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To live a life of simplicity means letting go of all sorts of things that make our lives more complicated than they should be – and I’m talking about every aspect of our lives, from our homes to our relationships.
Firstly – and most importantly – we need to let go of the desire for perfection or the need to impress others, but what else can we let go of to create a more simple and serene life, without compromising our comfort and pleasure?
Here are some of the changes I've made that have allowed me to free up time and money and – more importantly - to lessen stress.
I've stopped worrying what other people think of my house. Seriously – if they’re judging me by how clean my toilet is, then they’re the one with the problem. I haven’t lost a friend or family member yet by forgetting to sweep before they came by.
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I've accepted the ageing process gracefully. Since I stopped colouring my hair to hide the grey I've saved money and time and my hair has never been healthier. I receive more compliments now than I ever did when I was paying out monthly to have my roots touched up.
I've admitted I’m a lousy cook and stopped trying to impress people with meals. People are welcome to come to my house for dinner, but it will be something simple and unimpressive like pasta or soup. I’d rather spend more time having a drink and a chat in the living room than marinating, basting and garnishing in the kitchen.
I've learned that when money is tight a front row seat at a live amateur play for twelve dollars is just as much fun – sometimes more fun – than a seventy-five dollar ticket to a concert hall where you struggle to see or hear a thing.
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I've also learned that a picnic on the beach with five dollars’ worth of fish and chips is a fantastic way to spend time with your grandchildren and something they’ll remember long after you’re gone.
I no longer read expensive magazines that are full of ads for designer clothes, that portray women as air-brushed Barbie dolls and criticise celebrities that have gained a kilo or two. I don’t want to know about movie star’s divorces or mansions or cocaine habits. I’d rather borrow a good mystery novel or ‘how to’ book from the library. If I wanted to delve into the lives of the famous I could just visit my nearest doctor’s waiting room.
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But I think one of the most important things I've given up is stressing about the direction of my life, and I'm learning to just go with the flow. While I'm mindful of living a deliberate life, I know that unexpected things will always happen and new pathways will open up. Most of the best experiences I've had were completely unplanned and unforeseen.
So learning to just let go and enjoy the ride, finding joy in experiences rather than material things – to me this is the key to a simple and serene life.