By Leigh Ann Dutton, Contributing Writer
With seasons of constant change, I often feel like I’m living in crisis mode, putting out fires and just surviving, let alone living simply.
I learned about the natural living lifestyle in the fall of 2009 after debilitating sickness threatened to take my quality of life. I grew up on the very SAD American diet, and I didn’t know a thing about natural living.
Not a single thing.
When I did dive in, I found the water deep and the information fascinating.
My husband and I began making small changes to our diet and eventually my constant devouring of information led me to the idea of simple living.
It seems so common sense to me now, but at the time what I was learning was revolutionary … and exciting!
My health improved dramatically and eventually I got pregnant with our first child. I learned about natural birth, and I ended up in a birth center with our first son and giving birth at home with our second son, neither of which I’d ever even heard of!
My family recently picked up our lives and moved nearly 2,000 miles across the country to plant roots near my husband’s family.
We’ve been on a journey of faith for years now, moving more times than I can count, trusting God in the details, and pursuing dreams that only He could have placed in our hearts.
(You can hear about some of our journey on Stephanie and Ryan’s podcast, EntreFamily.)
Yet through it all I rarely feel like I have a steady grip on healthy, simple living … or my life in general.
I read article after article and I try to do better, even making a bunch of changes, but it never feels like enough.
Maybe you can relate.
Like me, you want to live more simply, but you don’t know where to start or just feel like you’re drowning due to so many life changes.
What you need to do is give yourself some grace!
Sometimes I think we make life too complicated.
We have so much information at our fingertips. We have opinions, ideals, and desires buried deep inside us, and we end up play dodge ball with everyone else’s opinions on how we should live our lives.
We sit around comparing ourselves to others when our lives are actually pretty amazing themselves. It just doesn’t feel like it. Darn, feelings.
There is so much we could be doing to live a healthier life and lower our impact on the environment, but we’re human.
Unless you grew up in a real food kitchen and a simple living family culture, you have a lot to learn. The world is certainly not helping you in the direction you want to go. You’re fighting an uphill battle as you reverse bad habits and implement new lifestyle choices.
You need to give yourself some grace because you’ve likely come much farther than you give yourself credit for.
I’m learning this lesson of grace in the changes right alongside you. It’s not easy, but as a result of what I’ve been learning.
No matter where you are in your journey, I can guarantee you that adopting these four steps first will make the rest of the changes you want to make much easier to do.
4 Steps Toward Simpler Living
1. Create a mission statement
What are you living for? Or a bigger question. Why do you do the things you do?
Do you know?
Each of us comes equipped with a special set of gifts. With that also comes a special set of weaknesses. Nevertheless, the strengths and weaknesses are meant to be lived out with purpose in our lives and in our homes.
Life on mission is about purpose.
Whether you come at life through the lens of your faith as I do or not, your life matters!
Knowing your life purpose is the start of living a simpler life. Simple living is simply living out your priorities and values. Otherwise, you’re just running around doing this and that never knowing if you’re moving toward your goals or not.
Resources you might find helpful:
- Why You Need a Mission Statement & How to Make One
- Why Did God Save You?
- Mission Statements for Moms eBook
- Finding Simple Living Values
2. Implement routines around repeated tasks
Some people think routines are boring, oppressive, and mundane.
I happen to think they’re freeing. They allow me figure out the best process to follow, and then just keep repeating that flow.
Routines help me remember the necessities of life and free up my limited brainpower for more important things.
There will be some routines that you do every single day, some repeated weekly, and some that only apply to specific situations.
If you can identify the routines you have (and the routines you need), you’ll discover that life becomes much simpler.
Here are Some Routine Ideas to Get You Started:
- Morning Routine
- Afternoon Routine
- Evening Routine
- Pre-dinner routine
- Weekly Cleaning Routine
- Monthly Routine Checklists
- Quiet time routine
- Children’s routine
- Exercise Routine
- Work-At-Home Family Routine
Additional Resources You Might Find Helpful:
- How to Create Routines that Work for You
- Getting Back into Routine When You’ve Gotten Off Track
- A Grace-Filled Approach to Creating Routines
3. Eliminate the noise
There are two parts of this equation.
First, eliminate the noise of social media.
Get offline more and get outside instead. Talk to your family without a device in your hand. Don’t Google every question that comes up in your mind throughout the day. Call the restaurant instead of checking your phone app for their hours. Set timers while you’re on Facebook or Pinterest. Don’t check Instagram until you’ve looked your real life square in the eyes and engaged with the people right there in your home.
In other words, live your life and stop looking at everyone else’s all the time. You’ll be amazed how much this will
lower your blood pressure make you feel more at ease and peaceful throughout your day.
Second, stop reading every blog post and web article on every method of traditional cooking, simple living, natural cleaning, and the dangers of toxins found in your back yard soil.
Right now, I’m on an information fast. Until I implement some of the healthy living changes that I know to make, I’m not reading about another thing I need to change.
It overwhelms me and paralyzes me when I take in too much information (even good information). I don’t know about you, but too much information coming in means less action going out.
4. Adopt the mindset of living slowly
I’m learning that just because life is busy, it doesn’t mean you can’t live slowly.
Yes, the end of the day may bring exhaustion of epic proportions and the next day is only a few hours away threatening to continue this cycle over and over again.
But we can stop the cycle.
We can choose to live slowly even in the busyness of life. We just have to discipline our minds.
Incorporate rest into your day, even if it’s just five to fifteen minutes here and there. Start saying no to things that don’t align with your core values. When life begins to swirl around you, take a step back and discipline your mind to think slowly, deliberately. Focus more on relationships than tasks. Get outside and enjoy creation. Let your senses rest from all that’s going on and just breathe.
With the ebbs and flows of my life, these are the four things I can hang my hat on to get me back on track and living according to my values.
I’m learning that simple living is a mindset, not something you arrive at. Simple living is a process, a journey, and a discipline.
So today if you’re discouraged that you’re not moving ahead on your goals, or you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the ways you’re just failing, may I offer you a chance to just breathe?
Take a step back.
Nothing is ever as bad as it seems.
Then start with these four steps to get yourself moving again in the direction you want to go.