Simple Starts with Contentment

posted by Andrea | 03/6/2015

simple starts with contentment

Last week, I shared a little bit about What Simple Living Means for Me, and as I wrote that post I kept coming back to the idea that “simple starts with contentment”.

During the past several years of my life, I’m confident that the times when everything feels the simplest and least chaotic or stressed have also been the times when I’m most content — and I know many friends and family members who would agree, based on their own life experiences.

Now, for those of you who know me, you might be thinking that I’m not necessarily very content because (as I’ve mentioned many times before) I’m constantly striving to improve and better myself, my business, my family, my home. etc. etc.

And you’re right! 

However, I think there IS a difference between striving to improve, and never ever being content with where you are right now.

For me, I thoroughly enjoy thinking ahead to different house projects we want to save up for, when we want to work on them, and what we want the end results to look like. I also frequently look for opportunities to learn more about my various hobbies, blogging, house projects, etc.

And while I’m definitely not always content (I think that would almost be impossible) I do feel I’ve gotten A LOT better at accepting and enjoying where I am right now, versus constantly reminiscing about “the good old days” or anxiously awaiting the fun stuff in the future.

Obviously, it’s still really fun to think back on great memories we’ve had in the past, and to get excited about upcoming opportunities; but for the most part, I’ve been trying harder to be more content — and I can tell my efforts are paying off in the form of a simpler, more organized, less stressed home and life.

This does not mean everything is EASY or FUN or PERFECT or TROUBLE-FREE. It just means that I’m trying not to stress about as much (especially not about the small things) and just enjoy my current situation — whatever that may be.

If you’re striving towards a simpler way of life, I’d encourage you to also strive towards more contentment. Here are 5 concepts that have helped me — and they might just help you too!

contentment

1. Shop Less.

I’ve never been a huge shopper — but I do really enjoy online shopping because I’ve been able to find some AMAZING deals and freebies via some of my favorite online shopping sites.

However, I’ve found that even the best deals on Craigslist, Amazon, or ThredUp can cause me to want more or be less content with what I already have — especially if I can find something “better” or “newer” for only a couple bucks.

So every now and then, Dave and I will implement a full month of no-spending. This might sound extreme, but we do have some ground rules that allow us to still pay our utility bills, buy basic groceries, etc.

Doing something like that once a year can really bring some perspective to how much time we spend shopping and thinking about things we want to buy. If you think about it, even window shopping, grocery shopping, or flipping through weekly store ads can easily cause us to want more or different things and be less content with what we already have.

2. Take a Break from Media.

This might sound a little crazy for me to say — considering I make my living from the internet. However, I will say that over the past few years, I have MAJORLY cut back on the amount of media I expose myself to on a regular basis.

We canceled our newspaper subscription and all our magazine subscriptions over a year ago. And thanks to our love of Netflix and ChromeCast, we watch almost no live TV — which means no commercials.

I’ve also scaled back on the amount of social media I do. Even though I KNOW it would be beneficial to my business to be involved with Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, etc. etc. I’ve resisted the urge to spend any amount of time with those social media platforms.

I use Facebook, and that’s about it. And even with Facebook, I use it almost exclusively for business purposes because I’ve found that when I’m on my personal Facebook too often, I end up reading about all the fun trips and vacations and outings people are taking — while I’m here at home with my kids in the freezing cold Michigan winter!

I’m not saying I have anything against the other social media options or that I’ll never use any of them, I’m just saying that right now, I’m content and happy to stick with Facebook and not spend much time on anything else.

Also, while I’m hesitant to admit this, I read VERY few other blogs because I’ve found that when I see all the cool trips or sponsors or giveaways or opportunities other bloggers have, it makes me feel like I should be doing more to grow my blog and build my business. And, as I mentioned in this post last week, I really don’t want to spend my time growing and building my blog because I truly am content with where things are right now — and any extra time is better spent with my family.

3. Make a “Done List” and/or Start a Gratitude Journal

I blogged about making a “done list” several years ago, and I still get random emails and comments from people who have claimed that making a “done list” has totally changed their outlook on daily life — and I fully agree.

There are SO many days when I’m feeling bad about how little I’ve accomplished, like I’ve done nothing productive, or like I have little to show for the last 24 hours… until I actually write down (or at least think about) everything I’ve done that day.

It’s amazing how much more content I feel after realizing my day was not a total “waste”. 

