A Small Sample of Simplicity

Risk Free Simplicity Sampling

Is the idea of living a simple life with less stuff intriguing to you? Do you think the benefits of owning less will bring you more happiness? Do you no longer consider shopping a sport? Are you tired of organizing, fixing and replacing your stuff but don’t know how to stop the cycle? We have all been conditioned to work hard to buy stuff our whole lives. This thought process or belief system does not usually change overnight. Taking small steps to make sure this is a lifestyle that you can live with is of big importance. You do not want to throw away everything you have worked so hard for, only to logo_blackrealize that you miss it all and want to replace every last baseball card or Pashmina you sold. I personally doubt that you will have lasting regret once the stuff is gone. As soon as you have your first empty closet, or drawer even, the good “stuff” will arrive. This is the kind of stuff that does not cost money. The less stuff you own, the more time, money, patience, peace, fill in the blank, you will have. I am going to share a simple experiment so that you can get a feel for what it’s like to live in a minimal environment and experience the benefits of living with less, without getting rid of ANYTHING!

 When looking to make a big lifestyle change, it’s best to start small.

When looking to make a big lifestyle change, it’s best to start small. This experiment was a homework assignment given by instructor Joshua Becker during A Simple Year, an online course I took last year. This particular experiment was a catalyst to my Minimalist lifestyle goals so I wanted to share it with you. If you are serious about living a simple life with less stuff, I truly think this is a great place to start. This experiment requires minimal effort and delivers maximum results. Big and Small at it’s finest!

The One-Week Clean Kitchen Counter Experiment

  • Step One: Take everything off of your kitchen counter – EVERYTHING
  • Step Two: Clean the counter
  • Step Three: Do not put anything back on that surface for one week
  • Step Four: Decide what goes back on the counter

After completing this experiment I only put four things back on my counter and I still keep it that way, most of the time. An unexpected bonus of having all that space is that I feel lighter and calmer. I did not realize that my cluttered space contributed to my cluttered mind.

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Please send any before and after pictures to my Facebook Page or post your comments here. I would love to hear how this experiment works for you!

You have read “Risk Free Simplicity Sampling” here first on Live Big and Small.

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How to Turn Good Intentions into Intentional Living

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I Meant to Do That

Most of us live our lives “going through the motions” and letting the events of each day or even each hour unfold before us and then reacting.  We live in a state of rolling with the punches, putting out fires and just keeping up.  We have good intentions, however do not lead a life of intention.  Letting life just happen to us instead of living a life of intention can have negative effects on many areas of our lives.  Living without intention can be tiresome, unpredictable and uncertain.  A life without intent can lead to unfulfilling relationships and even bad health.  Without intention we are leaving our lives up to chance.

Benefits of Living a Life of Intention

  • Sense of accomplishment and fulfillment
  • Control of one’s destiny
  • Daily and life goals are met
  • Time is spent on things and people we choose
  • Guilt free “me time”
  • More calm and less stress
  • Not being a victim of circumstance

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Long Haired Hippie People Need to Apply

Some may argue that living a life with intention can be too rigid and structured.  They may say they would prefer to have uncertainty than have their entire days and lives mapped out.  They could be afraid that living a life of intention will take away from their free-spirited nature and turn them into a conformist.  They may confuse intent with being content with being in the rat race, busy all the time or unable to play or grow.   Here are some other misconceptions about living a life with intention.

Misconceptions About Intention

  • Intention means not being able to be spontaneous
  • Intention can make us too structured
  • Less time for non-productive yet fun activities
  • People who live with intention are workaholics and have no leisure time
  • Living a life of intention means being a conformist

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Equal Opportunity Intentions

Whether you are a Politician, a stay at home Mom, an Athlete or a Pirate, living a life with intention is for you!  Instead of aimless wishing that we ate better, went to the beach more, or spent more intimate time with our favorite Wench, we have the ability to turn our daydreams into our lives.  If you intend to do it, then there is a much better chance that you will obtain the bounty you desire.

