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Macro Monday: Start Subtracting

Today's post is just a simple conversation about something I like to chat about A LOT: simplifying. Subtracting. Reducing the things the don't matter.

I love Macrobiotics because it feels simple to me: it places a large focus on finding balance through local, natural foods. Eat what's growing around you. Pretty simple. But, the Macrobiotic lifestyle also encourages simplicity. Some of the recommendations include: spending time in nature, gentle exercise, laughing, natural fabrics, and less time in front of screens. I think that is why I continually appreciate Macrobiotics -> it is another tool on the road to a simple life.

I have been growing a subtle distaste for EXCESS. I have my moments where I get caught up in consumerism, but they are becoming fewer and farther between. I have my sweet buddy, T, to thank for this - he is by nature the least possession oriented person I know - but also my yoga practice and my practice of Macrobiotics continue to be hugely influential. And another thing that's been adding fuel to the less is more fire: moving into a smaller space has been WONDERFUL. I can't say it enough. When you don't have rooms and basements and garages to hide your junk, you have to face it (or live in chaos, which I can't handle).

So the flipside of my growing distaste for excess is my huge appreciation for simplicity. The quote above, is for me, an amazing idea that I think would be great to live by: "When things aren't adding up in your life, start subtracting." If something about your current situation just doesn't feel right, then look to how you can simplify and refocus, by reducing the unnecessary blocks in your way.

If this interests you, I'd begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What IS truly important to you? Or, how do I want my life/job/relationship/house etc. to look like / feel like / embody?
  • What are the bare essentials that I require for this to happen?
  • How can I focus on or achieve those bare essentials?

Then, put everything else into the don't really need it or under consideration category, and stop thinking / doing / acting on those things - begin to reduce them from your life.

If spending time outside and being in nature is your focus, then ask: what are the bare essentials I need for that? My guess is probably TIME. So what gives you free time? Less work and obligations. And how can you work less? Well, you decide to buy less. So ---> reduce the number of things you buy, so you can reduce the number of hours you work, and instead spend your extra time outside.

If going traveling is your focus, then ask yourself what do I need to do that (what are the bare essentials)? Depending on you and the kind of travel or length of traveling, you may feel like the bare essential you need is simply money. If the bare essential is indeed needing to make money for traveling, then you need to STOP SPENDING on all other things, and amp up your work hours (I personally did this when T and I traveled though South America - I worked horrible long hours at a call centre, and didn't do much else). Many people think it's impossible to go traveling, because they just don't have the money. The truth is, if traveling is really the most important thing to you, you can indeed save up for it working a minimum wage job - its absolutely your spending that you need to address. Stop going out for drinks, going to the mall, eating out, decorating your house and walk or bike instead of paying for a car. Perhaps get a roommate, move into a cheaper place, or move home with your folks while you save up. All of these things will help you get to your money goal faster.

And here's a potential tough part, where I think many of us get caught in: perhaps if you aren't willing to make those changes to achieve your bare minimum (i.e., saving for traveling), then you should sit back and ask: is it (i.e., traveling) really that important to me? Maybe it actually comes second or eighth or twentieth on the list - maybe socializing with friends and spending money decorating the house are higher on the priority list. Be willing to realize that priorities shift and change. And that is totally cool, everyone has different priorities, and different things that make them happy. But be honest with yourself - it'll save you from feeling like you are being denied something, or that you CAN'T do something. Be willing to let go of things that are no longer your priorities. Instead, if you get in touch with your real, true, current priorities in life, it'll make you feel like you're doing awesome at the things you are working for. You'll no longer be pining over something you actually don't really want.

As you can see, you can apply this kind of thinking to WHATEVER goal you have or whatever it is that is important to you. If things just don't seem to be going your way, try it: try reducing. Figure out, and then get rid of the things that ARE getting in your way to achieving what is most important to you. And don't be scared or upset if you realize that the things in your way are there, because they have a message for you about what is NOT your priority (often they are things you subconsciously put in your own way).

