10 Life-Affirming Reasons to Embrace Simplicity

"Beware the barrenness of a busy life."  10 Life-Affirming Reasons to Embrace Simplicity

 

Three years ago I suffered a breakdown.

I was done. I had nothing left to give. I drove to my parents’ house completely exhausted, my young daughter in the back, my pregnant belly pushing against the steering wheel, tears streaming down my face.

How did I get here? I tried to be everything to everyone. A loving stay at home mum, a supportive wife, a successful business-owner.

But instead of being accomplished, successful, important, what did I get?

Exhaustion. Guilt. Emptiness. Feelings of failure, sadness and overwhelm. I couldn’t sleep and constantly suffered headaches. I was doing nothing well.

The Turning Point

I’d like to tell you the moment I pulled into my parents’ driveway proved the turning point. Unfortunately, life had other plans. The closure of my business was swiftly followed by the birth of our baby boy. His arrival was even more swiftly followed by depression, anxiety and frighteningly dark thoughts.

Somehow, out of the darkness I was able to whisper to my husband the hardest words I’ve ever uttered, “Help me.”

The first weeks and months of treatment were incredibly difficult. I wasn’t crazy, I didn’t want to be prescribed anti-depressants, I certainly didn’t want to sit in a room with a stranger for two hours a week discussing my feelings. I just wanted to feel normal again. Actually, I just wanted to feel again.

The real turning point wasn’t uncovered in my psychiatrist’s office. It wasn’t even talking with my husband. It was online and completely by accident. The digital rabbithole lead me to Zen Habits and there I discovered the simple living movement.

Living with less stuff, less debt, less clutter meant living with more freedom, more time, more joy. I was certain this was the change I needed to make in my life.

Up to this point my life had been about more. Being more successful, more efficient, more adept, more available, more, more, more… This attitude of more brought overwhelm, exhaustion and constant feelings of failure. I had become a victim of a modern-day epidemic – more at all costs.

What I needed now was less, of that I was certain.

Slow, Intentional Change

The last three years have seen me mindfully, slowly and sometimes painfully creating a life of simplicity. I am happier, healthier, more joyful, more relaxed, more prone to laughter and dancing, more engaged with my kids, more in touch with my emotions, more loving towards my husband, more interested and more interesting.

In short, I had my life affirmed by embracing simplicity.

Now I want to share 10 reasons why you stand to gain more from living a life of less.

 

10 Life-Affirming Reasons to Embrace Simplicity

Acceptance:

As you simplify your life, you get closer to the core – the essence – of who you are. You can see in greater detail the faults, the flaws, the strengths and the beauty of your authentic self. It’s no longer hidden beneath layers of junk, clutter and distraction. Don’t get me wrong – this can be scary – we hide behind these things for a reason. But the more you simplify, the easier these layers can be peeled back.

Clarity:

You begin to see who and what is really important. You know what you want, what you need – and you have the time and space to explore those things further.

Clutter-Free:

In a physical sense your home, your bedroom, your studio become a haven from the busyness of life. A place where you can unplug and relax, surrounded by a limited number of things that are beautiful and useful.

Gratitude:

Recent studies show that practicing gratitude daily helps improve health and well-being. Embracing simplicity strips away the inessentials so you can see just how much of what surrounds you is worthy of your gratitude.

Health:

Almost universally, those who pursue a simpler life will become physically healthier. You become more mindful of what you eat, how much you eat, how you move your body and how you care for yourself. The awareness and simplification of your surroundings bring awareness and simplification of your body. Less junk, less inactivity, more whole food, more vitality, more movement, more health.

Presence:

You will no longer float through the days caught in your past or your future. The present will be your reality and you will be capable of living there, soaking it in, learning and participating. You will be present playing with your kids, loving your partner, talking with you friends, the work you do.

Relationships:

When you’re no longer weighed down with past, future, stuff, shoulds, worries and guilt, you have the time, energy and space to devote to relationships. They will bloom under the extra love.

Sex:

See above. It gets better the simpler life is.

Generosity:

As you realise you need less than you have, you have more to give. Initially your stuff, then your time and your money. You have so many resources that can help others. And embracing simplicity means you can give widely.

Joy:

There is so much more joy to be had when living a simpler life. The important things bring joy – the improved relationships and connections – the little things – a beautiful sunset, a child’s giggle, a bird in flight, the warmth of a room full of friends. You will have the time and energy to feel these.

This life is yours for the taking. Embrace it by embracing a life of simplicity. And while how to do that is another post for another day, I can give you one tip right now:

Start now and start small.

It’s simply a matter of small actions and time.

