What does it mean to live a simple life?
Well, what does Simple Living mean to you?
I ask this because I’ve found that it means so many different things and depends on where you are in life.
Maybe you just want to get off the 9 to 5 treadmill and live at a slower pace.
Or you find that you now have this lovely home but you really only live in about 600 square feet of it.
Simple living for you would mean more time to just be.
Yes I get all of this and more!
This is the 3rd article of a three-part series about living simply. The three posts include:
- Could you live in an RV Full time?
- A beginner’s guide to getting ready for full time RVing
- What Does It Mean to Live a Simple Life?
This article is your guide to Simple Living. What it is and how to get there. We will cover:
- What is simple living and what’s in it for me?
- How do I know if I need to simplify my life
- What does it mean to live a simple life
- Will living simply get rid of my stress? Make me Happier?
- How do I simplify my life and learn to live simply
- Living simply, living happily, living intentionally
- Benefits of living simply
Throughout the post I’ll share some of my personal experiences as well and those of others.
Just to give some clarification and to demonstrate that people are adapting simplicity into their lives everyday. And they feel really good about it.
So let’s jump right in, ok?
1. What is simple living and what’s in it for me?
Simple living for me means:
- Living small
- Reducing my stuff
Now we definitely live small now, having sold our home in surburbia a few years back. Now we live, for the most part in a 480 square foot RV, and since I still work full time, a 700 square foot apartment in the city where I work.
Definitely living small.
Could you do that?
Wiki says “Simple living encompasses a number of different voluntary practices to simplify one’s lifestyle. ………Simple living is distinct from those living in forced poverty, as it is a voluntary lifestyle choice.”
I was talking to a friend just last night about it, when she asked about the blog and how everything was going. So as I was telling her about the change in focus, from just recipes to Simple Living and Food, she jumped right in.
She told me they had a lovely home, but really only lived in about 600 square feet of it. They didn’t need all the extra space for sure, and definitely wish they had the money in their pockets, that they once had when living in a tiny apartment.
My friend Anne travels all over the world, and had just returned from Asia.
Oh yes, I know those feelings!
2. How do I know if I need to simplify my life
One of the easiest ways I know of to examine what’s really going on in our lives is to write it down. Kind of like a what the current situation is and then another list of where you would like it to be.
We use this method in our family all the time – especially when it comes to big decisions. What are the pros and cons of the current situation and do a comparison of what we think we would like or where we should be.
If you are truly honest with yourself, you will be able to see very easily, where your life is out of balance, and what are the things you would like to include, but can’t for a number of reasons – ie) no money, not enough time, too scared.
Does that make sense?
So let’s do this exercise together.
Make a list of the same things you do every day. Pick about eight. I’ll make a list with you.
- Get up and let the dogs out
- Make coffee
- Feed the dogs
- Journal – morning pages
- Check Facebook
- Make a second cup of coffee
- Check google analytics
- Check Facebook & emails some more
- Think about my day – what I would like to accomplish
Ok, I ended up with 9
Does your list look this? Well maybe not the dogs part. And my sweetie is a night owl, so he gets up much later than I do, typically.
Now journaling or morning pages – that’s something I’ve been doing my entire adult life – I spend about 15 to 20 minutes there and I don’t want to give it up. However, what I have been noticing is that my TO DO list is creeping into my morning pages.
The other thing that’s creeping into my morning pages? Negative thoughts. Negative thoughts that I didn’t exercise yesterday. Ate too many potato chips (my kryptonite). And stared at my imperfect body in the mirror.
You’d think at the age of 62 I would let go of all the fad diets, and just be. Be accepting and loving of myself.
Simplicity is letting go of perfection. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?
“Simplicity makes my whole life feel like mine – rather than feeling like I’m living someone else’s life.” If that strikes a chord, keep reading.Simple Living expert Janet Luhrs, author of the bible of the simplicity movement
So back to the simplicity of morning pages and journaling. The purpose of journaling this way – a free fall of writing early in the morning is to clear my head of the junk, so that feel energized and able to get on with my day. It is not supposed to be my daily planner. It is in fact a writing meditation.
I think I could probably jump right into writing first thing, with that second cup of coffee. I’m at my best early in the morning and the creative juices are flowing. I think I could knock off a big chunk of writing every morning.
What’s does your list look like? I imagine you have Facebook scroll time too, and checking your emails. Is there something else you would like to start your day doing other than this? Does your list include some morning yoga, or meditation?
What about more time with your kids, or honey before getting everyone off to school and work. Or time to have breakfast together. And breakfast time doesn’t mean everyone is plugged in to their phones. It means honest conversation – or just eating breakfast and enjoying the togetherness.
What a wonderful way to start the day! So I think you get the idea. I’ve also created a printable checklist for you to download and print so you can do this test again.
In The Science of Happiness, Time Magazine says…..
Find the activity that allows you to settle your mind, emotions and desires so that you become grounded in the present.
3. What does it mean to live a simple life? What is a simple lifestyle?
How can we live a stress free and simple life?
Many of us look at simple living or the simple life as an ideal, a lifestyle that would solve all of our problems.
Well I’m here to tell you that you can downsize your home, hit the open road in an RV and change jobs, but if you aren’t really getting to the heart of the matter, those problems will travel right along with you. Right?
