Discovering Joyful Simplicity

The more I simplify my life, the more I realize that a Relatively Simple life is intertwined with joy. The simpler my physical life and surroundings, the deeper and better quality my mental state and spiritual life. For me, this means the more organized my house, the fewer activities with which I and my family are involved, and the more I reduce the trivial choices like what to wear or eat, the more joy I feel.

Perhaps it’s having a sense of control over my life, and perhaps my mind simply has less to deal with and thus can concentrate on quality rather than quantity. Whatever the reason, increased simplicity certainly made me a more joyful person. I no longer feel trapped by a complexity that took my life spiraling out of control.

What does joyful simplicity look like to you?

The following are 5 suggestions to help stimulate ideas for a simpler life in a way that also brings more joy:

  1. Be a kid. Coloring and doing crafts with my boys takes me back to my childhood. At the same time, they present an opportunity for simple quality time with my kids too. Adults are too wrapped up in adult stuff sometimes that they forget the simple joys that come with being a kid. Get in touch with that joy again. Not sure what to do? Ask your kids… they’ll have lots of great ideas!
  2. Turn of technology. When we play family games, my husband and I turn off the sound on our phones. When we go camping, I deliberately leave my phone in the car and refuse to participate in technology. Turning off technology forces me to enjoy simple pleasures like reading and watching birds. This is an amazingly relaxing activity.
  3. Go on a fast. My husband and I decided to go on a financial fast for the first quarter of 2012. This simplified our lives in that we just didn’t give much thought to buying. We just knew we couldn’t spend any extra money, and we focused on activities that didn’t involve doing so. A fast in pretty much any area of life lends itself nicely to the process for one to pursue simplicity.
  4. Purge. The idea of getting rid of excess is exceedingly freeing. For me, when I start to purge, I struggle stopping myself once I start. A yearly garage sale makes purging a habit for my family. Taking a look at what is no longer needed provides a terrific avenue for simplifying belongings. Like fasting, purging can occur in a variety of areas. For example, consider purging your calendar or your Facebook friend list.
  5. Help others. Tutor kids. Minister at a community dinner. Teach a Sunday school class.  Pray with a friend. Help a friend clean. Run an errand for someone. Call your pastor and ask what needs done at the church. Helping others provides a simple way to not only bring joy to another but to also know the simple joy of making another person’s life easier.

Simple joy comes through a life free to answer the call of God. When life is simple and not overwhelming, the possibilities for simple joy seem to open up. Maybe this happens because life is no longer just happening to you. Maybe it happens because you finally have time to think and choose what you want to do with your time rather than letting time happen to you. Whatever the reason and whatever the path chosen, a simpler life equates to more joy.

DISCUSSION: What activities help you discover simple joy? If you need more simple joy in your life, what activities will you try today to make that happen?

4 thoughts on “Discovering Joyful Simplicity

  1. As I think about myself, it's more about a state of mind than a particular activity. It's about the feeling of being relaxed – if that makes sense.
    That being said, one thing I love to do is to read out on my deck this time of year. We recently purchased a new home, and it's a definite blessing from God. We still have a very modest backyard by most standards, but it's nice to look out and actually see more than like 4 blades of grass. And more than 2 trees. And reading in the sunshine and gentle breeze is really nice.

    • You're right, joy is more of a state of mind. For me though, the simplicity or lack of it in my daily life greatly affects my state of mind. It is in that sense that what I do or don't do affect my joy. Reading outside is one of my favorite activities too. So peaceful in a profoundly simple way. Building in simple activities such as these certainly help create a state of mind more open to joy.

  2. Great post, Kari. You're motivating me to go through the house and get rid of things again! Here are the activities that help me discover simple joy: camping and hiking with my family (we just got back from a wonderful trip to Arches and Canyonlands in Utah), backpacking, taking a nap on the porch swing, having my quiet time in the morning with a good cup of coffee, and spending a day in Missoula with God – going from library to coffee shop to library reading my Bible, talking to Him, and renewing my mind about some specific area I feel He wants to talk to me about.

    • I'm glad you're feeling motivated. It's fun once you get started; I found it difficult to stop. Camping & hiking really are inexpensive and easy ways to simply enjoy life. We do both of those as well. Napping, quiet time, cofee… oh yeah! All some of my favorite ways to relax. Love the "Spend a Day with God" idea. I'm going to have to schedule one of those. He's in all I do (at least that's my goal), but I don't do a whole day just focused on Him. He deserves at least that.

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