5 POWERFUL LESSONS FROM LIVING A SIMPLE LIFE
A simple life has given me so many benefits beyond a clearer, tidier home. In this post I’m sharing 5 powerful lessons from living a simple life which I hope encourage and inspire you to slow down and try it too!
MY LIFE BEFORE
Simplifying my life isn’t something that just happened overnight. My life had caught up on me without me realising. I worked hard at my career, worked hard at being a mother and worked hard at being a wife.
In short, I was working hard all the time and somewhere, some time, something had to give.
I’m a recovering perfectionist and constant striving for 100% led to a melt-down that I should have foreseen. Instead I’d buried my feelings, thinking that I could do it all and have it all, if only I kept pushing and working hard enough.
How stupid of me and how naïve to think that I was Superwoman… when clearly, I was not! I had stuck my head in the sand for too long, ignoring the warning signs and pushing them under the carpet so that I wouldn’t see them and neither would my friends and family.
THE SHIFT TO SIMPLE LIVING
However, the meltdown came and although, at the time, it felt like the worst thing in the world and a major sign of weakness on my part, it was actually the best thing that could have happened to me at the time.
My meltdown was the catalyst for a complete shift in lifestyle.
I let go of the things that brought me down and did more of the things that lifted me up.
- I decluttered my home and streamlined my cleaning routines.
- I donated clothes that I didn’t like to wear and books that I’d read and wouldn’t read again.
- I knocked unimportant tasks from my To Do list, decluttered my busy mind and schedule and focused more on important tasks like playing with my kids and prioritising my own self-care.
- I shifted my thoughts from having more, being more and achieving more to being happy with the simple things in life.
These examples are just a little snapshot of what simplifying my own life meant for me.
TO MY SIMPLE LIFE
What began with a small decluttering has ended up with me simplifying every aspect of my life. I became a passionate advocate of minimalism and simple living. I created enough spare time and energy to pour my knowledge and love of helping others back into my little blog and website and turning it into a business that supports others to find simplicity and a fuller life, just with less stuff!
I’ve learnt a lot along the way, but I’d like to share my own thoughts with you here and 5 powerful lessons from living a simple life. I’ve included some practical tips you can try to get started right now!
5 POWERFUL LESSONS FROM LIVING A SIMPLE LIFE
1. PRESS PAUSE AND REFLECT
Normally, I would have been so busy that stopping to think about why I was doing something would have been impossible. I had a busy life, family and job. How could I actually stop what I was doing without my life collapsing around me!?
Being busy meant my life was manageable, only just. I worked full time, paid the bills, fed the kids, walked the dog, cleaned the home, looked after elderly relatives, snatched a dinner out with my hubby every now and then, plus a million other things…
It felt like every second of my day had to be micromanaged or that busy life would overwhelm me.
I even felt that being busy gave me purpose in life. I thought it gave me some kind of validation that I had a full and important life, that I was making a difference and making headway.
But, really, headway to what?
Busy for busy’s sake? Busy to avoid feelings of frustration, resentment, tiredness? Busy running on adrenalin or coffee? Busy taking me away from the people and things that I cared about – my kids, family, writing, mid afternoon naps or days out on a whim.
My simple life allowed me to press pause and reflect.
- I had less on my To Do list, less stuff to look after, less desire to waste money or my time.
- I learnt the value of being less busy and the importance of slowing down to create space in my diary, my mind and my heart.
- I listened to the inner me who helps me navigate through life instead of being pulled and pushed in different directions by busy life.
- I listen to when I need time, love, support, good food, sleep, time out, a walk.
- I pause and reflect on what’s going right in my life and what’s not, so that I can do something about it, instead of just ploughing on with that busy life I talked about earlier.
2. TAKING ACTION WITH INTENTION
Pausing and reflecting is a fantastic way of assessing your life and how it’s going.
Yet, thinking without doing will only get you so far!
The next of my 5 powerful lessons from living a simple life was the art of taking action with intention. And, I don’t just mean jumping in, head first.
Simplifying my life was such an interesting experiment in weeding out the things that were important to me and the stuff that was just clutter. The process forces you to evaluate what’s a priority for you and a must-keep vs the stuff (physical and otherwise) that just gets in the way.
Here are some examples:
- Encouraging my kids to do just one after-school activity each term so that I’m not a 24/7 taxi service. In my former, busy life, I thought that I’d be letting my kids down by not saying yes to every invitation or opportunity. Now we get the chance to try different things, learn new skills and still find plenty of time for unstructured, free time for doing whatever we feel like at the time.
- Donating the majority of my book collection and keeping just a shelf or two of my favourites. If I want to read a new book, I borrow one from the library or a friend. I don’t have a pile of books waiting for me to read them and books I’ve never read sitting on my book shelf collecting dust.
