How to Create Simplicity and Peace for Your Life

The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go. ~ Steve Maraboli

Wouldn’t you love to have a simpler life? A life full of peace and contentment? It is as possible as it is desirable. Here’s the thing. We spend far too much time and effort on the accumulation and care of the ‘stuff’ in our lives. Jesus said, “Don’t do that. God the Father will take care of you if you’ll trust Him.”

There’s a story in the Book of Luke about a man who was supremely blessed. He had an overflowing harvest and no room to put it. So he decided to spend a bunch of money and build more barns to store everything. It didn’t occur to him that he could give some of it away to bless others. He was definitely in ‘accumulation mode’. Unfortunately, he died … and everything he owned when to someone else. (12:16-20) God called him a fool for his selfishness and short-sightedness.

In Mark, Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his stuff and become a disciple. But the man went away sorrowful, because he had great possessions (10:17-22). Actually, the possessions had him. He was so attached to his stuff that he couldn’t let it go. He missed the opportunity to travel and fellowship with Jesus … because he wasn’t willing to simplify his life.

What does the word simplicity mean to you? The dictionary defines it as ‘freedom from complexity, or the absence of luxury, pretentiousness or ornament’.

What image does it evoke? A log cabin with a wood fire? A house with minimal furnishings? Perhaps a schedule with nothing scheduled? Are there things in your life that you need to set free?

A simple life is just that: uncomplicated and uncluttered. It is both peaceful and comfortable. Living a simple life means getting rid of whatever does not give your life value.

The next question becomes, “What is valuable to you?” The answers are as individual as you are, but you need to spend some time really thinking about this one. Often, we think that ‘stuff’ has value because of its cost to our lives. Not true. Price tag does not equal value or benefit. Often, the very things we strive to get become burdensome after we get them.

Sometimes the ‘price’ involves more than money. It, whatever ‘it’ you’re hanging onto, requires your time, effort, energy, or worry.

  • A bigger house takes more time and energy to maintain.
  • Collections need dusted and shuffled from shelf to shelf.
  • Adult ‘toys’ such as boats, RV’s and motorcycles consume huge quantities of money and time. Fun? Surely. Simple? NOT!
  • Challenging relationships may not be worth the emotional price.

If you truly seek to live a simpler, more peaceful life, you will have to face the truth about your current lifestyle. You will need to answer some tough questions. Then you will have to motivate yourself to make changes consistent with your new ‘truths’. Are you ready?

First, face the easiest challenge: possessions. How much of what you have do you really need? A lifestyle expert recently noted that something as simple as an uncluttered kitchen countertop contributes to your mental health and peace of mind. Is it really that simple? Yes, it is. Think about it. Don’t you feel better after you’ve cleaned house? Doesn’t the fresh smell and visual appearance make you smile?

OK, let’s begin. Walk through each room and look critically at everything in it. Is it a blessing or a burden? How much of the clutter do you not even ‘see’ anymore? What specific place (kitchen counter, dining room table, a closet?) is most upsetting to you because it always looks messy? Start there.

What can you eliminate? If an item is not functional or beautiful to you, if it doesn’t bless you in some way, get rid of it. Sell it. Give it away. Trash it. For my own peace of mind, I spend about 15 minutes each morning clearing surface clutter, loading the dishwasher if needed, tossing yesterday’s newspaper. I feel better when the house looks neat. You probably do, too.

This is a particularly good exercise for all of us Boomers – we have 30-40 years of cumulative ‘stuff’. Our kids will not want to sort through it all. It is up to us to simplify while we have the energy and will to do it! The benefit is less to take care of, move, dust, repair or replace. Aah. Simplicity!

Next, consider your commitments. How valuable are the things you give your time to? We each have the same non-refundable, non-renewable, non-returnable 1440 minutes in each day. What value are you receiving (or giving) from your investment of time, money and resources?

Ask yourself,

  • How important is this activity?
  • Do I find value or blessing when I do this?
  • Does it bless others?
  • Is it a priority for my life?
  • Does it contribute to my personal growth and development?
  • What is my motivation for continuing my commitment to this?

If you no longer see value, extricate yourself. The reason and season for that particularly activity is probably obsolete. Rethink your schedule and redesign your calendar. Learn to say NO without guilt or excuse. Seek a slower pace with more uplifting activities and quiet time for yourself.

Third, give up the media binge. I think you’ll agree that we all spend too much time watching TV, answering emails and surfing the web. One of the easiest ways to simplify your life is to stop the glut of information that floods your brain, particularly negative input like the news. Truly, haven’t you noticed that ‘news’ really isn’t? It’s old ‘news’ by the time you hear it – there’s nothing you can do to change it – and it’s depressing to your mental and emotional health.

The same is true of all those drama series and ‘reality’ shows (reality? … really?) on nightly TV. Why not use that time to do something you enjoy, something uplifting and positive? Invest that time in friends, a good book, physical activity, etc. If you’re going to put your brain on auto-pilot, at least give it something happy to watch, something that makes you laugh!

Fourth, value your money more than things.  Money has an intrinsic value, aside from what it can buy. We all want to enjoy a long and active lifestyle. That requires a commitment to saving, not spending. Knowing that you have extra – a cushion against life’s surprises – is supremely comforting. It contributes to your sense of peace.

Cut those credit cards if you need to. Give yourself at least a 24-hour time-out before buying that thing you ‘just can’t live without’. You will find that your new simple life doesn’t need or support all those cravings for stuff. Ignore the bombardment of advertising and take pleasure in watching your savings and investments grow.

Lastly, move into slow motion. Busy is the new ‘buzzword’ in our society. It doesn’t have to be yours. Slowing down is emotionally comforting, mentally calming and spiritually relaxing. Warp speed is for spaceships, not people.

  • Spend quiet time alone.
  • Play calming music.
  • Eat slower.
  • Take time to connect with people you love.
  • Begin to value an uncluttered lifestyle, environment and schedule.

Learning to live a simple life is actually simple and uncomplicated. It requires a simple change in your thinking. Simplify your surroundings, your schedule, your commitments, your activities and your money habits. You will soon reap the pleasures and freedom, comfort and peace, that a simpler life provides. What are you waiting for?

 

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  1. Learn why pursuing simplicity creates more flow in your life so you can function out of a place where things just seem to work for you.

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