Happily Simple or Simply Happier

“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” -John Ruskin

There are people, we all know them and we call them “they’ and it is they who say that less is more. I think they know what’s going on, really going on.  They seem to know quite a lot, they do.

I had been noticing, and pondering, this new sort of reality I have found myself in, when Lori from DonnaandDiablo shared this quote awhile back. It caught my attention and I loved how it resonated with thoughts that have been bumping around in my mind, and my notebook, and my conversations, over this last year or so.

Those little moments where little light-bulbs pop to life and I hear my mind say, ‘hmmmm…’

Change, with it’s multifaceted ways and ever-reaching tentacles of both joy and grief, peace and anxiety, comes with much turbulence.

Thankfully, change can also bring clarity and focus.

This change in my life included an actual move to a new location and initially in any move, the primary focus is simple: find the underwear and the toothbrush, and everything else follows in time.  I’ve learned, after many moves, that knowing for certain where those two items are located in the piles, can make the rest of the chaos a little more bearable. So, in this settling in period, as one might call it, this period of transition, some things have become more clear to me once I found my spiritual underwear, so to speak.

Or at least slightly more in focus. fog As I have found my way in this new space I now call home, I realize that without even realizing it, less truly is more. Or is it that there is more to be said about having less? Possessions, that is. Because I truly think that I have more now than before. [I am thinking that Dr. Suess would probably like this post, and that just makes me, well, happy].

I have noticed that…

…where, in my previous location, it seemed I never had enough kitchen cabinet storage, and I had overflowed to a re-purposed cabinet in the garage, I now have honest-to-goodness extra space. Like, empty cupboards in the kitchen. Seriously!

…where I used to be constantly running out of space on my DVR, ever agonizing which un-watched recording could get deleted without ever being viewed, my new DVR has exactly seven programs waiting for me. And of those seven, two I am saving for the kiddo. 

…that I often was consumed by the next purchase, desperate in my attempt to acquire, to fill so as to avoid the void;  and that now I shop with intention for what is truly needed and appreciated. Time spent in good company far outweighs things, ten to one. So does saving for a rainy day. Or a sunny trip.

…where before I went after the fancy kitchen remodel, I find more peace in a nearly one hundred year old house that leans a little but has more good juju than a box of juju beans.

And, I have noticed that while once full of secrets I was too fearful of sharing, I now understand how the truth really can be freeing. 

I will be honest, and say that sometimes I look around and see all the people with all the stuff. And I wonder, am I missing something? Am I fooling myself?  Will I change my mind at some point (other than the fleeting moments when I walk through the Nordstrom shoe department of course) ?  We are programmed to want more, bigger, better; it feels foreign to go against this grain.

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I had a conversation the other day – one of those proverbial conversation that goes like this:  ‘what would you grab if your house caught on fire and you only had a few minutes’ ?  

For my companion, there was much angst and indecision. I could hear him taking inventory in his mind and feeling the pressure of the imagined decision.  For me, I realized that my answer was so much easier than his. My list was short and clear. Things are just that, things. When we lean into change, we have to make choices. When we lean into change, we invite clarity into our lives.

It occurred to me in the days since that conversation, that the possessions, all the stuff, can take up so much precious space;  and that isn’t it possible that the more space I make for me, the less I need to fill up that space?

What about you?

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27 thoughts on “Happily Simple or Simply Happier

  1. Agree. Agree! Agree!!! Love this very thought and heart filled post, my Bon-Bon!!! I am just home from spending the last10 hours with a friend in a desperate situation….life is short ♥ peace is sweet ♥ And ain’t none of this “stuff” going with us when our time comes. Hugs….miss you!

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  2. Beautiful post, Bonnie! I love “white space” – no clutter, no kotchke’s. I didn’t know I was kind of a minimalist until I was exposed to art deco when I lived in Paris. I was hooked. I still study some of the old movies for interiors that are to die for. Simple, elegant, clean lines. The other thing that your post reminds me of with the quote from Aurelius is that the human race spends much of its time relearning the same “truths of the universe.” But there is joy in that journey, and while it’s nice to have support, it’s also good we don’t rob people of their own path to the same point. Great stuff.

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    • Hi Maureen! I appreciate your beautiful and thoughtful comment – thank you soo so much. What an awesome way to discover your minimalist tendencies, I think I too must spend some time in Paris! I totally love the simple, elegant and clean lines aesthetic too – so calming. I find so much truth in Aurelius of late, it seems his wisdom is somehow part of me – and yes, I agree, the ancient truths seem to keep spinning through and around us. It’s fascinating that what we ‘discover’ is truly universal. Always so good to have you here.

