sooo simple

Mental Shift: Focus on What You Don't Need Instead of What You Don't Have

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I am re-listening to Brene Brown's Power of Vulnerability lecture on Audible. (This is my third time listening to it because she is... amazing. I soak up her data and research like water in a sponge every time I hear it.) One of the first points she makes is about how we live in a society of scarcity. We can't get enough and we never have enough. So many of us can't stop worrying about not getting enough sleep or not getting enough done in the day and the list goes on. I imagine you're thinking about what you feel scarce about right now. Am I right?

This had me thinking. We really don't need more. We shouldn't feel these feelings of scarcity even though we do. In fact, I'd argue that it would help the majority of us if we felt less burdened by what we can't seem to get enough of and instead shifted our thinking to focus on what we can do without.

Have you ever decluttered a storage closet? It's like taking an eraser to the marks of chaos. It's not that the world sees these places (many are hidden by doors) but you know when they're neat and tidy. You know the feeling you get when everything has a place. If it's been a while since you've had this feeling (or maybe you've never felt this feeling) I encourage you to start trimming. Bit by bit you'll see what you really don't need.

Most of the time, we really don't need the new clothes, shoes, endless toys for the kids in our lives, [insert whatever it is that you buy here]. Now, you might be saying, Britnee it's easy for you to write about it rather than do it. You haven't seen my house. It's crazy! It'll never be where I want it. To that I say, it takes time and patience and practice. I'm still practicing it. That's another reason I started this blog! To chat about what works for me as I practice simple living.

If you're willing, then you can tackle it. 

Let's talk about some of the pitfalls - the things that deter us from this idea of having less and not needing it all. Once we identify those, we'll be more equipped to properly handle them and say BYEE to the excess. 

Pitfall #1: Shopping. Whether it's online or in-person, shopping is fun. For some people, it's so fun it's become an addiction. Bored? Go shopping. Happy? Go shopping. Reunited with family for an afternoon? Go shopping. This is a very real pitfall that's working against you. Good news is, it doesn't have to win! 

Pitfall #2: Significant other who may not see eye-to-eye with you on your simple vision. I've heard it more than once. Many people wish to do away with the excess but their significant others aren't on board. This can be a toughy. In those cases, I recommend taking it SLOW. Start a real conversation about why you want to trim and let them know why you want to do it. You might consider sharing a Pinterest or Houzz board of what you want your house to ultimately look like. Sharing examples can show someone with hesitation what exactly your end goal is. Show them that it doesn't have to be scary and the end-goal will be well worth it.

Pitfall #3: Feeling overwhelmed. I think we can all agree that this type of feeling is a natural response when we see a pile of anything staring back at us. My suggestion is to start small. You don't need to organize your entire garage this weekend. Think about cleaning out a few shelves first. The idea is for you to experience a few small wins to help motivate you to continue on to the big stuff. And once you have a few small wins under your belt, you won't want to stop because it really does feel good.

How cool would it be to simplify our homes and focus solely on streamlining them? Make them more peaceful. Make them more aligned with a feeling of calm instead of worrying about buying or accumulating whatever we thought we needed before. For me, that's living. 

If we're honest with ourselves, we know that there is so much that we really don't need. My challenge for you is to consider what you can do without this week when you're at the store debating that impulse buy. You went to Target for sunscreen and a card for your mom but you're debating whether or not to snag the mini-chalkboard easel, the blouse that screams spring and a few other non-essentials. 

If nothing else, have a little internal convo with yourself. You'll recognize your real needs if you know that 1) you're going to use those additional items and/or 2) you really won't and your impulse purchase is really just a whim to satisfy a fleeting craving.

RELATED POST: Decluttering: How to Organize Your House One Room at a Time & Keep Your Sanity

Mindful Living Is

To me, mindful living is something that has a fundamental meaning but manifests itself in various ways during different times in a month or a year. Lately, mindful living for me has been:

  • Thinking about my day before I get up in the morning
  • Eating more grains
  • Appreciating the sunshine
  • Cherishing moments with my husband and my dog, Roo
  • Indoor gardening

Minimal Mindset: Living Within Our Means

Part of being a minimalist, or in my case, starting to live like one is becoming aware of comparison. I know a handful of people (and have been guilty of it myself) who compare their small houses to their neighbors' big ones. Their old, yet paid off car, to someone's new leased one. Having lived in LA I've observed people who love, love to drive fancy cars. Have you seen where many of them live? The house doesn't align with the car parked in front of it.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tony Hsieh a few years ago. In case you don't know he's the one who started that little brand called Zappos. After meeting him I was completely shocked and really surprised to see how humble and unassuming he is. According to reports, Hsieh is worth almost $1 billion. He lives in a normal, yet nice apartment and wears the same t-shirts as you and I. If Tony, one of the most successful businessmen and pioneers of company culture ever, can live under his means then I've got something to shoot for because it's working out for him. He's got a bigger picture in mind. He keeps what's most important as his focus and disregards what would be relatively frivolous for anyone at his level.

We may not all be business masterminds but I think we can apply his minimal approach to our own lives. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating we all drive junky cars and eat ramen. Talk to my husband about this and he'll tell you how I really want a Volvo XC 90 as our future family car. What I am saying is let's not compare our "lack" of stuff to someone else's abundance and maybe we can aim to live slightly below our means instead of spending money we don't have on stuff we don't need to impress people we don't know or shouldn't care about impressing in the first place.

The Beginning

I've created this space to document my journey as I look for ways to kick the endless pursuit of consumerism to the curb and make a path out of less instead of more. The way I see it, we've got nice stuff in front of us all the time- fine dining, clothes, fancy houses and the compelling notion that we need it all. That's made up pressure, people. We actually don't.

I'm on a journey to share what I find while living a more minimal life. I've always found joy in the essentials but now it's time I try for something more- or rather less- for myself and my family.