I’m excited to kick off a new series on the blog today! I’ve been thinking about and planning for this series for a quite a while, so first, allow me to give you some background on how I got here.
I started simplifying my life in the middle of a very dark season. I was working a job that exhausted me and left me bitter at the end of each day. I was spending more than I was making. I was committing to every single thing I was asked to lead. I wasn’t putting my foot down. I was letting envy run my life. I was choosing to find my worth in my busyness instead of in God.
At the beginning of 2014, I prayed, Lord, let this be the year I become content. What I meant was, Lord, let this be the year and Dan and I get big fat raises so we can buy enough stuff to be content. Instead, Jesus graciously showed me his heart for simple living, authentic connection, and living with intention.
Over the last year and half, God has radically changed my heart, and everything else in my life followed suit. I changed careers to something I was passionate about and good at, even though it meant a 50 percent pay cut. I started budgeting even though I loved spending money. I started saying no to some commitments, even when I was afraid to. And I haven’t looked back.
The process of simplifying my life wasn’t easy, and it’s not over. Simple living is an ongoing process of strengthening my filters so I can be true to myself, re-evaluating my commitments when I feel overwhelmed, and re-adjusting budgets when life changes happen (like when you have a baby and they need furniture and clothes and stuff).
But I wouldn’t trade the work of simple living for the hustle of regular American living.
It’s no secret that I think everyone could benefit from simplifying their lives in some way. The end results are worthwhile: less stuff, less hustling, more freedom, more physical space, more breathing room. But I think just as beneficial as living simply is the process of simplifying, of paring our lives back to the essentials. It helps us to remember what’s most important, to choose those things above all else, and to consider creative solutions for our burdens.
So often, we get stuck in cycles of doing what we think we’re supposed to be doing, instead of doing what will help us honor who we are and what we care about. We go to all the events because we were invited and our whole family will be there. We sign our kids up for all the activities because they keep asking and all the neighbors are doing it. We spend money on new clothes each season when the trends change. We eat out every Saturday night because that’s what we’ve always done.
The process of simplifying causes us to question why we do what we do. Why am I so afraid of saying no? What’s best for my family? What’s best for our relational and financial goals? What doesn’t align with who we are?
Simplifying our lives takes courage. Living simply over time takes perseverance. But simplicity brings us freedom, contentment, and joy.
What Simplicity Is Not
So what is simplicity? I think it’s easier to start with the misconceptions and what simple living is not.
Often, people confuse simple with frugal or crunchy. You can certainly be a frugal person or a crunchy person who also lives simply, but you don’t have to be. In fact, sometimes I think frugality and crunchiness can be at odds with simple living.
Frugality, in my head, means always being on the hunt for the best deal, pinching pennies, and clipping coupons. I have some frugal tendencies in that I budget carefully, but I certainly don’t spend hours and hours clipping coupons and going to multiple stores to find the best sales.
And as much as I love natural living (more affectionately known as crunchiness), it just doesn’t jive with my version of simplicity to grow my own vegetables and find a natural solution to every illness. (Though I have some go-to remedies that I swear by. I think coconut oil and apple cider vinegar can cure just about anything!)
Simplicity is also not perfectionism or inflexibility. In fact, I think pursuing a more simple life frees us from these things. Choosing simple allows us to let go of what we think perfection is and the constant racing around we do to achieve it. Choosing simple allows us to have more margin to be flexible when the unexpected arises.Simplicity is about more than just getting rid of stuff. It's about living holistically. Click To Tweet
What Simplicity Is
For me, simplicity is living my life with an uncluttered soul, house, and schedule; living in alignment with my values and beliefs; living within my financial means and within my personal reserves of energy.
Simplicity is doing what’s best for me, my marriage, and my family.
Simplicity is a set of practices I engage in to make sure I’m living an uncluttered life.
Simplicity is choosing gratitude for what I already have.
Simplicity is a mindset that I don’t need to do, have, or be it all.
I recognize that this all might sound a little touchy-feely, but I do believe there are some concrete practices we can engage in to help us live more simple lives. Because as much as simplicity is a mindset, it also requires action.
Of course, without the right mindsets and motivations, taking action toward simple living may feel unnatural or fruitless. If we don’t define our values and priorities first and keep those central to our simplifying, we’re missing the point. Merely going through the act of simplifying won’t free us from the hustle and bustle of American life.
But neither will thinking about simplifying without actually doing it.
That’s where this series comes in. In each post, I’ll be sharing one area of our lives that we can simplify. We’ll do some personal reflection to get into the proper mindset for simplifying, and then I’ll share some ways to simplify each specific area.
(I’d also recommend checking out this post and following the steps to create your own life vision before you engage in simplifying. This process of defining my life vision helps me make the best possible decisions about what stays and what goes.)
The practices I’ll share are not meant to be one-size-fits-all, all-inclusive, or even all necessary. You can pick and choose which practices work for you, or you can invent your own.
The important thing is that we start making some conscious choices about how we’re living and why that matters.
I hope you’ll join me for the rest of this series. Next up: simplify your possessions.#Simplify Your Life: A series to help you live with less stuff and more purpose. Click To Tweet