On Simplicity

May 17, 2008

Two Ways to Understand Enjoyment

Filed under: Simple Living — Serendipity @ 5:00 am
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Part of living simply is being able to truly enjoy things.  Without sincere enjoyment, you can never be satiated, and you’ll likely want more. And more. And more.  One of the greatest lessons in enjoyment is one I’ve learned from my husband, and it involves chocolate.

Method #1:The Nibble Savor

Now, I’m the kind of woman who loves to spread out the enjoyment. I want it to last as long as humanly possible. So I nibble. And I savor.  If I get a chocolate bar, I’ll take the tiniest bites possible and roll each little bit over my tongue to fully experience it.  This process takes a long time and helps me to enjoy things mentally as well as on a sensory level.

Method #2: The Shovel

My better half is a shoveler. If given a chocolate bar, he’ll do his absolute best to get all of it in his mouth at once.  A look of bliss crosses his face, and in a flash, the chocolate’s gone.

Trying the Shovel Method of Pleasure

This behavior used to drive me crazy. “We’re trying to be frugal and stretch things out, hon,” I’d say. “Why don’t you take smaller bites and take the time to really enjoy treats?”  His response?  “I enjoy it most when my mouth is absolutely full of it and it takes over all my senses.”

I still didn’t get it.  Finally, I tried it.  Hey, we had a lot of Easter clearance candy given to us, so what could it hurt to “waste” a few items, right?  So I shoveled.  He gave me a shout of approval, a huge smile, and I thoroughly enjoyed the moment.  It felt good to be so reckless with a rare treat.

Experience Abundance

In our efforts to be frugal, sometimes we try too hard to eke enjoyment out of well, anything.  Once in a while, it can feel great to just shovel. You can shovel food, drink, parties, social occasions, books, fun projects, your favorite shows on DVD—lots of things.  In the shovel moment, you’re giving yourself over completely to pleasure—there’s no saving it, or measuring it, or worrying about when it will be gone.  In this sense, an occasional shovel is a great way to feel like you’re surrounded by abundance. 

The next time you’re feeling deprived (or you’d simple like a moment of bliss), try the shovel method.  No counting, measuring, or thinking: just pure sensory overload.  It makes you feel like a kid who’s getting an indulgent wish, and isn’t that the richest feeling of all?


May 15, 2008

Am I Just Faking It?

In reading other blogs, I come across quite a few items that make me question whether I’m truly a simplifier or not. After all, Xin Lu at Wise Bread, in a great post on living in small spaces, is willing to forgo a sectional for a beanbag. I, on the other hand, am not willing to ditch my sofa for a beanbag at this point. Am I just providing lip service to the idea of simplicity? After all, if you’ve read a few posts here, you know that I love clothing, I live in a big house, will probably never get rid of my television (dude, no MXC?), and so on… Does this mean I’m just faking it?

What Simplicity Means to Me

When it comes down to it, I don’t think I’m just faking it. This isn’t just a cosmetic choice for me. In my own life, simplicity isn’t a race to the bottom to see who can live with less. It’s about making conscious choices, being thoughtful in what I bring into my home and into the world, and focusing on relationships and experiences instead of stuff.

How do I accomplish this? What do I focus on? Here are my top priorities:

Not buying crap. I do a pretty damn good job of not buying things “just because.” Things I buy aren’t just bargains, they’re things that either promote health, bring me or someone else joy, or are really going to be useful.

Keeping media to a minimum. I don’t eschew television, but I also don’t watch that much of it. I stay away from sensationalistic news and gossip. For wimpy news, I stick to headlines instead of reading fluffy article after article after article.

Keeping my personal spaces clean and minimalist. I can breathe in a clean home. I can create. I can dream. I’d prefer an empty room in a beautiful color than a fully furnished room full of useless accessories. It still comes down to pure aesthetics, but it’s also about feeling like things have purpose.

Time commitments and lifestyle. I try to keep my time as my own to give myself freedom and peace of mind. With a job that’s essentially a community service, I can feel good keeping a good portion of my time off to myself to spend with family and friends.

Is Champagne Ever Simple?

I’ll agree–I’m not the traditional voluntary simplicist. While I do have a persistent and weird desire to be a survivalist, I always picture celebrating the first successful potato crop with a champagne toast. (I know.) However, simplicity isn’t just about cutting stuff out of your life. It’s about stripping life down to the bare essentials, throwing out all assumptions, and rebuilding the world around you to fit the dream you have, not the one you’re told to want or raised to believe in. After all, life should be rich. It just doesn’t have to be rich in money, or stuff, or accolades.

Big, Fat Faker

The verdict? I am a faker. A big one. Because in my eyes, simplicity is about having as much as possible. As much time as possible. As much love as possible. As much joy as possible. As much fun as possible. As much honesty as possible. As much thoughtfulness as possible. As much freedom as possible. I don’t want just a little, just enough to get by. No, I want a ton! Perhaps I should look into the availability of “onabundance”….

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