When I was inspired to begin my exploration of simplicity back in 2013 I began by simplifying my team and business systems, clearing out a couple of wardrobes and trying to get clear on a new business idea to run alongside my already existing business, JigsawBox.
That year I had hit a big financial number in my business revenues and I totally surprised to find it didn’t ‘make me happy’.
I was surprised because despite saying ‘I know money can’t buy you happiness’, I obviously didn’t actually really think that – given my intention-setting, vision-boarding, driving and striving all towards that number.
At that point, I stumbled across a totally new (to me) understanding about how human beings create their experience and I started to see that the experience of ‘simplicity’ and well-being was an inside-out job.
I could experience ‘simplicity’ even when my outside world looked to others crazy and complex: with a busy diary, with needing to be in seven places at once with my kids’ schedule, even with a cluttered kitchen and even though I was coming up with a new business idea every week.
For the past three years I’ve been completely fascinated and absorbed with deepening my understanding of how human beings create their experience and it’s led to a greater sense of peace and clarity, with insight after insight which just made my business and life look simpler and simpler.
No action required on the outside. Or so I thought.
Recently I picked up a book and realised that simplicity has returned as something I’d like to create in a practical way.
Because, as Duane Elgin explains so clearly in his book, Voluntary Simplicity Second: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple and Inwardly Rich, we are facing current the following global adversity trends:
- Unsustainable population growth
- Wide and deep poverty
- The end of cheap oil
- Global wate shortages
- Mass extinction of plant and animal species
- Unsustainable global footprint
I’m embarrassed to admit the next few sentences, but I might as well be honest.
To simpliiy my life, I haven’t watched the news once in about 5 years. I had become overwhelmed by the constant stream of bad news and crises and I figured ‘if I’m not going to do anything about it, why watch?’.
I’d seen headlines about climate change splashed across newspapers at the local shop but dismissed it with a similar ‘Oh well, what can I do?’ and ‘It won’t be a problem until the year 3000 or something.’
And carried about my business.
What I saw when reading Elgin’s book is the crises above are imminent. That we’ll be facing some huge decisions that will be a turning point for humanity in the mid 2020s. Shit – that’s SOON.
And that choosing simplicity a very individual way can be the solution to every one of the problems above.
Regardless of any experience of simplicity that I have, I hold my hands up as guilty of the following:
- Driving my kids all over the county to a hundred (well what feels like) activities burning up fuel
- Upgrading my iphone whenever possible because I love the latest new gadget even though my old one functions just fine (except a 6 minute battery life)
- Constantly throwing away food at the end of the week (or three weeks later when it has become mulch-in-a-bag)
- Am too lazy to recycle properly so it all goes in the ‘big bin’
- Doing ‘gratuitous dishwasher cycles’ where I treat myself to turning the dishwasher on half full just to have it be clean by morning
- Unconsciously exploring simplicity and the inside out nature of reality in an attempt to gain insights into how to create a successful business to bring me a greater income so I can buy more stuff for me or my kids (WTF??!)
- Leaving lights on/still have the towel rail and underfloor heating on in the middle of summer just because I can
- Trying to cook really complicated food when simple is often healthier. Eating way more processed and sugary food than I’d like.
- Buying clothes with no consideration of the condition of the factories they’ve been made in whilst still having a wardrobe so stuffed full of clothes I never wear that it won’t close properly
- Travelling over to the States 4 or 5 times a year thereby encouraging Heathrow to build a third runway
- Buying shit just for the sake of buying shit
- Running and maintaining about 20 different websites and half-started business ideas, which takes my focus in a hundred directions as a result
And more than I could possibly list here without ruining my manicure I thought it was so important to have last week:)
Elgin has surveyed thousands of people in his studies of simplicity and the conclusion he draws is that people who opt for ‘voluntary simplicity’ (as opposed to enforced simplicity because of poverty) experience a shift as much in their inner world as much as in their outer one.
My exploration of the game of living will continue forever as I continue to deepen my understanding of the inner world. It has made my experience of life so much more simple.
That understanding has changed my definition of what enough is. I notice and take pleasure from the simpler things in life because I’m more present and less up in my head. My spending patterns have changed all by themselves as I see the futility in ‘getting stuff to make me happy’ being a nonsensical game. My ability to step away from my business and experiment with new ideas has given me insights into how simple food and exercise can be. I’m consuming a lot less wine. My kids are somehow nicer and my head is generally quieter inside.
And with a clear mind, when I picked up Elgin’s book I was able to raise my eyes from the ‘all about me’ focus I’d been living in and see life from a wider perspective.
To be fascinated by simplicity not just because I feel guilty or because I think that ‘it’s going to make me happier to have a simpler life.’
Just for the pure possibility for what might show up.
None of which would have been possible for me before the last two years.
And the game of life I’m curious about playing right now is in the physical world around me.
How much simpler could my money management be? How can I bring my business into integrity when my clients are saying ‘I need more money, more clients, more fame, more status!’. How can I simplify the food that I eat, the impact I have on the environment, the values I pass onto my kids and how I bring them up?
How much fun would it be to take each area of my life in turn and see what I can see about changes I could make from this fresh perspective?
Without turning into some boring preachy holier-than-thou hippy who drinks green juice and meditates all day and making you feel guilty you’re not doing the same. While still having fun and doing things that bring me joy and keeping my friends. Without having to move into a wooden cabin in the hills and eat only lentils.
And still being able to pay my bills. Which given my previous understanding of how the world worked (set intention – vision-board all the stuff I want – work my arse off to get it all – get it all) means I’m now left with some huge ongoing expenditures as a result of decisions made during that period of my life.
It’s no longer about wiping 90% off my to-do list, and trying to save my own sanity in an increasingly fast-paced information –filled world.
I’ve suddenly seen that simplicity has global implications.
Will living with simplicity make me happier? No.
Does the planet require it? It’s looking more and more like it.
What can I see new about the practical nature of simplicity?
I have no idea.
But I want to play.
Wanna join me? Click here to find out just how you can…