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Simple Living Means Less of Everything

Arial view from the wing of a plane
Peace can be elusive. When we're stressed, it's the furthest thing from reach. 

Naturally, we look for ways to relieve the stress that surrounds our lives - whether that stress is from jobs, family life, relationships, or even our own thoughts. 

The car breaks down, the fence blows over in a storm (this just happened to us yesterday ), or an unexpected surgery threatens to sabotage our state of mind. Maybe a lifelong friend no longer wants to talk to you.

Life is stressful. 

But, when we accept life is stressful, it allows us to let go of wanting control (albeit, even if only a little). We learn to develop a "laissez-faire" attitude, which means letting things take their own course. 

It's a hands-off, come-what-may-approach to the things we don't have control over. Things such as other's actions and random events we can't foresee, even "acts of God."

But, other than the obvious relinquishing of control, some things cause stress in our lives that we do have direct control over.

When big stress came to me a few years ago, the only way I knew I could deal with the stress was by getting rid of the stressors I did have control over. When you gain an auto-immune disease that doctors can't fix, it tends to encourage the search for a cure. This happened to me and by changing my diet, and destressing everything I had control over, I stopped the disease in its tracks.

I did it by lessening my responsibility load as much as I could. Here's what I did:

Got rid of excess work: I've talked about this before. I had four jobs. That was way too much to handle. Instead, I pared down to the two I loved most: writing and vintage. As is the goal with minimalism and slow living, I pared down to love. While I learned much from my other two jobs, I was choosing this stress; forcing myself to work what I didn't love, which exacerbated my frustration at not getting to do what I loved.

Got rid of excess social media: This one seems so counterintuitive, but having had social media (and living without it for a couple months), having less to look at is a great way to reduce stress. Sure, it's entertainment, but when social influencers are pitching their latest "like" and let's be honest, they're pitching it so we will buy it, it contributes to a way of life not conducive to peace. Seeing more means we want more which means we own more. Get rid of that temptation, cut out as much social media as you can, keeping only what brings you peace and value. Unfollow influencers. Best decision I've ever made.

Got rid of excess clothing: Again, the closet is a maw for stress. Get rid of the clothes you don't wear, and create a stressless way to start each day. Imagine getting out of bed and not having to think about what to wear, or having to say to yourself, "I have nothing to wear." If you love what you have, every day is a great day to wear your wardrobe. Eliminate excess, keep only what you love, and you've just eliminated daily stress.

Got rid of excess stuff (in every closet and cupboard): This coincides with your closet purging. When I was stressed, going through the excess stuff I didn't use became therapeutic. I was able to purge closet after closet, donate it to people who will use it, and allowed me to focus on getting well. When my self-imposed stress of having stuff I never used was evicted from my house, peace returned. I was the landlord of my own mind once again.

This slow living is a way of life I've adopted over the years because it ameliorated the stress that was showing up in my body.  Less stuff in the house means less stress in my mind, which means stress is leaving my body. It means less of everything. And I've never felt better, even amidst the constant stressors that life throws my way.

There's a Psalm that says what I feel. " something good. Embrace peace - don't let it get away!" (Psalm 34:14, NIV).

If we want peace, if we want to regain control over the things we've let go (because we thought we needed these things), give simple living a chance. And don't let it get away.

Give the life of living intentionally a real chance and you'll find chaos diminishes like smoke.

This doesn't mean life isn't going to be hard. It is hard and always will be. There will continually be a mountain to climb up as soon as you've drifted down a different one.

But, when we eliminate the things that only add to the stress, we find life becomes manageable again. Most of all, we find life enjoyable. 

When that happens, peace returns. Less stuff (work, social media, and things in our home) makes living the way it's supposed to be and a return to the simple life our heart and soul craves.