Last Fall, Eric came into our bedroom to reveal to me our next years’ theme (that is, this year’s theme). As is his tradition, he is mysterious until the moment of reveal. Each theme is fantastic and touches on a part of our lives which could use growth, and each theme is also a journey which we can share with our readers. However, up until this point no theme touched me quite as deeply as this year’s theme: simplify.
When he said the word simplify, my insides immediately relaxed and I felt a sense of relief. Simplifying our life sounded wonderful and I could not wait to get started.
So far in 2018, we have simplified aspects of our finances. Eric has loosened the reigns on what we can and cannot purge from our lives. (He was raised with a Depression Era mentality and tends to save items just in case we can use them in the future.) In general, we are more relaxed and happier and intend to continue simplifying our lives even after 2018 is a memory.
If you have not started actively decluttering and destressing your life, we urge you to consider it. Once you get a taste, you will be hooked! It is amazing how much stuff and unnecessary tasks gum up our lives. We need to breathe more deeply and rush less. We need mealtime with family or friends. We need time to connect with each other rather than umpteen activities every night of the week. We need priceless memories rather than the acquisition of more belongings.
Here are a few quotes I found helpful in my quest for a simpler life:
“Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.” – Edward Tufte – There was a time when I equated lofty verbiage with successful writing, but later discovered clear communicators to be worth more than grandiose speakers. Give me words, directions, and explanations in the most easily digestible way possible. It is more valuable to get your point across than to impress elitists with fancy vocabulary. We can find examples of this quote present in every field of study.
“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.” – Edwin Way Teale – To have much means to maintain much. The more we bring into our lives, the more work we must do to keep it all – material goods, hobbies, and relationships. We may want it all, but once we get it all we become desperate for something to give. We should evaluate our desires yearly and make sure we are not adding unnecessary pressure to our lives with stuff (tangible and intangible) we do not need – stuff which will not ultimately bring us fulfillment or happiness.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann – We can silence what is important by surrounding it with fillers. Write simply. Apologize simply. Show love simply. Speak simply.
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau – I especially appreciate this quote as I struggle with details. I like the big picture. It is not that details are never important. Often, they are crucial. But, we can get mired in too many unnecessary details. If there is a legitimate and safe way to make a process simpler, why not do it?
“Sometimes our stop-doing list needs to be bigger than our to-do list.” ? Patti Digh – As one who struggles to get started every morning, this quote was not written for the likes of me (as much as I want to embrace it!). But, for driven people like my dear mother and my husband, such a quote should be tattooed in a prominent place. ~smile~ Life does not have to be busy and constantly productive to be sweet and meaningful. Sometimes we accomplish more from resting than working.
“As I am both lazy and forgetful, I can’t take proper care of too many things. That’s why I want to cherish properly the things I love.” ? Marie Kond? – Perhaps this is one reason I dream of being a minimalist!
“Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris – There is no good reason to keep your mind and living space cluttered. Go through each room and determine what items you believe are useful and beautiful. If they do not make the cut, let them go. After you clean your physical space, start working on your mental space. After you declutter your living space, decluttering your mind becomes easier.
When I was about twelve-years-old, I remember visiting my mom’s friend after she moved into a new house. It was gorgeous with high ceilings, plush carpets, and beautiful decorations. In my mind, this lady and her husband had arrived! Though not a mansion, it was clearly the home of a successful family. However, mid-way through our visit, she made a statement which baffled my young mind. When my mom asked, “Do you think this will be your last home?” she replied, “No, I want my last house to be a shoebox.”
After we left, Mom tried to explain that people use real estate as investments and that older people often prefer something less extravagant, but I am not sure I grasped it. Why would you move into a small home after enjoying a lavish one? Now, twenty-four years later, I finally understand. Happiness does not come from stuff. Those who live minimalistic lives are often much happier than those who feel enslaved to their stuff. In a small home, she will have fewer cleaning and maintenance responsibilities. She will need to take fewer steps. She can relax more and work less.
The older I get, the more enamored I become with the thought of a log cabin in the woods. A fireplace, comfortable furniture, the people I love, and little else. It sounds like a spectacularly peaceful existence. There are many versions of simple and peaceful. Which one speaks most strongly to you? Maybe you dream of a home full of children but void of life’s most common distractions? Perhaps you fancy a small apartment in a big city as an ideal and simple life?
Before you move your relationship from dating to engagement, talk to each other about how you want to live. See if you are on the same page. Differences in lifestyle cause couples a lot of conflict. Perhaps you can start simplifying your lives now thus beginning your new life together with as little stress as possible.
Is there anything you can change right now which will help you breathe more easily? A stressor you can let go of – maybe for just a season – even if it is something you enjoy? Is there clutter you need to take a weekend and strip from your life? Are there people you have allowed to rob you of your calm? Get a warm drink. Clear out distractions. Sit somewhere quiet and comfortable and brainstorm ways you can put the above quotes to work. You can find ways to have a simpler, more fulfilling life. Are you excited? I am excited for you!
“Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” – Elise Boulding
What is your dream for a simpler life?