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  3. This is such a wise post, Bon, and I thank you for the ‘hat tip’ at the start. I love Ruskin and though I don’t remember when or where I cited that quote, I’m delighted that it resonated. When I went through my divorce, I lost many material possessions. While it was heartbreaking in many regards, it was also incredibly freeing. After I finished mourning, I came to realize that much of it was just ‘stuff,’ acquired (as Mimi so wisely points out) to fill a void or mask pain. I now carry little, but my life is full. Fulsome blessings fill my life in the form of friends and family whom I love dearly and who love, encourage and sustain me every day. Gives one a much better picture of true riches… so happy for you…xoxo

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    • Lori!! I somehow missed this awesome comment of yours – life has been a bit of a merry-go-round lately! The quote you shared just resonated fully when this all started dawning on me. I think you had posted it on Facebook one day. I love that you get it too, and while not the grieving part of course, but the fact that you can say you carry little but your life is full is beautiful. I am headed in the very same direction, and it’s cool to have such awesome company along this path. I think our paths are more than parallel! So happy for you too! xoxo

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  4. “where, in my previous location, it seemed I never had enough kitchen cabinet storage, and I had overflowed to a re-purposed cabinet in the garage, I now have honest-to-goodness extra space. Like, empty cupboards in the kitchen. Seriously!” – Truer words NEVER spoken!

    “that I often was consumed by the next purchase, desperate in my attempt to acquire, to fill so as to avoid the void; and that now I shop with intention for what is truly needed and appreciated. Time spent in good company far outweighs things, ten to one. So does saving for a rainy day. Or a sunny trip.” – Oh My! ME TOO!

    “where before I went after the fancy kitchen remodel, I find more peace in a nearly one hundred year old house that leans a little but has more good juju than a box of juju beans.” – Good Grief! ME TOO!

    “……..And, I have noticed that while once full of secrets I was too fearful of sharing, I now understand how the truth really can be freeing” – Holy Hell! ME TOO!

    ……………….that the possessions, all the stuff, can take up so much precious space; and that isn’t it possible that the more space I make for me, the less I need to fill up that space? – THIS…YES! You are my hero.

    xoxo

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  5. I absolutely agree with what you’re saying, Bonnie. Amen and all that. But I have tons of stuff! Really, I do. Books, especially cookbooks. Clothes, shoes, jewelry (nothing of great value–most of what’s in my closet and jewelry box is thrifted), glassware, barware, booze, food, ingredients (you don’t even want to know how many different kids of salt I have). Though if my house were burning, I wouldn’t be too hard pressed to take any of it (except for my leopard print (faux) fur winter coat, haha). Can honestly say that my kids and husband hold the most value for me. But how to reconcile thinking things aren’t so important with my having lots of things???

    love that you’ve emptied your life of so much clutter. Often wish for that for myself (though never follow through) as I imagine I’d breathe much easier. So much truth in your opening quote.

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    • Liz!! Totally cool…only sharing some a-ha’s I have had a long the way as a result of some, ahem, modifications along the way recently. Life is a series of choices, and I think it’s safe to say we can’t have it all, and I realized that some of my choices became easier than I expected once I stopped and thought about it. I am dying to know though, how many different kinds of salts you have. I have 4. 🙂

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  6. Hi Bons, yes, less IS more. In design (which happens to be my profession) and in life. Simplicity can be quite beautiful and no doubt it can be freeing. I know I feel much clearer when I get rid of the clutter of ‘stuff’ whether mental or physical. I love that you worked ju ju beans into this post, but perhaps you should have gone with jelly bellys just to roll with the seuss theme. Me? Burning house? other than the other person and dog who inhabit it with me………my photographs.

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    • Pam!! Awesome when you are here – you always put a smile on my face, it’s like you showing up at my front door, ‘wanna hang out?’ 🙂 I totally get that, how in design, less is more! I totally agree, photos are on my short list too..kid, me, photos. My mom’s rings are there too. All the rest of it is just stuff. I like my stuff, no question, but I can learn to like new stuff too, I am sure. Stop by anytime! 🙂

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  7. You can’t take it with you as ‘they’ say 😉 If the house was on fire I would grab the most valuable thing in my life (me) and run! It’s great to downsize everything. The more ‘things’ you have, the more ‘things’ you have to lose 😀

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    • Dianne..exactly, the more acquired, the more to be lost! Yes, I would grab my son, myself, the photos and goooooo! It’s freeing to know the list is so short, so simple. And for you, with your amazing house, love that it’s clear to you too!

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  8. To simplify life really is the way to go. We can have all this junk but it really is just stuff. We really do not need any of this stuff. I know a couple who sold everything they had and followed their dream. They wanted to live on a sailboat in a slip in California. That is exactly where they are living now and love it. Not much space but a lot of mental space. I like how you said THEY. At work in conversation that word comes up all the time. They should do this or that. I wonder who this THEY person is. Good Day. Great Post.

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    • I agree with you – we don’t need so much; and it’s interesting how not having much is seen as the alternative. I love that story – what a life, to follow a dream and live life as you see it in your mind’s eye. I’d forgo the boxes in the garage and extra dishes to set out on an adventure! And yes, I think we all wonder who THEY are…they are elusive and disruptive. Thanks so much for joining the conversation – glad to have you here!

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  9. The importance we attached to acquiring is disproportionate to their importance in our lives…I relate to that need to acquire as a way to offset pain or unhappiness in some way. I also find that a little peace of mind is priceless and I want for less as a result. What we carry in our hearts BonBon – that which is irreplaceable and as long as we hold it there, never needs to be..xo

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    • Yes, peace of mind is indeed priceless; and the peace of mind is filling, like a good meal. Satisfied and not thinking of the next ‘get’ – it’s interesting how we have come to ‘train’ ourselves, so to speak, in that universal way, to fill up the gaps, the void, with stuff. It’s a tempting route….but it’s nice to know there are other trails out there. xo

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