30 For 30/30 #10 – The Daily Practice of Embracing Simplicity

This is the tenth post in my 30 for 30/30 series where I am publishing a new post each day for the next 30 days within a 30-minute window without much of a plan. You can read about why I’m doing this by clicking this link

In my last post, I wrote about exploring the first of five transformative daily practices, Spending Time in Solitude. I stated that incorporating each of these into our daily lives could transform them into a meaningful way of living.

In brief, these five transformative daily practices are:

  1. Spending time in solitude
  2. Embracing simplicity
  3. Engaging in kindness
  4. Cultivating self-expression
  5. Respecting the body

Today I want to address the second of the daily practices.

Daily Practice #2 – Embracing Simplicity

About “Embracing Simplicity”

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo da Vinci

This practice is far-reaching and has the potential to transform our lives in many areas. That’s because instead of a simple, straightforward, and relatively isolated practice like sitting in silence, adopting simplicity is much a more layered undertaking as it touches everything we do.

Embracing Simplicity – means that we are focused on identifying and employing only what is essential and most efficient.

For example, we can adopt simplicity in communication, nutrition, professional pursuits, personal relationships, exercise, material possessions, and dress to name a few.

The daily habit of adopting simplicity in everything that we do has the potential to transform many areas of our lives. When you are ready to commit your life to practice simplicity, you are ready for life to become transformed into some beautiful and enjoyable.

Simple Communication 

The practice of simple communication is clarity in listening, speaking and writing.

Some characteristics of simple communication include:

  • Listening to others with our full attention
  • Speaking only after considering what is an appropriate response.
  • Saying exactly what you mean.
  • In most cases restraining from, or conversely -if it represents who you are- purposely inserting profanity depending on the context of the conversation to more fully establish your point

Simple Wardrobe

“You can remove a significant amount of stress from your life simply by reducing the number of items in your closet.” -Courtney Carver, BeMoreWithLess.com 

Choosing what you wear each day should be a simple process. Simplifying your wardrobe. For both men and women, I recommend Courtney Carver’s Project 333 for a detailed look at how reducing closet items and applying her suggestions can significantly reduce your stress around your wardrobe.

You could also adopt my practice of wearing all black or some other uniform of your choosing. For instance, Matt D’Avella, a filmmaker I follow on YouTube wears jeans and a gray t-shirt each day because it decreases the number of choices each morning and he feels great wearing it. Watch his video on The Benefits of Having a Simple Wardrobe. It’s an enjoyable six minutes.

Simple Money

“All money is a matter of belief.” – Adam Smith

Many of us have a complicated relationship with money, It’s so easy these days to go online and purchase anything at any time. We can pre-order coffee, get some Thai food delivered via our smartphones, and pay our bills online completely eliminating checks, postage, and subsequent fuel costs for postal vehicles.  

Even though digital currency makes our financial transactions seamless and less resource intensive, it hasn’t simplified money altogether. We swipe our debit cards until they’re no longer honored, (we’ve all been there once or twice) rarely taking the time to track how much we have in the bank.

I had a difficult relationship with money for as long as I can remember, however in recent years I’ve made peace with it, mainly by making commitments to spend only on essentials and for larger more expensive purchases, waiting at least 30 days before making the purchase. This automatic wait-time nearly eliminated my impulse buying proclivities. 

Buying books on Amazon is till a bit too easy. – Me

Identifying where and how I spend my money is now a monthly practice for me. I print out my expenditures at the end of every month and non-judgementally review them. I extend love toward myself and simply take note where I can improve my financial management skills.

During a recent monthly review, I realized I was subscribed to four major newspapers digitally. Did I really need access to that much news each day?  I took action to decrease it to two national dailies, the NY Times and The Washington Post (I’m a bit of a news junkie). I’m currently evaluating where I should reduce it further.

I’ve found that practicing simplicity when it comes to money is a very smart thing to do.

Why You’d Want to Engage this Practice

“Simplicity is a prerequisite for reliability.” – Edsger Dyjkstra.

I keep impressing on my youngest son that simple daily habits lead to successful outcomes and without these daily habits/practices, life can become and remain chaotic. (He resists, but then he’s only 22 and Millenials seems to have their own unique issues with money and habits.)

In order to enjoy a reliable and high-functioning adult life, we need simple systems in place that promote such outcomes. These can be very simple like immediately cleaning up the counter and putting away the condiments after preparing a sandwich. (How hard is that?)

The key is this: we already have systems and practices in place whether we realize it or not.

We have a system or practice for:

  • feeding ourselves
  • performing our job duties
  • clothing ourselves
  • communicating with others

The practice of embracing simplicity is also about applying simplicity to these systems so we have a more reliably contented and happy life.

Let’s look now at how to apply simplicity to our existing systems.

How to Embrace Simplicity

How we embrace simplicity depends on the area of life we are working with. However, there are some basic principles to consider.

Simplicity is simply identifying what’s essential, and letting go of the rest. – Leo Babauta, ZenHabits.net

I stated above that we already have a system or practice for:

  • feeding ourselves
  • performing our job duties
  • clothing ourselves
  • communicating with others

To adopt simplicity in each of these existing practices/systems, let’s look at some basic questions that can serve as guidelines for each one.

Nutritional Simplicity (feeding ourselves):

  1. Is the food in question the best choice I can make for my body at this time?
  2. Is it in line with my ultimate goal for my body?
  3. Am I committed to preparing and clearing away the mess so that my choice doesn’t inconvenience others?

Professional Simplicity (performing our job duties)”

  1. Is the task/project at hand my responsibility? (If not, who can I delegate it to?)
  2. Do I fully understand what needs to be accomplished?
  3. Who might I contact for additional help or support?
  4. Do I have all the information I need to complete the task/project? (If not, how much time do I have before needing to begin?)
  5. Have I scheduled enough time to complete the task?
  6. What’s preventing me from doing my best?

Wardrobe Simplicity (clothing ourselves):

When it comes to wardrobe simplicity, I find it absolutely necessary to have an empty cardboard box near or inside the closet for immediate resolution of any item’s disposition in response to the single question below.

  1. When I wear this shirt/dress/jacket, skirt, etc., does it make me feel content and comfortable; more successful, content, and relaxed? (If not, immediately place it in the cardboard box and do not rehang it.)

You’ll be amazed at how effective this can be in reducing the number of clothes in your wardrobe and how much more enjoyment you’ll experience by wearing only those items that help you feel your best.

Communication Simplicity (communicating with others):

When having a conversation, responding to an email, or just calling your teenage down for dinner, consider these guideline questions:

  1. Does what I am about to say fully express what is appropriate?
  2. Am I choosing the most appropriate words for the situational context?
  3. Can I respond in a civil and measured manner?

Granted, not all communications such as calling your teenage down for dinner will require this level of consideration, but they can serve as guidelines for simple communication.

By adopting simplicity in all that we do, we can cultivate a life of intention. Intentional living is how we all want to live anyway. Practicing simplicity allows us to enter this mode of living at our best.

What’s next

Tomorrow I write about the third daily practice, Engaging in Kindness. See you then!

**These daily practice posts are requiring longer than my 30-minute limit, but I’m sure you can see why and will forgive me. 🙂

Categorized as 30-for-30

By Baz

writer | coach | practical buddhist

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