Every day we are granted a new opportunity to design a life with joy, freedom, love, and space. We make thousands of decisions in every 24-hour period and it seems the longer we’re alive, the more complicated the decisions become.
As I progress in this pursuit of simple living, I’m more aware that often the complexities of decision making are compounded by previous less than ideal decisions. Going to the gym shouldn’t be a day-long dilemma, but it often is due to the number of days prior I decided not to go. I get lazier as the days pass.
When it comes to the weightier decisions, the lifestyle we live and the decisions we make about our future plans or discipline methods or value systems all come at a higher cost. One thing I’ve learned from raising young kids is that they are mirrors, reflecting everything I do and say.
My five year old daughter expects a sweet treat anytime we run to the grocery store because I may at one time (or a hundred) have conditioned her with my own sweet tooth while running errands. My youngest sleeps with seven pacifiers because she needs options, much like my scarcity issue that there won’t be enough of anything.
It’s these decisions and behaviors that led me to seek a simple life. I needed space and clarity to make better decisions that don’t only impact me, but my family as well.
As it turns out, parenting and simplifying have been the two biggest truth-tellers in my life. Kids are notoriously honest, not to mention their ability to reflect the things we don’t want to see in ourselves. And simplicity has become the filter through which I make decisions about my life, and what doesn’t pass through are often my own fears, insecurities, and vices.
While reflecting on what it takes to make life simpler, to make decisions easier, and craft a life of joy and freedom I had to consider the small, seemingly insignificant choices I make every day. I began by choosing less, small, and slow.
25 Ways to Choose Less Every Day
Simplifying your life is a big change that comes through many small decisions. If you’re wondering how to choose less in small, everyday ways, here is a list of ideas:
- Clear the counter clutter. Clear the kitchen counters of all clutter every evening before bed. This simple ritual will flood your morning with a peaceful clarity for the day ahead.
- Choose the salad plate for meals. I started eating meals on a salad plate, rather than the dinner plate, because I recognized a scarcity mentality that feared I might not get enough. Choosing the smaller plate reminds me that there is still enough in smaller portions. I’m eating just enough and wasting less too!
- Stick to the grocery list, avoiding impulse treats.
- Be slow to speak.
- Switch to natural hygiene and cleaning products. Less chemicals = less harm to your body and to the environment. For example: I use coconut oil for make-up remover, body and face moisturizer, and cooking. Vinegar and baking soda are great cleaning agents, and can be used with essential oils and natural soaps like Dr. Bronner’s.
- Say no to one activity. Enjoy being not busy.
- Give in on a decision.
- Be unavailable for a day. Don’t respond to that text yet, it can wait.
- Donate one item of clothing.
- Waste less. Use your food scraps for a casserole or compost, skip the single-use plastic, recycle, repurpose, restore. Also, don’t buy what you aren’t willing to use completely.
- Share an entrée at a restaurant.
- Give more than you think you can. Selfless giving always is returned with enough.
- Fast from social media.
- Accessorize less.
- Forego processed foods. You’ve probably heard that processed foods are full of chemicals and additives known to be harmful for human consumption. Typically, they come packaged in single-use plastic. This one decision can make your life healthier while creating less waste.
- Fast from digital streaming.
- Worry less.
- Give up negative self talk. Spend less energy repeating the same self-negative scripts. Studies show positive self-talk is a powerful tool for stress management, physical health, and productivity. An interesting exercise I learned is to write down your daily negative thoughts as they come, the ones most common. Then underneath each, counter the thought with a positive truth. Then cross out the negative completely, until all you’re left with are positive, self-affirming truths.
- Make a shorter to-do list.
- Choose gratitude over a want. In the barrage of advertising triggering countless desires throughout the day, intentionally choose gratitude. Choose to see what you have as enough and the shiny sparkle of your want will fade in comparison.
- Take less than you need. Leave a little extra for someone else.
- Go without. Try not replacing something, go without and see what creative solutions appear.
- Criticize less.
- Save energy.
- Choose inconvenience. Slow down. Be inconvenienced and hand wash the dishes. Let the time be a white space for mindfulness and don’t be in such a hurry. Touch each dish (include that salad plate!), be thankful for the meals it served, for the community and conversation it witnessed.
Simple living is an art of the slow and small, intentional pursuit of less. And as for me and my family, we are banking on the daily decisions to do, have, eat, keep, and use less to reflect the more in every day.
When I began simplifying my life I didn’t do it to become a more grateful person. In fact, gratitude wasn’t on my radar. I felt grateful for the obvious things: my family, our home, my faith. But it definitely wasn’t something I pursued or thought it could change my life.
What would it be like to feel absolutely grateful for your life?
How would your life look through the lenses of gratitude?
The shortest path to simplicity is gratitude, friends. If you are ready to take on life through the filter of gratitude, here is a great place to start.