These heartfelt lessons on living a simple life are a gentle reminder to myself and to anyone else who needs to hear them. I hope you enjoy this personal essay on simple living.
As I type this, it’s 10 pm on a Saturday evening. I’m 29 weeks pregnant and to be honest, I haven’t been feeling like myself lately.
My growing bump and a generous range of pregnancy symptoms have been catching up with me, leaving me wide awake most nights and exhausted during the day. My routines are all over the place, my energy levels are low, and I catch myself feeling restless and impatient more than I’d like to admit.
In my heart, I know this is normal but I still can’t help feeling frustrated—and then I feel frustrated about being frustrated! After all, I earn my living writing and teaching others how to create simple, more intentional lives. The restlessness I’ve been feeling seems at odds with my beliefs, and it’s unsettling.
In response to these feelings, I’m spending a lot of time with my journal, getting my thoughts out of my head and spilling my heart onto paper. When I write for myself it’s messy—free-flowing and uncensored—but somehow an inner voice always leads me to what I need to hear.
Reading over my scribbles this morning, I realised that I need to reconnect to what it means to live a simple life. These are the lessons my heart needs hearing and I’m sharing them here, for anyone else who needs a gentle reminder.
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3 Heartfelt Lessons On Living A Simple Life
A SIMPLE LIFE IS A STATE OF MIND
Regular readers will know that I’ve spent much of the last decade decluttering my home and life. I’ve made a world of changes to my home and my schedule, ruthlessly editing and letting go of the non-essential.
It’s been nothing short of life-changing and I’m so grateful for the gifts that my minimalist lifestyle have brought me … but the past few months have reminded me that ultimately, simple living is a state of mind.
This isn’t an entirely new lesson—working on my mindset has always been part of my simple living journey—but it’s something I’m always learning and relearning.
At the end of the day, no one has complete control over their external circumstances. You cannot declutter your way out of everything. Instead, you must learn to cultivate ease from within.
Right now, I’m working on this by:
- Adjusting my expectations and questioning the stories I tell myself. Why do I feel the need to do more and be more? (Hint: a lot of it has to do with self-worth, something I’ve written about in the past.)
- Practising mindfulness and meditation. I’ve experimented with this on and off for the past few years but have recently fallen in love with the Insight Timer app.
- Journaling, journaling, and more journaling! (Here are some of my favourite journal prompts for simple living.)
Related Post:7 Tips to Declutter Your Mind
ESSENTIALISM IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” ― John D. Rockefeller
In the simple living community, you’ll often hear the idea of “giving up good for great” being shared. This is also the heart of Greg Mckeown’s book Essentialism; he advocates for “the disciplined pursuit of less”, which I take to mean ruthlessly curating our lives. We must let go of the non-essential in order to make space for the things that really matter.
It’s a beautiful concept that I wholeheartedly stand behind—but I’ve recently been reminded how hard this can be to implement in real life.
Most of us, fortunately, have the resources to avoid making really hard choices. We still face daily trade-offs:
- Will I work late or go home in order to spend more time with my family?
- Will I buy this sweater or put the money towards our vacation fund?
- Will I keep these shoes or declutter them in order to have more space?
… but relatively speaking, these aren’t tough decisions. We aren’t giving up “good” for great, we’re giving up “average” for great. For the most part, we know what we should do—we just need to convince ourselves (or perhaps remind ourselves) to be intentional with our actions.
But what happens when you have less time, less money, or less space? You get sick, you have to care for a loved one, or you lose your job? What happens when those tradeoffs aren’t as clear?
What if staying late at work is no longer about being ambitious and more about putting food on the table? What if decisions about spending are less about wardrobe additions and more about deciding what bill to pay?
Obviously, I’m grateful that I’m not facing those decisions and I don’t want to make light of anyone in that situation. Having said that, as my energy levels have dropped, I’ve had a small taste of what it feels like to struggle with real limitations. I can no longer do as much as I once could, so I’m facing tougher decisions about how to spend my limited time and energy.
The trade-offs are getting harder and I’m definitely having to put a lot more thought into defining my priorities. I’m reminded that clarity around what matters most is absolutely essential to simple living and that investing time into self-reflection is always time well spent.
7 Simple Days is a short beginners course, designed to help you “kick-start” your simple and intentional living journey.
Values + Vision is a more in-depth course—a self-exploration designed to help you align your life with what matters most.
SIMPLE LIVING STARTS WITH A DECISION
We live in a world with seemingly unlimited information and options. Almost everything these days has the potential to be complicated and it’s easy to wake up every morning feeling overwhelmed.
If this sounds relatable then please know that lately, I’m with you most days. I open my eyes and my first thought is “How will I get everything done today?”. It’s tempting to feel like life is a burden that we have to endure …
But on better days, I make the decision to shut down these thoughts.
- Who says I need to get everything done today?
- Why do I have these expectations of myself?
- Can I choose to give myself the gift of less?
Of course, I’m well aware that some days this is easier than others. Appointments, work, crying children … there are some things that demand our attention and can’t be ignored.
But at the same time, I’m mindful of how easy it is to create your own monsters.
I could choose to make things hard, to hold myself to unrealistic expectations, and to pursue perfectionism (which is always a losing battle). Alternatively, I could choose to move through my day with ease, to be kinder to myself, and to find beauty in the little moments.
What are the stories I tell myself?
Do crumbs on the floor really make me a bad mom? Do unread emails make me a bad businesswoman? Do leftovers for dinner make me a bad wife?
Ultimately, I can decide how I want to feel and if I want, the simple option is always there for me.
Resources for Living a Simple Life
If you’re new here, then I want you to know that I believe in a two-part approach to simplifying your life. As you can probably tell from this blog post, I believe deep in my bones that simplicity starts from within—change the way you think and the rest will follow.
Having said that, I also believe in practical, intentional action. I’ve written many posts about decluttering and simplifying your life, as well as a free decluttering guide and workbook.
Here is a summary of my favourite resources and I do hope you’ll join me on the path to a simple life.
- 17 Heart-Centred Ways to Simplify Your Life
- 20 Ways I’ve Simplified My Life
- 5 Easy Ways to Simplify Your Daily Routines
- 6 Powerful But Unexpected Minimalist Lifestyle Tips
- 10 Ways To Slow Down a Busy Day
- 13 Simple Living Tips: How to Stress Less + Enjoy Life
To get your free copy of Mindful Decluttering, my decluttering guide and workbook, simply subscribe using the form below. As an added bonus, you’ll also get regular emails with simple living tips, inspiration, and more personal stories.
What does living a simple life mean to you? And what challenges have you faced on your journey? Did you resonate with any of these reminders? Let me know in the comments! x