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Simplify Your Life April 6, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Less IS More.

In her wonderfully insightful book, Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things that Really Matter, Elaine St. James reminds us that we really need very little to be happy.

One day, while perusing her personal planner, which  bulged at the seams, Ms. St. James awoke to the realization that her life was too complicated.

Rather than stressing and whining about her “out of control” life, she decided to make some real changes.

She scheduled a weekend retreat and went off with a notebook to reflect on how she wanted her life to look.  She emerged from the weekend with a list of things that she and her husband could do to improve the quality, and decrease the complexity, of their lives.

Among other things, they got rid of all the things they didn’t use any more.  They moved across the country, so they could work where they wanted to live and do what they wanted to do.  In the process, they moved into a smaller house, simplified their eating habits, consolidated their investments, sold their boat, rethought their buying habits, and drastically reduced their reliance on goods and services.

As I read her book, I made notes of changes that I wanted to make in my life.

I also went out and bought copies of the book for everyone on my Christmas list that year.

I wanted to share with my friends and family what I viewed as true wisdom . . . Less is More.

After discussing the changes I wanted to make with my husband, we went to work to create the life that we wanted to live.

We started with simple changes, and then moved on to bigger challenges.

Among other things, we jettisoned much of the clutter that was filling our lives; we moved from the crowded suburbs of Philadelphia to a much smaller home on an island in the Chesapeake Bay (and then moved to Florida); we sold our camper and started to take time to enjoy sunsets and beauty from our own backyard; we switched from jobs that were “time hogs” to part-time positions which allowed us to live life on our terms; we traded larger paychecks for more time; and we simplified our eating habits by becoming vegetarians who “eat in” more often than we “eat out.”

Now, we spend more time enjoying the simple pleasures in life (an ice cream cone on a warm summer’s day) and less time doing things we don’t want to do (reading all the bad news in the daily newspaper).

Simplify Your Life  is a wonderful reminder to live your life.  By eliminating things that are not important to you, you find time for the things that really matter.

The secret to happiness lies not in getting more, but in wanting less . . . and in appreciating what you already possess.

And that, quite simply, is a lesson worth learning, and sharing.

No rules.  Just write!

Related post:  The Art of Simplifying (Think Simple Now) * A Not-So-Quick Quiz:  Who Are You? * Live Your Life *  Between The Wish & The Thing * You Better Stop Shopping Around * I Don’t Want Stuff Anymore, Only Things  (Raptitude) * Guest Post (My Light Bag)


1. Joanne - April 6, 2010

I L-O-V-E this message… mainly because I’ve thought this way my whole life, but because I was raising a large family who never knew why I was happy with less, I slowly became unhappy at the fact that my kids were wanting more (materially) than I could — or planned — on giving them — in terms of larger homes with STUFF that only gets STUFFED in God-forsaken corners and drawers of their rooms, anyway… Well, it took my older kids becoming independent adults to learn those lessons of possessing happiness…

And lately, I’ve been learning about how to say “no” without really saying “no” — to my youngest child when she expresses her desires for STUFF… “Let’s put it out to the Universe and see how long it takes to come to you…!”

2. nrhatch - April 6, 2010

Joanne ~

I am laughing so hard at how you’ve been teaching your youngest about both the law of attraction and the law of “too much stuff!”

The last couple of moves we’ve downsized, downsized, downsized ~ from 4200 sq. ft. (obscene for the 2 of us) to 1800 sq. ft. (most space utilized most of the time) to 1250 sq. ft. +/- (with every square inch used to its best advantage all the time).

It’s easier to clean. We need less stuff to fill it. And moving from room to room is a breeze.

Buying Simplify Your Life by Elaine St. James was, hands down, the BEST INVESTMENT I ever made in a bookstore!!!

3. Tammy McLeod - November 28, 2010

aaaah yes, I always thought that hatch island was in the Chesapeake Bay but that you lived in Florida. This might be my favorite post and beyond reading this, I love the idea of giving it for the holidays. Thanks Nancy.

4. nrhatch - November 28, 2010

We lived on the Chesapeake Bay for 8 years and moved to Florida 2 years ago. Now I feel at “home.” 🙂

Glad you enjoyed the post. Her book is wonderful. It’s 100 short essays so you can pick and choose which topics appeal to you most, and easily refer back to posts in areas “under improvement.”

5. nrhatch - March 28, 2014

We had a minor flood in the basement and had to empty out the smallest room in the house to replace the carpet. As the pile of books, sports gear, recreational equipment, furniture, etc., piled up in the adjoining room, it hit us: We Have Too Much Stuff!

Since then, we’ve made a concerted effort to downsize our belongings ~ shedding the extraneous and keeping only the essential.

6. 21 Ways To Improve Life Balance | Spirit Lights The Way - April 29, 2014

[…] posts:  Simplify Your Life * Clearing Clutter * I Don’t Want Stuff Anymore, Only […]

7. Holiday Simplicity | Spirit Lights The Way - December 16, 2014

[…] reading Simplify Your Life in 1997, we stopped stressing over the holidays.  We do what we enjoy doing, and don’t do stuff […]

8. Tammy - December 17, 2014

Yes, this is my philosophy through and through.

nrhatch - December 17, 2014

As more people adopt a less is more mentality . . . this precious planet will breathe a sigh of relief.

Aah . . . that’s better!

9. chickpiggy - December 19, 2014

I am going to make a list too!

nrhatch - December 19, 2014

She’s making a list . . . she’s checking it twice . . . :mrgreen:

10. Kate @ Did That Just Happen? - June 21, 2017

Thank you! I love the idea of taking time to write out, jot down, just taking time, so see the life you want. I’m going to see if the library has this in stock! Thank you!!

nrhatch - June 21, 2017

The year I read it . . . I bought copies for EVERYONE on my Christmas List. It’s an eye-opener and life-changer.

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