A few years back I sold my trendy Sydney 3 bedroom-2 bathroom terrace house for a move to the country. A move that also happened to involve selling most of my possessions, so that I could start my minimalist country life anew.
Before that, however, I was in the same position as many of you: I had too much stuff, and wanted to pare down. In-fact the bills from all my consumer spending combined with my big mortgage weighed on me like hundreds of little anchors, draining me of my time, my money, and my energy. Then there was the stressful job that I absolutely hated – but needed in order to pay for all my stuff (very trendy stuff by the way). To put it bluntly I felt trapped in a life that looked glamorous on the outside but was actually not bringing me any happiness whatsoever.
So one day back in early 2012 I made a decision: I stopped buying things, and started to declutter and organise. I also started to budget so that I could pay down my consumer debt and plan for a more financial future. And to my delight, what I’d expected to be a rather onerous task was absolutely exhilarating! It is kind of addictive. I decluttered in the morning, in the evening, on the weekends. I gave thousands of dollars worth of stuff away to charity. When I wasn’t actually decluttering, I was planning for the future, reading zen teachings or coming up with frugal budgets.
The entire process was an amazing time in my life: with each passing day, I felt a little bit lighter, a little more serene, a little more free. The less stuff I was burdened with, the more possibilities life seemed to hold.
This change also inspired me to get down to a more grounded life. I started gardening, making my beauty products, savouring my cups of tea and I even took up knitting.
While I have an appreciation for what a city can offer, I am definitely someone who needs nature. I need big skies, mountains and lots of water. I need a yard where I can put a seat and sit in the afternoon sun. I need friendly neighbours, community gardens, reading circles and plenty of trails for morning walks. I also need a place where I can keep all my rescue animals (this is a longterm goal). I need a place where I can spend summer outdoors, enjoying greenery, wildflowers, butterflies, and the smell of eucuylptus oil from the leaves of the snow gum tree…and coming inside only to prepare a simple meal or take an afternoon nap. I also need a place where I can snowboard or horseride whenever I want and then come inside to spend the night infront of the warm fire while I knit some warm and fuzzy socks. I have always known that this kind of place would be in the Snowy Mountains – and after several years of planning – I am now here.
I urge you to think about where ‘your place’ may be. I also urge you to get strategic and plan on ways to get there. Yes…sure it is scary….but it is worth it. I hear many of you say ‘but I have a family to support’ or ‘I have a secure job here’. All I can say to that is…it may take you longer than you want…but start planning now.
Then there are others of you who love where you live, but need to find ways to declutter and simplify your current life so that you feel a deeper sense of connection and harmony. If this is the case with you then I urge you to start creating more simple habits into your daily life such as – tea rituals, gardening, knitting, reading, walks, shopping at farmers markets, spending more time cooking and so forth.
Simple living is not about white walls and open spaces. It is about finding ways that make you feel light and free – simple and minimal living can’t be defined – it is different for everyone. Below I have shared with you a bunch of resources that I value when it comes to simple living.
Ideas To Help You Live A Minimal And Simplified Life
Declutter your space: This is the most obvious and probably the first task that everyone tackles. Take a weekend or two to purge your stuff and organise your space. When you have less clutter your life is less chaotic – you feel freer, are more productive and have a sense of calmness. Be relentless and get rid of as much as you can. Fill up empty boxes with your unwanted items and give them to a charity. Then with what you have decided to keep, organise it neatly. You may want to do this every few weeks, as it is amazing what you will be willing to release the second time round.
Prioritise your time: Time is valuable and it is the one thing we never seem to have enough of. Take the time to sit down and first prioritise what is important to you and how you want to spend your time. Then take action by writing it down in a planner, this will ensure you get the most out of your precious time.
Get clear about your values and goals: With so many choices and opportunities it can become confusing with which way to go. Often we live in a frenzy of different directions, one day we want to save our money for retirement then the next day we want to spend it on a life changing holiday to Paris. Increase productivity and gain a sense of order by working out your values and goals – then commit to see them through.
