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, simplify 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. I felt like I was working hard all the time and draining myself in the process. 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’d stuck my head in the sand for too long, ignoring the warning signs and sweeping 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 (which it wasn’t), it was actually the best thing that could’ve happened to me at the time.
My meltdown turned out to be 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 so I had more free time and energy for enjoying the rest of life.
- I donated clothes that I didn’t like to wear and simplified my eating habits and meal-planning. It made space in my home and reduced the number of decisions, such as what to wear and what to eat, that used up my brain power.
- I knocked unimportant tasks from my To Do list, decluttered my busy mind and schedule and focused more on activities that mattered most to me, 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 grateful, present and 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 simple and intentional 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!
5 POWERFUL LESSONS FROM LIVING A SIMPLE LIFE
I’ve learnt a lot through my own journey to simplicity, but I’d like to share 5 of the most powerful of those lessons from living a simple life here with you today.
1. The importance of connection with yourself to your life
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?
Was I 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 and enjoyed – my kids, family, writing, mid-afternoon naps or days out on a whim.
My simple life allowed me to press pause and reflect. To reconnect with myself and align my day with how I’d like to live my life.
- 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.
Lesson 1: Connecting with yourself is how you create a life that fits around you and what you want and need – instead of you fitting around the needs and wants of your life.
2. Taking action with intention and purpose (not just action for action’s sake)
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. More specifically, I mean acting but knowing what you’re doing and what you hope to achieve. Not just jumping in, head first and expecting big, magical results.
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. I deliberately said no to some things so I could say yes to more of something else.
- 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. I decided to keep things that were useful, added value or I loved them and let the rest go. This example is about books but the same goes for many other things that take up space in our life.
- 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!). This example proved to me that I’ve found it much more rewarding to work on my own life instead of being envious of other people’s!
These are just 3 examples of how I took action to simplify my life in different ways. There was a deliberate and purposeful reason to saying no, being mindful of the stuff in my home and tending to my own life instead of being jealous of everyone else’s. I didn’t make these decisions for the sake of it. If I did, I probably wouldn’t have continued to stand by them now, many years on.
Lesson 2: Taking action with intention helps you make long-lasting, meaningful change.
3. Prioritising self-care means you can give the best of you
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.
Lesson 3: Making time for regular self-care helped me give the best of me to the people who needed it most.
4. I learnt to let go (and feel good about it)
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 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 that you don’t.”
The problem, though, is that we often feel guilty for letting go. We might feel wasteful, anxious, overwhelmed, uncertain, afraid. We hold onto things (stuff, bad decisions, unhealthy habits, challenging relationships, too many store cards, regret, shame) and they hold us back and get in the way of us moving forward and making positive change.
Lesson 4: Simplifying life helped me practice the art of letting go. I became more confident and empowered with every decision to let go and move on.
5. Finding what lifts you 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 the world of 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:
Lesson 5: My simpler life gave me time, space and freedom to find what lifts me up and use this to the benefit of myself and those around me.
LIVING A SIMPLE LIFE YOURSELF
I hope the lessons I’ve shared in this article might encourage you to try simplicity for yourself. I won’t say that the journey will be easy or the end result will make all your troubles disappear, but a simple life is an easier life.
To help you explore some of the ideas we’ve talked about a little further, here are some helpful resources and articles:
- 7 ways to be intentional with your time – the art of saying no and feeling ok with it
- Decluttering as self-care – how having less stuff is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself
- Journaling tips for beginners – journaling as a perfect way to reconnect with yourself and your life
- What does it mean to simplify your life – setting the scene
- 20 ways to simplify your life – let’s get started right now!
NEED A LITTLE MORE HELP?
If simplifying life feels far from simple, I get it! We can’t stop life to work out what needs to change, let alone how to change it. That’s why I created Simplify Your Life.
This is my popular guided simplicity workbook to help you begin to work out what’s complicating your life and how to go about simplifying it. Practical tips, actionable challenges, plenty of self-reflection and asking yourself some tough questions!
Thursday 18th of August 2022
Thanks for this article, it really helped me to stop and see what is important in my life. I sent it to both my girls today, I hope they too can see the benefit of looking at making their lives more simple. I really enjoy the way you write. Have you thought to write a book on your experience and understanding of simply living. It would make a great read. Thanks again and I hope you and your family are well at this time. I keep your email in my notes so I can reference this article. It really has helped me in finding a more peaceful view to life and the values I have. So thanks again. Hazel.
Balance Through Simplicity
Friday 19th of August 2022
Hi Hazel, thank you for your lovely comment! I'm so pleased you enjoy reading my content and that you're finding it helpful. I hadn't thought about a book, maybe I could look into it! Best of luck in finding more peace and joy aligned with what matters most to you.
Sunday 7th of August 2022
This article really resonated with me. I am in this process at the moment. I am starting to see the positive effects of simplifying my life. Thank you for supporting me through this with your articles. you keep me on the path.
Balance Through Simplicity
Monday 8th of August 2022
Hi Sam, You're very welcome! I hope you carry on seeing the benefits and wish you the best of luck!
Thursday 7th of February 2019
I'm in the process of simplifying my life and my family's too. All the abundance of things and tasks and shoulds have been stressing me out. And when I'm stressed, my family is stressed too. I like to break things down to small actions. Smaller actions seem more achievable and less daunting to start. You know what I mean? Great post!
Balance Through Simplicity
Saturday 9th of February 2019
Yes, I definitely know what you mean and breaking it down is a great place to start. Much more achievable and you'll start to see and feel the difference soon so it gives you encouragement to keep going! Let me know if you need further help in any area because I'm sure you won't be the only one! Well done though!