Updated: Feb 22
Modern life is a rat race. It’s keeping up with the Joneses. It’s go; it’s do; it’s consume; it’s always be available. It’s overwhelmed and spread thin. It’s stress.
We’re convinced that our modern-day pace is beneficial for productivity, yet we’re still aging, still gaining weight and falling ill and most of us are dissatisfied, unhappy, and/or depressed.
To counterbalance the pace, we buy things which are marketed as leisure: “Calgon take me away!”.
I call this style of marketing: consumerism self-care. Products in this category range from beauty products to plastic Tupperware, luxury throw pillows and your dishwasher, or the most notorious- scented candles. These things, useful or decorative, are all sold to you with the promise of more time to enjoy life. But do they deliver on their promise?
The modern equation of life goes: I give my time to a job/career in exchange for dollars which I use to support consumerism in order to have niceties and conveniences in my life.
Life lived by that standard works for some, but not all and for many it sounds like prison.
However, the crux of this equation is true to human nature: we all have a calling or purpose to share with our families and communities; we all want a safe, comfortable home and we all enjoy entertainment and down-time.
Our dissatisfaction exists because in this un balanced equation of modern life there is no space to listen to our internal voice.
We are working too much and shopping too much and avoiding reflection as much as possible. I’d like the equation to look more like this:
WORK IN YOUR FIELD OF PASSION AT YOUR PACE + ACQUIRE ONLY NECESSARY THINGS + ENJOY NATURE + REST = BLISS
If your house is in such disorder that you cannot relax, you may also feel that your dreams are out of reach.
If you have accumulated so much stuff that letting go of it feels insurmountable you may also feel that any meaningful change in your life is impossible.
If you are holding on to things from far in your past, you may have deep insecurities. Our home is a reflection of our internal state of being, not anything for us to judge and yet exactly what needs to be worked on.
At ZenSmith, we call this work a journey, and like any journey worth taking, the most valued gift to come from the lessons learned along the way is self-discovery.
I swear to you that getting your home and belongings in order will help you take control of your life.
You will find new joys, new passions, and new space to grow into as you simplify your life.
As you uncover and release old objects and habits, old emotions will arise in unison and you will begin to understand the relationship between yourself and your world.
I want you to find your best life, so here are 5 steps I recommend taking to simplify:
1. SLOW DOWN
Ask yourself this: what is the first thing you do upon waking? You most likely do something to get your day going, like grooming or drinking coffee. Okay, but why? Usual response: to be productive and have a good day. So, you’ve set this routine and you follow it everyday and mostly it works for you, yet you find that throughout your day you’re longing for respite- the most luxurious thing you can imagine is collapsing on your couch at the end of your day. All you have to do is ZOOM through your day and poof 20 years have gone by. Ahh, what?! Yep, we are all moving way too fast. Time flies we say.
Have you ever sat in a rocking chair on a porch, countryside? Time does not fly there.
We need to slow down. Try driving slower, or walking slower. Even better, breath slowly and deeply. Chop your food slowly, with intention. Get dressed with ease. Take another lap around your house before leaving because you have the time to enjoy your space. Practice slowing down; these challenges will change you. You will notice the amount of tension you release after reminding yourself to slow down, your body will thank you.
Purge, purge, purge. Be aggressive, and get the whole family on board. At first, letting go will feel hard, it will feel irrational, it will feel careless. DO IT ANYWAY. Throw out duplicates of kitchen spatulas, and the pile of pens that don’t work, and the shoes your kids haven’t worn in three years, and the stacks of magazines, and the old art supplies, and the massive amount of cords every American has (?!?). If your clothes have holes- repair them or toss. Decluttering is my passion, so I could go on and on about the things I want you to get rid of, so I really mean it when I say “be aggressive.”
The fewer items taking up space in your home, car, purse, gym bag, storage unit (serious problem), the fewer instances you’ll have of sheer panic because you cannot find an item you need. When there is less stuff to clean, maintain, find a place for, get distracted by, or trip over then you will have more time, energy, and desire to do what truly makes you happy- be it for work or leisure.
3. MAKE EXPERIENCE YOUR PRIORITY
Replace consumerism self-care with real self-care. Do you NEED matching Tupperware sets for your lunches; will the corresponding lids and containers keep you committed to your meal plan? No. Nothing you buy will create that experience you want. You create the experience.
As a family, make a commitment to replacing thoughts of “I want to buy” with “lets do this together.” Challenge each other to recognize when thoughts of spending arise, pause, and replace the thought with some idea or activity that the whole family can enjoy, or at least keeps you from buying more things. What you desire most of the time, is not another object, but the feeling it gives you. I suggest skipping the part where you buy something, and go straight to the feeling you want to have. Get creative and enjoy the process because in every scenario of your life, I want you to know joy. It is the powerful tool of experience over purchasing that will bring you closer to your happiness.
4. SAY “NO”
One way to complicate your life is to be always available. Moms have a hard time with this one, understandably, but saying “no” is a healthy way to create boundaries. Often, modern day people are so caught up in the business of others that they have no clue what their own needs are. The quickest way to get back to your essence is taking a quiet moment to yourself. You will not be able to find this quiet moment if every spare minute of your time is wrapped up in doing. Learn to say “no” to everyone in your life! Be revolutionary! This is not meant as a free pass to ignore responsibilities or be rude, it is a practice for those who are spread thin and burnt-out; parents, CEOs, plumbers, and clergy alike.
A personal favorite, resting is necessary for an enriched life. Almost everyone reading this will immediately feel resistance and that is because modern society does not favor the idle. However, rest in its true form, is not for nothing. We cannot output energy for eternity; we must come to our nest and revel in the peace we have created with our work. If you are not taking time to let your body rest, you are missing out on the fullness of life! Rest is not always sleep. Rest is what happens when the mind is allowed to put its task making duties on hold and the body is given full attention. This is the key: neither the mind nor the body is doing any heavy lifting while you rest. Rest is luxury anyone can afford.
Don’t let manufactured self-care marketing fool you; your life is 5 simple steps closer to being fuller, richer, and easy going. Let’s see you try these steps at simplifying your life!
Email me and let me know how it goes!
When you are ready for a guide on your journey to a simple, happy life - I am available for home organization consultations!
Brittany C. Smith