We unfortunately live in a culture where every self-respecting individual feels compelled to schedule each minute of the day with some kind of productive activity. Adults go to work, meet with friends, go to the gym, work late hours, work a second job, volunteer, go to a concert, visit a museum, take a class, or spend the late afternoon and evening taking their children to a variety of “must do” activities. It’s not that broadening our scope, challenging ourselves, or reaching out to others are bad pursuits; it’s that in doing all these things, we deprive ourselves of precious time to be by ourselves and with our families.
It’s harmful enough that adults have thrust themselves onto the never-ending hamster wheel, but many parents subject their children to the same routine! I know a 7-year-old child that attends at least two activities every day after school, and then has a major activity each weekend. This child has remarked more than once they want to be a kid and play for a change. How sad is that?
Simple Living doesn’t require abandoning our current calendar plans or taking ourselves off the grid. It does, however, demand being selective in what we choose to do with our time and resources in the future. Living simply necessitates evaluating what brings joy and meaning in life, and then letting go of things not making a direct contribution or worse yet, adding more obligation. Simple living means reducing or eliminating all those things that force us to continue living on the hamster wheel.
Most of us have infrequently used items making demands on our time and energy! We have closets and basements, attics and storage units full of things we can’t bear to part with, but haven’t used in years. We work long hours making enough money to continue buying things we don’t really need and providing a place for those things we don’t use. Materialism, in short, drives decision-making and clouds our judgment.
One easy step toward moving ourselves into simple living, is to begin the purge! Clutter in our houses overwhelms us every time we look at it! It saps our energy and leads to avoidance. “Less is More” is real and frees our senses to enjoy our lives instead of being overwhelmed by them. So how do we begin?
Decide what is important to you and your family. Think about what brings joy, energy, creativity, productiveness, and happiness. Remove items deemed “slackers” from your house by cleaning one closet, drawer, storage or counter at a time. Eventually attempt to clean one room over a weekend. Purge everything you cannot imagine living without. I didn’t say what you think you cannot live without. I said things you cannot live without; items necessary to provide the basics of living. Emotional items must be reviewed with candor. You may not be able to get rid of the last item your parents gave you before they passed away today, but in 6 months or a year, it might not seem so important to keep.
So what is simple living? It’s eliminating all but the core elements from your life. Peel away all that distracts, drains your energy and resources, adds clutter, or is useless. Make sure to recognize what you value and what you need to feel successful, secure, positive, productive, enthused and energetic. Create an action plan of how to morph your current life into the life you envision. Change is effectively accomplished by recognizing what the next step is, and then taking it!
I wish you the best of simple living and the fortitude to make it happen.