Lately I’ve been feeling more and more overwhelmed by life in general and have felt a real craving for a a more simple life. I’m not talking moving to the countryside and raising chickens kind of simple life btw – just a yearning for less stress, less mess and more happiness *ooh that rhymed*
I have been reading lots around the idea of minimalism and embracing a simpler lifestyle, as well as watching YouTube videos from those who have embraced it. And whilst I’m never going to want to live with practically nothing in a white box there are ways in which I’ve decided to start introducing the basic principles behind the lifestyle.
According to David Wann, co-author of Affluenza: The All Consuming Epidemic, the happiness levels of some of the most affluent countries in the World, including Britain and the USA, peaked in 1957. Now it is the richest countries around the World who have the most stress, and it seems as though the higher the levels of consumerism become the lower the levels of satisfaction with life become too.
Fast-fashion is now standard; cheaper clothes made abroad – designed to last for the short while that they will be fashionable for. Landfills are filled with clothing and home decor that has been chucked because it’s no longer ‘on-trend’. I’m tired of the whole ‘keeping up with the Jones’ mentality that I see everywhere. I feel genuinely exhausted by it and uninterested in it. Buying something new gives a temporary release of endorphins which explains why a shopping trip feels so ‘fun’. But later on once that chemical cocktail has left your body you start to crave another hit – think ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ and so to get that hit you go shopping again for something bigger, newer or ‘better’.
I am determined to break that cycle for myself this year. I don’t want my endorphins to come from a new pair of shoes, or through buying something that I don’t need. I want the feel-good moments in my life to come from time spent with my family and friends, from hugs, from long walks, from making a fresh pot of tea, from making something with my time. I’m craving less pressure and less stress and part of that for me is the removal of the clutter I surround myself with.
Here are a few ways in which I am going to try and embrace a simpler, more minimalist lifestyle:
This one will be really tough for me – my work role is naturally very stressful and highly pressured. At the moment I am looking into a possible career change; something that I can leave at work at the end of the day and not have to worry about on weekends. This might mean less money but actually I’ve realised that I would rather earn less and have a better quality of life than always be earning more but gaining more stress and pressure on my time.
Since having Lily, and even before that my life has always been about having more when it came to my career. From more working hours when I worked part time, to more money, to a ‘better’ job, to more appreciation, to becoming more valuable to a business, to making myself more available, to impressing more people. I’ve realised now that all that ‘more’ was also bringing more stress, more exhaustion, more feelings of failure, more worries and more pressure to constantly strive. I no longer want to define my self-worth with my career. I want a job that is more flexible and less demanding. I want to be able to drop Lily to school (or pick her up). I want weekends and evenings to be about family time, not tying to catch up on everything I didn’t get completed during the day.
Of course this won’t be easy but I am hoping that 2017 will be the beginning of moving towards that for me – I may not achieve it but I can certainly try!
I’ve always been a total hoarder – even as a kid I would be loathe to get rid of anything (even packaging for toys because it might come in handy or it might get used to make something) but I’ve come to realise that having a home filled with ‘stuff’ just isn’t working for me any more. I’m not about to do anything drastic and throw away all of my belongings BUT I only want to be surrounded by things that I need and love. I’m never going to be the kind of person who has bare walls – I love my art and photography too much. And I’m never going to be the kind of person who only owns 2 pairs of shoes because I love my shoes however I do want to be someone who only owns the things they need and love and that means I need to have a serious de-clutter.
This year I’m also planning to embrace the idea of a capsule or minimalist wardrobe, both for myself and Lily, as we have too many clothes, not enough storage and so much of what we both have goes unworn. In my case I have clothes that haven’t fit me in nearly a decade, items that are sentimental to me but which have no place in my life any more, and pieces that I’ve bought but shoved in a drawer and forgotten about. I accidentally end up wearing the same clothes day in and day out so it makes complete sense to me that I would have a wardrobe intentionally chosen to be worn in that way. I want a wardrobe full of pieces that I actually enjoy wearing, not things that make me feel guilty for putting on weight or wasting money!
I’m hoping that by reducing the stress and mess in my life I open up more time and more space to increase happiness in it. I want my happiness – my joy, to come from simpler things; watching a movie with Scott, appreciating the beauty of everyday, taking the time to listen to Lily’s stories, preparing a tasty meal, relaxing in a room full of friends.
By spending less on things that I don’t need I hope to have more money to save up towards a family home, towards travel and holidays (something that brings me a lot of happiness), towards Lily’s future. By having less stress and pressure I will have more capacity to enjoy life – to get out of the rat race would help me to achieve that.
We will see how it goes – a lifestyle isn’t something you can change over night after all! And I will share my journey on here as always!