Simplicity in Action

Written by: Meaghan Highway, LMHC

“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with … but how efficiently we can put first things first… When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.” (Victoria Moran)
Simplicity is a popular word – we are often encouraged to pare down our commitments, purge our closets, and clear our calendars. However, this is often in direct contradiction to a society that always says we should have more, in excess – more money, more possessions, and more achievements. It’s difficult to find a balance between these two, and everyone struggles with this area from time to time. However, if we keep coming back to one question, we may have the beginning of how to achieve simplicity: what is my purpose?

However, this is not a simple question, nor is it something that can be answered from a ‘one size fits all’ mentality. Each of us is unique, and made in the imago Dei (image of God), so accordingly we each have a purpose that we are designed to fill in our special way. As His word reminds us, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV). We have each been called to a purpose, but one of the greatest discoveries we can make throughout our lives is how this can play out as time passes.

How each of us discovers our life purpose is a subject too lengthy for a blog post, but some key facts include: seeking God for His wisdom and direction; considering what your personal talents and enduring interests are; and asking trusted friends or colleagues who know you well for their counsel. But how does this relate to simplicity, whether you are actively seeking to find your purpose or are already confident in what it is?

Regardless of where you are in your purpose filled journey, each of us can benefit from the area of simplicity. Here are three concrete suggestions to implement simplicity in your life, which will help you draw closer to what truly matters to you:

 

  1. Keep a log of your time. For two weeks, try this experiment: note what you are doing, for how long, and when you typically do it. Why two weeks? This time frame will help give you an idea of any patterns that may emerge consistently (i.e. you attend church weekly, from 10 AM to 1 PM; you meet your friend for a weekly coffee date on Wednesdays from 1 PM to 3 PM; etc.). This will help you start fleshing out what you put consistent time into, therefore giving you more clues about what you value.
  2. Each time you buy something new (i.e. an article of clothing, music, a tool), give something in that same category away to someone who needs it. For example, if you buy some new clothes, note how many pieces you obtained, and then look in your dresser drawers for the same number of clothes that you rarely wear anymore. Once you’ve selected them, make sure they are still wearable and then donate them to someplace that could pass them on (i.e. Goodwill, the Salvation Army, etc.). This will help you to avoid excess while simultaneously extending help to those in need.
  3. Make a list of what genuinely matters to you. For example, if your house was on fire, but you had enough warning that would enable you to gather close what was necessary, what would you select? Some examples would include: your pets; family photos; a portable file cabinet with your important family documents; etc. When we stop to actually write down what is important to us at the end of the day, our priorities and values will typically come to light.

 

Above all, remember that God is in your corner and is proud of you for wanting to discover your purpose (or new things about it) and weave simplicity into your life. He has more resources available for you than you could ever imagine, and is waiting to help you as you go on this journey of self discovery.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is intended to educate, inform and entertain. This does not represent psychotherapy, therapeutic assessment, or any other form of therapeutic intervention. This should not be used as a substitute for consultation and treatment with a licensed mental health professional. If you have questions related to the material contained in this site please contact CCM or a licensed mental health professional of your choice.

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