I love the whole concept of simple living. I love the idea of simplifying your life so that you can relish the tasks in front of you even more.
My husband and I aren’t minimalists, and I never want to mislead people by stating that we are or that we practice utterly foundational simple living…but we have chosen to simplify our lives in some little ways – even in ways that surprise people. I think you can practice simplicity to all sorts of degrees. Here’s our story:
We don’t have a TV – that prominent area of the living room is instead graced with our large fish tank – the first thing you see when you enter our home!
We love our record player dearly, even though it requires more effort to get a record going than simply pressing “play” on iTunes…and it requires a bit of babysitting if an older record begins to skip. 🙂
We don’t have a clothes dryer. In the wintertime, I hang our clothing up on drying racks and in milder weather, I joyfully put the clothes and bedsheets up on our big clothesline out back!
We don’t have a dishwasher, either, so doing dishes at the farmhouse-style sink is a daily evening routine.
We do have Internet and we do love watching movies or shows on Netflix. All in all, though, some of our daily-life routines may look a bit different from others’, or from what is considered typical or a necessity. And we like it this way!!
I’ll admit, if you look at any of the items mentioned above, there definitely have been times where I griped or fussed or just plain wished I had those conveniences. Big-screen TVs are fun when you have people over. Dishwashers are a quick fix after a long day at work. And oh, I do like clothes dryers.
We could definitely head over to the store and pick up any of these items. But we’ve chosen not to buy them because, first of all, we’re only living here temporarily, and second, we are able to use that money in other ways!
These items we’ve chosen not to fill our home with have also resulted in giving me freedom. Freedom to choose to savor supposedly mindless tasks or annoying chores.
I recently realized that the true beauty of simple living is changing mindless tasks into mindful ones.
If we had a huge living room television, then perhaps we wouldn’t know the peaceful hum of our big aquarium, and we wouldn’t find ourselves sitting in silence enjoying our African cichlids.
If we had a dishwasher, then perhaps I wouldn’t know the peace and thinking-time that standing in front of a sink full of sudsy water offers me. It’s almost spa-like.
If we had a clothes dryer, then perhaps I wouldn’t know the peace that streams into my heart when the sun hits my face as I pin clothes up on the line. I wouldn’t know the soft-rush-of-air sound that bedsheets make as they’re floated by the wind. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to go to sleep on sheets that smell like sunshine.
Although we’re not forever committed to doing without these things, I’m grateful for this season of life. Because it has taught me not only gratitude for what I have, but also how to truly savor tasks. I believe this is true simple living.
How to Change Mindless Tasks Into Mindful Tasks:
1 // Slow down! If at all possible, take the time to really focus on the task in front of you. I think cooking and spending time in the kitchen is an excellent example of this.
Bjorn and I watched a documentary the other day that discussed cooking, and how time spent cooking in America has changed over the decades. We love spending time together in the kitchen so we were fascinated by what we learned. People in America spent an average of 60 minutes cooking supper in 1965. Now days, people spend an average of 27 minutes cooking supper. Slow cooking is going away. Slow chores and slow savoring of daily tasks is going away, too. We can combat that by intentionally slowing down.
2 // Take a break from multitasking. This is a hard one for me, so I’m able to do it best when I’ve got something to do like hanging clothes up on the line. It’s a little hard to be listening to music or talking on the phone or watching a show while I’m out in the backyard with my arms full of wet laundry. 😉
3 // Focus on your senses. Does that sound weird? Some of my favorite moments of relishing mindless tasks come when I close my eyes to savor a sound, or I stop everything to enjoy the sound of our small-town church bells carried by the breeze through our windows. Think back to your descriptive writing assignments in 5th grade. That’s where it’s at! 🙂
4 // Either do tasks alone or with one other person. It’s a little harder to relish tasks in a peaceful manner when you’ve got a whole crowd of people around. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I may be a bit biased because I’m realizing more how much of an introvert I can be…but try it! Sometimes fewer people just offers you that extra bit of space you needed to feel a bit more intentional about what you’re doing!
5 // Write about it. Just for fun, sit down and write about your day in a more poetic way. I love this. The book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp really taught me about this. She savors the smallest little details with gratitude and with stunning, insightful descriptions.
6 // Photograph it. This is something I’ve been inspired to attempt more and more in my photography lately. I often share these kinds of photos on my Instagram account. It forces me to slow down and savor things so much more, and I’ve been finding myself extra grateful and in awe of the wonders God has placed in this world all around us!
So, wherever you are – with whatever you currently have or don’t have – you can embrace mindful living, too!
How do you savor daily tasks? Do you have any tips for mindful living?