, and the world beyond myself. The desire to keep things simple in the material world transfers to the emotional and spiritual world, leaving me to focus on questions like the following: “How can I keep my relationships simple?”, “How can I keep my mind peaceful and quiet as to welcome in inspiration?”, “How can I keep evolving?”.
Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean having less. It means having more of what we truly desire. Living simply implies the ability to cut out what doesn’t serve us and what doesn’t help us reach new heights in order to feel exactly as we wish to feel and create exactly what we envision. Simplicity, to me, means know exactly what I want.
What are your thoughts on simple living? What are your life’s priorities and how do you create simplicity in your life?