B076: How to (actually) live with less

By August 23, 2019The Simplifiers Podcast

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What does it really look like to live with less? As in day-to-day actual specifics. Earlier this week, I spoke with Miranda Anderson of Live Free Creative all about how to be a minimalist. I loved hearing about her family’s year-long experiment of not buying anything new, beyond food and consumables.

Like me, Miranda has kids. And for a hot second, she too lived in Austin, Texas⁠; land of mega ‘McMansion’ style homes and big-box stores. These stores are chock FULL of every knick-knack, paddy-whack, and plastic thing of your dreams (to fill your home with!).

But how do we take what she taught us, and actually put it into practice?

Here’s what’s been bubbling up for me, as I simplify and learn to live with less…


3 simple steps to live with less

1. Inquire: Do I need this?

When the kids were little, I had a favorite pastime.⁠

To get a little quiet time and breathing room⁠, I peeled away for an hour, and aimlessly wandered the aisles of Target.

It was bliss; air conditioning, no music, expansive ceilings, no one bothering you or bumping into you, and everything you didn’t know you needed but, totally, DESPERATELY need now! (How have I gone this long without a plastic cactus soap holder!!?) Raise your hand if you’ve ever done this, as well.

But you know as well as I do, you go into a store like this for one thing and come out having spent $100, right?

Make this question a habit

The next time you’re tempted to buy something new and shiny, take a micro moment and ask yourself: do I really need this? And if so, what can I let go of to make space for this new thing?

To live with less, you’ve got to know why you’re buying more and more first.

Take a moment to flip your brain from unconscious shopping, to awareness in the present. This might help you to see the underlying reason you’re drawn to this new thing in the first place.

It’s all about taking a split second to question why you think you might need it. Is it filling an emotional gap?

Is a thing just a thing, or do you have hopes and expectations that it’ll make someone happy, or create more harmony in your household?

Or do you think you ‘deserve’ it? Whatever the reason, take a step back, and observe what your brain does in this moment. How do you rationalize your desire for this new thing?

No shame, just an honest moment for inquiry and assessment before you put it into your basket or trolley.

2. Follow this simple rule

I loved how Miranda used ‘one for one’ mentality during their year-long experiment. When the children needed new sandals, they would replace the old pair with a new pair. Not three, just one. Each child might have one pair of sandals, one pair of running shoes, and one pair of school shoes. And that’s it.

‘How could you do ‘one for one?’

Could you incorporate that ‘one for one’ rule into your own lifestyle? I know for some people, shoes are a touchy subject, and you can never have enough of them. But what about your kitchen? How many ladles are really necessary?

Could you pare down the kitchen appliances that you haven’t used since the holidays last year, and borrow them from family and friends, instead?

Could you invest in a really nice set of knives (because you use them daily) and let go of the sub-par ones you seem to replace constantly? Where can you simplify here?

Remember, living with less might also mean making the conscious decision to stop buying crap stuff from dollar stores. Instead of buying things you’ll have to replace all the time, invest in fewer high quality items that will last a lifetime.

3. Release the old…

If you were to walk through your entire house right now, room by room, which room do you feel would be the easiest one to pare down first? Maybe it’s a place where you don’t feel as emotionally triggered, like the laundry room or the hall closet. Or a spot that you feel isn’t quite as daunting as say, your closet full of clothes. Start here first to build confidence and get the momentum going. It’s time to release the things that no longer serve you.

Make space for the new

As mentioned earlier, if you bring in a new thing, you must make space for it… which means, letting go of something else. Remember, there is no need for 8 pairs of scissors… unless you run a kid’s art school in your living room. So, take an hour, a morning or even a weekend to begin this process of releasing.

When you look at each item… could you donate it to your local charity shop, knowing someone out in the world could really use that thing?

Ask yourself… ‘Do I use this thing regularly right now, or am I keeping it for ‘that one special day’ (that never seems to come?).

What would it feel like to let it go and gain a little breathing room and space in your life?

This is how you begin to release, surrender, and actually live with less.

One final whisper

In my mind, living with less doesn’t mean sacrificing.

It simply means getting clear on what you surround yourself with, and why. For me, I ask myself… ‘What’s the underlying motivation I’m feeling when I want to buy something new?

Again, is a thing just a thing, or am I putting a deeper meaning or anchor (unconsciously) onto it?

Collecting stuff doesn’t bring me happiness

In our 20s and 30s, we were brainwashed to believe that ‘bigger is better’. The bigger your house, the nicer your car, and the more shoes you have, the more successful you really, truly are. You are finally #winning! And for some, that might be true.

But for me, I’m starting to question that belief. I’m slowing down to ponder, ‘is this thought still serving me? And if not, what am I going to do differently?’

The strive mentality of ‘earn more, buy more, rinse and repeat’… when does it end?

When I’m dead in my grave, passing along a giant load of credit card debt and loans to my children to deal with… is that fair? Is that really serving anyone? What if I could actually live a life with less… and be more content?

If you’re trying to pare down your stuff, or re-examine your shopping habits, I want to encourage you in this moment. It’s not a ‘flip of the switch’ kind of instantaneous change. It takes time to shift your mindset towards seeing ‘less’ as expansive, abundant, and a path to freedom.

Be gentle on yourself

Start this exploration one room at a time, both in your mind and in your home.

This process is messy. It will never look perfect, unlike the false realities people project on social media. But that’s okay… it was never supposed to be. This is an opportunity to take stock on what your life looks like now, and where you want to head next.

Living with less can mean carrying less on your shoulders, or downsizing to a home that feels more cozy. Or even, letting go of the anchors that have been holding you back but were too afraid to shed.

When you decide to live with less as an empowered choice, you’ll find many new doors open up for you.

Whatever your journey is, know this… you are not alone.

Start small. Drink loads of water. Ask for help. Inquire on the why. Consider ‘one for one’. Release the stuff you no longer need.

You can do this, I believe in you.

It’s time to SIMPLIFY.

If this thought of the day inspired you…

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Big thanks to our undercover superheroes at The Simplifiers Podcast that help us create these episodes for you – Suzen Marie, our Podcast Editor. Jeffrey Lynn, our Video Editor. Janine Yardley, our Show Notes Editor. Lyden Yardley, our Director of Brilliance. Manminder Athwal, our Blogger. Our advisory board includes: Aubri Nowowiejski, Chris Justice and George Mills. And I’m your host, Mary Baird-Wilcock. Thank you so much for listening and telling your peeps about us.

As always friends, keep things simple.

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