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by Mandi

Mandi Ehman is the blogger behind Life Your Way. She and her husband have four beautiful girls plus one baby boy, and together they live, work and homeschool on a little slice of heaven in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Mandi loves coffee, chocolate, easy meals, beautiful things and minimalist spaces.

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Does simple living always mean “less”?

We often treat “simple living” and “living with less” as synonymous, but I’m not convinced they’re the same thing at all.

Don’t get me wrong: decluttering and letting go of stuff definitely simplifies our lives.

Saying no to busyness just for the sake of busyness does as well.

Spending less, preparing meals with fewer ingredients, creating a capsule wardrobe…all of these things can simplify our life.

But are they necessary to live simply?

Maybe you have a larger-than-necessary home because hospitality is one of your highest values and you love to host guests all week long for play dates and community groups and overnight stays.

Maybe your schedule is full to overflowing because you’re intentionally making time for connecting with and serving in your community on top of your work and school obligations.

Maybe you love to cook gourmet meals, even though that means spending hours in the kitchen each day.

Maybe you’re building a new business and intentionally choosing to invest long hours and hard work now for the pay off later.

Conversely, maybe the minimalist with only 100 possessions and a clear schedule is lonely and unmotivated. (Please know that I’m not saying this is true of all minimalists. But minimalism is not a magic formula that guarantees a happy and fulfilling life, and I guarantee there are minimalists doing it for the wrong reason who are not satisfied with their lives.)

Maybe your desire to keep your schedule free of stress means you’re missing out on a great opportunity that would actually be worth the stress involved to make it happen.

Maybe trying to live by other people’s rules has left you feeling frazzled and stressed rather than in control of your life.

As humans, we want rules and formulas and guidelines to follow: “Do this to achieve that. If you want that, do this.” Even the nonconformists among us who don’t want to live under other people’s rules like to set our own!

But simple living isn’t about following a particular formula. Yes, it’s good to be inspired by other people, to be reminded of the benefits of living a simpler life, to see the folly in working more to acquire more so that one day you can just enjoy life.

But what if simple living is really about being intentional in the choices you make, not in following someone else’s rules?

2014 has been my year to discover what it means to really live, and the most important thing I’ve learned is that I can’t live under someone else’s rules or expectations for my life.

Simple living for Tsh and her crew includes a trip around the world. For us, right now, it means exploring closer to home.

Simple living for some people means moving to the city, where walking and biking are a way of life. For us, it means living in the boonies where our kids can play outside for hours on end.

Simple living for some families means a tiny home with few possessions. For us, it includes an ever-growing library of children’s books.

Simple living for many people means learning to say no and finding room in your schedule to breathe. For us, it’s been learning to say yes to community, even though we have to work to make it happen.

At its core, simple living isn’t about living with less. It’s about living intentionally.

It means knowing why you’re making the choices you’re making and living a life that reflects your core values and beliefs, even when those choices mean more rather than less.

Want to explore this idea of living intentionally and creating a life you love in more depth? Join me next year for LIVE., a 12-month course to help you do just that.

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