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When I started Simple Clean Living in 2011 it started as my journey to move away from highly processed food. I wanted to create more foods that were made with clean, healthy, whole food ingredients. It was also about choosing household cleaners and personal care products. I wanted products that didn’t contain all of the toxic chemicals that so many store-bought products contain. But I find that the older I get, the more I’m drawn to living a simple life in every aspect. But what is simple living really all about?
Simple living defined
Simple living is also known as slow living and it is a conscious lifestyle choice. We live in a time when our society prizes being busy all the time. It is not only encouraged but expected that people will always be working. Many companies even expect employees to be available to respond to communication about business-related things past work hours. I certainly have experienced jobs where I was expected to respond to work emails 7 days a week and 24 hours a day.
But in 2020 the world was forced to slow down. The Covid-19 pandemic forced people to embrace a slower way of living. It made us focus on what was truly important. People spent more time with loved ones. More people were cooking from scratch. Many people picked up hobbies that they had loved, but that had long been left behind because they were just too busy for them.
A new “normal”
But now that the world is returning to some sense of normal, there are many who realized that they no longer want a life that is constantly busy anymore. They don’t want to be a part of the constant hustle that so many productivity experts are pushing. Many look to focus on what is truly important. They want to live a more intentional and mindful life. For many, it is about finding true happiness and fulfillment, not just trying to follow the status quo.
This is partly why so many people are “quiet quitting” their careers. They are no longer willing to go above and beyond and to always be on call and in demand. So they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing and no more. I believe that the pandemic has encouraged a growing number of people to choose a more simple and slower way of living. And they are finding that there is more satisfaction and greater happiness in doing so.
My call to live a simple living lifestyle
I had been moving towards simple living for a while. But in 2021 that call increased significantly. In September of 2021, I unexpectedly lost my father. In the months that followed his passing, we began facing all of my dad’s physical belongings. There were plenty of things that did hold a lot of meaning for my family. But there was also a whole lot more “stuff” that was really just taking up space. As we sorted through those things I began thinking about all of the “stuff” that was taking up space in my life. And I realized that I didn’t want to be weighed down by so many things that I don’t use. These things no longer serve a purpose in my life. And this isn’t just the physical, tangible items. Whatever no longer aligns with my spirit has to go!
So while I’ve been eating a simple, clean diet for a while, and using cleaner personal care products and household cleaners, that just isn’t enough for me anymore. I want my whole life to be focused on a slower way of living. I am walking away from the hustle and moving to the flow. Some people may think it’s boring, but my life is better already as a result. And I’m just really getting started!
What are the rules to simple living?
When it comes to simple living, there is no one fast rule that everyone must follow. Simple living is what you make of it. One person may choose to live in a 400 sq. foot tiny home or on a converted bus. Someone else may choose to live a homesteading life, growing their own food, and raising farm animals. Some may choose a very minimalist way of living. I live in a suburban area in an 1100 sq. foot house with a very tiny backyard. But you could live in a big house and still choose to live simply. Some choose to garden and can food. Others move to make their own clothing. Many take up thrifting and recycling. There’s no wrong answer…it’s what works for you!
To me, simple living is getting rid of the excess, the things that aren’t being used. These things no longer serve a purpose or are just taking up space. Yes, this can definitely be material possessions. But it can also go deeper than that. It can also encompass outdated beliefs or habits. It could be a job that is no longer serving your best interest or that is creating more stress for you than necessary. But it could also be a relationship (of any type) that has extended far longer than it should’ve. Anyone can make the move towards living more simply.
It’s also about eating simple, whole foods. That was how the whole slow living movement started. In 1986 the first McDonald’s opened its steps in Italy and the people protested. There was a call to stay away from fast food and to continue to preserve and protect the traditional local culinary traditions.
Examining my life to make it more simple
I recognized that simple living is about focusing on the things that really matter to me. And it’s about getting rid of the things that just don’t matter. This has led me to really look at my life in depth. I’m having to ask myself some tough questions. And I’m thinking about the things that really are important to me and what are not. I’m readjusting my life so that I’m focused on things that bring me more joy and satisfaction. Here are the things I’m looking at.
Every time I’ve moved in my life, I’ve always been astonished at just how many material possessions I own. Honestly, most of those things I don’t use…ever! They are taking up space. As someone who is energy sensitive, the energy of those material possessions only clogs the energy of my environment. And I feel it every single day. So I started the process of going through all of my belongings. And I’m clearing things out that just aren’t being used or that I don’t want anymore. There is a lot being donated, sold, or given away now. This is also allowing me to begin organizing those things that I am keeping in my life. It is a marathon, not a sprint and so I expect that this part of simplifying my life will take months to do. But that’s okay!
