I came across the term Voluntary Simplicity the other day. Instantly, without knowing what it really means (I’ve never heard of it before), it grabbed by attention. I found it deeply resonated with me. After all, I have been voluntarily working on simplifying my life in every way.
When I looked up what it meant, it was defined as “a way of life that rejects the high-consumption, materialistic lifestyles of consumer cultures and affirms what is often just called ‘the simple life’ or ‘downshifting'”. This is exactly what I am been doing in trying to live a simpler life. Some may also refer to it as Minimalism.
As I seek a more meaningful life, I find it goes hand in hand with this philosophy of simple living. I have increasingly felt the need to slow down especially since a big life changing event. I have been actively trying to do so even though it is very challenging living in a fast-paced city with a rat race culture. Also, being a mother to a toddler adds to the busyness.
However, I am increasingly recognizing how much of the chaos in life is actually created by us. I know this is particular true for me with my perfectionist, achievement oriented, needing to occupy the mind personality.
I am learning how much of the stress associated with time pressure is really my doing. For example, I was stressing recently out trying to book this appointment prior to an overseas trip. I realized how much stress this was creating due to the self inflicted time pressure.
Eventually, I asked my self how urgent this appointment really is. As soon as I decided it is not and that I’ll look into it after my overseas trip, I felt an instant relief and peace.
Now I am applying the same principle to everything that makes me feel stressed from time pressure. I used to have many items on my urgent to do list – now there is a few (I’m learning to prioritize more and even discard things I don’t really need).
Not only easing time pressure, I really want to own less things. I want to have a clutter free home (help to declutter the mind). I have been actively donating clothes and any items we don’t use to charity almost every couple of weeks. I feel lighter. I feel good inside knowing those things are going to those more in need.
I used to shop a lot. I have bought many things in my life that wasn’t necessary or worse, that I didn’t even end up using. I used to own many bags, shoes, way too many books etc. Today, I really think hard before buying anything which is also better for the environment.
It’s not just things that I want to lessen but also activities or commitments that doesn’t add value to my life or make me happy inside. I used to do things out of obligations or to be ‘nice’ and end up feeling agitated. Now I choose to spend my spare time wisely, mainly on activities that bring me joy.
At the moment I am going through and unsubscribing from those unwanted emails. It’s amazing how much time you end up saving not having to go through these junk emails and having to delete them. Every little thing helps to de-clutter and save valuable time later.
There is still have a long way to go but the first step is awareness and I am becoming more aware of what is necessary and what creates more stress or wastage in life.
I”m also actively choosing to work less to achieve the work life balance which I think it important for all of us. I am resting more as opposed to always running around like a headless chook.
Also, like my own mum, I started to add more and more strict daily rituals to be healthy until I found that the pressure of doing all those things itself added to the stress which is counter productive to health. I am learning to be flexible and do less in daily rituals.
My holidays overseas also used to be chaotic – to see as many things in a shortest amount of time – like the great amazing race. Now I am beginning to slow down and appreciate each place more.
Last but not least, spending excessive time on social media which a lot of us are guilty of today. I am learning to save precious time by limiting time on digital devices.
I realise over time I’m mastered the skill of being busy, now I aim to master the skill of doing less (of just being more) including the art of letting go.
There are so many areas in life we can simplify, to slow down and enjoy a more meaningful life. De-cluttering is not just for physical things but also happens at mental, emotional and even spiritual level.
Over time, we accumulate layers and layers of unhealthy belief systems or emotional baggage. We want to aim to de-clutter ourselves of those stored grief, resentments, fears, insecurities, anger, regrets, guilt, limiting beliefs, low self worth and so on. As we clear unwanted baggage at all levels, we start to feel lighter and lighter and more at peace within ourselves.
What are areas in your life you can down-size, simplify and de-clutter to achieve a better quality of life?.
Importantly, having more time not only reduces stress but allows us to be more present in the moment which our mind, body and soul really needs.