Less Stuff. More Humanity.

Less stuff. More humanity.

How are you feeling after the holidays? Well-rested? Well-fed? Ready to face the year ahead? Overwhelmed by the stuff that made its way into your home over the Christmas season?

Me too.

In fact, probably a little too much of most things listed above.

The break was wonderful, the quiet, simple time with family was just what we needed, and the chance to unplug and unwind was golden. (That being said, if I owe you an email, you can expect it in the next 48 hours!)

But now the new year is upon us and my social media feeds are full of people spring cleaning, decluttering, planning and getting ready for the year ahead. It’s such an energised time of year for many of us.

Similarly, it can be an overwhelming time. Often Christmas involves a huge exchange of gifts between family, friends, colleagues and teachers. Multiply that if you have children, as they will receive gifts from friends and classmates, not to mention grandparents, family and Saint Nick.

It is a wonderful time of the year, but the sheer volume of stuff can make your head spin.

That’s why this year I’m embracing this as a guiding philosophy.

“We don’t need more stuff; we need more humanity.” 

Seth Godin - The Icarus Deception

Less stuff. More humanity.

I love the simplicity of this advice. I love how it so easily sums up the beauty and the benefits of living with less. And while it could be read as a comment on the Western trend of ultra-consumerism and the impact that has on the developing world, it can just as readily be adopted into our small, daily lives.

Having less stuff gives you the opportunity to focus more on the people in your life. More time, more energy, more care and more compassion. You can focus on experiences over things. Travel instead of trend-hopping. Memories instead of souvenirs.

Over the past three years as I’ve slowly learned to pare back, find what’s important and live (mostly) according to those priorities, life has become easier. Simpler. Sweeter.

  • We have afternoon naps on the weekend.
  • Cleaning up takes minutes, not hours or days.
  • I spend less time dusting and organising.
  • There is more time together on the weekends.
  • We entertain more.
  • Our horizons are expanding and we’re travelling more as a family.
  • I worry less.
  • I compare our life with that of others far less.
  • The overall feeling of life is that of contentment.

In other words, life is good.

Not to say that living a simpler life makes things perfect. It doesn’t.

Our kids fight. We get things wrong – alot. We make poor spending choices.  We get impatient. There is still the annual influx of gifts at Christmas (although this is much less than it used to be, as we’ve slowly adjusted our families thinking on what and how much to give).

Simplifying life just makes it easier to deal with this stuff. And to me, that is the single biggest benefit of living a simpler life – over time it just makes living life easier. The daily tasks, the constant stresses, the annual pressures – these things become easier to deal with when there is less stuff cluttering up your home and your head. 

The difficulty, I would say, is in getting to that point. How do you actually create that simpler life, when right now everything feels so insanely complicated?

A Simple Year.

There are literally thousands of places to find information and inspiration, both online and off. This blog and many others like it have hundreds of suggestions on how to start, where to begin, how to declutter and what to do once you’ve finished. And they’re all great sources of information. In fact, that’s how I came to discover simple living and finally get started on my own journey.

But if you’re looking to make 2014 the year you finally create a simpler life, you might be interested in joining A Simple Year.

Rather than having to work through the process of simplifying by yourself, A Simple Year is an interactive online course created by some of the best known writers in the simplicity movement (and me). Joshua Becker, Courtney Carver, Jules Clancy and Tammy Strobel (among others) have come together to create something really quite amazing. Each month you can focus on a new area of simplicity by working with one of the simple living enthusiasts mentioned above.

Some of the topics covered include clutter, digital living, busyness, travel, kitchen, money, staying simple and relationships. You can see the entire year outlined at simpleyear.co. And honestly, if you’re looking to make 2014 the year you simplify your life, I think it’s going to be incredible.

There are already over 250 people signed up, and registrations close on January 10. Check out simpleyear.co for more information and to register.

What do you want to achieve in 2014? 

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12 Responses to Less Stuff. More Humanity.

  1. Blythe says:

    If only everyone else in my family enjoyed afternoon naps – I ahve to fight for mine. Sigh. Anyway, I’m off to read about A Simple Year.

  2. I signed up..I couldn’t help myself! Looking forward to getting stuck into it :)

  3. Rea says:

    Life is good indeed. Living a simple life is one thing I’ve learned from my own husband. Slowly I am full embracing it too. :)

  4. Van says:

    Seth’s quote is so spot on, love it. Wonderful post, as always. I wish you and your family a fabulous new year, Brooke!

  5. Verity says:

    This is such a great quote. Less stuff, more humanity has become our mantra over the past twelve months (thank you so much for your inspiration), and we have found it to be such a rewarding way to live. Focusing less on stuff and more on humanity has enabled us to reconnect with our intrinsic values, to drastically declutter our home and to support more charities that we care about. Good luck for the Simple Year!

  6. Marie says:

    Hi Brooke,

    And thank you for an awesome blog!

    I’d love if you could expand on the topic to “slowly adjusting our families thinking of what and how much to give”. I come from a family that love to give gifts and it always ends up being overwhelmingly much. I’ve felt uncomfortable with this since I was a kid and since I got kids of my own it’s gotten worse. I’ve tried numerous times to suggest that we’d cut back, getting them to agree but ending up with the same result anyway. How did you succeed?

    Best regards,
    Marie

    • Hey Marie, thanks so much for taking the time to leave such kind words! It’s a really important question and one that I don’t have a great answer to, I’m afraid.

      My family have always been the same as yours – giving a lot, and giving it out of love. We share, we pass things on, we buy gifts. I think the change towards much less gift-giving has been a slow and gradual one. This year, for example, the adults didn’t exchange gifts at all, except for a combined voucher to our parents, to spend on a meal, a show, a weekend away etc. In return, they gave us (even though none of us need anything at all) tickets to The Lion King, some wine and a voucher for a nice local restaurant. Experiences rather than things.

      The kids, on the other hand, all still were given gifts. But we’re definitely improving on what we give and why. Often it’s clothes (not so interesting to the kids, but appreciated by the parents as we know they are coming and can avoid buying much) and I gave all my nieces and nephews a book and some money. Again, useful and helpful.

      It sounds like you’re on the right track, in talking to your family about gifts and expectations. It might just be that you need to give it some more time to sink in. Or, you could propose a different approach for next Christmas (or birthdays or Easter or annivesaries etc). Perhaps talk about vouchers rather than things, or if you’re saving up for something (a holiday, a renovation etc) maybe a contribution to that could be a good alternative.

      In short (or rather, long!) I don’t have a great answer. I do think it’s important to talk about it, but at the end of the day, if people are giving gifts out of love, we really should respect that and be grateful. It can be hard, when you’re fighting clutter and materialism the rest of the year, but it’s almost always coming from a very good and loving place.

      Let me know if that is in the slightest bit helpful! :)

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