To live simply is a value not a goal. This became evident when John and I moved to an apartment half the size of our previous house. I wrote about this here.
Like many other older people, we based our decision to downsize on practicalities. Arthritis made gardening seem like a chore. Rooms not used or under-used needed cleaning. We paid for maintenance we once did ourselves. We drove our cars to shops, church and the doctor. The list went on.
We worried in case we made the wrong decision because we didn’t know if we were ready to change our lifestyle so dramatically. What tipped the scale towards the move came as the knowledge that we could make the decision, rather than have other people later make it for us.
To live simply began as a goal
When we began our journey, I thought our plan to live simply meant that we’d declutter and move on. We had a goal (an endpoint) to work towards.
We anticipated a painful experience. How could we part with our beautiful objects, the contents of our shed and a full linen room, as well as the kitchen gadgets and clutter, without pain? How would we live without our ‘treasures?’
However, downsizing was far easier than expected. It brought a measure of joy, also, as we let things go to people who needed or loved our treasures. We worked out what was hoarded rubbish and happily discarded that as well.
We moved into the apartment with fewer things than I imagined possible. We’d done what we set out to do. Our new home worked well. It looked lovely. We needed nothing more. Goal indeed achieved!
To live simply became a new value
A few months after the big move, I noticed a disconcerting change in how I thought and felt about the way we live. It seems that we’d achieved the goal to downsize and, at the same time, created a shift in what we valued.
As well as that, I noticed a strong desire to continue to live simply because of the benefits I experienced and continue to enjoy.
Dr Russ Harris, in his book, The Happiness Trap, says that values are
Our heart’s deepest desires: how we want to be, what we want to stand for and how we want to relate to the world around us.
Leading principles that can guide us and motivate us as we move through life.
What does it mean in practice?
To live simply means, for me, to live a life of abundance and tranquility. With fewer things in my life, choices are simplified. Here are some examples:
- My wardrobe contains clothes I like. They fit me and go together. I can see what I have in the wardrobe at a glance so that dressing is simple and I seem to have clothes for every occasion.
- We use the best china and cutlery every day.
- Pots, pans and serving dishes fit neatly into cupboards and I can easily see what I need.
- The linen has been reduced so much that every sheet, towel, pillowcase or tea-towel is one of my favourites.
- Less space to stockpile means that grocery shopping takes less time and energy and my cooking has improved.
- Fewer knicknacks, vases and books ensure that dusting takes a few minutes.
- Best of all, our whole apartment looks tranquil and welcoming. I love to open the door and see the beautiful spaces that we call home.
Now that I’ve begun the journey to live simply, I look forward to whatever the next steps will be. I have an image of a neater computer, more streamlined budgeting and even more space, abundance and tranquillity.