22 May 2012

Starting your simple life

There are many people reading here who know exactly what simple life is all about. There are those who live in a very similar way to me and Hanno and those who live their simple life in a completely different way. There is no right or wrong way to do this - you will know you've got it right if you're spending less, feeling you have control of your life, if you're less stressed than you used to be and despite what is happening in the world with the financial ups and downs, rising prices and unemployment, you know you'll be okay. Maybe you're happy too, or at least content most of the time.

However, I still get a lot of emails from readers asking about "how to start living simply". There would probably be thousands of answers to that question and I know the people who ask it want specifics - they want a starting point. So let's say: start with what you're doing now or what troubles you most. For instance, if living within your means has given you a few problems, start with that. Or if you're currently looking for new recipes, start cooking from scratch and ensure that all your new recipes are from scratch. You'll find that once you've started on one project, that will lead to another. If you start on budgeting, that will probably lead you on to stockpiling, menu planning, recycling, mending, mindful shopping or anything that will help you save money and still live well. If you start with scratch cooking and you gather a lot of recipes, that will lead you to organising yourself, possible with a home management journal, and maybe stockpiling. Take your lead from what you're already doing. Trust yourself. There are no simple living police who will tap you on the shoulder and tell you you've got it all wrong.

The truth is that anything you do to simplify your life is a start. That could be gathering the family at the kitchen table for dinner each night, it could be walking to work, it could be reducing the amount of rubbish you put in your bins each week. When you make a start, follow on with whatever comes up next. For instance, if you start with the family at the dinner table at night, that might lead on to washing up by hand and them drying up. My sister and I grew up doing that - although she tells me now that I made excuses to get out of it. Funny, I don't remember that.   ;- ). If you start walking to work, that might lead you on to taking a water bottle from home instead of buying it; or walking the kids to school too. If you start with the rubbish bins, that might lead you to composting or worm farming. Whatever you are lead to, continue on.

There are no grand gestures in this way of life. All of it - every single part of it - is made up of small steps. Starting with one step, will lead to the next, it is up to you to keep walking. Think about your life and what direction you want to go in and be consistent. Own your life, be a good example to your children and talk about what you're doing. This may be different to what your friends or neighbours are doing but it is nothing to be ashamed of, it's just different. Who knows, you explaining what you're doing to someone else, may well be the encouragement they need to join you. We all start with ourselves and those ripples slowly move outwards. It all starts with a single action.

I guess I started as I was growing up with an intelligent and resourceful mother who had very little money, yet she always managed to give us what we needed. I didn't know it then but I was watching her and remembering. I forgot her lessons for a while, but when I needed them again, it all came flooding back. When I gave up work we were already growing vegetables and keeping chooks, so I started organising myself properly and shopping for groceries with intention. For me, that lead on to stockpiling, menu planning, learning about food storage and many more things, all focused on our home. But I guess the thing that gave me the biggest incentive to keep going was to see how I could support my family while we spent considerably less than we did before, and then the contentment that turned into happiness that flowed from it.

How did you start your simple living journey?

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