The Simplest Thing I Ever Did

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Three years ago I suffered a breakdown. spent 25 years in Corporate America

I was done. I had nothing left to give. I drove to my parents’ house completely exhausted, my young daughter in the back, my pregnant belly pushing against the steering wheel, tears streaming down my face.

How did I get here? I tried to be everything to everyone. A loving stay at home mum, a supportive wife, a successful business-owner.

But instead of being accomplished, successful, important, what did I get?

Exhaustion. Guilt. Emptiness. Feelings of failure, sadness and overwhelm. I couldn’t sleep and constantly suffered headaches. I was doing nothing well.

The Turning Point

I’d like to tell you the moment I pulled into my parents’ driveway proved the turning point. Unfortunately, life had other plans. The closure of my business was swiftly followed by the birth of our baby boy. His arrival was even more swiftly followed by depression, anxiety and frighteningly dark thoughts.

Somehow, out of the darkness I was able to whisper to my husband the hardest words I’ve ever uttered, “Help me.”

The first weeks and months of treatment were incredibly difficult. I wasn’t crazy, I didn’t want to be prescribed anti-depressants, I certainly didn’t want to sit in a room with a stranger for two hours a week discussing my feelings. I just wanted to feel normal again. Actually, I just wanted to feel again.

The real turning point wasn’t uncovered in my psychiatrist’s office. It wasn’t even talking with my husband. It was online and completely by accident. The digital rabbithole lead me to Zen Habits and there I discovered the simple living movement.

Living with less stuff, less debt, less clutter meant living with more freedom, more time, more joy. I was certain this was the change I needed to make in my life.

Up to this point my life had been about more. Being more successful, moreefficient, more adept, more available, more, more, more… This attitude of more brought overwhelm, exhaustion and constant feelings of failure. I had become a victim of a modern-day epidemic – more at all costs.

What I needed now was less, of that I was certain.

Slow, Intentional Change

The last three years have seen me mindfully, slowly and sometimes painfully creating a life of simplicity. I am happier, healthier, more joyful, more relaxed, more prone to laughter and dancing, more engaged with my kids, more in touch with my emotions, more loving towards my husband, more interested and more interesting.

In short, I had my life affirmed by embracing simplicity.

Now I want to share 10 reasons why you stand to gain more from living a life of less.

 

10 Life-Affirming Reasons to Live a Simple Life

Acceptance:

As you simplify your life, you get closer to the core – the essence – of who you are. You can see in greater detail the faults, the flaws, the strengths and the beauty of your authentic self. It’s no longer hidden beneath layers of junk, clutter and distraction. Don’t get me wrong – this can be scary – we hide behind these things for a reason. But the more you simplify, the easier these layers can be peeled back.

Clarity:

You begin to see who and what is really important. You know what you want, what you need – and you have the time and space to explore those things further.

Clutter-Free:

In a physical sense your home, your bedroom, your studio become a haven from the busyness of life. A place where you can unplug and relax, surrounded by a limited number of things that are beautiful and useful.

Gratitude:

Recent studies show that practicing gratitude daily helps improve health and well-being. Embracing simplicity strips away the inessentials so you can see just how much of what surrounds you is worthy of your gratitude.

Health:

Almost universally, those who pursue a simpler life will become physically healthier. You become more mindful of what you eat, how much you eat, how you move your body and how you care for yourself. The awareness and simplification of your surroundings bring awareness and simplification of your body. Less junk, less inactivity, more whole food, more vitality, more movement, more health.

Presence:

You will no longer float through the days caught in your past or your future. The present will be your reality and you will be capable of living there, soaking it in, learning and participating. You will be present playing with your kids, loving your partner, talking with you friends, the work you do.

Relationships:

When you’re no longer weighed down with past, future, stuff, shoulds, worries and guilt, you have the time, energy and space to devote to relationships. They will bloom under the extra love.

Sex:

See above. It gets better the simpler life is.

Generosity:

As you realise you need less than you have, you have more to give. Initially your stuff, then your time and your money. You have so many resources that can help others. And embracing simplicity means you can give widely.

Joy:

There is so much more joy to be had when living a simpler life. The important things bring joy – the improved relationships and connections – the little things – a beautiful sunset, a child’s giggle, a bird in flight, the warmth of a room full of friends. You will have the time and energy to feel these.

This life is yours for the taking. Embrace it by embracing a life of simplicity. And while how to do that is another post for another day, I can give you one tip right now:

Start now and start small.

It’s simply a matter of small actions and time.

 

 

“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. In the wilderness God gave Israel the manna every day, and they had no need to worry about food and drink. Indeed, if they kept any of the manna over until the next day, it went bad. In the same way, the disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on accumulated wealth, and makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

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