- Reducing my social media consumption by taking apps off my phone and seeing what I could do with the time instead. (I check social media on my computer and have to log in every time which puts me off quite a lot!). I’ve found it much more rewarding to work on my own life instead of being envious of other people’s!
I love the concept of intentional living and leading a life of purpose. I think you might do as well and, as some of you have shared with me, you like my straight-talking approach with lots of practical tips.
So, with that in mind, check out the posts below for some of those practical, action steps to simplify your own life!
3. PRIORITISE SELF-CARE
For many of us, we spend our days juggling kids, work, family, friends and all manner of commitments and responsibilities. Looking after ourselves after we’ve been looking after everyone else feels like more of a burden than a pleasure when we’re tired, pushed for time or have lots on our mind.
Sometimes we can also feel guilty or selfish for spending time or money on ourselves (or even contemplating it) especially when we have other important things to do and people to look after.
For a variety of reasons, we tend to push ourselves to the bottom of the priority pile. Then wonder why we get tired, run down, frustrated or resentful.
Living a simple life taught me to press pause and reflect and then to act, in a way that aligns with what I truly call important in life. I learnt to let the clutter go, clutter that came in all shapes and forms.
With getting rid of that clutter, I felt more free, less stressed, less overstretched and overwhelmed.
My life wasn’t a series of tasks to be completed, or diary appointments to keep. I actually had more time and freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted.
With this magical free time, I dared to do something that I didn’t do very often – put myself first every now and then without feeling guilty about it either!
My simple life meant it was easier to get things done that I wanted and needed to do (family first, always). Yet, there was still space in my life for ME!
When I looked after myself, I felt better and less worn out and worn down. I was more positive, energetic, up for a challenge and ready for anything.
My simple life actually led to a much fuller life!
For more about self-care made simple, here are some resources you might like:
- Simplify Your Self-Care – a free little email challenge to help you put yourself first
- Journal prompts for self-care
- 15 ways to make yourself feel better
4. I LEARNT TO LET GO
Simplifying my life was an entire lesson in itself of learning to let go.
Letting go of distractions, clutter, bad habits, limiting beliefs, people that brought me down, decisions that no longer served me.
You can’t live a simple life by holding on to the things that aren’t important because they complicate and distract and make life anything but simple!
A simple life requires you to focus on what’s meaningful to you and build on that.
To quote Joshua Becker, “The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”
Letting go means freeing yourself up from things that hold you back so you can focus more on the things that lift you up. The problem is, that sometimes we don’t know or we’ve forgotten what these things are, let alone how to make them happen!
If you need help in learning to let go, these resources might help:
- Shift Your Mindset – a free workbook to help you identify negative thoughts and shift them
- 5 things to let go of today to simplify your life
- 10 things to declutter that aren’t things
5. FINDING WHAT LIFTS ME UP
Quite apart from lack of time, learning how to make changes, putting myself first and letting go of the clutter, finding what lifts me up in life was a huge lesson!
For so long, I’d identified myself as parent, wife, employee, daughter, friend, doer-of-all-the-things. I’d lost sight of me.
We all have busy seasons in life and sometimes our needs take second place to the more pressing responsibilities in our life, but every now and then, it’s important to remember that you are YOU – uniquely, wonderful YOU!
You can make a mark on the world, impact the whole world or just those around you, but you can do whatever you set your mind too – as long as you know what that is.
I know all this too, but I’d forgotten it (or pushed it aside) because of all the other things that were shouting for my attention every day.
Living a simple life helped me remember this and find myself again. It gave me the time, space, freedom and courage to find what lifts me up…
And when I feel lifted up, I’m a better version of me and I like her!
Whether it’s writing a book to abseiling, cooking to career change, finding your passion in life and living a meaningful life of purpose is a game-changer, for health, wellbeing and happiness.
When I’m happy then it feeds down to my kids and loved ones. I do better work, I’m a better parent, partner and so on…
If you’d like to find more of what lifts you up, here are some resources which might help:
A QUICK SIDE NOTE ABOUT SIMPLE LIVING
Simple living doesn’t mean you have to throw away all your stuff or never buy anything new. It doesn’t mean you have to live with as few possessions as possible, have a home with no furniture and bare walls. It doesn’t mean that your life won’t ever be crazy, busy or a little chaotic!
Simple living DOES mean that you find simpler ways of doing things so that they’re easier. You focus on what’s important and don’t get hung up on what’s not important. If you want to buy something, buy it. If you want to leave the dishes in the sink, go on, be a rebel! Simple living isn’t about perfection. It’s just about real life, made easier!
But generally, a simpler lifestyle is an easier one. It might have less stuff in it but what you do have, is more important.
I wanted to include this little side note to encourage you to explore what simple living might look like for you. And, that simple living can benefit everyone, no matter your current lifestyle and season.
I also hope that the lessons I’ve shared in this post might further encourage you to try simplicity for yourself.