Could our western culture be at a crossroad? After decades of chasing more in an attempt to keep us with the Joneses, are we finally saying enough is enough? Take a look at holiday sales data and you’ll see that we have a long way to go. But there is also a growing movement to simplify and be more intentional about how we spend our time, energy and resources.
As I write this, you can’t scroll through social media without seeing mention of Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing consultant turned Netflix star. There are also huge movements to eliminate debt, disconnect from social media, and create distance from toxic relationships. In our always-connected culture of excess, more and more people are looking to simplify.
What does it mean to simplify?
Simplifying is the deliberate action of letting go of things that no longer serve you to make space for more of what is important to you. This can be anything from possessions, activities, habits, thoughts, and even people.Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ― Confucius Click To Tweet
Letting go can be a challenging thing to do, but I believe it’s part of the natural rhythm of life. Just like trees drop their leaves in the fall to prepare for new growth in the spring, we humans are meant to do the same. As we learn, grow, and change, so do our needs, interests, and desires. In order to become the people we’re meant to be, we must learn to let go of what we no longer need.
Why simplify?It is desirable that a man live in all respects so simply and preparedly that if an enemy take the town… he can walk out the gate empty-handed and without anxiety. – Henry David Thoreau Click To Tweet
When we get rid of what we no longer need, we make room for more of what we do. Then we have more time to spend on the activities and people who are most important to us. Letting go of that which no longer serves you will also relieve massive amounts of stress when you stop worrying about protecting and maintaining it. When you simplify, you allow space to appreciate all that you already possess.
Where to begin?
There are no hard rules or guidelines on where you should begin simplifying. You know what’s best for you.
Ask yourself, what’s one thing I could change in my life that would make every other aspect of my life better?
Your answer is likely a great place to start. As you make progress in one area, the art of simplicity will begin to spread throughout other areas of your life.
Here are some great places to start.
- Screen-Time and Notifications
- Media and Advertising
- Toxic People
- Diet and Nutrition
And last but not least, your wardrobe!
One of my favorite ways I’ve simplified life is by cutting back my wardrobe. Not only have I cut down the number of items I own, but I’ve also cut back on the colors I’m willing to buy. You’d be surprised how many options are available when you’re willing to wear ANY SHADE of black. 🙂
(Stick with me my fashionable friends. I promise I won’t make you ditch your fabulous shoe collection.)
The decision to simplify my wardrobe was born out of necessity as a business traveler. Although I only travel a quarter of what I used to, my perspective on fashion is here to stay.
And I’m not alone. Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and even Albert Einstein were known for their signature looks. When you free your mind of the stress that comes from shopping, maintaining, and coordinating your wardrobe, you free yourself up for more important things.Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury – to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind. ― Albert Einstein Click To Tweet
Here are some other ways wearing black has improved my life.
Keep it clean!
We just returned from a two-week adventure down the long and dusty roads of rural Mexico. And I couldn’t be more grateful for my black wardrobe that didn’t show dirt. Sure, there were days we were covered in dust. But there was never a point when we couldn’t simply wipe it off with our hands or a wet towel.
Whether I’m traveling for business or out on the hiking trail, I can go a week or longer with just a couple pair of black pants. No need to worry about packing a backup in case you spill coffee or drop a meatball. Just wipe it off, let it dry, and you’re good to go for tomorrow’s meeting.
Does this match?
When you only buy varying shades of black, nearly everything matches. It’s easy to pack light and have everything you need when you just pack black. My go-to list includes a black swimsuit, sarong, pants, skirt, dresses, shirts, sweater, hoodie, raincoat, and flip-flops.
I don’t like to shop, so when I do it, I often pick up similar items for my husband, Jer. Over the years our wardrobes have become almost identical. Aside from being confused about who this black, medium hoodie belongs to, black has simplified my laundry duties. Other than towels, there’s virtually no sorting required. No need to do a bunch of smaller loads to keep those whites white and colors bright. Our blacks always play nice with each other.The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run. – Henry David Thoreau Click To Tweet
Save time for the important stuff.
Deciding what I’m going to wear never takes more than 30 seconds. If it’s summer I grab a clean dress and put it on. If it’s winter I grab a pair of jeans and a black sweater. When I’m shopping, I only peruse the sections of black. When shopping online, I filter out anything that isn’t black or grey. And when I find something I really like, I buy as many multiples as I think I’ll need.
Can you see how one tiny tweak with something I don’t care much about opens up time and space for the things I do?
You might love shopping and fashion and that’s totally cool. The point isn’t about the clothes. It’s about getting rid of the things that are no longer serving you to make room for more of what does. For you that might mean hiring a cleaning lady so you have more time to shop.
What tiny task could you streamline to make more room for what you love? Tell me in the comments below or come say hi on Facebook.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December of 2015. It has been completely revamped for accuracy, comprehensiveness, and readability. Please enjoy and feel free to share this newly revised content.