Remember the good old days? Before cell phones and email, before we had a bazillion channels on TV, before social media, before we had so much pressure to do more, be more, and have more? I have always envied the “good old days”. Part of this may be a grass is greener scenario, but the other part is that something inside of me just yearns for simplicity. Writing this blog post has forced me to ask, “Why?”
Why do we yearn for simplicity? In our days of Alexa and Siri, iPhones and iWatches, dishwashers, and all of this technology created to supposedly make our lives simpler, why do we feel more stressed and less happy than ever? Why do we yearn for simplicity, yet at the same time feel this tremendous need to have more? I think part of this is the desire for freedom. We want to be free of the things that hold us down and hold us back. We want to be that person running wild and free through the wheat field, while instead we are the person running through the wheat field carrying 50 bags of stuff and wearing chains on our feet all while checking our cell phones and email!
My journey to simplicity began as a child. I look back and see moments in my life when I have strived to live simpler. I have always wanted to just “be happy” and I have found that happiness is more abundant when things are simplified. I have always wondered secretly (or not so secretly anymore) if I have a learning disability because when things get too complicated, my mind seems to go haywire. I get to the point where I can’t see, think, or act straight. I’ve discovered that I am a bullet point type of gal… tell me what matters, and get rid of the rest. Otherwise I find myself overwhelmed and confused. Does anybody feel me on that? Just give it to me straight, and get rid of the fluff.
Simplicity is something we can have in every area of our life and is all encompassing. The definition of simplicity is as follows:
the state, quality, or an instance of being simple.
freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts:
an organism of great simplicity.
absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainness:
a life of simplicity.
freedom from deceit or guile; sincerity; artlessness; naturalness:
a simplicity of manner.
But I like to think of simplicity like this; focus on what matters, and eliminate the rest. Whether that means doing less, having less, or freeing yourself from outside pressure to be something or someone. I truly believe that simplicity = FREEDOM!
In our throw away culture, we are constantly buying more and doing more. We are surrounded by messages that what we currently have or do isn’t good enough. Sometimes we don’t even stop to wonder how true these messages even are. When we stop to really think about it, do we really need all that stuff? Is it really bringing us more joy?
Can we actually have and do more with less? Maybe having less and living more simply creates space to have more… freedom, joy, rest, time with loved ones, time for self care, and time to breathe! So what if we just kept it simple for a change? I think the tiny house people and Marie Kondo are on to something here. Maybe what we’re really craving is not more stuff, but a simpler way of life with more joy.
Here are 4 steps to living more simply:
1. Check your motives. Why are you buying more? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Is it because of outside pressure? Is it because you are trying to fill a void in your life? Are you desperately grasping for anything that might bring you joy? As Marie Kondo says, “does it spark joy?”
2. Eliminate. What is in your house or in your life that is causing unnecessary stress? What can you donate to charity or sell? Is there just too much stuff? What can you live without? Fight the need to fill the space in your life with more stuff.
3. Clarify. Is there too much confusion? Is there an easier or simpler way of doing what you're doing? Is what you're surrounded by focused on what really matters in life? What are your top 5 priorities?
4. Find the joy. Has the joy been sucked out of what you're doing or your life? Maybe you began something with the promise of joy but you're finding that there is none. Try to shift your focus to why you really started in the first place. How can you focus more on what matters?
You see, the devil wants to keep us busy and distracted, so that we have absolutely no time to focus on God. When we are consumed with the intricacies of life or what we don't have, we forget to be happy with what God has already given us. We forget to talk to God, and we can no longer hear His small, still voice beckoning us to come closer to Him. That is exactly where the enemy wants us, but God has so much more for our lives!
Living more simply is a continuous, life long process of self awareness. Checking your motives, checking your joy levels. I don’t believe we ever “achieve” simplicity, it is something that comes and goes. It wavers and can look different in every season or aspect of life. One thing I do know for sure though is that if we can all make space for a little simplicity, we will be making space for a whole lot of JOY!
- Cori Maffett