This is a guest post by October’s Special Guest Blogger – Brooke McAlary of Slow Your Home.
A simple life? A slow home?
A simple life is boring. It’s predictable. And slow? Slow is the opposite to what we should be doing, right?
Because life is full, and if you’re not busy, not rushing, not stressed, then clearly you’re not important. You’re less than. You’re weak.
Slow is what so many of us crave. Simple is what so many of us need. It’s the mark of someone who has said, ”Enough! I’m choosing to put what’s important first. I’m choosing to let go of the crap that doesn’t matter. I’m choosing to slow down.”
It’s just the small problem of how.
I can’t tell you how to simplify your life. That part is up to you. You need to decide what’s important – what stays, what goes.
What I can give you is a brief introduction into why slow and simple living is so awesome, and what you stand to gain by letting go.
OK. So What is Simple Living?
The same as success or happiness – it is vastly different things to different people.
But, to me, the top 6 elements of simple living are:
- living in a decluttered home
- living in an organised (enough) home
- treading lightly on the earth where I can
- being kind to myself – with solitude, exercise, and realistic expectations
- being content with my life as it is right now, and content with whatever I’m doing right now
- being out of consumer debt and living within my means
(Side note: In each of these things, I am failing to some extent. In some cases, very badly. (Cough cough – being content right now. Cough. Being kind to myself. Cough, cough.)
And What, Exactly, is a Slow Home?
- A slow home is uncluttered. It gives you room to breathe and to sit and to enjoy your life.
- A slow home is organised. When you understand where things belong and what comes next, you remove a huge chunk of daily stress. Just by being organised, you free yourself to do bigger, better things. And sometimes, nothing at all.
- A slow home is good for you and your family. It is clean and healthy and good for the environment. You feel good inside it and you feel connected to the outdoors.
As you can see, the ideas of simple living and a slow home are virtually identical. So from here on out, when I talk about simple living, we’re talking about everything above.
I’m In. How Do I Learn to Live More Simply?
You need to know why you’re making these changes. Why you crave a simpler life, a slower home, a contented heart. It’s the why that drives everything else. So spend some time getting to know your heart before you move ahead.
To determine these priorities, sit down for a minute and visualise your perfect simple life. Run through your ideal day of simple living (while not ignoring reality!) and take note of what makes you light up, what leaves you feeling content and what feels best for you or your family.
Note down the first five elements that come to mind. These are now your simple living priorities – your starting point. (You can always shift them later so don’t get too caught up in choosing the right ones.)
2. Choose One Thing
Of the five priorities you’ve listed, choose one. Then choose a small part of that and make it your first baby step.
For example, if you choose:
- living in a decluttered home – choose to clean out your wardrobe and donate what you don’t need
- be kind to yourself – choose to start each day with 15 minutes of yoga or stretching or prayer or meditation
- tread lightly on the earth – choose to make your own laundry liquid
The truth is it doesn’t matter WHAT you choose, it’s that you start.
3. Adopt it Whole-Heartedly
Once you’ve taken that first baby step, keep doing it like it’s your job. Repeat it until it becomes part of your day-to-day life. This way you are building a habit that will stick, which is important if you want your simple life to last the distance.
4. Take Baby Step #2
Once baby step #1 is firmly part of your life, choose your next step and work it into your life, day-by-day. And continue putting one foot in front of the other, making strong and intentional changes each step of the way.
5. Accept That There is No Perfect Life Waiting For You
What you will invariably discover as you take this journey towards simple living is that it’s not a race. You will discover your own way, what works, what doesn’t. And you will learn that there is always something to improve, something new to try, a different perspective. As you master one part of the process, it will reveal ten new things to work on. It’s endless.
But please don’t let that stop you from starting. Once I realised that there was no finish line, no perfect life of simplicity waiting for me around the corner, I relaxed into it. And simple living started to become our lifestyle rather than another list of jobs to add to the to-do list.
And that in itself has been worth every second.
I Believe You Promised Benefits For All This Hard Work?
Right you are!
Of the hundreds of benefits to living a simpler life, these are some of the most common:
- You spend less time cleaning – because you have less stuff to clean.
- You spend less time looking for things – because everything has its place.
- You can focus on things that matter, like family, friends, creativity and living with purpose – because you have space and time to do so.
- You reduce waste and your impact on the environment – because you compost your food scraps or feed them to your chooks.
- You don’t expose yourself or your family to unnecessary cleaning and laundry chemicals – because you use homemade green cleaning products.
- Your inside air isn’t filled with toxins and VOCs – because you open your windows and use indoor plants as natural air filters
- You have lower electricity bills – because you harness the natural elements of light, heat and air.
- You don’t have unnecessary financial stress – because you live within your means and stick to your budget.
Need More Convincing?
I feel lighter in our home. I feel healthier. It is easier to keep clean (that is a relative statement of course – “clean” being different to “tidy”).
I feel happier. More inclined to be active, to spend time outside. I drink more water. I’m more mindful of what I eat.
And you can too. It’s really not that hard.
She is also a happy wife, busy mum, slightly weird Australian and creator of the insanely helpful Slow Home BootCamp.
She blogs at Slow Your Home and is on a mission to help you find the simple life you want.