Living with less to give you a life of more.
Written by Marnie Prowse.
Many of us struggle with the thought of living with less. What exactly does “less” mean? Does it mean less success? Less opportunity? Less validation? Is less really a bad thing? It is an especially difficult concept to grapple with because we live in a culture that tells us that we should have it all and more. But does having more really equal a better life?
When I was 25, I had a fabulous job that paid well. I worked long hours, and I rarely had a day off. Having this job allowed me to buy a fancy house, nice clothes and shoes that kept me going back for more.
But along with that job came a lot of stress. And my mechanism for coping with that stress was shopping and alcohol. I worked ferociously, and to unwind, I would spend the evenings shopping online with a bottle of wine. It wasn’t unusual to max my credit card and finish off a bottle in one evening.
More money. More debt. More stuff. More relationship problems. And an alcohol dependency. This life of “more” wasn’t a life of happiness.
Once I realised how my pursuit of “success” was actually making me unhappy I took an honest look at my life and what was in it. The words I found myself using to describe my life were “unbalanced,” “materialistic” and “mindless.” Something had to change, and I had to do the opposite of what I was doing.
The first thing I needed to do was set some boundaries. I took a good look at my values, priorities and limits, and based on that understanding, I developed professional and personal boundaries. This resulted in a new role – I needed work that I was better suited to, and that was more aligned to me – some people thrive off pressure, but not me.
I learned to say “no” to things, which can be one of the hardest lessons for anyone to learn. It made a big difference – I uncomplicated my life by having fewer commitments and fewer activities. And perhaps most importantly, I made my boundaries clear by communicating them to my loved ones and my work family. This went a long way to creating structure in my life.
I made myself become more aware of the distractions in my life. Endless scrolling on my phone to shop, checking social media and watching TV was sucking away my time. Once I was aware of it and made a conscious decision to change, I noticed how much more time I had. And I stopped drinking to deal with life. I felt healthier, better, and more together than I had in a long time.
Clearing my mind, clearing clutter
Once I stopped spending my evenings scrolling my phone and drinking, I stopped mindlessly buying things and adding to the clutter in my house. I then also spent some time cleaning out the excess clutter I’d created, and as I did so, I discovered how often that clutter was making me procrastinate and do less as I was busy tidying and maintaining what I had. I had always seen my house as a massive to-do list: it had to be constantly cleaned and maintained. But I found that once I removed the excess, I had more focus. I was mindful, present, and I was able to achieve more and do more.
As I removed myself from the consumer-driven rat race of always needing more, wanting more, and trying to earn more to buy more, I found I didn’t have to be busy all the time. I found calm in my life and was able to focus more on more meaningful things. I started to do things I enjoyed, and in eliminating all the clutter, wasted time and stress, I was able to reconnect with my partner. Now that I theoretically have “less,” I have so much more than I ever did.
My success today is not monetary. It can’t be found in things — in the contents of my house or my closet. Instead, it’s in my happiness and in my family’s happiness. It’s in the experiences I have, and in the work that I do. Seeing that I’m making a difference gives me so much more than a packed calendar, a closet full of shoes and a high-stress job ever did. Today, I can truly tell you that less really is more.
Check out more from Marnie over at Tiny Haus.