“The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.” – Mother Teresa
Because you can find thousands of articles with tips on de-cluttering and simplifying your environment, I decided to shed some light on the importance of this topic. So why is simplicity the key to keeping us sane and stress-free in this day and age?
We’re a part of the culture that is encouraged to shop even by politicians. And… we love it. It’s how we spend our past time, by going to the mall… often. But then comes a time when over-abundance and overspending starts to go against us.
When they visit the United States for the first time, many Europeans comment that it’s all about “big stuff”: big buildings, big cars, big-screen TVs, big refrigerators packed with food, etc. It is, no doubt, a country consumed with consumption. Think about the things you own. Now think about the time spent on them: shopping, researching, organizing, picking up, cleaning, storing, repairing, replacing… then often forgetting where you stored it or that you even have it (and then buying a new one!).
A vicious cycle is created: spending time and energy to earn more money to buy things, which take more of your time and energy, then spending more and more time and energy so that you can afford more things. It’s easy to get seduced by and sucked into the display of material abundance. Just think of it: many people continue with jobs they dislike simply for the ability to accumulate more things. How satisfying is this lifestyle?
Is working more to make extra money in order to buy more stuff really worth your health, relationships, and quality of life?
Europeans prefer a life that’s simple–they surround themselves with the things that really matter to them. Instead of collecting more clutter, which creates overwhelm and distraction, they spend less on acquiring things. For them, simplicity means that they are more emotionally available for what is meaningful, uplifting, and inspiring. Living a simple life isn’t about self-denial. Rather, it’s about values, priorities, taking control, and being aligned with what truly matters most to you.
Here is what Bertrand Russell says about consumption: “It’s a preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.”
I have to confess: I’m guilty of that too. I love variety, so I used to go on and splurge—red towels for Christmas, pink towels for the month of February, yellow for Easter. You get the idea… I think I’ve played enough, and I’ll admit it, I had fun. Now I understand why less is more. Now I’m back to the basics and… more “Zen time.”
So, what are you going to do? You could continue with your current methods of working to accumulate. But remember, as John Ruskin once said, “Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.”
Consider the possible effects of not simplifying:
Over-stress: Our culture values excess, often pushing people to buy things they don’t need or can’t afford.
Lost energy: Clutter can suck the energy out of you. Your energy goes into maintaining everything you have, rather than enjoying it.
Competition for your attention
Lack of appreciation
Time lost in decision making
Overloading of the senses
Overwhelming the brain
Now consider some of the benefits of simplifying your life:
Less worry: The less you own, the less there is to worry about, care for, and maintain.
More time: There is more breathing room for you, and more time to focus on what really matters.
Less stress: Clutter is a visual distraction, and extra noise demands your attention.
Being wise with your money, purchases, and possessions doesn’t mean restricting yourself. It does mean taking control and recognizing how you can de-clutter and de-stress your life, leaving room and recognition for the things that you value the most. Wealth is about having enough, without overdoing it: the wealth of our entire being.
Remember, because of the overwhelming distractions due to endless information, emails, social media, multitasking, and the ever-increasing speed of life, simplicity is one of the key solutions to the madness of modern life. Simplify your life, so you can have more sanity, more inner peace, and focus on what’s really import to you.
I leave you with these quick tips to remember as you begin to simplify your life:
Seek Simplicity in Health
Be fed by real food–simple food.
Seek Simplicity in Finances
Be thoughtful about where your money goes.
Seek Simplicity in Possessions
Be discerning and sort the possessions that are contributing to stress vs. adding to your complete well-being.
Dare to live authentically
Life is about self-expression and what really matters to YOU. It’s not what matters to the Joneses!
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