Stress, anxiety, regret – these words too often describe our lives in today’s modern culture. We are overwhelmed by clutter in our calendars, our homes, and even in our wants and needs.
At the end of 2017 I read “Enough – Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity” by Adam Hamilton. Realizing when we have enough and living in a place of simplicity and generosity are in stark contrast to how our society works today. We live in a continuous state of consumerism and we are constantly told we need more, bigger, and better.
When is enough ENOUGH?
In his book, Hamilton discusses how chasing the “American Dream” has resulted in many of us living beyond our means and drowning in credit card debt. “A key part of experiencing financial and spiritual freedom is found in simplicity and in exercising restraint.” What if we started 2018 by being wise with our finances?
Much of our desire for more, or the newest, or the best comes from a deep struggle with discontentment. Adam outlines four keys to how you can cultivate contentment:
- Make it a habit to look on the bright side or find the silver lining in your circumstances. There is always something positive to focus on.
- Ask yourself, “How long will this make me happy?” Too often you may buy something, thinking it will make you happy, only to find that the happiness lasted about as long as it took to open the box. Try asking that question before you make a purchase. It’s amazing how often you will change your mind.
- Develop a grateful heart – gratitude is essential if you are to be content. In every situation you can either complain or be grateful, focus on the disappointments or give thanks for the blessings.
- Ask yourself, “Where does my soul find true satisfaction?” Contrary to what the world would have you believe, the longing of your soul cannot be satisfied by shopping in a mall or online.
Rather than focusing all of our energy on the now and seeking only pleasure from our material things, we need to find that magical place where we spend wisely and we are living within our means. Please don’t misunderstand because I’m not saying don’t buy things, don’t go out to eat, don’t have fun. I am saying make a budget, stick to it, be smart with your finances in 2018, and be thankful for everything you have. Choose to live more simply, to be more generous, and to enjoy life and the people you love.
Adam also suggests ways to simplify and make financial goals easier to accomplish:
- Set a goal of reducing your consumption and choose to live below your means. Imagine small changes that will reduce your trash and require fewer trips to the gas station!
- Before making a purchase, ask yourself “Do I really need this?” and “Why do I want this?” This will help you discover the true motive behind your desire to buy something. Also, practice the 24-hour rule: wait 24 hours before making a purchase that is not a necessity.
- Use something up before buying something new. Take good care of the things you buy and use them until they are empty, broken or worn-out.
- Plan low-cost entertainment – simple and cheap – that enriches your life. You don’t always have to spend money to have fun.
- Ask yourself, “Are there major changes that would allow me to simplify my life?” What things in your life are causing you stress? Is it time to downsize? Are there things you pay for every month but never use? These questions can apply to your home, possessions, job and activities.
When striving to simplify our lives and our finances, we need to remember that less is often more. Having less definitely reduces the stress and the financial burdens in our lives. Let’s start 2018 with thankful hearts, focused on living simply and being generous because the most important things in life aren’t things. We have been blessed so that we can bless others.
By Melissa Stultz, Simplicity Organizers