14.4.14

Minimalist Monday: Brand Happiness


I first became interested in minimalism at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed in many areas of my life. I was working full-time in a demanding job, living in a house that needed a lot of time and money spending on it and my personal life although happy was sometimes too hectic and over-scheduled to enjoy. Somehow I kept going but I began to realise that this life was not making me content. My happiness came from quick fixes such as an expensive holiday, impulse clothes shopping and fancy ready meals bought to save us time.

Minimalism attracted me because it seemed to offer the chance of starting over and the possibility of a more enduring happiness. A less showy, gentler brand of happiness. A happiness that would come from being content from within not from the outward status of owning the right house, car or clothes. A time-rich life where cooking from scratch and a long walk would be everyday pleasures not everyday pressures. 

And so began my experiment of trying to live with with less. Gradually I decluttered many areas of my life. First to go was my full-time job. I was lucky enough to be able to work part-time and this dramatically improved my work-life balance. For the first time in many years I gained time that I could choose how to spend including sometimes allowing myself me-time.

This new life has taken hard work, planning and financial sacrifice. A smaller income meant that we had to downsize. Fortunately, we found a smaller house which was cheaper and easier to manage. In the process we decluttered huge amounts of possessions which was a lot of work. We are fortunate to still be able to afford some treats and holidays but they have to be carefully budgeted for.

There have been many positive benefits as a result of simplifying my life. We actually prefer our smaller house because we have more time to relax in it. Decluttering taught me that I have always owned too much and now my buying decisions are planned more consciously than before. Now I enjoy the purchases that I make because I don't feel guilty afterwards in the same way that I did in the past when I bought more impulsively. Having more free time has enabled me to have more time to support my Mum and Dad, relax with my family, meet up with friends, run more regularly, volunteer, blog, be more involved in my church and join a book club. 

A major breakthrough that I have made is being able to embrace change and risk-taking. At the end of last year I made a huge move and left my permanent job of many years. Since January I have been doing temporary work and have so far enjoyed this new chapter of my life. I am enjoying new experiences in my work and opportunities are beginning to evolve. I have learnt a lot about myself and feel confident about the future.

Despite the benefits of living with less I occasionally have doubts about the life changes I have made. Sometimes I find it hard to relate to others when they are relaying their latest purchases or expensive travel experiences and plans. But then I remember that my happiness has its own brand that doesn't need approval or recognition and I know that I am on the right path. 

Just a little update on my simplifying journey. Have you any similar experiences? I'd love to hear.

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25 comments :

  1. I occasionally have doubts about our lifestyle change toward frugality too, especially when I hear friends are going on vacations, doing home improvements, buying new cars, and buying this and that. Then I realize they most probably have debt from their high spending lifestyles. When I remind myself we have no debt and are just 1 year away from even paying off the mortgage, I am deeply encouraged and proud that we favor financial peace-of-mind over materialism. We are also after true happiness, just like you.

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  2. my journey towards simplicity was to actually live more simply so that we could save more and do more travel. Buying the latest gadgets, spending lots of food and entertainment, meant we had less for what we really wanted for our family and oursleves, which was to travel. Its funny how we all have the same ideas just our goals differ slightly.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your story! Well done!

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  4. I'm glad you have found happiness in your changes. It is a courageous step to be willing to acknowledge that sometimes less is more.
    Anne xx

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    1. Hi Anne thanks for your comment and welcome to Just a little less xo

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  5. thanks for sharing your very interesting story. I think we all wish to de-stress and declutter our lives, its taking that leap that many of us struggle with.

    X x

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  6. I often have doubts and feel very guilty about leaving teaching. I feel that I have let my husband down. I enjoyed reading your post.

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    1. Lynn, reading your comment from 2014 I wanted to ask how things are now. Are you happier? I am thinking about leaving teaching in the next couple of years as I can't keep working under such pressure and at such a pace. My goal is to work part-time and live a much simpler life too.

