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Blog: Simplify Your Life
Abundance And Simplicity -- Two Sides Of The Same Coin

Everything that I do these days is about simplifying life -- but when I mention concepts like "downsizing" and "scaling back" and "frugality" to people, some folks immediately assume that I'm suggesting giving up things they really care about. Not at all! Living simply is about filling your life with more of what you really want -- but in order to have true abundance, you need to be able to discern between a priority and a distraction. Let me explain...

To Have Or Have Not?

Somewhere along the way, our society developed a mistaken notion that "abundance" means having more than you need. We define success in terms of material possessions (ignoring the huge debt most people rack up filling their driveway with cars and putting a big-screen TV in every room.) We look enviously at the guy with a 10,000 square foot home (not realizing that he is behind on his payments and worried about his mortgage.) We and covet our next-door neighbor's swimming pool or boat (forgetting that he's given up all of his free time working to pay for those toys and can never really enjoy them.) We watch commercials and visit the mall and exist in a never-ending state of desire, always wanting more.

Yet at the same time, we complain that we're stressed out, overworked, financially burdened, and just not satisfied with life. Do you see a connection here? Conspicuous consumption has not made us happier. In fact, the constant pressure to stay ahead of the curve -- to own the newest sexiest gadgets before anyone else, to not only keep up with the Joneses, but to surpass them -- has many people caught in a vicious cycle. You see some "thing" that promises to immediately improve your quality of life overnight, you run out and buy it, you're happy for a few minutes, then you return to the same old status quo -- where you start searching for something else to fill the gap. That's when it's time to re-evaluate your definition of "happy."

When asked what would please you most in life, how would you respond? Most folks say "I'd like to have more free time to spend with my family" or "I want to quit my job and do something I really love" or "I wish I never had to worry about money again." Very rarely is the answer a new car or a bigger house. Then why do we keep sidestepping our true priorities for things that are just temporary stopgap pleasures? In fact, we seem societally-driven to engage in behaviors that are directly contradictory to our real goals -- habits that destroy any chance of having what we say we desire most. If you want to be debt-free, why do you think that going shopping will make you happy? If you want more free time, why burden yourself with a standard of living that can only be supported by many hours of overtime? We're totally missing the mark, because we're living according to someone else's definition of success.

Who's Really Lacking?

This is where simplicity comes in -- choosing to eschew those things unnecessary and extraneous allows you the freedom to find real happiness and satisfaction in life. It's not about going without, it's about making conscious decisions regarding where your resources are best spent. If I want to eat at a restaurant or take an overseas vacation or buy a new dress, I do. However, I do these things knowing that they are somehow moving me closer to one of the larger goals in my life. It's the habitual "autopilot" behaviors (that don't even qualify as decisions, because you're not actually engaged in thinking about the results of your actions) that get you in trouble, and rob you of your dreams. If you want to truly simplify your life, you only need to make one small change. Every time you consider investing time, money, energy, or space in an activity or "thing," ask yourself whether that decision is going to help you accomplish your goals. If not, it's easy to pass and move on to something else that will.

If I simply tell folks that we don't have cable or a second car, that we only make a fraction of the income we did when we worked for someone else, that we sold the house and all its contents to live in a 29-foot Airstream -- they only see the absence of "stuff." I've had people say, "Well I sure couldn't do that. I like my things too much." But when I explain that we made this choice to be able to travel year-round, to do what we wanted for a living, to have the free time to really enjoy ourselves -- they look at the situation a bit differently. What might have been viewed as impoverished or deprived now appears full and rich. They understand that we have simply traded all the other junk for a lifestyle that makes us truly happy (after all, there is no "lack" if you don't want it in the first place!) And every once in a while, I see the wheels begin to turn -- as they start asking themselves whether a little letting go might allow them the freedom to live the life they always wanted. That's what really makes me smile!

posted on: 3/16/2010 11:30:00 AM by Ramona Creel
category: General Organizing Tips

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Simplify Your Life

by Ramona Creel

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About Ramona:

I have been a Professional Organizer for more than 10 years, I am a NAPO Golden Circle member, and I was the original founder of OnlineOrganizing. I have worked one-on-one with scores of clients and have trained dozens of newbie organizers as they got started in the industry. I provide both hands-on and virtual coaching to help clients improve their organizing skills and simplify their lives. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.RamonaCreel.com, and I challenge you to find one new idea that you can put into practice in your life, to help you become better organized, starting TODAY! I am passionate about coaching folks toward a more balanced, productive, and enjoyable life -- and I firmly believe that if I can do it, so can you!

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