Go for what YOU really want, not for what you think you should want, or what other people think you should want.

And get rid of the rest.

Have you done this before? Do you have trouble reducing to your bare essentials?

Have a wonderful week friends <3 <3 <3
~~Jess

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Macro Monday: Simple Living

MM: Simplicity

Image from: http://goo.gl/FoUKXr

Image from: http://goo.gl/FoUKXr

More and more I come to the understanding that less is more, in every sense. The less you want, the less you have, the less you do, the less you desire, the less you need...the simpler and more peaceful your life will be. "Life is simple when you live simply."

Part of living a big life is most definitely engaging with simplicity. To achieve the things you want to in life, you need to focus your time and effort on them. Anything that adds to the number of things you "need" to do, will take away from time you could be working on what is near and dear to you. Everyone has the same amount of time in a day. You can either devote your time to 100 different things, or to 10. Be careful of spreading yourself too thin.

I think that the reason routine often leads to increased productivity, is that it minimizes required decision making. The more decisions you need to make, the more "stuff" you are bringing into your mind, and the less time you have to focus on what is truly important. I think I really liked living in Japan, because it seemed like everything there had a system. There was a certain way of doing EVERY thing...and while I could see how some people might find this overbearing, I found it to be ultimately simple. On this day you do this. If you have this, you clean it at this time of year. This food is made like this. You eat this with that, and nothing else. Rules, and routines - yes. So many decisions that you need to make yourself, each day? No. Simple? yes.

Finding a few great outfits that you wear over and over, a few good meals that you cook often, and a few restaurants that work for you when you need some good food quickly, will reduce the time you waste when deciding. In fact, I have been on the quest to decide which things I like the best in every category, and to then just continue on getting those things. I've tried enough different variations of most essential ingredients to know which companies or versions I think are best. It's not worth my time to try new variations that come out. Stick with what you know, and you'll find you have more and more pockets of time appearing.

What all this means for me, lately, is that anytime something comes my way, I find my mind jumping to: "okay, that's lovely... but slow down...will this require anything more of me, on a regular basis, or in the future?". If the answer is indeed yes, that it will require more of my time, it becomes a more serious decision. Even if it is something lovely and wonderful, pay attention to what it will require of you in the future.

For example: having pets and/or a large garden - both lovely and awesome. But both require a large amount of time commitment. And if you want to go away, or leave town - more time is required for finding someone to look after your pet or plants. Worth it? Often, yes. But not without thinking about it a little more than usual.

And how about objects, things, & products that you invite into your home. Pay attention. Ask yourself if this will create a more simple existence, or if it requires something of you. More objects often make it harder to clean. They definitely make it harder to move. Especially if they take a long time to put together or take apart. And especially if they are large and/or heavy. You also need to find / create / make space for them. If your space is way too overcrowded, it will rob you of future time, because it will take longer to find or do most things. Another example: buying more clothes - this comes with the more laundry time commitment. Seriously, you'd be surprised with the time commitment that comes along with simple items you bring into your house.

So... do less, choose less, buy less, agree to less.

The more streamlined you can make your day-to-day life, the more LIFE you'll feel like you have. Set up some guidelines for what works for you and what doesn't. Try to stick to them whenever possible, and save yourself the time you'll use on decision making.

In fact, really just think about what it is that is worth your time. And remember this before you commit to / agree to / or decide to do or buy anything. Ask: does it really support me - is it worth my time?

And I challenge you to notice what SIMPLE things bring you happiness and joy.

The things that support me are at their deepest essence, purely simple. A perfect day for me includes some form of movement, simple healthy meals (nothing too crazy or complicated here, I'm talking oatmeal), regular work hours, time outside, regular unwinding hours (including spending time with my guy and friends or family), and good quality sleep. All of these are simple. I don't need them to be fancy or crazy or wildly spontaneous. Just gentle, easy, moments.

All my best to you friends.
I hope you have a SIMPLY joyful week.
xoxo jess