What actually happens when you simplify your life?
Simplifying, minimalism, Essentialism. Choosing a simpler, maybe even smaller life, seems to be all the rage right now. It feels like the backlash to the gospel of hustle and the pressure to live up to an aspirational lifestyle.
But maybe you like a little hustle now and then. Maybe you do want to make a big impact.
If that’s the case, why would you actually choose a simpler life?
In my experience, there are some real benefits to choosing a simpler life.
It’s not about trading one form of perfectionism for another. And it isn’t about making your life dull and hyper-regimented. A simpler life, believe it or not, can actually lead to some pretty incredible benefits. You don’t have to give up your day job (or surrender half your stuff, either). Instead, by choosing less – and choosing better, you can find new forms of freedom, impact, and connection.
6 Benefits of Simplifying Your Life
When I don’t pack my days and weeks chock full with way too many things, there is white space that can exist. I have the time to integrate. I have the time to do the unspoken things that don’t make their way onto my to-do list. There is space for wonder and the kind of spontaneous self-care that really nourishes me.
Listening to music. Taking an extra long, hot shower. Meeting a friend for lunch at the last-minute. Wandering slowly through the cheese section at the grocery store (is that just me?).
I have the time to call people back, to have deeper conversations. I have the space to plan things well, instead of rushing headlong into the next activity.
This is perhaps the most stark benefit I’ve experienced, since taking myself through the Sacred Focus program and committing to a simpler life.
It used to be that my energy would yo-yo. I would be all in and firing on all burners one week. The next would find me sacked out on the couch, unable to move from burnout. I would work toward healing and then throw myself back into overwhelm once more. This happened again and again, with healing after each burnout phase, but no real plan to break that cycle.
Instead, with my life pared down the way it is, I have not only more capacity to offer myself healing, but I need healing less. I stay more even-keeled and experience the yo-yo of energy less. Which means less flaking and way less burnout.
Freedom, which really means flexibility and ease
When you choose simpler, you gain freedom.
Less stuff to chase around, maintain, clean, organize or throw away.
Less pressure to maintain your regimented schedule.
Fewer confines in which you live life.
More white space, to fill with what’s meaningful or what’s been missing in your life – and to get creative, to dream, and to integrate.
More ease to move through life according to your intuition’s wisdom.
Greater flexibility to choose well and adapt to shifts in life.
When I first began my journey to simplify my life, it wasn’t really about simplifying. It was more about how I wanted my everyday to *feel*. It was how I wanted my daily activities, relationships, work, and passions to live in my body.
What I wanted was to feel a sense of the sacredness, even in everyday tasks, That’s how I feel now. Not because laundry became an exalted experience overnight, but simply because I can slow down enough to be mindful of each of my tasks and experiences, as they’re happening.
I’m not rushing through my days, from one chaotic experience to the next. Instead, I can be slow and deliberate and bring my full, sweet attention to what I do and how I interact.
More money and capacity for generosity
A few things happened in my life, rather organically, when I started downshifting my life to make it simpler:
I stopped paying extra for convenience/waiting until the last minute/self-soothing. I no longer needed so many meals delivered in, because I had the energy to cook. Ditto for paying for a bunch of things or services in order to self-soothe. It simply wasn’t as necessary. And because I was more organized, I stopped paying inflated prices for buying things at the last minute or paying extra because I was in a pinch.
I’ve also gotten much more intentional about my generosity. And because I’m not paying extra delivery fees, spending money on stuff I don’t need, or over-paying for things, I actually have a greater capacity for generosity.
Here’s a secret: having a simpler life doesn’t mean that you’re just kicking it all day watching soap operas and eating bon-bons. (Although, if that’s your life, more power to you.) It’s not that, by simplifying, you suddenly have nothing to do or that life is totally boring.
On the contrary, life becomes really rich.
By simplifying my commitments and by choosing to take on fewer projects, I’m actually able to make a bigger impact than ever before. In the last three years, I’ve created a massive amount of content and a boatload of actionable resources. I’m now reaching many thousands of people with my work. I’ve been able to build deep relationships in my political organizing, which in turn builds trust and the level of impact that my group is able to make.
Simple doesn’t mean stagnant. It means that by choosing less, I’m able to choose better and more wisely. And that I can fully, deeply, wholeheartedly commit to doing well in those areas, instead of doing a mediocre job at a bunch of things.