This morning I felt compelled to write about this topic. Why? Because last night I found caught in the comparison trap. I’ve been on a journey to simplify my life, to live it more slowly, to soak up precious moments rather than mindlessly let them pass me by. I wanted to get some encouragement on my journey and what I found was that my perfectionist tendencies took over. I found that I was not completing everything on the "simplicity checklists." OH NO.
What did I do? Well, I went to my heart. Because the simplicity journey is not about comparisons, about guilt, or about checking off a list of “shoulds.” HECK NO. It’s about living intentionally, be gratefully aware, and choosing a life that fits each of us individually. As I returned to my heart, I was reminded of my “spirit author.” Wait, have you ever been asked what your spirit animal is? If not, you might be thinking it’s weird I’m calling someone my “spirit author.” Basically what I’m trying to say is that throughout Courtney Carver’s book, “Soulful Simplicity,” I was really picking up what she was putting down. She focused on how we can use a soulful approach as we try to simplify our lives. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me on this topic:
“My quest to do it all did not resonate with my heart. When you live or work outside of your heart, there will always be a breakup, a breakdown, or both.”
“When I started asking questions about what was important to me and identified what wasn’t, I discovered what truly resonated with my heart and soul. I took the time to listen to myself. I learned to trust the answers, and I began to live simply and soulfully.”
“One of the reasons we keep our lives so complicated is so we won’t have to listen to our inner voice telling us what we need to do to make our lives work better.” -Elaine St. James
“Once I made a little time and space to hear my inner voice, to really listen, changing got easier, even exciting. As my inner voice became easier to hear, I was able to connect with my heart and gain more clarity about what I really wanted in my life.”
So, since I like lists, here are a lists of why we need to engage the heart:
1) We can let go of comparisons
If you’ve read about examples of people simplifying their lives, you’ve probably heard of people moving to the country and starting a homestead. But what if you love the energy of the city and walking to your destinations? Are you doing it wrong? Absolutely not. Each of us were uniquely designed. We can all offer the world something different. We can’t compare because the world would be boring if everyone was the same. Stay in your lane and listen to your internal guide!
2) We can let go of the list
Reading “20 steps to simplify” can be inspiring, but they are meant to be that…inspiration. They are meant to give you ideas of how to simplify, but they are not to be approached in a dogmatic way with the mindset, “Unless I do x,y,z, I am not living simply.” The simplicity journey is inviting you to let go of all the "shoulds" in your life and lead with your heart. If you engage your heart, "shoulds" lose their power.
3) We can let go of perfectionism
Whoops, this one is for me. If you’ve ever felt that in order to be “good enough” you must be perfect, then this is for you, too. The simplicity journey is about letting go of perfect and living with more grace. More light. More love. Let go of perfect, because it’s not an attainable goal and the truth of the matter is perfect doesn’t earn you more connection or more love, anyway. It keeps us separate from ourselves and others because perfection lacks our human element that is raw and has beautiful “battle wounds” that shape who we are. Remember, God's light pours through our cracks.
4) Our heart is infused with God
Our heart is the vessel through where God speaks. So for this very reason it's necessary to engage it when thinking about how we want to design our lives. It’s the part of us that cuts through to the truth of the matter. If we engage this part of who we are, we feel a new strength to do things that require courage and discipline because we know the desires are coming from the core of who we are. Our hearts, if we really spend time to listen, guides us into all good things. The heart guides us into more connection and to what really matters in life.
Let's all toss out the lists and return to our hearts. Let's see what they have to say. I bet your list of what needs to be a bit more simple in your life might look different than mine, and that's ok. Simplifying is not a "one size fits all" program. It's a unique journey. The one thing that everyone who simplifies has in common is a desire to focus on what's most important in life. So, we can let go of the list and take time to see what shines through as most important in our lives, and then focus on those things. Happy rooting, everyone!