Simple steps towards a simple living lifestyle means different things to different people.
Some may associate simple living with just having less to do, or the need to take action when things get out of control.
While others may have visions of a minimalist life allowing only for strict essentials.
I personally think there is a middle ground and not one size fits all paths.
We are all different!
BREAK IT DOWN IN SIMPLE STEPS
However, to practice simple steps that get us where we’d like to go, we all begin in the same place.
This is what most people have a hard time with – the first steps.
To avoid overwhelm, it’s wise to break each step down into manageable baby steps.
It’s also less scary.
Keep in mind that by doing less you’ll actually get more done.
That’s just one aspect of Simple Living.
Think about it.
1. UNDERSTAND WHAT FILLS YOU WITH JOY – OR NOT
Not all of us know what makes us feel joy.
When we buy a new dress or go on vacation we say we’re happy, and of course, we are!
But it’s a temporary feeling and it wears off over time.
Have you ever been excited about buying new clothes only to claim a few days later that you have nothing to wear?
Or going on the long-awaited vacation only to come back and immediately wonder when the next one is?
We keep the memory of what made us happy and want to repeat the experience, which in itself is wonderful.
But self-nurturing with memories won’t fill us with joy in the long term.
The real joy is deep within.
It has to do with you and not those around you.
It has to do with how you live and not how much you accumulate.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t impulsively buy that gorgeous dress or just take off to an exotic city!
Travel helps us grow and shapes our quality time together but like the dress, it needs to serve an inner purpose.
When you buy that dress, use simple steps by asking this question. Ask yourself why you want it.
And when you travel, really try to live the experience and absorb the positive benefits, rather than checking off that destination on your wish list.
BABY STEP: Make a list of everything you’ve bought or done recently, say the last 3 months. Now put a star next to the entry that means the most to you and that you’d like to repeat.
REAL JOY MOVES US FORWARD.
2. SIMPLE STEPS TO HONESTY
Honesty is very difficult to achieve.
I’m not talking about not stealing or doing the right thing. I mean being really honest about what you want for yourself.
Most often things are not as clear as we’d like to think, but because we run on automatic mode, we don’t notice.
Or we notice but we’re too busy and put it aside.
Until we stop and truly evaluate what makes us happy, nothing can change.
How many times do you find yourself in situations that weigh you down?
Or that you know you’re not really getting anything positive back?
It happens a lot. To all of us.
And so we tend to accumulate stuff in order to compensate.
DO YOU COMPENSATE?
How many times have you said if I have this or that I’ll be happy?
A new car? A new dress? A lot of money?
Or just enough to buy whatever I want?
The list is long with things we want.
But if we are compensating the lack of joy elsewhere, then our list is just a projection and not real life.
Honesty is important as is knowing the reasons why you want what you want.
You can’t buy happiness right? We’ve all heard it so many times that we almost don’t realize what it means anymore…
Happiness is joy and personal fulfillment.
It stands alone and doesn’t depend on external things or people.
So take the time you do the simple step of asking yourself “what do I really want”?
BABY STEPS: Make a list of everything you want whether they are purchases or results you’d like to achieve.
Now next to each entry Be. Honest. and write why you want this – in detail.
Next, put an x next to the entries that have little to do with you – but more with automatic consumption or with what other people think of you.
3. CHANGE LENSES IN SIMPLE STEPS
In photography, there are different lenses for different purposes.
The wide angle for the big picture, the zoom lens for details, the fisheye for fun distortion and so on..
Our minds are also capable of changing lenses according to the situation.
But we rarely use them.
We stay stuck in one way of looking at things. Same lens, same filter.
We repeat the same reactions. Over and over.
Then say “that’s just how I am”. As if nothing could be done about it.
Many blame people or things outside themselves, while others constantly blame themselves for their unsatisfying results.
If you can relate, then try changing your perspective.
Don’t ditch the old lens as this is hard to do.
But try a new one.