 

 

If you’re visiting Slow Your Home for the first time after seeing my profile in the Sunday Telegraph, then welcome! You might want to check out the Best of Slow Your Home, a list of the most-read posts over the past 18 months, or sign up to join the Slow Home BootCamp right here.

 

{ Base image via swamibu on Flickr. Creative Commons. Graphics by me. }

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17 Responses to 10 Life-Affirming Reasons to Embrace Simplicity

  1. Rebecca says:

    Awesome post and I totally agree that starting small and moving on to bigger and better things brings better things into your life.

    Thank you for sharing your insight and journey.

  2. I love this post. I am not striving towards a minimalist lifestyle or anything but am looking to always simplify. These are great reasons to keep going!

    :)

  3. EcoCatLady says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I too suffered a bit of a societally induced breakdown, but mine came in college. I was so miserable, in fact, that I tried to kill myself… though it wasn’t a very serious attempt.

    But it all triggered a bit of an epiphany for me. If trying to live up to everything that the world expected of me was making me so unhappy that I’d rather be dead, then I had nothing to lose. So I set out to find a different path.

    This was nearly 25 years ago… long before terms like “simplicity” and “minimalism” were in vogue. I didn’t really know where I was headed, I only knew that I wasn’t playing the game any more!

    Anyhow, if you’d like to read more about my crazy journey, here’s a link:

    http://ecocatlady.blogspot.com/2011/07/one-snowy-night-that-changed-everything.html

    Congratulations on having the courage to change your life!

  4. KarinD says:

    Thank you for sharing yor story!
    It has many similarities with my own, only I’m still searching for my path to a simpler and happier life. Your blog is a source of inspiration.

  5. Vic says:

    Thank you for this post.. I am slowly on this journey, and love your posts. Reading this today, the thing that jumped out at me was reducing debt. Something we’ve been trying to do, but really we are swamped by an enormous mortgage, all as a result of trying to turn simple into ‘bigger and better’, which as we’ve discovered is not always the case! With more space comes more debt, more room for the stuff to spread and more to clean. And more stress. We have a wonderful home with lots of space for the kids, but I sadly find myself dreaming of a simpler smaller space, with a much lower mortgage so we have money to take holidays, do yoga, enrich the kids lives w experiences instead of stuff…. I will keep on little by little.. Thanks again x

  6. Jon says:

    Great post. Thanks.

    What I’ve learnt recently is that divorcing my iPhone has provided me with more space and a more clutter-free existence.

  7. Hi Brooke, I popped over to link to your decluttering post and found this new one up! I can relate. It was 4-years ago when the sense of being totally overwhelmed hit me. Having recently lost a close member of the family and just having my second child I knew things needed to change.
    A book on general life-simplification which I’d grabbed from the local library along with a book on dealing with grief!, lead me to Zen Habits also. And that’s where my story ends and starts.
    So excited to see you’ve been featured in the daily telegraph – I’ll be checking it out later. Jo

  8. Rain says:

    The simplicity movement is a breath of fresh air. I feel my whole being relax just reading about it! I too discovered it via the Zen Habit’s blog about 2 years ago. Yet I knew about FlyLady who teaches about decluttering many years before that. It’s a continual creative journey implementing the ideas I choose for my customized lifestyle.

  9. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE this post. Thank you for sharing xxDani

  10. [...] 10 Life-Affirming Reasons to Embrace Simplicity | Slow Your Home by Brooke McAlary.  Living with less stuff, less debt, less clutter meant living with more freedom, more time, more joy. [...]

  11. Linn says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I had my breakdown one year ago, and that led me onto the same path towards awareness, simplified living, gratitude, mindfulness… It still feels new and unexplored, yet so much have already changed. I know I’m on the right track, and reading this makes me even more convinced.

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  14. Sean Anderson says:

    I went through the same breakdown and still 8 years later still feel angry, depressed, and have a whole lot of health issues. My issue is I do not have the money to simplify…. unless I tell me creditors tuff, I dont feel good your not getting yours. I do hold onto the hope that one day this will be over I hope it is before I lose time and seeing my son grow up, he’s 3/12 I’m 43. I started late cause I was trying to conquer the world. Heres to trying.

  15. This is a beautiful post. I came to simple living after having my first child, and the second child made it a point of no return. I’m still working through the clutter, but every day is better and better.

  16. AngelJem says:

    Thank you. I’m struggling under pressure at the moment, worrying about the future and feeling overwhelmed by a house of stuff. A good reminder that I need to focus and without focus my life will keep on spinning.

  17. […] it’s important to pare back your belongings. And there are so many good reasons for doing so. But stuff isn’t important. Not really. And it doesn’t deserve our full […]

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