Tag Archives: simplicity

Intentional Living Thoughts

Living an intentional life draws from many elements.  Simplicity, thoughtfulness, and self-awareness come immediately to mind.  As I continue to seek to live a more intentional life, I find that I am almost always on the upward slope of a learning curve.  Certainly, I’ve had my share of setbacks.  We all do.   It’s not an easy and natural condition for most of us, this intentional living.

I am reminded of a scene from The Empire Strikes Back, in which Yoda describes Luke’s lack of focus.  “This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was.  What he was doing.”   Focus is a major aspect of intentional living.

It is a good thing, to plan for the future and to be prepared.  The inverse is, it isn’t good to ignore the present in favor of the future.  If you are going through a tough time seek support and help if needed, and persevere, rather than ignoring the issue and hoping tomorrow will be better.  Tomorrow can be a better day for any of us, but in my opinion it takes an intentional effort on our parts for this to come to fruition.

I enjoy listening to and reading from John C. Maxwell’s works.  I’ll close with a quote from him: “Intentional living always has an idea. Unintentional living always has an excuse.”  I urge you to have ideas, not excuses.

Mindfulness is integral to intentional living.

Self-Limiting Practices

Decrappification, decluttering, simplifying, or whatever you may choose to call the process is largely a matter of setting limits for yourself, and sticking to them.  Setting limits is easy enough.  Living with them is far less so.  I’ll be honest-there are days when I fail miserably at sticking to my own self-imposed limits.

The thing is, I don’t wallow in self-recrimination.  The next day is a chance for a new start and I do my darnedest to take advantage.  Every sunrise is the herald for an opportunity for a do-over.

One of my self-imposed limits is that every Sunday I take what I call a digital Sabbath or digital fast.  I don’t surf the internet, check out Facebook, update my Twitter feed, or read and send e-mail.  (The only exception is that I upload my pastor’s sermon to our church web site for those who can’t attend the service.)

Taking a day off from the digital world wasn’t easy at first but as I’ve developed the habit over the past year it has become almost effortless.  And not to put too fine a point on it, but even though it’s a self-imposed limit, a day off from the internet and so forth is quite restful and refreshing.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Some Miscellaneous Thoughts

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.” said Albert Einstein.  I like that, although my implementation is probably less cosmic in nature than Albert’s.

Simplification does not mean divesting yourself of everything you own.  It means prioritizing and determining what is really important to you. Once you have made this determination you can proceed with jettisoning that which does you no good, physically or spiritually.

I am very interested in Tiny Houses but the reality is that I would need something a bit bigger.  Thus, the Small House movement has caught my attention.  They are bigger than Tiny but smaller than Big.  By way of example, in the winter I close off 3 of the 7 rooms in my house.  In doing so I get along just fine.  This tells me that I need much less house than I’m paying a mortgage upon.

Decluttering is the act of choosing quality over quantity.  One such choice I made was that I cut down my kitchen gear to one full set of Revereware pots and pans.  In doing so I took a big box of duplicates (of varying quality to be sure) to Goodwill.  This principle of keeping the best and getting rid of the rest can apply to almost anything!

Five Myths About Simplicity

1.    Simplicity means I will live in an empty home.

Oh, there are days when I wish this one were true!  I have been divesting myself of excess  possessions for a couple of years now, and I am nowhere near done.  I doubt I ever will be because this process is ongoing.  If something new comes into the house then something old must leave (generally).  But an empty home?  Not even close to the mark!  The idea is not to empty your home and live in a glorified packing crate, but to retain those things in your home which add to the quality of your life.  Anything else is nothing more than a distraction that needs to be eliminated.

2.    Simplicity means I have to give up my dreams.

To the contrary pursuing simplicity enables one to pursue dreams.  Think about it.  If you are constantly dealing with stress inducing elements in your life, you are naturally going to concentrate on mitigating those elements.  But what if those elements were eliminated instead of being mitigated?  Would you not then have more freedom to pursue things which bring you joy?  Joyful things could be any number of creative or contemplative activities.  The important thing is that you would be able to pursue that which bring you joy, whatever it is.

