Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sim*plic*i*ty /sim'plisitee/ n.

I happily live in a relatively small house by today's American standards.  The average home size peaked last year at just over 2,600 square feet.  The year I was born (eh hem, 1970) the average was about half of that at 1,400. And the year that my parents were born, it was a mere 983 sq.ft.  I am sure all of us have noticed the pervasive urban sprawl of mega homes and mini-mansions in just about every area of the U.S.  Homes that are 5, 6 and even 10 thousand or more square feet. Are these families with 13 children? Large extended families moving in together? Aunts, uncles, Grammy and Gramps all under one roof like the Waltons? Nope. It is just that bigger is better, right? I mean, where else will we keep all of our stuff?  Stuff.  That is the nice girl word for it.   We have all seen those yard sales where the family has a driveway and garage full of ever so lightly used canoes, skis, gym equipment, kitchen gadgets, bikes & golf clubs. Don't forget the baby strollers (umbrella, double, sleeping, jogging and the one that converts to a car seat), high chairs (tray built-in, under the table, travel, booster and the one that converts to a potty) and cribs (bassinet, portable, standard, and the one that converts to a changing table). Boy oh boy, I am exhausted just trying to figure out where they kept it.  If I have described your family, I am sorry if it hurts, but many of us have fallen into this trap of consumption. We buy more and more "stuff" in pursuit of...of...I don't know.  Happiness?  Acceptance? Freedom?  The problem is that we can never be satisfied by stuff, no matter how nice it is.
I have been pondering this idea of simplicity.  My own mantra is "Live life simply and naturally, surrounded by people and things you love." But what does that mean?  It may mean different things to different people, but what does it mean to me? For one thing, it means eating as fresh, seasonally and even locally as I can (except for chocolate which is exempt for medicinal reasons.) It means going without as often as possible. It means not taking on more "projects" than I can handle. It means giving myself permission to sit and read or write when I know I need a break.  It is recognizing the good in my life and the world and not wasting it. It means going through every room, drawer and closet at least twice a year and discarding or donating what we no longer use or love. I wish I could remember where I first heard the idea of only having things in your home that are useful or make you smile. That is a good start. I have always kept a tight budget. I never buy on impulse and usually think so long about buying something I want that eventually I realize I don't need it at all. Makes shopping simple.  But it is more than that.  Simplicity is a state of mind and a frame of reference for everything.  I know that I can do with less.  I know I am actually happier with less.  Less stuff, less stress, less food, less money, less clothes, less waste, less house, less over-scheduling, less hassle, less excess.  Less is more! More time with the family, more love, more energy, more peace, more joy, more contentment, more me! Simple living keeps us in the present. We do not hold on to the things of the past that are no longer of value to us.  We prepare for the future without always anxiously looking for "what comes next." Simple joys, simple foods, simple surroundings, simple abundance, simple gratitude, and simply loving life!
Quote of the Day: "Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort, but will not take place of living in the present."
---Thomas S. Monson  


  1. Great post! I think we all need to be reminded of that at times. There are things more important than things- if that makes sense.

  2. As painful as your advice may be I sure agree with you and long for a life of less clutter, less busy work and less stress. Great advice.

  3. ...but, DANG, I love my stuff!!

    I'm with you. Truly. I am. I gave the speech a couple of Christmases ago, "I don't need any more thing-lets for my house!"

    And my house is too big; from this point on we shrink and simplify.

    Well said, NatureGirl! (And I appreciate you exempting chocolate. There's "simple" and then there's "fanatical"...)

  4. Okay, so that hurt just a little. I have a hard time letting go of anything so I have a lot of clutter--but I am working on that. I loved what you said though. It is very true.

    And about house size . . .I saw a commercial for a builder once that had a family of two children and a dog in a HUGE house and the commercial said, "They can now get a house big enough for their needs". I thought, good grief! How much space does a family of four need?

    Thanks for the post and the reminder.

  5. Ooo I love that quote! Why is living in the present so hard sometimes?

  6. Every move reminds me I need to simplify. Of course sometimes frugality means you save stuff, like hand me down clothes for the next child, tools to fix that dryer again, and the toys that aren't played with now but the youngest will like it in six months to a year. But I agree on the cleaning out every six months. It keeps clutter to a minimum.