Simplicity. On the face of it, it’s such an easy concept. But it’s much more difficult to put into practice! I don’t know about you, but my life is busy and full of distractions. I have an ‘ideal’ of a simple life, but, in reality, I’m a million miles from it.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of reading around the idea of simplicity, and living a more simple life. One of my favourite books of all times is Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance. In a nutshell, I adore Sarah’s philosophy: by living simply, you can attract an abundance of the things that are important to you.
Now, I’m not a lifestyle expert, and my home will never feature in a Scandinavian magazine, so I am not the best person to give out tips on decluttering. True, I have a clean, tidy wardrobe that very much follows the ‘minimalism’ principle. But in my home, the word ‘uncluttered’ stops there! If you’re looking for advice on decluttering, there are lots of other blogs that write about the subject brilliantly! I recommend Be More With Less as a really good place to start.
What I’m more interested in is finding out what makes me tick, so that I can more fully embrace simplicity. Do you want to join me?
I am currently reading The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey. I will write a review on this one(!) but for now I just want to draw on one aspect, which is to define your core values. After thinking about my own core values (you can read a list here to get you started), I realised that simplicity is connected with many of the things I value at a deep level: authenticity, achievement, beauty, creativity, faith, friendships, happiness, kindness, love, meaning, self-respect, and wisdom.
Simplicity and Authenticity
In a world where the media rules supreme, it’s easy to get drawn into a search for perfection. Every day we’re bombarded with images that tell us what we should look like, what type of house we should live in, what car we should drive. We’re expected to lead these photoshopped lives which just add to the enormous pressure that most of us are already under. I think it’s time to strip things back. I’m never going to look like Victoria Beckham – nor would I want to – so it’s time to stop following the media’s idea of what’s hot, and follow my own instincts. Simplicity is about being authentic. It’s about being true to yourself. And it’s about not cluttering up your life by trying to be someone you’re not. You’re beautiful, so be yourself!
Simplicity and Achievement
I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve. Every day I start out with a huge ‘to do’ list and bags of enthusiasm to match. By the end of most days I still have a huge ‘to do’ list, and a sense of failure because, somewhere along the way, my plans have been derailed. Not only have I not done what I set out to do but I now have an even longer list for tomorrow.
Chris Bailey recommends the Rule of 3, which I’ve been following for precisely 3 days! Basically, the idea is that each day you set 3 priorities for yourself and then you do them. So far it’s worked, and I have reached the end of each day feeling pleased with myself that everything on my to do list has been ticked off. Three days isn’t really long enough to give the rule a proper test drive, so I’ll keep you updated on how I fare over the longer term.
Simplicity and Beauty
Last week I read an article that suggests that the beauty regime for women across the globe currently consists of 15 different products.Yes, you read that correctly. I have neither the time, the money, nor the inclination to layer on that many projects. For me, a basic regime of a few tried and tested favourites is good enough, and keeps my skin feeling soft and cared for.
I do tend to change up my make-up routine a couple of times a year, but that’s got as much to do with my skin shade changing with the seasons as anything. The products I’m currently using can be found here.
Simplicity and Creativity
There’s an old adage called the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Stupid. I’ve certainly found it’s the best principle to follow when it comes to my creativity. I always have a number of different projects on the go – whether that’s learning a new song on my guitar, writing a short story, or practicing my calligraphy. I’m not a great finisher, so I’ve often got projects ‘on the go’ that I come back to again and again. The only way I can cope with that is to keep each of my projects simple. That way I can pick them up as inspiration strikes, and carry on where I left off. If a project is too difficult, I spend half my time backtracking and working out where I was…and that’s no fun!
Simplicity and Faith
Back in the 90s I was lucky enough to work for my local church, as PA to the then leader, Roger Ellis. Roger was passionate about Celtic spirituality and, with his friend, Chris Seaton, wrote a book on the subject called The New Celts. The book is out of print now, but you can still buy it on Amazon for 1p plus postage and packaging. It may well be the best penny you have ever spent if you’re interested in developing your faith and want to embrace simplicity as part of that. Even after all these years the truths contained in this book resonate with me, and I find myself wanting to push deeper into those Celtic roots.
Simplicity and Friendships
It’s become a bit of a cliche that the best friendships are those that run so deep that you can always pick up where you left off, regardless of the time or distance between you. I think that’s true, and can certainly testify to one or two fantastically rich friendships with people I rarely see. Even so, I think any relationship will blossom if you invest into it. I think it’s all about keeping friendships simple: loving one another, accepting each others’ faults, making a history together, and having fun. The killer for any friendship will be when one party makes too many demands or puts too much pressure on the other. Keep it simple, friends…and enjoy!
