With the qualifier ‘simply’ in TSLL’s blog name, new readers will often stop by looking for ideas on the topic of minimalist living, pared down or void of color or print or pattern. As long-time readers know, TSLL blog dives into the concept of of living consciously which requires each of us to eliminate what is unnecessary in order to live a life of true contentment. What we discover to be necessary will be unique to each of us what that. Each ’prescription’ to live a simple life therefore different, and one that takes time to become clear about – at least longer than reading a list on a blog post. But what a list on a blog post can help do is share with you the key foundational pillars that ensure the simple life you are building will enable you to live a life of deep and enduring true contentment.
On the other end of the spectrum, when new readers see the descriptor ‘luxurious’, initially they may presume the luxury pertains to tangible items and grand expenditures for everything. While I have directly dispelled this misunderstanding of luxury here on the blog and shared the root of the definition of true luxury both in this post and on the blog’s home page in the green banner, today I wanted to explore deeper into the idea of living a simple life.
Click here to read a detailed post on the topic of true luxury and how living simply dovetails to create a simply luxurious life.
This topic of living simply has certainly been addressed before here on TSLL, and in fact, I created a Podcast Bundle, #4, that addressed just this topic: A Simple Life is a Great Life, Explore How, but this bundle of episodes is the introduction, and today I would like to share why your simple life may look similar to others’ simple when it comes to living well, it likely will be entirely unique to you, and evolve as you evolve.
The best place to begin on the topic of how to live a simple life is to address #1 on our list:
1. For more clarity, reduce confusion
Take a moment to assess over the next week what causes you confusion. From money woes and doubts, to your true calling, or how to lay a cobbled path if you are a DIYer and enjoy working in your garden. The idea here is more noting what brings you confusion, thereby requiring you to give these perplexities your energy in the form of mental thought. Mental energy is finite each day and as we deplete it without reënergizing, it can add up and lead to a deficit when it comes to having energy to savor life and thoroughly enjoy it and think clearly.
When you create a life of less confusion, you are creating space for more clarity.
In so doing, you are not necessarily gaining control over more aspects of life, but rather bravely letting go of what was never needing your time and energy in the first place to think about and likely, worry about.
It is important to discern the difference when it comes to points of confusion in your life: is it an area of your life that you want to gain clarity or are you welcoming something into your life that unnecessarily causes confusion, such as a romantic partner that plays games and does not bring more calm into your life due to how they behave or treat you. Being clear about your priorities and values will make it easier to determine what to let go of and what to give your attention and time and thus, finite energy.
2. Create the conditions for less confusion
First, as #1 shares, become aware of what causes you confusion, delineating what to keep and what to let go. However, this is just the first step, the dealing with the present, but what about the future? How you can you ensure you don’t welcome more confusion? Create the conditions for less confusion to waltz into your life. How?
- Get to know yourself and honor your true self.
- Bravely set boundaries, a necessity that gets easier the more you practice doing so
- Cultivate a sanctuary – at home and work (if you work away from home) that provides comfort (declutter, create areas where you can relax and provide self-care, void from seeing clocks or anything that causes you stress)
- Assess your social support system: limit or let go of people who don’t fill up your cup, nor after healthy conversations, honor your choice to live a simple life (i.e. a life with less confusion)
- Be honest about what causes you stress (something addressed in detail in episode #336, point #2).
- Make decisions about lessening or eliminating stress that is unhealthy (determined by your assessment of the sources of your stress)
- Learn the social skills of non-violent communication to give yourself the tools to speak honestly about your needs without attacking.
3. Choose to understand how to live mindfully to calm the mind
Our minds have the capacity to be the co-pilot along the journey of living a life of true contentment. In fact, we need our mind to work with us, rather than us fighting against it in order to live a life of true contentment which begins with understanding our mind. In episode #327 I address this topic solely, so I won’t go into depth about how do understand your mind and then become its master and use it to live well in today’s post. What I would like to address in this point today is the reality that when we strengthen the muscle that is our mind to work constructively, we give ourselves a priceless tool that enables our everydays to be quite awesome.
And when you have control over your mind, you can calm your mind no matter what is swirling around outside of you whether in your intimate relationships, in the world at large, etc.
Ultimately, when we exercise the tool of mindfulness (explore multiple posts on this topic here), we begin to gain clarity about our true selves and how we wish to live. In other words, we become aware of what makes us calm versus what causes confusion and unnecessary stress. In many ways, this point loops back to #1 and #2 above.
How do we become more mindful? Through exercising the mind, and that is where meditation comes in. No matter your system of beliefs, spiritual or religious affiliation or no system of beliefs in at all, meditation is a tool that in time (not immediately) gives you the strength to keep your mind calm. And when your mind is calm, you become clear about what causes stress and confusion in your life and can now with confidence begin to make different or more constructive choices to create a life that no longer ushers in elements that would create a life that is not healthy.
