Keeping the Peace, Life

Minimalism and 10 Ways To Make Less Truly More

You’ve heard the saying Less is More before and I know it rings true for many. But in our society where there is a huge focus on more money, more stuff, and more of basically everything as a pathway to happiness, it may be difficult to think you can be happy with less. Of course, sometimes having more money can help you solve certain problems and give you more freedom to do so, but in itself, it definitely doesn’t make you happy.

In the last few months, I’ve been going through a bit of a transition. So many changes have been happening in my life and in our family’s life. It has really caused me to dig even deeper inside and reflect a lot on what is most important to me. Along this road of self-discovery I’ve been on, I knew I wanted to continue to strengthen my faith, get healthier, pursue my passions, and simplify my life. It sounds like a lot to accomplish, I’m sure, but it’s a process. Nothing ever happens overnight and there have been several experiences that have really enabled me to improve on each of these things. One of the hardest and what will possibly take a lifetime to accomplish is simplifying my life and that of my family. It’s a tall order for anyone, but minimalism has been something that I’ve really aspired to for a long time.

I recently watched the documentary Minimalism featuring Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who are known as the The Minimalists. I highly recommend taking the time to watch it. You can find it on Netflix, but here’s a preview. Some of the things that people did to simplify their lives may be a little unrealistic for me and our family of four, but so many things are truly attainable. In a way, I’ve been in the middle of this process for a while. The documentary was a game changer though and now I feel called more than ever to pursue this lifestyle because it lines up with all of the areas in my life where I want to grow (check out my intentions for the new year in January’s post). Minimalism is more than just letting go of a lot of stuff (and I look forward to continuing to purge), it’s mastering the art of letting go in general. As someone who deals with major anxiety, learning to let go is a huge part of gaining more peace. A room full of clutter can be just as debilitating as holding onto anger and fear. So living in minimalism can only help me in that process.

It’s a lesson we have always tried to teach our kids, but not always the easiest to implement. I think a little viewing of the film may be in order for them as well or maybe if we made a contest for which one of them can get rid of the most stuff, we’ll get a good response? Right now, mom and dad are winning! In all seriousness though, our kids are growing up in an age where children feel very entitled to things and are constantly on a mission to obtain more. It’s difficult to go against the grain. It feels like an uphill battle sometimes, but wouldn’t it be great if we all concentrated more on being kinder, giving more, having experiences, and spending more quality time with each other in order to bring us joy instead of buying more, taking more and being selfish? It’s our duty as parents to teach our kids that being good people is the only thing that will make them happy and that having more stuff will never fulfill them. As I say this, I’m thinking about our Lego collection that could fill a small museum, but remember, it’s a process. Truth be told, kids need a lot less to entertain them than we think and bonus, we get more space!

Most importantly for our family, today begins the Lenten Season, starting with Ash Wednesday. Our ashes are a reminder to us that from dust we came and to dust we shall return. That life here is temporary and that we should put our focus on eternal life, not of the things of this world. We also fast, but it’s not just that we don’t eat meat or eat only one large meal a day. We also try to do more good, strengthen our faith through prayer and reading the word, and fast from things that are not good for us or for others, things that can lead to sin. So for the next 40 days I will be giving up a few things that I’ve had way too much of and concentrating more on my faith. One of these things is facebook and while I’ll be working on my regular blog posts and sharing through instagram to The Peace To My Puzzle‘s facebook page, I will not be spending all day on an off that particular social media platform. I will be taking a much needed getaway from fb posting on my timeline or reading the news feed. For those who love to see what we’re up to, I’ll share a pic through IG now and then and you can always follow The Peace To My Puzzle on Instagram. I will still be conducting needed business, but it will not be the place to contact me if you want to reach me quickly. Lent is giving me a much needed push toward minimalism, by reminding me of what is important and helping me let go of my attachment to my device. So, if you want to give up something for Lent, consider meeting with people in person, calling them on the phone, or even texting them and sending smiling photos of yourself instead of losing so much valuable time on social media like I have.

If Lent isn’t something you celebrate and you’re looking for some ways to get started,
here are 10 easy ways to start living your own life of minimalism:

1. Write down all the things, feelings, situations and even people you need to let go. Then toss the paper into your fireplace (If you live in Florida, this might require some creativity. Keep it safe)

2. Get rid of stuff every day, even if it’s just one thing. It will add up and little by little you’ll be clutter free.

3. Set up 3 baskets for donations, recycling, and trash in your garage. Make a goal to fill them weekly or monthly.

4. Don’t overcommit yourself or your family. This can cause undue anxiety on you and them. Do your part and stay active with your family, without filling every single moment with “doing” something. We all need time for “being” too.

5. Collections are great, but keep them to a minimum. If you collect books, then consider doing away with something from your handbag collection. I’m not speaking from personal experience here at all…wink wink

6. Make simple meals that require only a few ingredients and eat out of bowls so that you can monitor portions. That way no one overeats or wastes food.

7. Get rid of any clothes or shoes you haven’t worn in a year. Chances are you’re not that big of a fan of those items. Wearing things multiple times in a month (so long as they’re fresh and clean) is not against the rules and really, why should you care what people think anyway? Stick with just your very favorites and the pieces that are interchangeable.

8. Think about what your family and friends might love that you have and gift it to them. I’m not talking about a regifting of the sweater you despise that you got from your mother-in-law at Christmas kind of situation here, but more of a “I read this book and think you would love it” kind of scenario. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?

9. Get back to the basics of family living. Shared meals together, bike rides, board games, coloring, gardening, or whatever floats your boat. Getting rid of cable was the best thing we ever did! When TV and devices are off it can really free you up to engage more with each other.

10. Cultivate your minimalism. Remember it is a process. If you work on it daily and help it grow, you will see how freeing it is and how much peace it will bring you.

The thought of not hanging onto anything is really so liberating. When you can understand that it’s all stuff or at least that it’s not important in the grand scheme of life, you will be able to live with a lot less. We all want and need the basics in life; Love, food, clothing, and shelter. But beyond that, there’s not much else we truly have to have to live a happy and peaceful life. There are so many that have way less than even that. Let’s stop being people who continuously consume and hold on to things and bad feelings and start being people who are constantly giving, letting go, and sharing light and love with all people.

There’s beauty in the simple things. Make sure to let go of what you’re holding on to, so you don’t miss it all.

Mountain Farm Museum at Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Peace & Blessings,

Darlene xo

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