I have had over two weeks holiday, as you might have been able to tell through the lack of posting lately. We have been camping and I have felt amazing! Out in nature all day, taking each day as it comes, being open to new opportunities…. Now I am home, surrounded with renovations, stuff that I don’t need, work to do…. I am confronted with the amount of time that gets taken up through living a non-minimalist life and I am left with an urge to purge all that isn’t required and start again, minimally and simplistically.
BUT HOW DO WE DO THAT?
If anyone else feels like doing a bit of a purge this year, here are a few tips to get you started.
Less food with higher nutritional benefit – a few years ago some friends and I did an experiment with food – we ate real food, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten/wheat. Our findings were that we felt more satisfied, had more energy and we ate less. Simplifying food can be (depending on your current thoughts and beliefs of food) an instant way of simplifying life, as so much time can be taken up with preparing food, thinking about food and eating food. Simplifying life can be as easy as changing our thoughts about food so that they are based on the concept of ‘eating to live’ rather than ‘living to eat’.
Less stuff – lots of unused stuff lying around that doesn’t get used regularly is de-energising. Having a few special things that are used all the time – for example – a favourite toy, musical instrument, bike/scooter, favourite shoes, etc… have a higher energy and therefore energise you rather than de-energising you. So to start with, pick a room or an area and be ruthless. Anything that you haven’t used in the last six months to a year, put in a box. If you are anxious about getting rid of it completely – put it in a box in the shed or in a storage space (de-cluttering is an ongoing process, that will be a lifetimes work for some. If you are keen, don’t get overwhelmed by all that needs to go… just do a little at a time).
Less scheduled activities – I am unschooling my two girls. Our first year of this process was 2019 and we launched into many activities trying to find our place. This was beneficial, but it was also too much. There is much to be said for giving children a lot of unstructured play time to be themselves. There is so much creative benefit for children (and ourselves) to have the time to get bored to discover what they want to do, have the time for play dates, for exploring in the outdoors, for freedom.
Less pressure – it can be easy to give into the pressure of society and do things that we don’t enjoy to ‘achieve’ something. We can put pressure on ourselves to be what others want us to be, do what others ‘need’ of us, and to reach all our goals yesterday. This pressure can actually inhibit the desire for success rather than increase it and create helplessness or hopelessness, anxiety and depression instead. We need to understand that WE ARE OK just as we are. We don’t need to do anything or be anything other than what we are in this moment. And even if we are having a rough time, we are still ok in that rough time. There will be light at the end of the tunnel – this too shall pass.
More presence – having less things on ones ‘to do’ list and fewer scheduled activities means there can be the space to be more present. It is well documented that humans are actually in auto-pilot around 50% of the time and being in autopilot is when we are the least happy. Giving ourselves the space to be present means decreasing the demands on our lives and allowing ourselves to be ok with being where we are in the moment. Being present can mean an increase in overall happiness.
More self-care – it is easy when things seem busy and hectic to let go of self-care routines in order to claim back some much needed ‘time’ to complete tasks that ‘need’ completing. This is invariably what I see as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. This pay off is ok for a short period of time, but long term can have damaging consequences. Simplifying things should free up time for some much needed self-care. Why not try a daily routine…. It only needs to be short but the results will be immeasurable.
Connection – use some of the spare unstructured time to connect with others. Having a sense of connection with others decreases feelings of loneliness and isolation and increases feelings of happiness and love.
Saying ‘no’ or saying ‘yes’ – depending on the pattern we are currently in, we may tend to say ‘yes’ more often than we need to. This can have a detrimental effect on our well-being. We may also say ‘no’ a lot more than we need to, also having a detrimental effect. Having a healthy balance can be tough, but be curious about your automatic response. Are you saying ‘yes’ more often than what is healthy for you as a need to please others, to feel useful/needed, to be helpful….. or are you saying ‘no’ more often than what is healthy for you, as a way to protect yourself from hurt, to stop yourself from letting go and having fun, to put distance between yourself and others? Be curious and maybe dip your toe into saying the opposite a bit more….
Note that there are many ways you can simplify your life. If you are so drawn, try one thing, perhaps the one that stands out the most to you and see what unfolds….. Remember life is just a series of experiments masked as experiences. Be curious and playful, for our bodies and minds are wired for fun!