Along the same lines, starting a Gratitude Journal is a great way to look back on our day or our week and realize everything we have to be thankful for. I can’t speak for everyone, but I have a feeling that if you have access to the internet to read this post, you’re most likely better off than millions of people around the world without homes, food, clean drinking water, access to education, or other basic necessities.

When we look at life from that perspective, it’s almost impossible NOT to be more content!

4. Stay Home

I know what you’re thinking — the fact that Dave and I are more introverted, the fact that I really enjoy being home, the fact that I work from home and Dave is home all summer long…

And you’re right — we do live a very “homecentric” life. However, I also think that staying home has played a HUGE role in our ability to keep things simple, even with 2 full-time jobs, little kids, tons of house projects, and all the extra stuff we do.

This does not mean that we never leave the house or never do anything fun with family and friends. But it does mean that we seriously question and evaluate whether certain opportunities are worth it for us or whether they will just cause more stress and craziness.

Even simple opportunities to go out to eat or to a local attraction usually cause us to want something we didn’t want before we left the house (sometimes unconsciously) and with little kids, the “can we have this” almost never stops when we are out and about. Everything from a ride on the carousel at the mall to special candies in the grocery store check out lane are often begged for over and over again.

Needless to say, we often feel it’s a lot simpler and easier to spend more time at home versus going out and about. Plus, this decision also saves us time, energy, and money (win, win, win!)

5. Purge Things you Don’t Need, Use, Want or Love

Obviously, I can’t write a post about simplifying and contentment without at least mentioning the importance of purging 🙂

And not just purging for the sake of getting rid of things and creating more space (although those are both huge benefits). More importantly, when you purge, really stop to think about the things you no longer need, use, want or love.

I know that when I get rid of those unwanted, unneeded, unused, and unloved items around my house, I instantly feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. More breathing room, more space, more peace of mind, and more happiness — all of which are helpful when striving towards more contentment.

Also, I’ve found that when I purge the stuff I’m not using, I appreciate, value, and use the things that are left that much more.

As always, I’d encourage you to start small — maybe pick one thing from this list to work on for a while. Then add in another.

I did not make these changes over night — and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t make all of these changes voluntarily! Having kids (especially a fussy, sensory baby like Nora) forced me to simplify, stay home, shop less, etc. etc. out of sheer necessity to preserve any amount of sanity I had left.

After a couple of years of living that way, I realized how much more content I was… and that my life was actually much simpler than before!

Crazy all the things we learn from our kids 🙂

47Shares

Filed under: LifeDaily Life

Leave a comment

20 comments

  1. kt

    03/16/2015

    I love how this post gets to the heart of the matter. The internet is filled with ideas on organization, but what is so often needed instead is contentment which will drive other areas of one’s life to a healthier place. It is difficult to write on, but you do it well. Of course, I would add that I feel contentment comes ultimately from a right relationship with God; but, I think that is what you were getting at with the thankful journal. Well done!

    [Reply]

  2. Jenna

    03/12/2015

    I love your posts so much – I follow a lot of blogs and yours is one of my favorites, a “must read.” You’re so encouraging, and I think I just can relate well because we have a lot of the same goals and interests and even our kids are the same ages! You are an encouragement! Anyway, I loved this post but also the one on being content where your business is. I also run a from home business and could do a lot of things to grow it, get more clients, etc. but I just love where it is right now and the balance of running it and being with my kids an family. It’s refreshing to hear someone else say that it’s ok to be content and that I don’t have to try to keep growing and making more money. Thank you for such a great perspective!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Jenna! Yes, it did take me a while to be able to admit (mostly to myself but then on my blog) that I was OK with not doing everything I could to grown my business. I was happy with there I was at – and that didn’t make me “lazy” it just made me “content” and “satisfied”

    Glad you’re at that point with your life, family, business, etc. too!

    [Reply]

  3. Jenni

    03/12/2015

    I find it interesting that you don’t read blogs, but that was the #1 thing that popped into my mind about being content. I personally don’t find commercials to be all that influential on my level of contentment when I do watch tv, but because I often follow bloggers who have lives similar to mine or the way I would like to be, when I see them posting something about something new that they are doing/building/getting it is harder to feel content because their worlds are closer to mine.

    [Reply]

  4. Joy

    03/10/2015

    Thank you Andrea! I love reading your posts. I love “simplicity.” It is so refreshing to find others who do as well.