Learn to say no: You only have limited time on this earth, so learn to use your time wisely – even if it means ruffling a few feathers when you say no. Overcommitting to other people’s plans and agendas only wears you out, causes you stress and makes you feel out of control. Look after your health and wellness by learning to say no.
Declutter your mind: Simple living is the conscious act of purifying your mind of clutter and filling the space with the things that you value. Identifying what is most important to you and eliminate everything else. Create instant space by dropping past regrets, worrying about the future, letting go of the need to control everything, and releasing any cares you may have of what people think of you.
Learn to embrace the ordinary and saunter through the seasons of your life: Acceptance and gratitude is a key fundamental when it comes to living a contented and simplified life. Learn to romance the ordinary and don’t get distracted with all the gloss of the outside world – instead choose to really savour where you are now or ‘today’. It’s the simple things in life that bring us the greatest pleasure, so take a moment to look around and appreciate the things that surround you on a daily basis. Bend down and smell the white daisies in your garden, notice the smile on a child’s face or savour the smell of the fresh rain.
Have a sacred practice that uplifts your mind-body-connection: Choose something that resonates with you, it can be anything from a simple morning yoga stretch, afternoon meditation or sunday morning church. Make an effort to do something daily as it will do wonders for your overall sense of well-being.
Create a nurturing home: Your home should be a sanctum, a place that is mindfully decorated and designed. A place to rest your weary head and soul. A haven that reconnects you to ‘what truly is important’.
Become a conscious beauty: Green your beauty routine – it feels good on both a cellular and spiritual level. I have a garden where I grow lavender, rosemary and other herbs and botanicals that I use in my beauty products. Take the time to learn what is in your products and where they come from - have an awareness of the impact they have on your health, the people who farmed the raw ingredients, the planet and our animal friends. There is so much toxicity and unethical practices in beauty products, do your research to ensure you support companies that deserve your business.
Live green and sustainable: ‘Green living’ is the new black, with urban farms, locally sourced food and socially responsible consumer products on the uprise. Aspire to live more greener, gentler and kinder. Its a beautiful philosophy and way of life that protects the well-being of all beings and the planet.
Seek out soulful and hand-made treasures. Or tap into your own creativity with DIY projects: Simplify your life and add character to your home with hand-made items and items that you have up-cycled. In a world that is so saturated in trends and fads, and an age of excessive consumerism – we can’t help but be naturally drawn to the charm of hand made items.
Get back to basics and create a stylish minimal wardrobe: Stick with timeless and quality designs and you will save a fortune on fashion. Also drop into a few thrift stores as there are often bargains to be had and you are not contributing to that never ending landfill of fast-fashion.
Stop frivolous spending: Mindlessly swiping your credit card is causing excess spending, increased stress and an overflowing pile of landfill. You work hard for your money, so stop wasting it on fast foods, clothes you don’t wear or on the latest gadget you can live without.
Spend time with people you love: Stop tiring yourself out by spending time with people who bring you down and drain your energy. Make an effort to disassociate with anyone who doesn’t have your best interest at heart and replace them with the people who truly care – spending time with the people that matter most will uplift and energise you.
Enjoy your work: You spend 80% of your life working – so do something that makes you happy. If you can’t change your situation immediately then focus on ways you can make a difference in your work. Work towards changing your situation – maybe in your free time experiment with being an entrepreneur and building a business you love.
Turn daily living into a work of art: Whether your chopping onions, ironing clothes or on your morning commute to work. Learn to be in the moment. Every moment should be a sacred occasion.
A simple and minimalist life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For some it can be eliminating the endless stress and chaos of everyday modern living. For others it may be taking the time to appreciate the simple things in life. And then there are people who believe it is about uncluttering their life and getting rid of the things that stop them from doing the things that they love most.
Overall a simple life is defined by getting rid of the clutter in your life so that you can appreciate the things that matter and which give you value. However, getting back to the roots of simplicity isn’t always a simple feat. It’s a journey that can often be a process of two steps forward and one step backward. So when your starting out - be gentle with yourself.