Entire books have been written on how to slow down, enjoy simple pleasures, and lead a simple lifestyle. These books exist because people often long for simplicity, but don’t know how to get out of the rat race long enough to learn it.
From stopping to smell the flowers, to appreciating a child’s smile, there are so may ways to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. The good news is, you can start small by implementing some simple tips and suggestions.
Ten minutes is a doable time increment for even the busiest person, so it’s a good place to start. Pick when your ten minutes will be – right before bed, maybe, or at noon. The point is to be quiet and focused during those ten minutes, and to enjoy a simple pleasure for that time. Draw a picture, read a book, meditate, write a few lines in a journal. Make it a quiet ten minutes – no phone, no television, no computer.
If you do this every day, you will carve out an hour and ten minutes each week. Think of it as a small investment in your simpler future.
Many of us feel driven by what we think we must do; we live in a world of “have to’s” and “need to’s.” But do we really? Sit down and evaluate things for a moment, and consider what you really need versus what you want.
Are you running around with no time to breathe because you have too many commitments? Ask yourself tough questions – do these things/events/people really need you there? If you said no, could they still carry on? Chances are, yes, they could. The same goes for your kids’ activities. Where can you say no? When does an opportunity become a burden? No one can do everything. Sometimes, you really have to pick and choose.
This is an area where people often feel conflict. Many of us admire people who can do without television and movies and computer games, and who get their pleasures from simple things like a walk in the forest. But although we may admire them, we don’t feel like we can do the same. Chances are, though, that those simple-pleasure people you admire were once in the rat race, too – talk to them about it (more on that below).
In the meantime, think about your entertainment choices. Entertainment is a pleasure, and if you’re moving toward enjoying simple pleasures, maybe you need to think about where you get that pleasure.
One idea is to start with one simple replacement. Instead of watching a television program, take a walk. Notice the landscape, the colors, the shapes and lines. Little by little, replace electronic, complicated pleasure with simple ones.
Talk to Each Other
Prioritizing relationships is key to living simply. In fact, as you connect with others who live simply, you can ask them about how they came to that place. Putting people ahead of tasks and “to do’s” is a way to connect with your community and enjoy the simple pleasure of companionship.
Take a break from Consumerism
There is a movement afoot, and it’s away from consumerism. Consumerism is the basic idea that increased consumption of goods is economically advantageous, even necessary. Today, though, a new zeal for frugality is coming to the fore.
When you think of moving away from consumerism, it sounds a lot like self-denial, which doesn’t necessarily hold a lot of appeal. But advocates of frugality say that moving away from consumerism actually results in a more pleasurable lifestyle, because you’re not dependent on “stuff” for happiness.
Make Things by Hand
One of the most pleasurable aspects of frugality is hand-making items. You can hand-make foods, gifts, clothes, decorations, and so forth. You can even make your own paper! You’ll begin to see potential in objects you might normally throw away, from plastic bottles to dinner leftovers.
Learning to sew can open up new frugal worlds. Clothing that doesn’t fit or is damaged can be transformed into something else. You can make baby gifts, throw pillows, stuffed animals, and the list goes on.
You can make household cleaners by hand, too, from countertop scrubbers to window cleaners.
You Really Don’t Have to Buy That!
Before you shell out the dollars or break out the plastic, ask yourself if you really have to buy a new such-and-such. Can you make it? Do you know someone else who could make it? Or better yet, can it be repaired, refurbished, or otherwise redone?
Take your countertops, for instance. Maybe they’re stained, pitted, and in overall bad shape. Should you throw out the old countertops and get new ones? If you’re into the frugality movement, think of a way to repair and fix them. Maybe you could do mosaic over the old countertops, or even paint them. You could tile them, too. Sometimes, it just requires a little thought to get away from consumerism.
Find Simple Pleasures
Did you know you can experience pleasures without spending money? For many people, the honest answer is no! But you can, and finding those pleasures inherent in life is a key to moving away from consumerism. Learn to appreciate nature, art, and the beauty all around you; take up a hobby and produce beautiful treasures; plant a garden; take a walk. The thing to remember is that pleasure does not have to cost money.
And last but not least, enjoy the things in life that don’t cost you a thing. Spend time with people you love, exploring a creek or stream, walking your dog, building a snowman…these are all things that cost nothing, but can offer great life rewards. The “best things in life really are free.” And the memories they create will last a lifetime!