‘Simplicity’ has become a bit of a buzz-word these past few years, along with ‘Scandi’ and ‘minimalist’. But I’m a true believer in simplicity, and I apply it much further than a clean Instagram aesthetic.
I came to simplicity because I felt sickened by the volume of consumption in our society. I have moved house (and countries) six times in the past decade and every time I packed I’d find clothes, kitchen items and bathroom stuff that I had barely used. While I consider myself to be a pretty good declutterer, I was starting to feel revolted by how much stuff I owned. I felt that the earth couldn't withstand the weight of all my stuff, as well as everyone else's.
Lighten the Load
So, I started throwing things out. Like, a lot of things. I was ruthless with my ‘childhood memories’ collection, I got rid of all my CDs, I culled my extensive book collection (that hurt a bit, but I got over it), and I took a metaphoric scythe to my clothes and shoes. And I realized that I was starting to feel lighter.
I loved my tidy, roomy cupboards; I liked being able to see every piece of clothing in just one glance (it makes putting an outfit together much easier); and I was thrilled that getting rid of stuff gave me more space to beautifully style my cherished décor and art.
Less is More
What started to happen was the less I owned, the more I appreciated the things that I did own. I wanted to return to the principles of my grandmother’s era: save well, buy well, treat it well. I now use my best things every day. Nothing gets put in a cupboard for ‘one day’. If items break, I try to repair them. And if I can’t, I wait to figure out if I really need to replace them.
I've since lost interest in shopping – especially clothes shopping – and I notice details, moments and people more. I learned to bake bread, just to see if I could (and I can!), I watch less telly, and I no longer feel the need to be ‘busy’ all the time. I literally stopped to smell the flowers.
How to Live a Simple Life
Simple living is just the intentional promotion of things that you value most, and the removal of anything that distract you from it. That’s it. It’s not complicated. You don’t have to have an all-white interior or a massive veggie patch. You can still buy things, you just take a little more care in what you choose. Simplicity is focusing on abundance instead of lack, gratitude over fear, and quality over quantity.
This might all sound like academic nonsense, but it’s something you can do in your life, right now. Here’s some of the things that I’ve pushed to the top of my priority list since I’ve begun simple living:
- Good coffee drunk slowly at a café – we don’t always need to take away
- pottering about with my husband
- reading a good book, and sometimes even a bad one
- sitting in the sun with my cat on my lap
- drinking good wine and chatting with friends
- baking, even when it fails
- walking as much as possible
- keeping a tidy house
- sleeping when I need it
- doing things the long way to enjoy the process as much as the outcome.
Simplicity ain't hard. Don't overthink it. Just figure out the things that make you most happy, and create space in your life to do them. Say no to obligation-driven social events. Leave your phone in another room in the evenings. Hang out with people who make you happy. Drift away from those who don’t. Shop less. If you don't love it, don't get it. Do a little bit of cleaning each day. Drink wine, good coffee, cool water. Cook with in-season vegetables and only buy what you need. Reuse as much as you can. There is beauty in simplicity. There’s real joy in it, too.
Images courtesy of Kinfolk Magazine, where simplicity is at its most stylish.