Finding new meaning in simplicity

Simplifying can also be a powerful way to align with your core values. It establishes a direct relationship with every aspect of your life for increased harmony at all levels.

by Ada Porat — 

Beneath the current cycle of economic contraction, a quiet revolution is underway. It is a grassroots movement toward simplicity and meaning, led by individuals who realize that less can be more.

Whereas Western consumerism is fueled by the mantra of “More, better, bigger!” these revolutionaries are choosing to step off the consumer treadmill and enjoy peace, fulfillment and serenity with less. They know that life can become more serene when there are fewer things to take up one’s time and energy.

Voluntary simplicity has emerged from the growing awareness that if we want to survive on this planet, we have to look beyond basic self-interest and recognize that the actions we take locally can and do have global implications. The conscious choice to simplify our lives frees up essential resources for others on the planet to access.

In his visionary book Global Shift, author Edmund J. Bourne describes voluntary simplicity as part of an emerging global shift in consciousness — a movement away from the old materialistic norms to a humanitarian-spiritual orientation toward life.

Simplifying can also be a powerful way to align with your core values. It establishes a direct relationship with every aspect of your life for increased harmony at all levels.

During the current economic cycle of contraction, thousands of people are discovering that happiness and fulfillment do not come from having more money, better things or bigger houses, but rather from spending time with loved ones and being connected with community.

Are you ready for less complexity in life? Here are some guidelines to help you move toward more voluntary simplicity:

  1. Purge — Pull everything from a shelf or drawer and put back only what you will actually use.
  2. Plan — Ask yourself when you last used or wore an item and what the likelihood is of using it in the next year. If not, purge it.
  3. Simplify — The things you hold onto “just in case” could be put to good use by someone else right now, so let them go and keep the energy flowing.
  4. Be generous — The things you are finished with can bring new options to others. Donate to charities and thrift stores, or sell redundant items at a garage sale or on eBay.
  5. Organize — Don’t go out and buy lots of containers to organize your stuff — minimize your stuff instead. With fewer possessions, organization is much easier.
  6. 10-minute toss — Spend just 10 minutes a day sorting and tossing, or get rid of 10 items each day. It adds up quickly.
  7. Underschedule — Unclutter your appointment book to slow down your hectic pace. Place a limit on your daily appointments, phone calls or meetings … then schedule free time to enjoy your simplified life.
  8. Live in the present — Most excess spending focuses on wants instead of needs, or is an attempt to make us feel better. Recognize the core motivation and address it appropriately without resorting to retail therapy.
  9. Finish what you start — Piles of projects indicate the need to complete one task from start to finish before starting another.
  10. Choose meaningful activities — Do you really need to have your life crammed with social activities that do not nurture you? Eliminate excess activities to make space for what truly does nurture you.

Ada Porat is a kinesiologist and life coach who helps people rediscover meaning and purpose in their lives. She uses a comprehensive approach that addresses issues at the levels of body, mind and spirit. 602-283-4628 or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number  3, Jun/July 2009.

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