I’m delighted to have a special guest visiting with us – it’s Nina from Shalom Mama. If there’s anyone who knows the art of simplifying, it’s Nina. That’s why I’m thrilled to have her here sharing a bit of her wisdom with us …
by Nina at Shalom Mama
A few years ago, I discovered a fascinating blog that shared the story of a family that had downsized so much, they were able to live in an RV and travel full-time. I was amazed, both at their ability to live in such a small space and how they were able to walk away from a consumer-driven lifestyle to a simpler existence.
I wanted that.
I was drawn to the idea of getting rid of the clutter – both in my house and in my mind. There was so much discontentment in my life that I knew that something had to change. I believed that God had led me to the idea of simplifying. And I really wanted to spend less time cleaning.
My husband laughed off the idea, but I got to work, doing what I could to simplify my clothing, household items and our kids’ stuff. I did my best to convey how awesome it was to live so simply, but he was still skeptical. It wasn’t until we moved that he was on board – he realized he had a lot of stuff he didn’t use. (These tips also helped him get on board.)
Since then, we’ve simplified a lot – our time, our possessions and even our home. Today, we live in a school bus turned RV with our four small children. That life that I wanted because it sounded so awesome? I have it.
I have been so blessed by this pursuit of a simpler life … including having a lot less cleaning to do.
But mostly, I love the way this lifestyle has helped me to grow and mature. There have been so many lessons that I’ve learned in this process (and it’s a continual process) that have really transformed the way I go about my life. I encourage everyone who asks about simplifying to pursue a simpler life. And no, you don’t have to want to live in a bus to live more simply.
Simplifying is a Process
I mistakenly thought that a simple life was dependent on having a small amount of possessions, a tiny house and a clear schedule, but it’s not. Living a simple life is really a continual process of intentional actions.
While getting rid of a bunch of stuff helps – a lot – don’t forget that simplicity is a process, a lifelong one. And these practices, more than anything else, will help you as you move toward the simpler life you desire (whatever that may look like):
1. Practice Gratitude
Whether you’ve just been introduced to the idea of living simply (and love it) or have decluttered your house a number of times, it’s important to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. This will help whenever you feel discouraged and make the process so much more enjoyable. Give thanks for what you’ve been blessed with. Give thanks for the desire to simplify. Give thanks for the way God is working in your heart. Above all else, give thanks.
2. Cultivate Contentment
The habit of gratitude and contentment go hand-in-hand. There are times when I look around my bus and think, “Well, if we just had this done, or if we could just travel here or park there …” This tends to set me off on a spiral of negative thoughts that leave me feeling pretty discontent with our situation. It is always stopped, though, with prayer, gratitude and the reminder that cultivating contentment improves all circumstances.
3. Remember Your Why
If you want to simplify, it’s important to write down why. Is it so you can travel? Pay off debt? Build more meaningful relationships with your spouse, kids and friends? Remembering your why helps you incorporate your goal into the process so you don’t find yourself in a tiny house one day saying, “Now what?” Simplify with purpose.
Remember, simplifying is a lifelong process that starts with one simple decision and the determination to intentionally move forward. Enjoy your journey!
Have you decided to to simplify? What does the process look like for you?
Nina is a Jesus follower, wife, mama of four and school bus dweller. She blogs regularly at Shalom Mama and loves helping others simplify natural living. Check out her website for more simple tips and connect with her on Facebook or Google+.