Living With Less

Guest Author:  Susanne Skinner

“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much,
and the other is by desiring little.”
~ Jackie French Koller

Living with Less, Less is More, Simple LifeIt’s a question for the ages—is intentionally living with less a path to joy? If true, it decides how we spend our time, money and energy and how we establish our priorities. It literally changes the way we live.

Living with less is a physical as well as emotional change, freeing you in ways I did not understand until we began our purposeful journey to live in less space with fewer things.

The Simplicity Mind Set

I didn’t always live with less. My transformation came four years ago during a major move and downsize. I will not lie—It was hard. Things—material and personal—are meaningful to me. Seeing them and having them brings me joy.

I didn’t suddenly become Marie Kondo, but one of her tenets is an important factor in learning to let go. Things that no longer have a practical use and no longer fill you with joy should be released. You must view each item this way in order to decide its purpose and value.

When you are me, the easy answer is that every item is a source of joy! But the reality I discovered in my journey is the joy remains in your heart even after an item is no longer in your possession.

It’s important to distinguish simplicity from minimalism. Simplicity is living uncomplicated and free from complexity and excess. Minimalism is a style characterized by extreme sparseness.

I am working on a simplicity mind set, focusing on quality not quantity and finding happiness in owning fewer material possessions. It is a conscious process of discovering the value of things that contribute to your well-being and contentment. You begin by removing emotional and physical clutter.

Clothes:  Less Is More

I am a clothes addict, bound by the 11th commandment of thou shalt never pay full price. Fortunately, I live in a state with magnificent second-hand stores that carry name brand merchandise for a fraction of their original cost. The proof is in my closet.

Less is More, Simple Life, Living with LessLiving with less extends to clothing and, as painful as this is to think about (if you’re me), I forced myself to dive in.  Did you know that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time? I did not, and after reading this, my determination to prove or disprove the theory sent me to the closets and dresser drawers.

Full disclosure, my first attempts resulted in…nothing. I stood in the walk-in closet, staring at everything, then walked out. I did this multiple times without any success. Finally, I approached each item with four simple yes-or-no questions:

  • Does it fit?
  • Does it flatter me?
  • Have I worn it in the past year?
  • Do I love it?

The number of no’s each question revealed was eye opening. Marie would be proud.

Less Television, Less Phone

Clothing was hard, but I got it done. Then it was time to address the elephant in our rooms. Cable TV is an expense we wanted to jettison. We approached this from a cost perspective as well as a time suck. We didn’t need it, but could we do it?

A survey among our children further educated us when they said, “You still have cable TV??”  My siblings agreed, saying they cut cable from their lives years ago. We are clearly late to this party.

My husband took point on this one, diving into the world of Roku and Amazon Firestick.  One month later we were done. What an amazing sense of lightness, not to mention a hefty monthly savings. I confess to a bit of withdrawal but found a better emotional balance with the absence of cable news.

I ran point on cell phone providers and I am not ashamed to admit Ryan Reynolds wooed us to Mint Mobile with one of his clever ads. We were reluctant to let go of Verizon, believing our service quality would diminish, It did not. What did diminish is more than half of our monthly bill.

A Simplified Kitchen

Cooking and baking bring me great joy, and my pantry reflects the many items involved in creating it. When it comes to cookware, size matters. I have one of everything and in my defense, I use them. But I want fewer of them and it’s a work in progress.

I’ve taken the first step.  My name is Suze, and I have a lot of stuff in my kitchen.

The Simple Life

One day you wonder if living with less will make life easier and you begin to ponder a simple(er) life. But how do you live with less stuff?

Did I mention it’s hard? In order to fill your heart and home with things that truly matter you must change your mindset and beliefs about what is genuinely meaningful.

Society encourages us to spend money and accumulate things we can show off to other people. It’s the most-stuff-wins mindset—supporting the idea that the more you have, the happier you will be.

The idea of living with less flies in the face of the over-the-top advertisements we see and hear. Making a conscious effort to reduce material possessions liberates your time and money and creates a peaceful space to live in.

Becoming Unbusy

Becoming unbusy, make time for life, living with lessBegin with a simple priority, swap your FOMO for JOMO.

  • JOMO:  Joy of Missing Out: Feeling contentment with one’s own pursuits and activities
  • FOMO: Fear of Missing Out: the feeling of anxiety when thinking about what others are doing.

When you simplify your living journey you discover the benefit of doing what you love without apology. You’ll find ways to reduce commitments, distractions, and discover how much simpler life can be.

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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