Try several new ones and see which fits best.
Because in order to change negative thoughts and reactions you need a new way of looking at things.
Start with the simple step of breathing before thinking.
Yes, it’s possible 🙂
For example, if at work and you don’t have time to get everything done, instead of repeating my boss gives me so much to do, I’ll never make it, he’s unfair, etc….
Try breathing for a minute, then replace the negative words with “I will focus on one thing at a time and then move on to the next thing”.
Keep repeating. It will slow you down and help you focus.
When you finish work after a long day and the kids just don’t listen…do you run after them or repeat the same thing 2000 times until exhaustion?
Try a different approach.
Try breathing and changing your words.
Instead of a nervewracking “you never listen!” try to breathe and replace the negative to a positive.
Maybe saying in an inviting way “I need to talk to you, can you please come here for a few minutes?” Then look straight into their eyes and speak calmly.
PRACTICE SIMPLE STEPS
Yes so hard!
But with practice, it gets easier.
And the best part is that they will learn to listen.
It takes a lot of practice and time. But when you start using positive words repeatedly it will become easier and you’ll be motivated by the benefits.
There’s nothing magical here, it is a lot of hard work to get out of our own thoughts and automatic reactions.
But if it’s something you want, then it’s possible.
In the optic of simple living, it’s important to detach yourself from being overwhelmed.
Practice until you get to a point where you can actually handle stressful situations with a little more focus and positivity.
Focus on breathing several times and then use the simple step of positive words to fill your thoughts. Repeat extensively.
This allows a different “lens” to find its place.
YOU ARE WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE.
4. LOWER THE PRESSURE
Who shows all their feelings to the world? Not me, and probably not you either.
But on some days you may feel like you want to scream, break everything and unlock your life.
That’s ok! If it happens once in a while…
But if it becomes a way of life then start thinking of maybe making a few changes.
When I became a single parent I realized that by necessity I had to become a super mom. I was already one before, I just didn’t have the super cape to go with the rest.
Then I got it.
We are all super moms. We are super workers, have superpowers and without us, a lot of things would probably fall apart or go less well.
Or maybe right to a certain extent.
HOW MUCH PRESSURE IS TOO MUCH?
How much extra pressure do you put on yourself knowing that you have to deal with a million and one things daily?
Probably a lot.
But it doesn’t have to be that way if you can understand what is really important to you.
A big part of simple living is shifting your priorities and lowering your expectations – of others AND yourself!
Do you really have to get upset at the person who took your parking space?
No need to get out of the car and explain life to the driver.
Try to react differently by understanding its importance. Will you even remember this in 2 days?
Will it really make a huge difference if you didn’t fill the fridge and just make pasta again tonight?
I’m not sure kids will notice. And if they do they will probably be happy about it.
Get the stress off, change the focus and really do only what is important.
When you declutter your thoughts, you feel lighter and also make room for what is valuable to you.
BABY STEPS: For the next week apply the simple step and determine what is truly important on your to-do list. Put a star next to it and leave the rest alone. Better yet, get them off the list altogether.
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS BY SHIFTING PRIORITIES.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Simple Living is a way of life and not a permanent result.
To start with simple steps isn’t easy and you will have to plant a few seeds and allow for roots to grow.
You may find yourself taking two steps back before taking one step forward.
But that’s ok.
It’s about change.
And change although extremely rewarding can also be slow. But if it’s going forward then it’s all good.
Make sure you’ve really thought about what you want.
We think we know, we are convinced. But if we dig deeper and find ourselves on a different track, then we are getting closer to the real deal.
Lower your expectations, no one is perfect or even close to it, so don’t waste your time being what you’re not.
Start by making lists of life priorities and downsize with a few simple steps.
Remember that you are the only one that decides for yourself.
Don’t let what others think of you decide what you think of yourself.
Just remember that simple living is also about feeling good about ourselves in our lives and getting rid of things, internal and external, that weigh us down.
START FINDING JOY.