How To Discover The Simple Things
Simplicity & Minimalism
The way that the sun reflects across your blinds and beams across your face in the sleepy dawn of morning, finding a letter in your post box from a close friend thinking of you, watching the sun set and the moon rise above you – these are the simple things.
Simplicity & minimalism seem to be on-trend words for an aspirational lifestyle at the moment, with countless books finding themselves upon the shelves of our favourite shops, explaining how we too can achieve this. Get rid of your things, eat a clean diet, have no-spend months, stop wearing makeup, own just four items of clothes – the tips are endless. The thing is, in my opinion, the notion of simple and minimal means something a little bit more than just literal stuff. It is a way of being; a mind-set of how you approach both things and life.
Don’t just get rid of your things, dig a little deeper and define your own simple life.
1. Literal Stuff.
Okay, so I know I just said minimal and simple isn’t about literal stuff but hear me out.
I think that the way we approach literal stuff and the value we place on things is something that we should all consider. Do you have, or have you ever considered, an understanding of want and need?
It is something I’m forever discussing in my own head. For instance, recently I wanted to dye my hair. Why? Probably because I was a bit bored. Then I thought about it and figured that I could spend that £6 on something more productive, like dinner for instance. Also, I had talked myself to the point that I thought dying my hair would ultimately change how I feel as a person – how often do we all do this? The value of the hair dye went from being £6, to a temporary life changing event which would inevitably have gone wrong as I haven’t dyed my own hair since I was about 16 (and even then it looked pretty naff). To top it all off, the environmental implications of hair dye are pretty horrendous and easy to overlook when we are making a quick impulse purchase. I know that £6 isn’t a ground breaking amount of money, but what if we all had a little bit more contemplation about the consequences of these whimsical buys? We would not only save money for more important, soul-enriching adventures but also save ourselves the consequential guilt and embarrassment of a pretty horrendous hair do.
So, next time you find yourself making a purchase, just consider if you actually need it. The best thing in life isn’t things – get outside and surround yourself with people and laughter. Walk barefoot on the beach, go for a run in the rain, have a picnic anywhere you can pop down a blanket. Get busy organising your life, not your things.
2. Mind set.
Our overall well-being and mind set can contribute entirely to a simple and minimal lifestyle. Learn to say yes or no, don’t fill your life with maybe’s and uncertainties. Stop trying to organise your things and organise your mind. Be certain with yourself, but not hard on yourself.
If your main goal in life is to have lots of money, or to constantly be striving to buy yourself things, then you are not going to feel calm. However, if you make it a daily habit to practice gratitude for where you are and what you have, you will feel a whole lot more relaxed. I’m not saying that money doesn’t play a clear importance in our modern life, but just don’t be ruled by it. Understand where your money is going and to whom – try and support local, independent businesses whenever you can. Understand that wanting more doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger pay cheque, but a different style of life. Find that balance between being content with what you have and being motivated to take a leap of faith.
‘Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.’
You are going to have days where your entire being feels chaotic, because you know – life. This doesn’t mean you have failed, not even slightly. It means you are human and sometimes, everything loses its balance. What you can do though is take control of how you approach this imbalance and work towards re-finding balance. Yes, your fridge, washing machine and hoover might have all broken in the same 5 minutes. But no, your life will not end. There is always a solution.
And most importantly, above everything else, be kind.
So I just previously mentioned that wanting more sometimes doesn’t refer to money, but rather your style of life. This is crucial to your overall feeling of simplicity in your day-to-day life.
For a long time, my life was defined by the dreaded split shift, working until the early hours of the morning and then spending the rest of my time (and wages) on getting drunk. I think that this is pretty average behaviour for a twenty-one year old, but something’s got to give. It’s a chaotic and totally unsustainable way of life, far from the simplicity that I enjoy now. For a fair few years my motto was, ‘you can sleep when you’re dead’, but now if I don’t sleep enough I literally feel dead anyway. I now love getting up at 5.30AM with 8 hours sleep under my belt and a fresh head on my shoulders, and I honestly believe that once you get to this stage, there is no going back.
Yes, it is true that no one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep, but you might look back on your life and remember the times when you basically didn’t sleep and felt horrendous.
Your lifestyle can totally define your mind-set. Are you working in a job you don’t like? Are you working so much that you have no time to see any of your friends? Maybe you feel like you don’t have any friends but don’t have the time to try and find some! If you want your life to be full of the simple things, then take a leap of faith towards the lifestyle that you want to have, because I’m telling you right now that you don’t get life No. 2.
4. Home & Surroundings.
You might be able to see a link by now between each of these and how they all work harmoniously together, rather than little chunks in your overall life. So, to finish with I just want to talk a little bit about your home and surroundings and the way that I believe this contributes to achieving a minimal and simple life.
I know a lot of people that feel they have to move to London. I do not understand this. If you love London and you feel true joy stomping around the streets of a spectacular city, then great. However, if you are living in a city you hate because you feel like you have to in order to progress in life, hating every minute of it, then something is not right. Thanks to the Internet and the fact that the world is massive, there are certainly many more options for you to explore. Equally, if you are living in an idyllic village in the middle of no where, but are bored out of your brain and feeling guilty because you heart belongs in a city and you can’t stand to see another patch of grass, then off you go! Don’t worry about your stuff, but instead be concerned with the true wonder that is your mind.
Step out of your door each morning feeling grateful for where you have chosen to live, permanently or temporarily, because it is your choice. You might have a massive house, or a tiny studio flat, but that doesn’t matter. Home is where the heart is, and where that heart belongs only you know.
So, if at this point you still feel that achieving simplicity and minimalism can only be attained through throwing away all of your belongings then go ahead, burn those things away! I hope however that your eyes are open to the simple things and the way that you can, by digging a little deeper, define your own simple life.