More isn’t always better, sometimes more is just more.
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I started my journey to simplify after acquiring entirely too much stuff. I felt burdened by it. I realized that all the good stuff was buried under the junk. The quantity was choking out the quality that was hidden beneath it.
The past five years have been a slow process of trying to find the right balance of what to keep and what to let go of. While sorting, I thought through how the clutter had accumulated. I needed to let go of old patterns and behaviors. My habits had to change as part of my simplifying process, or I would end up right back where I started.
I let go of lots of things. Some of them were physical items in my home and others were previous ideals and values. As more space was freed up in my home and life, I kept thinking about the why behind it all.
What was my motivation?
What mattered most to me?
What was I creating space for?
The process of decluttering is tiring at times. My reasons had to be strong for me to continue moving forward with it.
The more I asked those questions, considered my answers, and processed through the clutter, the more solidified my goals became. I needed more breathing room and more unscheduled time to enjoy with my family. I wanted my kids to know what matters most in life. It’s not the stuff. It’s the people and the experiences.
Decluttering wasn’t just about clearing out stuff once and being done with it. I was adopting a new lifestyle. I realized this new way of living wasn’t going to be like the way most people were choosing to live. In a world of excess and consumerism, I was choosing the opposite.
3 Ways To Embrace Simplicity In A Culture of Excess
I knew I’d be making different choices that were against the norms of the culture in order to live more simply. Three of them were:
- Choosing not to have the latest & the greatest
- Choosing a slower pace and more margin in our schedule
- Choosing different ways of celebrating
1. Choosing not to have the latest & the greatest
In adopting a simpler life, I also chose a more frugal life. You’ll find that there are many different types of minimalists. Some opt to have few things but buy the best of each thing they choose to own. I’m simply too cheap to do that. I nearly always go for the option with the lowest price that still has good reviews. I rarely buy name brand anything because they’re never one of the lower price options.
I try to opt-out of buying things at all when possible.
Trends in fashion are generally unappealing to me. Advancements in technology while interesting are also unappealing based on their high price tags. I currently have a four-year-old cell phone, which seems like it shouldn’t be old, but by phone standards is. I drive an eleven-year-old minivan. I had to pay for a new transmission for it this summer, but that was still less than buying a comparable used car.
Not having the latest and greatest isn’t flashy. You don’t get the buying new stuff rush. It may seem boring and sensible, but I’m proud of being debt-free. I have peace knowing we’re able to pay for unexpected expenses, like a transmission.
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2. Choosing a slower pace and more margin in our schedule
As we’re getting ready for back to school, it’s becoming readily apparent that schedules are getting busier. There are so many options of things we could be doing, but I’ve been opting out of all of it.
No to the weekly obligations after school.
No to practices and games.
No to feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
I say no and I say it often.
It’s counter-cultural to have a lot of margin in your schedule. Try to find a time to meet up with a friend and you’ll quickly notice how busy people are. Different families have varying comfort levels with amounts of activities. We are more comfortable with very few.
Margin allows us more rest but also the option of being available if we want. I’m able to help-out a friend last minute or we can have a spontaneous family picnic at the park. A less busy schedule gives us more flexibility and freedom.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: A Practical Guide For Saying No
3. Choosing different ways of celebrating
Birthdays in our house don’t look like birthdays in other homes. My kids are 6 and 8. They’ve each had one friend party on their fifth birthday. And that friend party didn’t look like any of the other friend parties we’ve been too. It was basically a playdate with up to five friends at our house.
I don’t make fancy cakes. I am terrible at trying to follow through on themes or anything cute. It’s simply not in my nature. It’s not that I don’t enjoy when other people do them, but it’s not something I enjoy or am good at. For most birthdays we keep things low-key and have a nice meal and a simple cake. We enjoy un-fancy family time.
At Christmas, we don’t have presents as far as the eye can see under our tree. We do a few gifts for each kid and that’s all. We focus on our traditions and experiences during the holiday season. Spending time together as a family is what’s most important to us.
My kids have come to love the traditions we do each year. So, birthdays and Christmas may look different in our home. It’s not flashy or fancy with tons of gifts, but we like it.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: 5 Holiday Mindsets to Help Simplify the Season
The longer I’ve been on this journey, the greater my confidence has grown in my choices. I know what matters to us. I know what we value and it’s important that our lives reflect that. It’s become easier to enjoy living simply in a consumer culture as I’ve continued to practice it. In a culture of excess, I choose to embrace simplicity instead.
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Meet Julianna of Simplicity Habit. She’s passionate about living a life full of purpose and intention. Join her on this journey of simplifying & creating margin so you can say yes to the great.
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