Simple living is about making choices. Choices about money, like saving money so that you can take that wonderful trip. Simplicity is not about running up tons of debt so that you can have that new shiny thing. Maybe your laptop is seven years old, but if it still does everything you need, why buy a new one?
Simplicity is driving your old clunker because all you really need is a method of transportation right? Or going from two cars to one. We did that, and never looked back. The money we saved was substantial.
Simplicity is all about choices, habits, your daily routine. For some of us boredom keeps us from finding simplicitysince we fill boredom with food, Facebook, and mindless behaviours.
What if we took that time and really allowed ourselves to rest, exercise, have a meaningful conversation, give time to a charity, or just be?
What if you reached the end of your life, and you had the chance to look at everything you had done, what would be the one thing you would regret?
That’s easy for me – too much scrolling time, and not spending that time with loved ones. And, worrying about my weight and not being happy with myself, inside and out.
What would your regrets be?
4. How do I simplify my life and learn to live simply
“Real luxury is not working like a maniac to take an expensive vacation–it is living a life you enjoy every day.” Kathy Gottberg, Rightsizing * a Smart Living 365 Guide to Reinventing Retirement
Morning routines, declutter, give away stuff, mindfulness, journaling, gratitude, affirmations And you know the changes do not need to be drastic.
This isn’t about telling your boss exactly what you think and walking away from your job. But it might me. This isn’t a back to the land book, where you sell up your house and everything in it and go live in the woods like Thoreau.
Although you may have a yen to travel and decide to hit the open road full time in an RV. We’ve got that covered for you too! Simple living is about grabbing life by the throat and living every moment.
It is not about going through each day on auto pilot, doing the things you usually do, just because you have always done them. It’s kind of like Carpe Diem meets Oprah – and her “Live Your Best Life” mantra.
You may live in a high-rise apartment in the middle of the biggest city, and absolutely love that lifestyle! And that’s awesome for you!
There is still an opportunity for you to bring mindfulness to the forefront, to examine your routines, and really look at the things you do that bring you joy and fill you with energy, vs. the things you do that are mind numbing, soul sucking that need to be kicked to the curb.
You deserve it! You deserve to be happy!
I’ve included a one-week challenge to get you started. Totally optional of course, but I really believe that we only achieve our goals by doing. Reading about simple living is one thing, but now you have the information it’s time to put your phone, table or laptop away.
And just get started. Right now.
5. Will living simply get rid of my stress? Make me Happier?
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated, Confucius
So let’s go back to the list you made and really think about the mindless things you do everyday, the ones on auto pilot. You made a decision one day maybe a very long time ago, to include them in your life.
There was a reason then, but maybe that reason is gone now? Yet you just keep doing it.
- Watching the news every night from 6 to 7
- Grabbing takeout on the way home every night because you are too tired to cook
- Commuting three hours to and from work everyday so that you can afford a bigger house
- Running up your credit card on a shopping spree after a bad day at work
One of the most powerful books I’ve read in a long time, that I think fits really well with changing our mindset, so that we can refocus on the simple things in life that are really important to us is the #5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.
I will be forever grateful to Mel for the creation of this book, and all that comes with it. Like her 31 day coaching sessions!
You will this book along with some other really awesome books that focus on the Simple Life and Simple living lifestyle.
6. Living simply, living happily, living intentionally
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures, Lao Tzu Stress is reduced, and your life fills with purpose, and meaning. “I think we like to complicate things when it is really quite simple. Find what it is that makes you happy and who it is that makes you happy and you’re set. Promise”, Unknown
7. Benefits of living simply
Live simply so that others may live. Mother Teresa
There are so many! Financial benefits, health benefits, relationship benefits just to name a few. Simplicity and living simply gives you more time. Yep, I thought that would get your attention.
Once you start down the path of living simply, and the mindless habits fall by the wayside, you will be amazed at what you can do. I decided I wanted more energy and more time and I definitely have that now that I no longer mindlessly:
- Watch TV
- Scroll through Facebook and emails
- Stuff myself with junk food while doing those things
You see, by eliminating the boredom, and these things I was doing to alleviate my boredom, hours have opened up that I fill with writing and running this blog. More importantly I am healthier and sleep better because I now have a 20 minute exercise routine morning and night.
But it’s hard to do this stuff on your own, I will admit. What helps me is hearing Mel Robbins in my head. “You have to push yourself, parent yourself to do these things, that will not only benefit you in the long run, but help you achieve your goals” Now I’m paraphrasing for sure, but I give all of the credit to Mel.
And what does simple living have to do with full time RVing? Well, I’m glad you asked! Living full time in an RV and either traveling or staying put is all about simplicity. There is no room for clutter, there is way more togetherness time, and life takes on a simple eb and flow.
Friends and neighbours drop by to say hello, or help with a task, like clearing your gutters or repairing your deck. BBQs quickly become potlucks, and a freshly baked pie becomes and excuse to invite the neighbors over for coffee. But you probably won’t have to invite them, because they will smell that cake baking.
At the end of the day it is all up to you. I hope you found this guide helpful and answered your questions about how do you simplify your life. Yes that’s right, you.
You have to want simplicity in your life.
To get rid of the anxiety and the stress.
To fill that space with joy, peacefulness and calm.
You deserve it!
You can do it.
You really can.