3.    Simplicity means giving up luxuries.

Okay, that one’s just wrong.  What I see as a luxury is not necessarily the same as what you see as a luxury.   That being said there is nothing wrong with luxuries per se.  Simplicity does not mean living an ascetic life of deprivation and self-denial.  Seriously, how does that ever get fun?  Rather, simplicity means eliminating the junk-metaphorical and otherwise-from your life.  Whatever is left over afterwards is basically the cream of the crop.  Isn’t that what comprises a luxury, something that is definably better?

4.    Simplicity means be frugal.

Simplicity is not about frugality.  When it comes to money, simplicity is about spending consciously and setting priorities. It’s about recognizing the things you really value and spending your money only on those.  It’s about giving up the need to buy something just because people around you feel you must have it.  What and how much you spend your money on is not what matters, but what you get in return for that spending.  The key is to analyze what motivates your spending. If it comes from within or satisfies a compelling and genuine need it is the correct decision.  If it comes from the need to show or be seen, then it’s not.

5.    Simplicity means thinking in absolutes.

“Absolutely” not true-wink wink, nudge nudge.   Seriously, if you allow yourself to think only in absolute terms, your brain will rust up and stop working properly. There are very few things in this world that are only black and white, and I’m not talking about penguins and zebras.  In the pursuit of simplicity, as with so much of life, the ability to observe, analyze, and act is more important than adhering to some arbitrary set of standards.  In other words, you have a perfectly good brain so why would you let some outside-imposed standards stop you from using it?

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.

5 Easy Steps to Start Decrappifying

Change can be difficult, no denying that.  Sometimes the very idea of change is enough to keep us from moving.  Other times it is not the idea of change itself that intimidates but the perceived extent.  We often approach a situation by looking at it as an insurmountable whole when we should view it as a series of smaller related tasks.  Voluntary simplicity is no different. I didn’t wake up one morning, decide to simplify my life, and by evening it was so.  It takes time and patience, and a plan.  Here are five things you can do right now to begin to simplify your life.

Divide and conquer.  Go through your closets and bureaus and pile up all of your clothing.  Use the middle of your living room floor if needed.  Take every piece of clothing that you have not worn in the past year and place it in a second pile.  From that second pile, separate the clothes into four smaller piles:  sell, donate or give away, rags, and trash.  Take the obvious actions with the smaller piles.

Empty the room.  To declutter a room, move all the things out of it that you can to an adjacent room, leaving only things like area rugs or sofas (unless you plan on getting rid of them).  It’s a lot easier to bring select items back into the room than to weed things out while they are in place.

Clear your calendar.  Seriously, sit down and take a good hard look at everything that commands and/or demands bits of your time.  Make a list with two columns, labeling the left column “Commitments” and the right column “Importance”.  Write down everything you came up with for time use in the left column, and rate each one in the right column as high, medium, or low.  (How do you know which is which?  I can’t tell you that-only you know.)  Take the items you rated as low importance and either delegate them or decline to do them any more.

Budget with prepaid cards.  My church fund raises by selling prepaid and re-loadable debit cards for a local supermarket.  I get them in $100 denominations which last me 2 weeks.  (Granted, I’m single so my shopping is a lot less complicated than for a full family.)  The thing I have found though is that these cards are fantastic for budgeting purposes, and knowing that I have a finite amount on the card makes me a much more savvy shopper. I do the same thing with my Barnes & Noble Nook account on my own, using gift cards that can be bought practically anywhere.  It prevents reckless spending.

Don’t worry, be happy.  OK, that may be a bit trite but your attitude has a significant impact upon the quality of your life, real or perceived.  When I was a teenager I had a ferocious temper.  In the last 20 years or so however, I have mellowed out.  Here’s the secret:  don’t let the fiddly little things that happen assume an importance they don’t merit.  Let go of minor problems before they grow into big crises.  The less you stress out about the little things the better life looks-and in this instance perception is reality.