    [Reply]

  5. Linda

    03/08/2015

    This is a great post! I don’t recall now what you wrote about in the last few months but I thought to myself it is all about contentment. It seems we always have the pull to have a little more. I like your ideas for being content. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  6. Karlyn

    03/08/2015

    These are great ideas for simplifying family life. I recently stopped MANY email subscriptions (including many blogs), and started reading a few of the ones I liked best online. Of course, this includes yours! 🙂 This step greatly simplified my life by cutting tremendously the amount of time I spent sifting emails. You mentioned that you read very few blogs. Are you willing to tell us which ones you do read?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes, email subscriptions — those can be a huge source of “electronic clutter”! I’m sure if feels great to have fewer emails to weed through every day.

    Glad to know you’re still reading my blog though 🙂
    And I’ve actually already shared a list of some of my favorite blogs. You can read it here — although it is a bit outdated and a couple of those blogs aren’t even running anymore.

    [Reply]

  7. April

    03/06/2015

    Thanks Andrea for sharing your wisdom. I can remember when my kids were small, some of the other moms ALWAYS wanted to be on the go, never content to stay home. I was probably the polar opposite, as I just found things so much easier and my kids so much happier when we just stayed home. I guess our one exception was many, many trips to the park. I do remember the guilt trips though from people inviting us constantly to “play dates” and getting offended if we chose not to attend.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I think it definitely depends on the personality of the mom — I have friends who are busy, busy, busy too with their little kids and it seems to work for them. Not for me, not right now 🙂

    [Reply]

  8. Janice

    03/06/2015

    You’re SO sensible! I love, love your blog.

    [Reply]

  9. Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    03/06/2015

    Thanks so much for sharing this wisdom with us, Andrea. I completely agree. While all of the tips you shared are excellent, my favorite is the gratitude journal. As I have said on my blog, it is hard to be less than content when you are counting your blessings.

    Staying home helps alot, too! That’s my second favorite tip. 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Sarah

    03/06/2015

    Thank you for writing this blog, for all the work you put into it! Your ideas have helped me to simplify in so many areas. Today’s post cleared the fog on something that’s been on my heart. I NEED to stay home … for the sake of my $ management and for our little guy who is easily overwhelmed when we get to stores (just like his mama, overwhelmed by all the thousands of ways to spend and all the stuff we certainly can’t live without). Your comment about needing to stay home for the sake of your sanity resonated with me. I’ve been a “boredom shopper” for as long as I can remember and have been focusing on changing that habit by budgeting and have stuck with it for 2 months (first step). Just this week, I began to realize that we’ve been staying home more, I feel less stressed, the home is more orderly, AND my son is so much better behaved.
    Thank you, Andrea.
    Blessings, Sarah from VA

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for your kind words Sarah — so glad you are realizing a simpler life. Nora and Simon both seem to be MUCH happier if we are home more than we are gone. Nora is finally getting old enough where she likes going out for “special” things, but then she’s ready to come home again soon after.

    [Reply]

  11. Natalie

    03/06/2015

    Great post and exactly what I need to hear. I wish I could hire someone to come purge my house for me. My husband calls me a hoarder and while I believe that’s far from the truth there is a lot of excess stuff that I just need to give away! I go through stages where I purge a ton of stuff but with 2 little ones at home I don’t do it often enough. Here’s hoping I can do it more!!

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Natalie,
    I’m actually almost positive you COULD hire someone to come purge your house for you. That’s what I did for a living for about 5 years before I quit to do my website/blog full-time.

    Just google “Professional Organizers” in your area and I’m sure something will come up!

    [Reply]

  12. Mary

    03/06/2015

    Right on. We were at Target the other day- the first in probably 3 years and I left my daughter buy a My Generation mini doll. When we got home she was talking about getting another one. I asked her why she couldn’t be content with what she had. The day before she was content without any because she didn’t know they existed! I love to organize and I get tempted by all the pretty boxes and containers they have, but if I never go to the store to see them I can be content to use any old cardboard box!

    [Reply]

  13. Debbie W.

    03/06/2015

    I really love this post!! And, I too have been making a “done list” recently. It is amazing how much better I feel about myself and my life when I take time to focus on what I did accomplish rather than only on what I have left to do.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    done lists are awesome!!

    [Reply]

  14. lydia @ frugaldebtfreelife

    03/06/2015

    Yes! My sister has always said, there is peace in contentment and she is right.

    [Reply]