My time has become very important to me. And I realized just how much time I waste on things that just don’t matter that much in my life. Take social media and television for instance. I had no idea just how much time I was spending on my phone each day. So I started paying attention to the screen time app on my phone and was completely shocked. I was spending almost 10 hours actively on my phone on average. And that’s not even counting all of the time I’m also on my laptop!
I do a lot of work on my phone. Anyone who is a content creator does. And I wish I could say that all of that time was doing work. But that just isn’t the case. I create a lot of my content using my laptop. So I should never require any more than a couple of hours on my phone for work. And that’s the maximum. Most days I require much less time for that. The truth is that I was spending a LOT of time mindlessly scrolling on social media each day. But I never questioned how it made me feel. When I did it wasn’t good. Social media was stressing me out. It was sucking my energy and I was letting it. Definitely time for a change!
I have definitely had a bad habit of binge-watching videos. Whether it’s the latest streaming show or movie or Youtube video, I was wasting a LOT of time binge-watching things. And I know I’m not alone in that. In fact, the streaming services expect that! And social media channels that focus on short content videos aren’t any better. You could lose hours on Tiktok or watching reels on Instagram if you’re not careful!
Do you find yourself endlessly binge-watching things on Netflix? Or scrolling for hours on Tiktok? It is easy to do. But what do you really gain from that? For me, I realized that there wasn’t much benefit in my life. It wasn’t really making my life better. And it certainly wasn’t helping me to feel fulfilled. So now I am much more mindful about the time I spend on social media. If I’m going to spend time on Youtube, now I choose mostly content that helps me to grow and learn. I’m learning more about herbs. And I’m learning how to paint with watercolors too! Those things help me to feel fulfilled and are much better uses of my time than being mindless.
I have worked plenty of jobs in my life. But over the past several years I’ve noticed that I haven’t felt very comfortable in certain jobs. I work as a freelancer primarily now. And I’ve worked as a content creator and blogger for big companies and small companies alike. And so I was wondering what it was about some companies that wasn’t comfortable for me. The companies that I worked for that felt this way for me were ones that were pushing the “hustle culture” mentality. These were companies that expected more for less and where stress was high. Now, none of these companies are bad. In fact, most are doing some really great things in the world. But for me, the energy of “hustle culture” just doesn’t work anymore. Honestly, it never did. And it led me into a life of stress and anxiety, always trying to fit into a world I wasn’t designed to fit into.
So I’ve chosen to work for me. I know what schedule works best for me. It allows me to work on my own deadline and not be at the mercy of someone else’s.
We’ve all had relationships that weren’t healthy, but that we held onto much longer than we should’ve. Toxic relationships can happen with anyone. It can happen in a friendship, a romantic relationship, or even a relationship with a family member. And those relationships can drain you of your energy. And yet, so often we stay because it is comfortable or familiar.
I’ve had to take a look at the relationships in my life. This is actually something I did many years ago. And I weeded out people who were the “Negative Nellies” in my life. They were the ones who tended to always cause problems. Some of these people were completely removed from my life. I know that it’s not always possible to completely remove some people from your life. But you can reduce the time you spend with them. And you can choose to not engage with them if they are being negative or toxic.
Letting go of the need for instant gratification
So much of today’s world is geared towards instant gratification. We want things quickly and we want them now! But simple living lets go of the need for instant gratification. It’s about decelerating the pace of everyday life. It’s being willing to cook a meal from scratch and savoring the flavor of a meal made with love. This is a far cry from what happens when you go through a fast food drive-thru.
It is about taking your time and not being in a rush. This allows you to see and appreciate the little things. People say that you need to stop and smell the roses. But too many people are far too busy to ever do that. But when you’re living a simple life and living at a slower pace you can take the time to experience the beauty of the world around you. I get a profound sense of joy from taking a few moments to watch the birds at my backyard feeders each day.
And I always see something new and profoundly beautiful when I go for a nature hike at my local state park. When I was in hustle mode I never had time to notice those things. But I’m so glad I’m taking the time for that now.
What simple living has given me
When I live more simply I find that my stress is MUCH lower. And since stress is a major contributor to chronic illness, that is definitely beneficial to my health! But I also find that I’m happier and I have a greater sense of fulfillment. And I’m really only beginning my own full simple living journey. I see so much more beauty in the world because I am taking the time to savor my life. And it’s amazing just how much beauty is out there when you slow down enough to see it! I know I will uncover far more things to simplify in my life on my path in the future. And I will gladly share them with you when I do!
There is so much more to uncover about living a simple life. And I’ll be sharing much more in the future, so stay tuned!
Have an amazing day!