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  7. I'm so grateful I came to my senses and realised so much of the shopping and spending I was doing was completely useless. My big regret is wasting all that time and money. I was in my 40s before I turned around and returned to my natural minimalist ways. Better late then never - it scares me to think I might not have learned at all! :)

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  8. We downsized for health and mobility reasons. A big house in France and an acre of land was becoming harder and harder to cope with, My husband's poor sight meant that a bungalow was ideal, and over the two years we have been home we have decluttered, given away possessions, and feel better for it!

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  9. I've read you blog for a while now and this post is pertinent to me as I declutter and re-vamp our kitchen, rather than buying a new one at huge expense. Thank you for sharing x

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  10. I find I feel like an outsider when everyone is talking about going to the shops, just for shopping's sake. I really don't feel the need to browse the shops and impulse buy anymore. But when I take stock of my life I am so much happier with less.

    It can sometimes be hard to be slightly 'out of step' with the way things are now, constant advertising telling us that we should buy more and more for example, but it is also refreshing not to feel the pressure and be comfortable in our own choices.

    I love reading your musing on your incredible journey, thank you for sharing with us.

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  11. Living with less seems to free up so much more time to do the things i really want to do. I love my life now and can't imagine ever going back to buying and having so much stuff.

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Claire. Mindfulness can be really hard work at first, but I think that once it becomes integrated/embedded into your everyday life, all those efforts (decluttering, living frugally, learning to enjoy the moment etc) feel completely natural and become effortless. I'm intrigued that these fundamental lifestyle changes also resulted in your finding greater courage & confidence - that's truly transformational! Well done you. Through Minimalism, I too have had a complete shift in focus: I don't aim for happiness, but fulfilment. Have a great week!
    Best Wishes, Nicole.

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    1. Thank you for your comment Nicole - I like that you seek fulfilment not happiness :)

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  13. I find it hard being different to friends and colleagues. I'm not interested in shopping days, or soap operas or having the latest gadget/new car. Sometimes I think I must come across as an old skinflint! But I'd rather walk in the woods, chill in the garden and spend time with my family.

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  14. our story, my story is quite similar to yours, I think you're doing brilliantly, day by day, thats all,

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    1. Thank you for commenting, day by day is a gentle motto to live by xo

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  15. Great post! I would love to declutter some more but I sometimes waver about getting rid of things. I think I might need it in the future but then you never really do, do you? A few years ago I left my job to become a full-time mum (never in a million years thought I would, not even when I was pregnant) and we have had to make loads of sacrifices. But I wouldn't have it any other way :-)

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  16. Mary in Perth Australia17 April 2014 at 14:28

    Hi........I'm a new girl to your blog. I've just started my journey to a more simple life. I have put in for voluntary redundancy and whether I get it or not, I've decided to move into my retirement phase with a simpler lifestyle. Love your post.

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    1. Hi Mary, lovely to hear from you and good luck with your simplifying goals xo

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  17. I have just discovered your blog and am very interested in your story. I had a very demanding and well paid job that I had to leave suddenly though ill health. It has taken some adjustment, but I love being at home and having the time and stillness to enjoy the small things. I don't think I would have had the courage to get off the bus myself, but am glad that I was forced to. I have frustrations through not being able to do what I once could though pain, but I really appreciate what I can do and what I have now rather than what I don't. I have occasional guilt as my partner will have to work for longer than we had planned, but you have to make the most of what life throws at you. The simpler life is definitely happier than the mad time poor but wealthier world I used to inhabit.

    Well done to you for having the courage to lose sight of the shore and enjoy the adventure.
    Jane

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  18. Thank you Jane for your encouragement and for sharing your experience. Good luck and best wishes xo

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  19. I started my minimalism journey last year, when I did a "50 Weeks to Organized" project. What originally had started as a quest to just "organize" my too-cluttered apartment quickly turned into a massive undertaking to de-own as much as possible and eliminate as much of the superfluous demands on my life as possible. I still have the stressful full-time job (I'm a schoolteacher), but I have managed to carve out a lot more time for myself and my family, and I'm SO much happier and less stressed because of it.

    I love your blog, and I'm your newest follower! If you want to check out my minimalism journey, my blog is http://autodidacticambitions.blogspot.com

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Thanks for reading and leaving your comments. Keep in touch xo