May 12, 2014

5 Reasons to Live Simply

A few years ago, some hard losses awakened me to the fact that my life was too focused on things that didn't matter (like the latest gadgets) and I was letting the real stuff slide by. It put into focus what I wanted to pursue. Discovering minimalism helped me de-clutter my life and embrace living. Life is short, I want to live it to the fullest.

Here are five reasons I've found to live simply:

1. To reduce stress. 

We are a culture full of stress. We're busy from morning to night and still feel as though we haven't accomplished enough. We put this pressure on ourselves and feel it looming over us. But living simply is deciding what things are truly needed versus what is just busy-ness. We often buy into what culture and advertising feeds us, we guilt ourselves into doing things that we think we "should". 

My good friend and I often tell each other to "stop shoulding yourself". If you find yourself saying, "Oh I should..." stop and evaluate why you're saying that. Do you really believe this is something you need to do? Or is it because of someone's expectations? Maybe it's because you're afraid no one else will do it? 

Those are not good reasons to add things into your life that you don't feel a strong love or a strong passion for. We spend enough time working to make a living, we don't need to add extras that we don't really care about.

My son is involved with sports and there have been moments I've felt guilty for not letting him sign up for many various sports a year. But when I examined that guilt, it was about disappointing my son, not really what I felt was right for him or our family. When I could pinpoint my reason, I knew I didn't want us to be that busy and that he could really focus on the sports he loves if we limit his choices.

2. To cut out the time suckers. 

Some years ago when my kids were young, I discovered Flylady ~ a woman who encourages you to de-clutter your things. I did so at the time but didn't completely grasp what degree my stuff was ruling me. That realization happened later on when we were cleaning out my grandmother's house. 

My grandmother was still alive but moving in with my Mom and Dad. Everything was laid out so that her children and grandchildren could take whatever they wanted of it. She wanted us to have what she was no longer able to enjoy. My grandmother was a good housekeeper, she had a small house and yet, there was all this stuff

It finally clicked for me that at the end of life, this stuff has to go somewhere. Someone has to deal with it. I decided then that I didn't want to keep anything that I don't actually use. I don't want trinkets in a cabinet that I spend time cleaning because I'm accustomed to them, but not because I love them anymore. 

Getting rid of excess and keeping only those things I love is a better use of my space and time. Now I actually wear what's in my closet instead of cramming stuff in and trying to find what I'm looking for. Reducing busy-ness and clutter gives back time to my day. It lets that time to go to something I actually care about, which leads to my next point.

3. To own your own life. 

It's okay to say no. Saying no gives you the freedom to say yes to the things you are really care about.

I have a passion for helping and teaching others, but if I also feel the need to go to every PTA meeting, church function, or neighborhood cook-out I'm invited to, then I might not have the time I need to focus on that.

During basketball season, our family is gone many nights of the week to go my son's games. During that time of year, I don't say yes to much else. I know that I'll be maxed with games. I want the pace of our life to stay slow and steady so I decide what is priority at that time.

You dictate what you spend your time on, don't let others dictate it for you.

4. To focus on the things you want to focus on. 

Do you find yourself saying, "I would love to do this or learn that, if only I had more time?" Let me tell you a secret, you probably have the time. That hidden time is most likely taken up by something else you allow to suck your time (I'm looking at you, Television).

Now, I'm not talking about neglecting our duties (we all need to eat and have clean underwear). But it's good to truly evaluate everything you do during the week. Can you let something go? Could some of those things be delegated to others?

Getting rid of stuff is a huge time saver. When you have less stuff ~ you have less to clean or keep up with. People rarely believe this until they try it. Just try it in one area of your home, maybe your kitchen. Box up everything and only leave the bare bones. 

Experiment on how easy it is to clean your kitchen and how one dishwasher load takes care of everything. The plus side is that your family might begin helping you with the dishes when they realize there are no cups and they're thirsty!

5. To enjoy life. 

We want to be participators of life, not just observers of it. Often what happens is that we're so numbed by keeping up with our overwhelming lives, we stop living. We stop engaging with life in a meaningful way. We let life happen to us instead of making life happen. Simplifying life is cutting out the excess so we can embrace what matters.

Instead of being so busy with meetings or overwhelmed with planning for events, we can go hiking, fishing, painting, or visiting parks with our kids. 

The simple life opens the door to space. Space to enjoy life, to give breathing room and time to explore the world around us. 

If our time is not filled to the brim with activities and busy-ness, if we are not consumed with keeping up with our stuff; then we can actually spend that time enjoying our one, beautiful life.

I'm still simplifying my life; it will probably be a continuous journey. But I'm getting freer and the more I experience this freedom, the more freedom I want.

What do you think of these reasons for living simply? Do you have other reasons you might add? Or maybe you struggle to simplify life; what keeps you from doing so? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Beautiful post, Catherine! I've had similar experiences; after helping my parents move and after the death of my mother-in-law, my husband and I had a serious discussion about never keeping in our homes things we didn't need (really need) or truly love. No "it serves a purpose" items or "it may come in handy someday" things. Our kids' toys have been piling up, so this lent, we made a practice of choosing 3 toys every day to take to Goodwill (that 120 toys by the end of lent)--and cleaning has been much easier, for me and them. They love that they can straighten their play area up so much faster.
    The biggest realization for us was that things end up ruling your life if you let them--if they're there. We wanted God to be the only ruler of our lives.

    1. Faith, what an incredible journey your whole family has taken. Its so awesome that your children can learn the value of "less" so early in life and put importance on priorities. Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I have a tendency to keep things, but it really is easier to clean when I get rid of stuff.

    1. Myrna, I have that tendency too; I'm a recovering keeper. :)

  3. these are beautiful reasons Catherine
    you are so wise...
    these are the gift of loss and grief...the things we learn from them

    thank you so much for sharing
    love and light

    1. Cat, I love the thought that these are gifts of loss and grief. Beautiful.


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