4. Discover what it is you can uniquely give the world and embrace it fully
“Discovering your unique gift to bring to your community is your greatest opportunity and challenge. The offering of that gift—your true self—is the most you can do to love and serve the world. And it is all the world needs.” —Bill Plotkin, psychotherapist and author of Soulcraft
For some of us, what we can uniquely give to the world will require us to be brave and make difficult choices that either are confusing to those around us, to those who have raised us, and perhaps to the world zeitgeist. But the difficult decision is also equally easy. What is difficult is taking the first step and making a change or letting go of something that no longer aligns with your true self – a particular life path, a relationship, a job, where we live, etc.; what is easy is once you have made the first step and felt the difference of the burden you have been carrying now being lifted, each subsequent step in the new direction that will support your true self is lighter, freer, more natural. It doesn’t mean there won’t be push back along the way or part of the way. It will likely be present for a very long time, but your trust in yourself empowers you to not battle with the pushback and instead either dismiss it, not entertaining it at all, or choose a life that no longer brings you in direct contact with the pushback as frequently.
When you know you are giving something constructive to the world that you can uniquely give, clarity is gained, and it is easier to let go of past paths and luggage that you used to carry because you thought you had to. The past luggage most often are the thoughts that you adopted from society telling you what you ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be doing. When you let such luggage go, the cloud of confusion lifts, clarity has room to enter, and living simple really is possible.
5. Become skilled at ‘being’ rather than constantly doing regularly in your daily life
In the introduction of my latest book – The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment – I discuss the importance of embracing what we are by namesake – human beings, not human doings. Intentionally making ‘white space’, in other words, blank space in your days to play, to rest, to explore, to observe all the beauty and awesomeness in your day and life, you become more clear about what matters. You become more clear about what you want to give your time and focus to. You become more clear about whether you are the captain of your life, or something or someone else is.
6. Observe the wisdom of Mother Nature
When you shift into living a simple life, having discarded the unnecessary and begin to have space in your days to more easily be present, you will begin to see what beauty and extraordinary awesomeness exist right under your nose and in your everydays. They is more quality than quantity which reduces distraction and allows you to see the real, amazing beauty. The cherry blossoms on a tree in springtime. They draw awe because of their abundance of one simple color set on the foreground of Mother Nature’s canvas, the tree, perhaps a field or a garden or a pathway and paired with their evanescent quality, we savor because we know they are not to be seen year-round. Water, sun, warmth, cold. Each fundamentals that both ground and give birth to the beauty we love, appreciate, wait for and treasure.
I was pottering about in the garden yesterday morning, and the morning light as it kissed the echinacea, the dahlias and geranium rozanne caught my breath. I knew the light was fleeting as the morning would turn into day, but I gave myself time in the morning to appreciate and savor this beauty.
Remember that such beauty takes time to emerge, and so too will your simple life and the gifts it will bring as you begin to become aware of how living simply occurs and consciously choose to live a life of less confusion in order to gain more clarity so that you can make decisions and choices that support a life that aligns with your true self.
The temporal nature of our gardens, of the seasons, of the wilderness gives us all the more motivation to savor and not take for granted that we can wait until tomorrow or next year or ten years from now. Begin today making decisions that enable you to be calmer so that you can be more loving to yourself and others. The world needs more of this energy, and we are each capable of reaching and embracing such a way of journeying and by focusing on these six foundational components, it is only a matter of time before we experience the gifts of living simply in our everyday lives.
Today’s post may have touched on content you didn’t expect in a post about simple living, but the truth is, to take it back to the top of our conversation, if combining prints in your home décor (walls, upholstery, etc.) as I have done through Le Papillon brings me calm, creates comfort and reduces stress, then that is what supports my simple life, but conversely, as my illustrator, Sarah Lœcker pointed out as we were working together last fall on the art for my third book and the new blog design, what brings her calm is a blank palette, so her walls are painted in neutral hues so that she can change the artwork she displays depending upon the project, season or mood. Such an aesthetic brings her and her family calm and comfort and thus, how they live their simple life. We are making different decisions on our décor aesthetics, but we are seeking and finding the same end – a simple life.
How you discover what your simple life will look like – your surroundings, relationships, work life, responsibilities – starts with the fundamentals shared in today’s post. (1) Reduce the confusion, (2) create the conditions for less confusion moving forward, (3) strengthen your mindfulness muscle, (4) invest in yourself to find what gives you purpose unlocking the gift only you can give to the world (5) give yourself permission to let your life breathe as you choose to ‘be’ as much as you ‘do’, and finally (6) become a student of Mother Nature.
While the end goal won’t materialize overnight once your dedicate yourself to living a simple life, you will gradually begin to witness the positive benefits with each choice and the addition of each constructive habit or relinquishing of burdens that no longer serve the life you wish to live.
Thank you for choosing to stop by today and wishing you a wonderful week. Bonne journée.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
28 Ways to Simplify Your Entire Life, episode #298
~Image: Panache Sunflower grown in my garden here at Le Papillon. Explore all of TSLL’s Garden posts here.