The Discovery of Living Simply
“There are two ways to be rich: one is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” — Jackie French Koller
My life has never been incredibly complicated but over the last few years as I moved from Uni to a job and adjusted location, expectation and realisation… things began to get a little complicated.
On paper life was quite simple, with some minor adjustments but in my head things were a little less clear. I was confused about where I was going, what I was doing, what my purpose was, how I was going to fulfil my potential.
But if I could just answer all those questions, life would be fine.
I spent a good while circling my own thoughts. I would think it’s all fine totally cool, then get overwhelmed and stressed and then back to it’s all fine. None of this time was spent doing anything productive. It was just a rollercoaster of thoughts every other week.
Something shifted when I gave myself some breathing space to not think for a while. To be honest, I just got totally sick of having the same conversations. So when I read somewhere something that said “don’t lift your head up until you are twenty five and see what happens”.
I thought: Aha, something I can do! — so I did.
And weirdly, fortuitous or otherwise, it was about this time that I got back into reading. I’ve always loved reading self-help books, autobiographies, life stories. All the good stuff. So I got back into doing that. And because I wasn’t spending as much time worrying or questioning everything, I had the space and time, and maybe more importantly, the inclination to read.
As I read, I felt myself exploring the genre more. A simple life was something that kept popping up. This idea that we don’t need a thousand things to make us happy. You don’t need to climb the ladder if you don’t want to. That life is ultimately up to us. It is quite odd that we ever thought it wasn’t. I remember quite vividly the ignition to a simpler life.
It was a documentary ( not how all great stories start admittedly) but that’s where this one does. My life got much simpler after watching the brilliant Netflix documentary “Minimalists”. In short the documentary shows Josh and Ryan, two twenty-somethings. They had everything they ever wanted, great job, fancy house, shiny car and they still weren’t happy. They would buy more and more and still nothing would fix the happiness. Somewhere between the heavy pay cheque and the advertising mobile phones too little kids, they both wanted a change. And that change came in the form of minimalism.
Minimalism is pretty simple.
It’s the practise of being purposeful and that extends, most prolifically, into ‘things’. We all have ‘stuff’. We buy more stuff to fill rooms that we don’t sit in. We buy stuff to impress people we don’t like. We buy stuff to prove to ourselves that the shitty job is worth it because at the end of the month we can buy a fancy new phone. Minimalism is having the stuff you really value and getting rid of the rest. It doesn’t mean binning all your books if you really like books. It means binning all the crap that we buy, to give more room for your books. It’s about identifying what is important and what isn’t and being cut throat about about the stuff that isn’t.
In short? It’s cutting the shit.
The more we buy, often, the more we desire and thus begins the never ending quest of more.
And that’s something that really resinated with me. I think it’s funny sometimes, why things hit us so profoundly in life. You can be told the same thing over and over but it’s something about the combination of events that mean you actually listen. For me it meant hitting a period of mental exhaustion, subconsciously searching for purpose and absorbing more content that meant I was more practical on my quest to understanding me.
Simplicity creates calmness.
And minimalism is pretty simple.
As I am coming to realise more and more these days. Simple is pretty special.
There is total art in making a cup of coffee. There is total joy in cleaning the work top or washing the pots. There is rhythm and curation too typing on a keyboard or reading a book.
We, at least I think, don’t need expensive gadgets and fancy phones to feel a sense of purpose and wellbeing. We can find goodness in the simplest of things, if we open our eyes.
In the mad rush to get to the top of the ladder or a five-bedroom house or an expensive watch or whatever it is; it’s worth asking is this what I really want?
Sometimes the weight is lifted by understanding that you can be rich in two ways. Acquiring more or simply, desiring less.
Often we forget there is the second option.
Originally published at https://www.careerhealth.info on April 25, 2020.