Thoughtful Living: One writer’s key to a happier life

I remember my mom asking me several years ago why I liked a minimalist lifestyle. She loves to surround herself with beautiful antiques and glassware, beautifully crafted baskets, interesting knickknacks, and wonderful quilts that she’s made or that have been given to her by friends.  I had to choose my words carefully before responding.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate artful living.  I have an appreciation for fine woodworking, beautiful art, and well executed crafts of all sorts.  In fact, I love these objects.  But my problem is time.  Each of these objects requires extra time to organize and take care of.  It adds beauty, but it also takes time away from other activities I want to do.  Having a house full of objects that I don’t have time to take care of the way they should be, creates stress in my life.

My answer to this dilemma is just choosing to live life a little more simply.  Anything I put into my home has been painstakingly thought about for months.  I carefully weigh the responsibility of object care and organization.  Often my decision to buy something takes months.  Sometimes my decision to buy takes years.  A tremendous amount of thought went into the decision, whatever it is.   I’ve avoided cluttering my life with objects that, in the long run, do not matter, and because of this, I’ve avoided the pitfalls of the modern debt trap.

Here are 5 ways that thoughtful living, or rather, thoughtful purchasing, can enhance your quality of life and create more happiness in your day to day living.

Less work:  Extra stuff creates extra work:  When we de-clutter our lives and commit to keeping our lives de-cluttered, we aren’t spending our time washing, dusting, organizing, finding space for…. Stuff.  It’s just a fact.  Less stuff means less work.  Less work means more time for you to pursue the activities you want to do.

Environmentally friendly lifestyle:  Buying less means we are living in a more environmentally conscientious manner.  There is a lot of hype about “energy efficient” homes, appliances, cars, and techno-gadgets.  However, most of us could easily cut our consumption of everyday objects we buy in half.  Our houses could typically be ½ to ¼ of the size we choose to purchase.  It takes energy and resources to produce even “environmentally friendly” objects.  Nothing we use goes without some environmental impact.  Even if the object is advertised as a completely environmentally neutral object, it still took energy to ship it.  The much more environmentally friendly option is just to not buy it in the first place.

More time:  Weekends are now free from excess shopping excursions.  If your neighborhood offers online grocery shopping, we can literally order our groceries while trying to fall asleep at night, pick up our groceries on the way home from work the next day, and spend the rest of the time doing what we love.  Instead of shopping for a bunch of clothes and objects we don’t need, we are free to pursue other endeavors.  Our weekends are now free from a lot of the work that we used to do and we can sit back, relax, and re-charge before Monday.

More money to save.  An emergency fund gives us peace of mind. Even if we are only saving twenty dollars a week, that adds up to $1040 at the end of the year.  An emergency fund is necessary to live with less anxiety about the future.

More money to spend on activities with friends and family.  When we spend less on stuff, we have more money to go out for coffee with a friend or spend time visiting a loved one.  We have more money to go to the movies or even save for a vacation.  It’s amazing how much the little incidental purchases add up.

My “must haves” in my life?  A comfortable outdoor chair to enjoy the sunrise and sunset.  My favorite coffee cup.  My favorite pair of shoes.  My slightly larger than tiny home to stay warm and dry in.  My car to get to work in.  My husband and best friend.

What are your “must haves”?



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