It was another one of those days. The type of day where I sat for two hours in traffic trying to forget I was stuck, creeping along at a snails pace, and doing my best to stay calm. “Just breathe,” I told myself. I forced a smile and tried to focus on the fact that I was alive and had a job. Like every other day, my mind questioned why I was doing this day after day. Why was I spending 3-4 hours of my life each day commuting to a job I really didn’t like anymore. Life should be simpler than this. How did I get here? Why did I let life get so chaotic? There had to be a way to live a simpler life. And was I ready for it?
If you asked me back in 2012 when I made my first attempt at minimalism and simple living, I would’ve said no. I wasn’t ready. My mindset hadn’t shifted completely. I was half in, half out. I was still struggling with overspending and consumerism. I hadn’t yet figured out a big enough reason to let go of stuff and the lifestyle to which I was accustomed.
You have to be able to let go.
When I made the choice to live a simpler life, it was because I was tired of pretty much everything. I was tired of commuting hours a day, tired of working for organizations that didn’t care, tired of being burnt out and feeling exhausted, tired of owning too much stuff and wanting to burn it every time I saw it all, and tired of spending all my life energy to end up feeling unhappy.
It all began to wear on me. I was exhausted.
My mind whispered, change. Something has to change.
The things I had spent years accumulating no longer brought joy. I started to hate shopping. I wanted the debt to go away. I wanted purchases I made to be conscious and meaningful. I longed for simplicity.
I became determined to live a simpler life on my own terms.
6 Signs You’re Ready to Live a Simpler Life
1. You’re done with moving one pile over to another pile.
Being overwhelmed in your own living space is a good sign you’re ready to simplify. If you find you’re forgetting where you put something and waste time searching for it, you’re ready to rid yourself of perpetual disorganization.
Becoming frustrated with the piles of papers and things won’t solve anything. It’s at these times you need to be ruthless and start tossing or donating. Be honest with yourself and ask why you’re keeping it. If the reason isn’t good enough, get rid of it!
2. You’re tired of being tired.
We live in a society that tells us we have to do more, be more, and own more, all while being in a continual state of busyness. Life is not a race. There is no prize for being burnt out, constantly busy, or for owning the most things.
When was the last time you paused and looked up at the sky? Do you remember what you ate for lunch yesterday?
Every moment in life should be cherished as you only live it once. You’ll never be able to go back. You need to enjoy the details, make memories, and live each moment like it’s your last. If you’re always getting sick, are feeling depressed more and more, or find it hard to get out of bed with enthusiasm each morning, it’s time to rethink your life situation.
3. You find moments of gratitude are lacking.
When’s the last time you were grateful for your health, your legs, your eyesight, your family, or being able to buy healthy foods?
The rewards of gratitude far outweigh any material possession. When you truly accept gratitude into your heart, you’ll enjoy the little things in life. You’ll become grateful for love, laughter, an understanding family, the roof over your head, meaningful conversations and yes, you’ll enjoy your lattes a whole lot more. Being grateful for what you do have in life will renew your energy and bring a stop to acquiring more.
4. You have a strong desire to connect with nature.
Have you ever wanted to do a Forrest Gump and just run? Anywhere? And not stop? Or have you felt a desire to hike into the middle of nowhere and simply commune with nature?
A strong desire to be a part of nature is our soul’s way of reconnecting with the universe and stilling our minds. When we become focused on possessions (and our egos), we disconnect from the good vibes around us.
5. You value memories, connections, and experiences above any material possession.
Wanting to burn everything you own or feeling constantly overwhelmed by your debt is a good sign that it’s time to simplify. When you can’t make both ends meet, it’s time to start cutting the excess clutter out of your life.
When you start to have a longing to create memories, connections with friends and family, and life experiences, you’re on your way to a mindset change and a simpler lifestyle.
6. You no longer care what others think of your unconventional lifestyle.
Having a different lifestyle from others in your life can be challenging. It’s possible you may lose friends, but that’s okay. You should always pick and choose the people you surround yourself with carefully. These are the people that will impact your day to day and will either support you or bring negative energy into your life.
Of all the advantages of living a simpler life, a renewed sense of creativity is at the top of the list. By living with less and doing without, your creativity takes over and finds ways to fix things or creatively use the objects you do have to build something else. You become self-reliant and simple living is all about self-reliance.
Simple living fosters a lifestyle of learning and creativity.
When you’re ready to live life on your own terms, pursuing your ideal of happiness, that’s when you’re ready for a simpler life.
Tips to Help Transition to a Simpler Life
What’s your definition of living a simpler life?
The best place to start is to understand what simple living and/or minimalism is to YOU. For many of us, simple living is voluntary; it’s a choice to live simpler. It’s not a forced way of life due to poverty.
There’s no law, no one rule stating that living a simple life must be done a particular way. I believe it’s up to you to make the rules and change your life accordingly. What I’ve always stood by is the belief that you DO NOT have to live in a barren room with 10 pieces of clothing and your toothbrush. You’re allowed to tweak things and adjust.
But the idea is to make dramatic enough changes to bring you peace and remove feelings of overwhelm. If there had to be a rule, that would be it – remove the overwhelm and clutter from all areas of your life.
What simple living is to me:
Know where you are and who you are. Simple living is understanding yourself and knowing where you want to go in life. Your life’s purpose. I knew that my life had become cluttered, chaotic and unfulfilling. And I knew I wanted those feelings to stop.
Think of your life holistically, like a circle. All areas of your life should flow back to your core values. None of your values should be in conflict with another area of your life. Everything needs to point in the same direction. Live your life values, don’t keep them locked in your head for a rainy day. Conscious spending means you live with less and own quality items that bring you joy. Detoxing your digital life could mean you limit your social media time, or unsubscribe from all non-essential emails.
For me, I want rid myself of excess in all areas of my life and I belief in being more conscious of my purchasing decisions. Only bringing quality items into my life that allows me to enjoy life.
It takes time. No matter how strong the longing for simple is, be patient. It’s a process, not a knee jerk, light switch moment. Simple living is not something that happens overnight. You don’t wake up one fine morning and have an epiphany. It’s something that comes on gradually as you better understand both yourself and your purpose in life. Slowly, all areas of your life start pointing in the direction you want to go.
Simple living is not a race to a destination. It’s a way for you to lead a more fulfilling life.
How do you know when you’re ready for a simpler life?
Here’s where I say you’ll just know and you’ll start changing your life. It’s true. You will just know. It’s taken me five years to get here and I’m still on the journey.