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Simplicity as a way of life

May 28th, 2013

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To my US readers, I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!
After a short break on my writing, I am back with thoughts on simplicity as a way of life.

daisy

According to the dictionary, Simplicity is the quality or condition of being simple, and simple in this context means: uncomplicated, easy.

There was a lady that always carried a large handbag which was filled with things she thought she needed, but in reality she rarely, if ever, used any of them, and yet she carried the heavy bag every day. The weight of the bag was dragging her down and causing tension in her back and neck. Just as that lady, we often burden our lives with unnecessary loads (which can be mental or material.)

Most modern societies have become more and more complex and along with progress has come material comfort and the constant need to gather more and more stuff, as a result, people often find themselves overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, and pressure.

Ten years ago, I spent a few months traveling with my husband and living off a backpack...we could not really gather much stuff because we had to carry everything in our shoulders, so we had to make it all fit in one backpack. This experience gave me a whole new sense of freedom and made me realize how little I needed to live happily.

People often end up owning so much stuff that their spaces become cluttered and their minds become too distracted by the stuff around them.

I like the description of clutter by Peter Walsh (Motivational Speaker and Organizing Expert):

Clutter is all-encompassing: It means anything that stands between you and the vision you have for your best life. It could be a pile of inherited furniture or a jumble of kids' toys all over the living room. But it could also be the constant self-doubt that creeps into your decision-making, anger about how you're treated at work, shame about your weight or looks, or a tendency to respond defensively and critically when your spouse challenges you. Whatever the case, you have to ask yourself, "Does this item or thought or response move me closer to my vision for my best life?" If it does, great. If it doesn't, what is it doing in your life?

In order to bring new experiences and even new things into our lives, we need to open up space for them, but if we are buried in stuff (whether material or mental) there is hardly any room for new ideas, people, or things that can enrich our experience. So it is important to clean up the clutter around and inside ourselves on a regular bases.

Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed that I would like to sell or give away everything I owe, move to the countryside and grow my own food! At this point in time however, that is not an option for me and I realize it may never be, so I try to find ways to make my life simpler, easier, fluid, uncomplicated, and uncluttered... one day at a time, and I would like to share them with you.

When it comes to material clutter, I try to own as little as possible and I am not attached to what I own, I like to clean up my home often and I donate things or give them away to other people that may need them. However, I know people for whom it is really hard to get rid of stuff, luckily there are many resources out there to help people un-clutter their space, and it is important to do so often and seek help if it becomes to difficult to do. Here is a cool article I recommend: 12 Ways to Unclutter Your Life.

When it comes to mental clutter... it is a little trickier, but just as important to clean up, if not more!!!
I personally practice meditation and it really helps keep my mind clear and my thoughts under control, but I also use basic ways to help my mind be still and are easier to do than establishing a meditation practice. I basically try to be aware of what is in front of me, and to take the time to enjoy it. Here are a few examples I use everyday:

  • If I am walking in a busy street and see a beautiful rose bush, I will stop and smell the roses and take in their beauty... (I know it sounds "cliche" but I do it!, I don't care) most people have no time for this or would be embarrassed to do it, some don't even notice the roses, but I feel that the extra minute it takes me do this, suddenly brings me to the present and connects me with nature, it makes me aware of the beauty all around. This can be roses or a small child, or a tall tree, the blue sky, it doesn't really matter.

  • If I am about to eat, I try to do it mindfully, not on the run, not on the go, not in a rush.... I sit down, look at my food, the colors, the shapes, etc. I sometimes even decorate my plate (If I cooked at home) and I eat bite by bite, enjoying it fully. Nowadays eating is such an automated activity that most people don't even know what they eat, as a result they don't enjoy it much and they eat in very unhealthy ways.

  • When I am talking to another person, I look at them in the eye, I listen to them patiently and pay attention to their body language, I am not checking my smart phone every 5 seconds, nor am I thinking about the things I need to do later in the day... I am there with them and my mind is there too.

By doing these simple things, I suddenly disconnect from everything else and I find that every moment in my life is quite simple indeed.

We can simplify our life by many means, and by doing so, we will feel lighter, freer, unburdened.
So I encourage you today to look at what is cluttering your life and find ways to clean it up! Make simplicity a way of life!

Have a good week!

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