Having a simple life is something I’ve aspired to for years. But actually figuring out how to simplify can be a daunting task.
Life comes complete with responsibilities, commitments and just plain old “stuff.” How could it possibly be simple?
Life Can Get Overwhelming
During times when my life was totally overwhelming, I would talk through my schedule and workload with my best friend and confidant, my husband. Somehow, he was always able to take an objective view of how I was using my time and what things were unnecessarily complicating my life.
He motivated me to clear out, bring my standards down just a bit, and to identify the real priorities. Things that seemed non-negotiable were given a second thought. He was able to guide me in ways to organize the never ending flow of information and paperwork as well as technologies.
What Is All This Stuff?!
Simplifying our schedule was one thing, but simplifying our “stuff” was a completely different animal. Years of memories, furniture, kids’ toys, and kitchen paraphernalia stocked our home like we were preparing for a disaster. “What if we need this again someday?!” All of these objects that I saw as essential remained boxed up in closets or drawers “in case we needed it.”
What I didn’t realize was the burden that keeping track of all that stuff had on my mental clarity. Would I be able to find that in case I ever needed it? Where is the best place to store it? If my husband asked me if we had it, would I even be able to answer with confidence?
We moved a few times and just continued to move the piles of items that hadn’t been used in years. When we moved into a smaller place, we had to rent a huge storage unit so we could keep the stuff that wouldn’t fit at home. Even my husband had a few boxes of things from the past that he just couldn’t part with, although he had not even looked at them since we were first married.
A Different Paradigm
We started looking at how our adult children were living. Their homes were streamlined. They didn’t keep things for years like we did. They took pictures of their momentos from their childhood and then offered to let us have them back. Not being able to bear to part with my son’s bronzed baby shoes, I began adding to our stockpile.
Then I realized: life is not in these things. Having a picture of it will do. If my grandchildren would not be interested in using or having their dad’s baby shoes, why must I hang on to them?
Yes, there are good memories attached to these things. They remind me of a special time gone by. But I don’t need to physically handle them. In fact, looking at a picture of them is simpler and will give me more enjoyment that searching through box after box to locate them.
Less Stuff, More Freedom
At this point in our lives, we’ve refined the process of simple living. It helps that it’s only just the two of us now. But, it still took a concerted effort to simplify. We live in a small condo. We only own one car. Our outside commitments are often limited to family and close friends. We’ve sold, given away, or thrown away anything that isn’t essential. And the huge storage unit is gone. Quite a change from just a few years ago.
The freedom we feel is undeniable. We have more discretionary time, a very simple budget, and the upkeep of our home is minimal. We spend almost every minute together, share the same bathroom, and do more dates than ever. Our life is unfettered and we find it easy to prioritize the important things in life.
Simple living has its perks. In this instance, less is truly more.
Question: How have you scaled back overwhelming schedule and stuff in your life? Share your answer in the comments below.