When I first heard about simple living, I wanted to be all in. The next day. No, really. Tomorrow. (And I’m only doing it tomorrow because I don’t have time to do it right this second.)
All it took was reading a few blog posts – okay, I stayed up all night binge reading every simple living post I could find – and I was ready to sell all our stuff, move into an RV, and enjoy the pleasures of the simple life.
I tend to be all or nothing. Now, I was ready for nothing and lots of it.
When I excitedly told my husband my plan to get rid of everything we owned and move our family of six into an RV the next morning, however, he was strangely not as enthused as I was. He may have used words like, “crazy” and “not a chance” and asked if I was thinking clearly in the midst of my sleep deprivation.
I have a feeling some of you can relate to my story, because the number one question I get emailed is, “How do I get my spouse on board with downsizing?”
As for my husband and I’s initial foray into simple living, I agreed to get some sleep and think about the idea some more. But the conclusion was yes – yes, I still wanted to give it a try, so I persisted in my vision. And he kept on resisting, which was okay.
Because I think if he had said yes, and we had actually went straight to living in an RV, I would have hated it.
We still would have had too much stuff. I still would have had a shopping problem. And I would have been happy for a bit, but the discontent would have crept back in because I still believed that happiness was a result of external circumstances.
Our experience would have been a disaster, instead of the fulfilling journey it turned into.
Part of living more simply means building patience and practicing contentment no matter where you are at on the journey.
Because if you don’t, you’ll never have few enough possessions, your life will never be simple/fulfilling/enriching enough and you’ll always be anxious to do something more drastic.
It’s a process, especially when you’re adjusting life not just for you, but your entire family.
So instead of making a drastic change right away, I focused on getting tiny wins. Tiny wins are little pieces of evidence that show you just how capable you are of creating the life you want through simple steps.
Tiny wins are things like:
- Decluttering your kitchen (instead of selling everything and moving into a tinier space because you’re overwhelmed with all your stuff)
- Inviting a friend over for a cup of coffee (instead of putting off focusing on relationships because you’re stressed over hospitality)
- Doing a few sun salutations in the morning (instead of fretting over not having the time for a 90-minute class each day because you know a little centeredness goes a long way)
They help you determine if what you’re after is truly what you desire, or if there’s really something deeper that needs addressed.
Plus they give you some instant gratification that keeps you moving forward.
Changing your life doesn’t have to be a massive and overwhelming project that makes your significant other think you’ve lost your mind. It can be simple, fulfilling, and even fun. (And hey, if it’s that important to you, they will probably come around.)
So if you’re tempted to do something drastic in your excitement to change your life, try getting a tiny win instead. (Here are a few if you need ideas.) You may find that in your desire to live a simpler life, what you really need are some simple changes that help you appreciate what you have now and find more joy in each day.
Enjoy the process.