The More You Simplify

The more you simplify, the more you need to. It’s a natural progression of discovery, awareness, truth-seeking.

••• The Process •••

It begins with the logical letting go of unsentimental and unnecessary duplicates. As time passes, we feel freedom as these seemingly tiny burdens lift, all the while forgetting what it was we actually rid from our life. After all, the things were depleting more than replenishing and surely not worth remembering.

Momentum underway, we first cautiously and then ruthlessly purge all semblances of expectation—the stacks of unread books, the bins of unused art supplies, the boxes of clothes that haven’t fit for a decade. In doing so, we free ourselves from the paralyzation of idealism and in turn allow ourselves to flourish in the present.

But simplifying isn’t just about physical things; it’s as much about what we can see as what we cannot. Once we eliminate the excess stuff from our life, we then begin to examine our myriad friendships, our approach to food and fitness, our academic and professional desires, our position on shopping and ownership, our consumption of technology, our state of mindfulness.

Ultimately, we find that we blossom amongst the white space.

Some see simplifying as an obsession, a neuroses, something to be remedied. To me, it is anything but. Surely, it can be exhausting to simplify in a world flooded with things to be bought, opportunities to be had, friends to be acquired. It’s in our psyche to desire, to possess, to collect.

But it’s also necessary to cultivate a world of less so as to relish more.

••• The Light •••

Simplifying invigorates more than it extinguishes; and in time it becomes easier and truer to live with less than to attempt to thrive amongst the chaos and expectation. I want for my life to be more than an endlessness of organization, efficiency, and list-making, though I do enjoy these activities when not demanded by a dream that was never mine to begin with.

My dreams happen to be filled with travel to faraway places and nearby gems; lazy weekends with loved ones; mindful mornings and reflective evenings, pen and paper in hand; inspired days of all-consuming creativity and productivity; afternoons laying in the park, captivated by the words of an old-school hardback book; advocacy for all things good and true; and rewarding contributions to society.

Slowly, my dreams have begun to come true as I’ve eliminated the white noise; as I’ve granted myself permission to not have it all, but rather to have what my heart believes will make for a life well-lived.

It’s been a decade of evaluating every nook and cranny, and still I find another layer of clarity, depth, and freedom when I let go of something that no longer serves a purpose or brings me joy. In simplifying my life, I’ve learned to question everything—even long-held ideas and traditions—and to embrace and focus on what is most meaningful to me.

••• 10 Ideas •••

And now, here are 10 ideas for cultivating your own less-is-more lifestyle:

  1. Use natural, homemade beauty care products. Filled with only the essentials, they are often multifunctional and will simplify your regimen. You will also save money and create less packaging waste.
  2. Try one-pot cooking. You will feel less inundated by the task of meal preparation and cleanup. You will feel healthier, more satiated, and a sense of self-sufficiency. You will also waste fewer dollars and disposable goods by eating in.
  3. Drive less, walk more. You will feel more present and at peace. Your lungs and legs will become fitter. You will also save money on fuel.
  4. Use cash instead of credit. Or at the very least, log your expenses by hand. You will become more aware of your spending and do so more wisely.
  5. Turn off notifications on your smartphone and web browser. You will become less distracted and more productive.
  6. Unsubscribe from digital and print promotional mail. You will be less tempted to buy things. And you will then have more money for unattended needs and valuable wants.
  7. Purge friends in real life and cyberspace. You will have fewer friendships, but they will be richer, deeper, truer.
  8. Travel in a carry-on. Pack for a week, do laundry if necessary. You will feel relaxed and joyful from the weightlessness.
  9. Leave your camera at home. Not always, but every once in a while. It will hit the reset button on how you travel and engage with the world.
  10. Start a minimalist journal. Just a few lines each day—of observations, gratitudes, curiosities, growths. You will become focused on the essentials of the day. You will also be able to reflect more easily at the end of the month or year.

Each of us is the curator of our own life, our own gallery—what would you display and what would you discard?

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2 comments

  1. This post is 100% you! It is very counter-cultural and going against the grain of what we are taught after being bombarded with advertisements that say we need more to make us happy. Nowadays social media has become a vehicle for making interactions so easy, too easy now, that we may have over 1,000 “friends” through these avenues but how many of those are substantial, real friendships? How many of those people really care about you and how many do you actually care about? Do you have shared goals/experiences/values with these people or are they just another number to you? These are good questions that I have been thinking about lately while reading David Eggers book the Circle (also a movie that has terrible ratings so far) and listening to Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance (where he dives into how modern technology has impacted dating). Both of these reveal that we as humans actually sacrifice real connections and relationships when interactions become a series of meaningless blurbs on social media and dating sites and never real, face to face communication. In today’s day and age it can be so easy to get caught up in having the most friends/followers on social media, having all the latest and greatest technology that we lose touch with actual humans! Harvard published findings from a 75 year long study that followed people from all different backgrounds throughout their lives and found that true happiness (no matter what socioeconomic status they were) was found in maintained close, intimate relationships [https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/03/02/harvard-researchers-discovered-the-one-thing-everyone-needs-for-happier-healthier-lives/?utm_term=.2061056fba52]

    I will be trying number 8 for the first time in June when I meet up with you in Italy!! Hopefully I can do it!

    1. I completely agree with everything you’ve said here! Like many, I’ve had a bumpy ride with social media. Now, I’m more intentional about the platforms I use and how I engage on them. But while there are numerous benefits to social media, nothing can replace in-person relationships. One of the things I love to do when I travel is meet people I’ve befriended online. Doing so undoubtedly deepens the relationship. And, yes, one authentic relationship is infinitely more fulfilling than dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of meaningless relationships.

      The books you’re reading sound interesting! I’ll have to check them out. And thank you for sending along the Harvard article. I’d be curious to know more about those who choose to be alone more often but do not feel lonely. I look forward to seeing how traveling lightly works for you!

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