Whatever happened to being content and finding joy in the simple things life offers us—the sounds, smells, smiles and company of others?
Practicing simplicity brings contentment in the "little things."
The word simplicity pertains to being simple and easy, yet simplicity is such a complicated thing to find contentment in. When you practice simplicity, you find peace, joy and contentment in the “little things” absent of pretentiousness or being ornate. Simplicity is slowing down and recognizing the beauty in your surroundings; the environment you are in; the smell, sounds, tastes, what you see and feel and who you are with.
Simplicity is living a life that is less hectic and shallow. When you understand simplicity, you begin to have an appreciation for things you may not have noticed in the past. The little things in life become the big things because they create some of the biggest joys.
Material things are often looked at to provide happiness when we should be finding joy in the simplicity of life. Material things are situational. When you begin to find contentment in the seemingly small and simple things, you can find lifelong joy.
Finding your key
Life doesn’t have to be extravagant to be exciting. Why did you ever stop looking at life as an adventure? Yes, you have grown up and have different responsibilities now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live simple, be silly and still have fun.
When you understand and grasp the beauty in simplicity, you begin to look at it as a way of being, not as a restraint. You no longer feel held back, discontent or disappointed by not having the latest and greatest material items. Instead, you find enjoyment and contentment in simple things like a stranger’s smile, the laughter of a child playing or the smell of the ocean breeze.
What you once may have looked at as a hindrance or ball and chain becomes a lock and key with something more beautiful than you can imagine behind the door. When you begin to appreciate simplicity, you have the key to the kingdom of serenity and happiness.
My perspective as a teen
As a teenager, everything I strived for to bring me happiness was materialistic and shallow. I convinced myself if I had things, I would have happiness. I chased after an empty dream and continued hoping “things” would bring me joy, only to realize it wasn't long before my joy faded and I was again discontent, searching for more.
My perspective after college
After graduating from college in my mid-20's, I made some serious choices to achieve some of what I thought would fill the “void.” I bought a beautiful house, gutted and updated the interior; I had a beautiful wardrobe that extended into the spare bedroom; I went to events at the Country Club; I ate at fancy, well-known restaurants many people my age had never even heard of. But, night after night, day after day, I found an empty feeling of discontent weighing on my shoulders.
My life wasn’t playful and neither was I. Everything was so serious. My decisions were made based on how I could achieve more and I was unhappy. I kept setting new goals for myself but when I achieved the goal, the happiness derived from it quickly faded. I longed for contentment but my thirst for more overruled time after time. I didn’t understand others who weren’t as driven as me but instead were silly and playful. Appreciating simplicity and the small things was a challenge because the big constantly outweighed the simple.
Rethinking my perspective
At some point, I took a long hard look at myself, the person I was and the person I was becoming. I didn't like what I saw. I had become shallow and pretentious, convincing myself that I could find contentment in what a dollar could buy me rather than finding wealth in living a life of authenticity and simple happiness.
It was then that I started to realize how happy others were who understood and appreciated the small things in life. My mother and grandmother lived this every day but I never understood it. They had what I was missing. They were content. I realized that finding joy and appreciation in simple things didn’t mean I was simple-minded. Actually, it meant quite the opposite. I began uncovering and understanding how to be wise and appreciate the beauty in simplicity.
A new perspective
I began the slow road to practice and appreciate simplicity, find joy in small things and live my life with a child's outlook of fun, joy and adventure. I started the long road to “content-ville.” It wasn't easy to hop on board and leave behind my baggage labeled “materialistic,” and it is still a winding road I travel on.
The difference now is that I appreciate all of the little stops along the way, whereas before I was constantly looking to get to the destination as quickly as possible.
When I started my journey, I still longed for "things," but month after month I began to find enjoyment in the small and simple things I hadn't noticed or appreciated before. As time passed, I didn't have to look quite as hard to find them either. I began to discover enjoyment and contentment in being silly, making dinners at home with the ones I love, spending an evening playing a board game and moving more comfortable clothes to the front of the closet.