A Why for Help

Before you start a new behavior it’s important to ask yourself why you are creating a new intention.  If your intention is to drink more water, find a personal reason why this new intention will benefit you.  There may be many reasons that drinking more water is a good intention.  By finding one that is personal to you, say, suppressing your appetite or better athletic performance, you are more likely to keep at it.  My own personal reason to drink more water is to get better sleep.  Having your own personal “why” will make it more enjoyable than just drinking more water because it’s the right thing to do.

Intention Attention

Once I set my intention of drinking 82 ounces of water a day I had to find a way to make this intention a lasting reality.  I made it as simple as possible to succeed.  My husband and I researched and purchased a water filtration system that we love  ( Berkey BK4X2-BB Big Berkey Water Filter System w/ 2 Black and 2 Fluoride/Arsenic Filters) so my water tasted yummy.  I purchased a water bottle that held 28 ounces and chose three times daily that I had to be finished and to refill it.  I even wrote refill times on the bottle with a Sharpie marker.  Eventually my intention did not require attention and I realized that I conditioned myself to drink my intended daily water intake without even paying attention to it anymore.  Drinking enough water is now an intention that needs no attention.  It’s just what I do.

Start Small for Big Results

I have spent a lot of time working on my intentions and I currently have about thirty of them that are in various stages of my personal development.  I am proud to say that many of my intentions are now habits and do not need my attention anymore.  I also notice that I sometimes slip on my new habits and have to redirect my attention to them once again.  Living a life of intention keeps me on my toes!  The one thing I can say about my intentions is that I LOVE all of them.  I intend to make them all habits and I also intend on changing them and adding to them as I evolve and reprioritize.  The beauty part of this is that my intentions are mine and your intentions are yours.  I suggest that you start small with things that are most important to you and once they begin to be habits, add some more.  I have listed some of my favorite daily intentions.  I literally started with three things and my list is now over 30.  I am more focused, grounded, clear-minded and hydrated than I have ever been in my life!

Pippy’s Small List of Big Intentions

  • Drink a full glass of water upon wake-up
  • Write three pages (taken from The Artist’s Way)
  • Breathing exercises
  • Rehab/Prefab Stretch routine
  • Read my Mantra
  • Stare into space for five minutes
  • Do not make commitments that I cannot keep
  • Sent a thoughtful message each day
  • Only check email twice a day
  • Expressing Gratitude – Joy Journal
  • Eight hours of sleep a night

You have read How to Turn Good Intentions into Intentional Living” here first on Live Big and Small.

The Joy of Joy

Oodles of Joy Doodles 

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I started to become very interested in the subject of happiness when I was feeling very unhappy. The research opened up a can of worms that I never expected and my interest has turned into a passion and that passion has added so much joy, happiness and gratitude to my life. I have talked about temporary state changes in en earlier blog http://livebigandsmall.com/2015/03/12/climb-aboard-for-the-state-changing-ride-for-your-life/ and although they are very effective at pulling me out of a bad place, what I am talking about now is achieving true happiness and sustaining it.

I did a lot of research on the subject and there were many different takes on how to acquire sustainable happiness in life. There was one element that each and every resource agreed on, practicing gratitude.

Seeing as gratitude was the common denominator in all of my research thus far, and it was much cheaper than installing a sauna (saunas were also proven to cheer folks up), I decided that I’d better get started on the gratitude bandwagon.

So I began my routine of practicing gratitude. As I thought of and wrote down what I was grateful for each day, it felt exactly like being at the Thanksgiving table right before dinner. It’s my turn and everybody glares at me, fork in hand, hoping I don’t say something dumb again like being thankful that everyone was finished giving thanks so we can finally eat. By the time it gets around to me everyone had already been thankful for the regular boring stuff. It’s so easy to be thankful that we are all together (snore), everyone is healthy and nobody is in jail. So when it came to me practicing gratitude my thanks were as canned as the cranberry sauce.

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 Bee Thankful

After a week of going through the motions and pretending to be thankful for stuff (I must have said thanks to the bees ten times) I realized that I was getting nowhere fast and my attitude of gratitude star ted to fade.

A few weeks later I hit a particularly low point in my life and did not even feel thankful for bees anymore. I was so sad and I knew I was the only one that could turn myself around. I needed some happiness. Then I had an idea. I grabbed a blank notebook (I never minimize on blank notebooks!) and started to doodle. This was the beginning of my Joy Journal.

