One of the greatest “life simplification” tools I’ve learned is experimentation. Finding a simple life has a great deal to do with figuring out “how much is enough”. And “enough” will vary from person to person.
Once I started simplifying my belongings, I forced myself to think about how much was enough for each category of items in my home. Sometimes it was clear I had more than enough, so it was easy to purge. Sometimes it felt like I’d have nothing if I really allowed myself to keep only what brought joy. For those harder decisions (and as an on-going exercise to keep my consumption/consumerism in check), experimenting with less is a helpful step to defining “enough” in my life.
I’ve learned that for me, enough means I don’t feel a need to “stock up” on things or have spares or multiples of everything “just in case”. It means that, for the most part, I’m using what I have until I need more. This creates space in my home and peace in my heart. But I had to experiment to learn this!
The Project 333 wardrobe challenge is a great example. There was no risk, because I didn’t have to give away any clothes. I basically picked my favorites and stored the others. But it showed me (overwhelmingly) how much easier it was to live with even less than I already had.
Conversely, giving something up for a time may highlight how it enhances your life or adds to your joy. After you experiment by taking it away or scaling it down, you may want to add it back.
This month, I have been doing an alcohol fast. I knew I’d miss it at the beginning, but honestly, I was expecting to get to a point where I didn’t miss it at all. That has not happened. (Although I have 9 more days to go, so there’s still time?)
If I’m having a girls night with my teacher friends, (who get pretty crazy during the summer!) having some wine adds to the fun and frivolity of our nights. If I’m out on a date with Husband, trying new wine together adds joy to the celebration of the start of the weekend. This probably doesn’t surprise many of you because it’s no secret that I’m basically a wine junkie. NONETHELESS, I am surprised that this experiment in going without has not gotten any easier.
I certainly don’t regret it, though, because it makes me appreciate that this form of enjoyment in life is freely available to me. Frankly, it also feels good to set a goal like this and accomplish it. It feels good to do something different, to go outside of your comfort zone, and to push your boundaries a little bit. It’s healthy!
I am well aware that giving up alcohol for 31 days, or putting half your clothes in another closet are not life-changing actions. But these types of experiments have value; the little things add up. Over time, they give us confidence and direction for bigger modifications that may change our lives significantly.
So whether the result of your experiment is a discovery that you are happier with less, or the items you put aside enhance your joy and you want them in your life, I promise you’ll find new levels gratitude and simplicity. Remember that deciding to give something up temporarily or live with less by putting certain things out of sight is risk-free! Why not give it a try?