It’s a new year and a new decade so we need new goals (or resolutions, as some like to call them), right? I usually don’t get to wrapped up in the whole “News Years resolution” thing, but new decades are different. I tend to look back at what happened in the last 10 years and what is coming in the next 10. This can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t like what you see looking back or looking forward. Taking steps to simplify your life and live one day at a time is a great way to cope with the new decade stress. To help, I have listed 10 simple living ideas in this post.
- DECLUTTER SOMETHING
This is something that I started last fall. As of this writing, I have cleaned out all the bathroom sinks and cabinets, the bookshelf in my bedroom and the main linen closet. I like starting small, it is easy enough to do in a couple of hours and when it’s done, you really feel a sense of accomplishment. If you want to give this a try but you don’t know where to start, try this 30-Day De-clutter challenge from “Your Modern Family.”
- GO DATA FREE
According to a report from last January, we are spending an average of 6 hours and 42 minutes on line each day. That’s more than 25% of our day. No wonder we feel like we can get nothing done. Simplify your life one hour at a time by reducing the time you spend on your smart phone. Start by setting a scheduled “Do Not Disturb” time on your phone each day. Mine is set from 8:30 at night to 6:30 in the morning. Once you do this for a while, then extend the time in 30 min increments to see how long you can go. If you want to get really drastic, try switching back to a regular phone that doesn’t use data. This will free up time and save you money each month!
- GET OUTSIDE
According to the EPA (https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/indoor-air-quality), we spend 90% of our time indoors at home, school or work. Now that’s a scary statistic. Why not try to improve that by spending more time outside each day. Here are five easy things to get you outside more:
- Each your lunch in a park
- Park in the furthest spot at the grocery store
- Walk with family after dinner
- Go on a hike
- Go on a bike ride with the kids
- PRACTICE PATIENCE
Patience is a virtue, at least that’s what they tell me. I am all about making check marks on my to-do list and moving onto the next task. This simple fact does not fit so well into improving my patience. What does seem to work, is taking a deep breath and saying a patience mantra or prayer. My favorite is, “the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit (excerpt from Ecclesiastes 7:8).” For more like this check out this article from Woman’s Day If these don’t work for you, just do a quick google search on patience mantras and find one that speaks to you.
- DO SOMETHING KIND OR GENEROUS EACH DAY
Let’s face it, we are surrounded by unkindness. It shows itself in the simplest of ways in our day. The rude hand gesture to the car who cuts you off, the person who cuts in front a mother of three slowly moving towards the grocery check-out, the office banter in the break room about the co-worker who is just a tad weird. We all do it and we don’t even think twice. To break out of this vicious cycle, try to do something kind each day. It can be as simple as bringing a smile to the face of someone with a compliment or paying for the order of the person behind you in the drive-thru or letting the mother of three go in front of you in line. You will inject a measure of God’s kindness and grace into their day and the world. More importantly, you will be surprised how that moment of kindness finds its way back to your world.
- TRY OUT OLD SCHOOL ENTERTAINMENT
Turn of the TV and play a game with your kids. Not a video game, but a real board or card game. Our family favorites include, Llama drama, Catan (or Catan jr. if your kids are younger), Uno (there are some cool newer versions: Uno Flip and Dos) and Yahtzee (this one is great because all you need are five dice and a sheet of paper). This is a tried and true simple living idea in our family. We give the kids a new game each year for Christmas, so we don’t get bored of the games we play.
- GET REAL, ONE SERVING AT A TIME
This one refers to the food you eat. “Eating Clean” is all the rage. There are a lot of resources on this topic, but I like to think of it as choosing whole foods over processed foods, and making a conscientious effort to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. I have tried just about every diet out there and on each one, I lost weight but then gained it back when the dieting was over (usually with a pound or two more). This past spring, I started eating clean by simply replacing processed sides in my meals with real fruit or vegetables. Then I gave up gluten, all gluten, no bread crackers, flour etc. Nothing with flour or wheat in the ingredient list. You know what? I lost 12 pounds and it is still off, even after the holiday period. (When I did eat some gluten filled pies and cookies.)
- GIVE UP SOMETHING PLASTIC
This simple living idea is probably the easiest one on the list. Just pick one and do it regularly. The earth with thank you.
- Plastic bags at the grocery store. You can use the kind you buy for $1 or if you are like me and tend to leave those in the car, just ask for paper.
- Plastic water bottles. Just keep a few refillable water bottles in your car, you can always find a water fountain in any public building.
- Give up using plastic straws when you eat out.
- Start using plastic containers instead of plastic baggies for your packed lunches. Wash them and use over and over.
This one comes from my kid’s elementary school days. It stands for Drop Everything And Read. This one is hard for me. I love reading when I can find the time, but I spend too much time reading and writing for my work. I hardly ever make time to just read for fun. This year I asked for books for Christmas and I now have a new stack of books that I plan to finish in 2020.
- GET SPIRITUAL
I saved the best simple living idea for last because this one will likely help you the most. Try to find a way to grow spiritually in the coming year. No matter where you are in your journey, God will meet you where you are. You just have to try. Maybe you haven’t been to church since you were a kid or even ever. Find someone you know who does go to church and ask if you can join them. I am sure they would love to take you with them one week. Maybe you go to church regularly, but you don’t get much out of it. Join a bible study, try another church or just pick up a bible and start reading. Just do something and remember, if we don’t take time to replenish our souls, it won’t be long before we are running on empty.
As we head into this new decade and begin plan for the next, it calls to mind remember this verse: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you know not what a day may bring (Proverbs 27:1).” Trying to move towards simpler living can really go a long way to help you live in the moment. Maybe try to do one of the above simple living ideas for one month (though you probably need to do it for 2 or 3 to really make it a habit. If that is too overwhelming for you, just pick your favorite idea and try to stick to it for the whole year. Whichever you chose, I wish you well on your journey to a simpler life and do let me know in the comments below how it’s going.