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Jotting in my Joy Journal brought me immediate relief. Once I realized that I would be writing down my “joys” throughout the day I found myself looking for them. I found most of my first joys with something delicious to eat. I would draw a picture of it and a bunch of “yummy’s” around it with colored pencils and make a whole event of it. I found many of my joys on my daily walks with Bongo. We ran into a cat three times that week that literally had a mustache and he was a main character in my Joy Journal all three days. That cat arrived just in the nick of time! I was filling up an entire page a day with all of my little joys and all those little joys added up to pulling me out of my funk.

Practice Makes Purrfect 

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You can call it counting your blessings, practicing gratitude, giving thanks or finding joys, but whatever you call it, or however you practice it I now know first hand why this practice is so important to sustaining happiness. Daily writing in my Joy Journal keeps me out of my funks and looking forward to the little things around me that make my day and my life happy. I now feel thankful for so many things that I used to take for granted. Like driving with all my windows down and those dang bees.

From Mountains to Molehills

Ten Easy Ways to Turn Your Mountain into a Molehill

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The idea of owning less and living in a clutter free environment sounds great to many of us.  Living a life with less consumerism and more time and money to do the things that we love to do can seem like an amazing concept, however getting started can seem overwhelming.  When we look around at the mountains of bargains and drawers filled with “just in case” items, minimalism can seem like something unobtainable.  By taking the molehill approach with small simple steps the transition can be easy, rewarding and addictive!  Each step in turning mountains into molehills brings us closer to a more simple and meaningful life.  There is no need to wait to reap the rewards of minimalism.  Each garage sale or trip to Goodwill is a step closer to our goals and deserves to be acknowledged.  Or even celebrated!

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Here are Ten Easy Ways to Turn Your Mountain into a Molehill

  1. Use the 20/20 Rule: If it costs less than 20 dollars and would take you less than 20 minutes to replace, toss it.  You only need one roll of masking tape, not twenty. Toss the nineteen rolls and make space in that drawer!
  2. Use the 90/90 Rule: If you have not used the item in 90 days and do not plan on using in the next 90 days get rid of it.  If you are more comfortable having a 120/120 Rule that’s fine too.  If the item is not bringing you value remember it is just taking up space in your home and in your life.  Read more about The Minimalists 90/90 rule here: http://www.theminimalists.com/ninety/
  3. Start the 30 Day Challenge: Each day of the month you get rid of that many items.  By the end of the month you will have removed over 500 things!  See more about the 30 Day Challenge here: http://livebigandsmall.com/2015/04/01/my-first-minimalist-game/
  4. Digitize your life: Have a scanning weekend.  Scan everything that you do not need a hard copy of.  Scan greeting cards, favorite pages of your High School yearbook, all photos, papers and receipts.  You do not need to save user manuals as they are available online.
  5. Replace your books with a Nook: Keep your favorites if you must, but unloading the weight of your books makes for more space and less dusting.  I use the Kindle Application for my I-Pad.
  6. Let go of heirlooms: Find other family members who may enjoy Grandma’s China or Hummel collection.  Do you really need these artifacts to remember special people in your life?   Take a digital picture of it and pass it on.
  7. Don’t feel guilty unloading unwanted gifts: Let people know that you are trying out minimalism and you have stopped collecting frog figurines.
  8. Clean, sell or share your car: If you must keep your car remove all items from the inside and the trunk.  When the vehicle is completely empty get it washed and detailed. Put back only the things that you need.  You will automatically feel like a minimalist!  Try this with your desk at work.  Try this with your night table.  Try this tactic with everything!  Remove it all, clean it well and only put back only what you need or brings you joy.
  9. Take one room at a time: The kitchen is a great place to start.  Use the 90/90 Rule and ask yourself if each item brings joy or meaning to your life.
  10. Sell, donate, gift or toss: You can make extra cash to pay off debt or put towards a nice vacation by selling your items on eBay.  You can feel good about yourself by gifting or donating to your local charities.  Some things just need to be thrown away.  From now on, when tempted to make a purchase, remember how much effort it takes to get it out of your life and you may think twice about what you bring in.

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You have read From Mountains to Molehills here first on Live Big and Small.