Simplicity and Happiness
When I got to thinking about my core values, I realised that happiness is at the top of my list. My happiness is the thing that drives me forward. It’s what I live and breathe for. I hope that doesn’t sound too selfish, but the truth is that if I’m unhappy in any area of my life, my knee-jerk reaction is to get out. That’s a principle that has often made me – and those I love – even unhappier.
These days, if I’m feeling unhappy about anything, chances are I’ve made things too complicated. Take work, for example. I love my job and have done for the last 9 years. During that time I’ve grown enormously and that’s thanks to having a wonderful team around me. About 18 moths ago I was promoted to Chief Executive and whilst I was grateful for the opportunity and excited about the prospect of leading the charity into the future, I felt burdened by it. I became increasingly unhappy and didn’t really know why. Then, a new Trustee asked to see my job description. I didn’t have one! Once that was rectified, my attitude towards my work changed. I feel excited again and determined to make this a success. One simple adjustment and I’m happy again!
Simplicity and Kindness
Kindness is underrated in my book. We lead such busy – and complicated – lives that sometimes it’s the little things that get brushed aside. I’ve been guilty of letting my stress get the better of me, and I’ve been sharp when I should have been kind. If you’ve been at the wrong end of that then I’m truly sorry.
Unkindness is horrible. Not only does it leave the recipient feeling rubbish, but the perpetrator doesn’t feel any better for it, either. Let’s keep it simple, and just be nice to one another. Think how much better the world will be if we were all a little bit kinder. Check out the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation for some great ideas of how you can make your world a little bit better.
Simplicity and Love
I hate game-playing with a passion. If you love someone, tell them! If you love them but, just at this particular moment in time, you don’t like them very much…tell them! For me, love is all about communication. Talking will keep the flames of passion alive long after the face and body have gone south! Matthew and I are (finally) at the stage in our relationship where we can enjoy weekends away together. The romance of Paris certainly adds a bit of je ne sais quoi to our marriage, but it’s the simple stuff – loading the dishwasher, changing the duvet and talking about our day (even the seemingly unimportant bits) – that keep us together, and keep us strong.
Simplicity and Meaning
As I’m growing older, I find myself thinking more philosophically about my life. What am I here for? Why am I here at this point in time? I know I’m just part of a bigger tapestry, but I want the little thread that is my life to have meaning. That, if I wasn’t here, there would be a hole in the ‘big picture’. That doesn’t mean that my life has to be bold and flashy. Even dull colours have their purpose, for it’s a dark backdrop of sky that the stars shine against.
For my life to have meaning, I need to keep my marriage, my family life and my work simple.
It’s all too easy to complicate things. To somehow believe that making things bigger and bolder will also make them better, but that isn’t always the case. Keep it simple – and keep sane!
Simplicity and Self-Respect
I used to struggle with my self-esteem. It seemed that everyone else (and I mean everyone) was better than me. They were cleverer, more successful, wealthier, and prettier, with bigger boobs and smaller feet than me. Stupidly, I became involved with someone who told me the same things with such regularity that they became imprinted in my psyche.
Then one day I met my husband and – slowly – things began to change. For the first time in my life, I was with someone who appreciated me for who I was. Instead of putting me down, he built me up counteracting all of my negatives with a positive. Slowly and surely I started to believe that I was more than my history; that when friends complimented me, they might just be telling the truth; that maybe my degree wasn’t a fluke (or that my tutors and markers were just being kind!).
This autumn, I am pushing my self-respect to the next level by getting fit. At the time of writing this, I’m on week 7 of Couch to 5k and I’m doing well. Did you notice that little improvement in my self esteem? I’m doing well. I can now run 25 minutes non-stop. It’s not easy but, boy, I feel great about it – and I’m basking in this great feeling of self-respect!
Simplicity and Wisdom
If I could wave a magic wand and have one gift that would stay with me for the rest of my days, it would be the gift of wisdom. How wonderful would it be to be able to say the right thing at just the right time; to make choices that brought about the best possible outcomes; to be rational and think clearly. For most of us, wisdom is a skill that we can acquire. It’s something that comes with age, and is possibly one of the few positives of growing older!
Sometimes we can’t see the wood for the trees, but if we simplify a decision – perhaps by boiling it down to an either/or choice – we’ll often come to a place where a difficult choice can be made wisely.
Well, well, well. What started off as a simple blog about embracing simplicity has gone on for ever. I hope I haven’t complicated it too much, and that you’re still with me!
What are your tips for embracing simplicity?
Have you tried connecting simplicity with any of your own core values?
What did you find out?
I look forward to hearing all about your journey too! Don’t forget to leave a comment below. Or connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.
Lots of love, x