Minimalism is a newer concept to me. One I didn’t fully understand until I began to put it into practice. The concept of simplifying life, belongings, and responsibilities all to attain a more peaceful life, absolutely blows my mind. The practice of minimalism for me is all about freeing my mind from making so many decisions on a daily basis. It also allows me to more easily make important decisions and stop living my life on auto-pilot.
When you stop to think about all of the decisions that you make on a daily basis, it is staggering.
Which shirt works with these pants? What should I eat for breakfast? What do I pack the kids for lunch? Where should I stop for gas? How many loads of laundry need to be done today? Who is going to pick up the kids from camp? For me the list would continue into many many paragraphs. Juggling all of the things and needing to make decisions about so many different things takes a mental toll on me.
The idea of putting into practice routines to minimize thought fatigue is life changing. This concept can be applied in so many different aspects of our lives. Prioritizing life through a simplicity filter: by deciding if it is useful, does it add quality, and will it bring joy into my life.
Is it Useful?
As a former maximalist, I have quite a few collections, this questions is a hard one for me. I don’t just maximize my things, I also really enjoy maximizing my experiences. I love doing all of the things. However, I often find myself so over-scheduled that my once favorite activities are no longer fun.
Asking if it is useful, helps me to minimize thoughtfully both the physical and emotional aspects of my life.
A recent example would be a trip we took to visit friends and family. We had a long list of people to visit, activities to participate in, and places to see. Being a maximalist I want to say yes to all of the things, because they will all be fun. But doing everything would mean at the end of the vacation, I will need a vacation from my vacation. Sound familiar?
This time I made my decisions differently. Planned my time mindfully. And prioritized what would be useful for me. I needed some quiet time to relax and reflect, not a week filled with doing or seeing. So that’s what I did first. Once I was in a peaceful, happy place, then I made decisions about seeing people and doing some activities. I was able to prioritize myself first and it was amazing!
Does it add Quality?
For me this one is about the time it will take away from the things that are most important to me, myself and my kids. Is doing this thing worth the time away from what is most important to me?
I am a stay-at-home mom. I get very little time away from my children and the daily tasks of caring for their needs. When an offer to spend time with friends comes up, I always ask if it is something worthy of hiring a babysitter. Will it be adding something to my life or taking it away?
I really enjoy a lunch with girlfriends, the companionship and conversation adds so much back into my life the answer is without a doubt, yes quality is added to my life experience. On the other hand being invited to a party, is a hard pass for me. The engagement I get from large group of people isn’t there. I find groups stressful, I don’t get the level of intimate conversation I desire. So this does not add quality to my life. I allow myself to say no to these kinds of invitations.
Will it bring joy?
Bringing joy into my life is a huge motivator when it comes to decision making. The older I get the more forgiving I am of myself for not always knowing what will bring me joy. I still try things because I don’t know yet how they will make me feel. However, with age comes wisdom and some things very clearly do not bring me joy.
I put a very high value on a tidy home. Not a clean home but a tidy one. My body literally sighs with relief when everything is put away and in it’s home for the night. It is one of the happiest times in my day. As someone who has lots of things, this is all the more important, because those things can very quickly become chaos.
My home is a direct reflection of what brings me joy and happiness. I prefer order. Physical things all have a place and a space in which they belong. I thrive when following a schedule. I need meals planned. I am my happiest when life flows and I need to make very few decisions.
Making room to make decisions:
Establishing routines based on your needs and the answers to the above three questions will make room in your brain to make decisions.
If Monday night is always breakfast for dinner. Then dinner is planned and execution is simple.
If you know attending three children’s birthday parties in a weekend will exhaust the entire family. Then you can choose to attend just one.
Living Simply allows joy and freedom the opportunity to be dominate in your life.