“Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.” –Plato
As a culture, we tend to run toward complexity.
“More of more.”
Are all rallying calls. But where does it end?
The answers we seek can often be found in a different direction. A direction that leads to a path of intentional simplicity.
What Is Intentional Simplicity?
Intentional simplicity can provide a solution to our hectic, modern lives.
A paradox of life at times—the more we give up, the more we can get back. Intentional simplicity leans into this space.
Let’s explore several areas that can benefit from us applying an intentional simplicity lens on.
There is a growing trend in tiny home purchases. This movement is supported by a thriving community of small homeowners and enthusiasts who are all sold on the benefits of living in a smaller space intentionally. Not because they have to, because they want to.
These people are giving up on large homes, with even larger mortgages (they are never likely to pay off in this lifetime), and instead embracing the power of small. The reasons for this are many.
Downsizing (or perhaps a more palatable term is ‘rightsizing’) our homes leads to less overheads. Less cost, less time clearing up and looking after possessions means more time spent chasing our dreams or with our passion projects.
Less overheads and a smaller space can also mean home ownership is more in reach for many. Remember, technically we don’t own our home until the mortgage is paid up in full. Smaller spaces can be more affordable, and may even be bought outright, alleviating mortgage stress.
When we live in a smaller space we focus on what we need. We have no room for excess. Instead we focus on making best use of the space we have. Constraints can be useful if they mean our home is only full of things we find truly useful or beautiful (or both).
More stuff often equals more hassle. Most of our possessions need some degree of looking after and upkeep. This all takes a toll—physically, mentally, financially and emotionally.
Instead, we can scale back our possessions and be selective with what we let into our lives. If we focus on high quality possessions maybe we can do away with high quantity.
This approach doesn’t have to mean we become anti-consumers. We can settle on a baseline of possessions that works for us. Importantly, we shouldn’t feel we are cutting back in an extreme way and missing out. That’s not the point.
We can gradually reduce our possessions instead. Where this ends up is for us to decide but many of us will be surprised and empowered with how much we don’t actually need.
Better to have a few carefully chosen things in our lives we really cherish than lots of things that don’t give us much back.
Overcommitting ourselves is one of the biggest reasons so many of us end up feeling stressed and like we never have enough hours in the day. Our diaries have become too cluttered.
Instead, we can simplify our commitments and say yes to less. We can get more comfortable saying ‘no’ more often.
We can appreciate and protect the white space in our diary. We can create intentional buffers so we no longer have to rush from this appointment to the next.
Reducing our possessions and the size of our homes (points above) should free up finances for us. Our overheads should reduce themselves and this means less pressure to work jobs we hate, or work multiple jobs, just to get by.
It may even mean we can explore working part time in our paid gig to have more time for hobbies and passion projects (perhaps our own mini business idea). Or perhaps some self-study we’ve long dreamed of but never felt we’ve had the time for.
We may decide that a 40–50 hour workweek is something we can now leave in the past.
Many of us never reach our goals because we chase too many at once.
We spread our efforts wide but never really to any depth and then get frustrated that we’re getting nowhere fast. In 80/20 speak, we chase the trivial many without identifying the vital few.
The ability to narrow our aim and dig deep has become rarer. But digging deep brings its own rewards and can support our biggest successes.
What does this look like in practice? Identify the most meaningful goals (the vital few) to you and then go after them in a focused way until achieved. Only then look to shift your aim to another goal.
Simplicity Equals Freedom
As we make friends with simplicity, a whole new world can open up to us. The right sort of less really can mean more.
Living within our own framework of intentional simplicity can increase the relative freedom in our lives. We can live more through less.