The word "simple" gets thrown around often enough, but I'm not sure how many people ever sit back and think about what this word actually means. The dictionary definition is easy enough - it means plain, basic, or uncomplicated in form, easily understood or done, or presenting no difficulty. But what does this mean for us and what does it mean for our lives?
When I think of simple living, I think about getting back to basics. To me, it means whole foods, living a debt-free lifestyle, and being a conscious consumer. It also means having free space in my day to day schedule as well as in my home. However, in order to do these things, there's something else we have to do first. We have to choose. We have to choose our priorities in life. We have to decide what our values are. Sometimes we just have to know who we are or choose who we want to be.
When I tell a client that we need to simplify, or declutter, what I mean is that we have to choose. This looks different for everyone. When I was going through this process personally, I thought long and hard about my actual habits and tendencies. I had a whole bookshelf perfectly organized with all the books I had ever owned in my life. Most of them I had read and loved. Some were old textbooks from college that I was convinced I would need again at some point. A lot of the books had never been opened yet. I had chosen them once, but hadn't made time for them yet. Sometimes I looked at them and got a little anxious - silently in my head, those books I purchased at one point for the joy of it, were turning into items on my to-do list I needed to read and cross off. Why did I have so many unread books?
So, I simplified. I decluttered. I chose. I went through each and every book on that lovely, well-organized bookshelf. I looked through my textbooks and realized I had already gone through my first two years of teaching and never thought of any of these books once. If I needed something, I used the internet. Gone. I picked up all the books I had purchased, but never read. I listened to my gut. Did I even want to read it anymore? Most of them - gone. Then I did the hardest part. I went through my very favorite books that I had already read. I acknowledged the fact that only twice in my life had a I ever reread a book (The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller & Summer Sisters by Judy Bloom, for the record). I got rid of these cherished books as well. I donated all of them to a local thrift store. I felt so free.
I think a lot of people hold on to old beloved items because they use them to help identify who they are. The issue is, for many of us, there just isn't SPACE. There isn't space in our homes, and there isn't even space in our lives. I'm not instructing you to go home tonight and purge all your books. I'm suggesting that you maybe question how you feel on a day to day basis... at home, in your car, in your work setting. Would it benefit you to simplify? To choose? Are you holding on to things that once identified who you were, without taking the time to consider who you are now, or who you want to be? Make space for present-day you. You'll be glad you did.