I slowly started to appreciate the little things in life. What I realized is, it is more important to slow down and make meaningful memories, have adventures and be playful than to rush to the next leg of the trip only to end up missing all of the beautifully simple and fun things along the way.
My life simplified
I can’t tell you how many things I now notice and find joy in that I completely ignored in the past. To this day, I still love to throw on my heels and go to a fancy restaurant for a night out, but I no longer let material things control my world and happiness the way they used to.
I previously thought of simplicity and enjoying the little things in life as boring. Simple equated to restraining and constricting, while extravagant equaled happy and content. Man, I couldn’t have been more wrong. How narrow-minded of me to think that.
What I now realize is the life I once thought was boring and dull was really the one that I should have been praising. I have simplified, slowed down and enjoy life’s small pleasures. I feel more content than I ever have in life and I attribute that to the simple things I have learned to enjoy.
Simplify your life.
Finding contentment in simplicity is often missed because we put emphasis on other things in life. We feel driven or obligated to do or accomplish things, to constantly be moving and be productive. We become distracted by technology and focus on selfish desires. We allow these things to overload, stress and consume us. It is important to remember to make life less hectic so you can stop and appreciate it.
When it comes to simplicity, balance is an important component. It’s great to have goals, desires, enjoy new things and to be driven to achieve as long as it is done in balance with simplicity. Just as it’s important to create balance when it comes to your goals and desires, it’s equally important to do this with simplicity. While you should appreciate the simpler things in life, you don’t want to become so complacent that you no longer care or feel a desire to maintain yourself. Create balance and find contentment.
Money can’t buy contentment.
I’m sure you’ve heard a hundred times before that money can’t buy happiness. Whether you care to believe it or not, there’s some validity to this statement. Money may be able to bring you an immediate sense of happiness, but it can’t buy you true contentment. The thing about finding contentment through money and material items is that eventually you will become unsatisfied and driven to achieve more. There will always be something bigger, better, faster or newer you will want.
The simplicity of a child
Children view life as an adventure and, for the most part, are content, playful and create happiness with the simplest of things. For them, even the littlest things can create the biggest joys. Children can help us remember to enjoy the smaller, simple things in life. As adults, we forget to use our imagination, find joy in simplicity and explore the world in the way we did as a child. Sometimes you just have to have fun, laugh and live like a child.
There are millions of reasons to smile if you can find joy in simplicity. The small, enjoyable things are everywhere. They surround you. You just have to change your perspective to see them. Make simple, pure and authentic memories because those are the ones that will make your life more meaningful. When you look around and take it all in, you find beauty, happiness and contentment in the small things. Create contentment through creativity. Learn to love the little things.
- When you understand and appreciate simplicity, you find a sense of joy and contentment that can never be taken away from you.
- Having an abundance of “things” requires time and energy to maintain. Simplifying your life by having fewer possessions allows you more time to enjoy what really matters in life.
- Practicing simplicity allows you to recognize the beauty in your surroundings.
- Living simply allows you to slow down and focus on living with less stress and more fulfillment.
Take time to reflect on the self-discovery questions to open your heart and mind.
- List one or two things that have created some of your biggest moments of joy.
- What would a simple life look like to you?
- What would keep you from having a simpler life?
- If you could no longer have an important material item you currently have, how would you feel?
Take time over the next week to implement the action steps to boost your focus and ensure your success.
- Put aside the importance you place on the “big, extravagant” events and try to make simple and authentic memories count. Slow down and appreciate whatever you’re doing and take in the pleasure you feel from it.
- Write down a simplicity statement that is a redesigned, simpler life than what you are living.
- This week, actively look for and practice finding joy in the simplicity of life. Some suggestions are:
- Watch the sunset and take notice of all of the beautiful colors.
- Help someone and feel the joy in their appreciation.
- Listen to the depth of music.
- Be silly and dance.
- Swing on the swings at the playground.
- Get comfy and snuggle on the couch with a loved one or pet.
- Look at the stars.
- Go for a walk and take in the beauty of the day.
- Appreciate solitude.
- Be creative and adventurous.