Learning to Live with Less (without moving to the shack)

by Tess

My Friday 'Hit List' of interesting bloggers will be posted again next Friday. Today we have a guest:

 Anastasiya Goers from Balance In Me. 

"I am just a regular girl who is health conscious and who is trying to convey her own experiences of living a busy life while staying in great shape both physically and mentally." ~Anastasiya Goers

Old House_DSC4330

Are you ready to give up your life (all your possessions, your house, car etc.) and move to a tiny house somewhere in the middle of nowhere? OK, I am not asking you to do that. Don’t worry. But a lot of people think that living with less means just that (or something similar.)

While there is a lot of talk about living with less very few people actually do that or even understand the true meaning of this life principle. They think that living with less only means cutting back on their expenses. Maybe it means decluttering their house. And at the most it means cutting back on some tasks and commitments.

There is a little bit of truth in each of those statements, however it is not the true meaning of living with less.

Living with less means adopting a new mindset and striving for a meaningful living.

The truth is that stuff and money never give us true joy, happiness and satisfaction that we want in life. Yes, they help us live comfortably and have small pleasures every once in a while. However, did you ever remember being happy about buying a new dress (car, kitchen appliance etc.) for more than a week or two?

Now think about an event with your loved ones (the birth of your child, a lovely picnic with your friends or family, or maybe a quiet day spent alone in a beautiful place.) I bet you smiled when you thought about those memories and a warm feeling rolled from your stomach and through the rest of your body.

I grew up in Ukraine – a country in the Eastern Europe that most people in the first world would consider a third world country. Only a little over 2 years ago I moved to the US and experienced all the benefits of living in the kingdom of capitalism. Yes, I like the fact that I can find great deals on clothes that I like and that I can afford to update my closet entirely every season (though I don’t do that.)

I love the availability of healthy foods 24 hours a day. I love cheap prices on electronics and cars (on average, Ukrainian prices for those things are at least double and Ukrainian salaries are almost one tenth of an average American salary.)

One of my most memorable vacations before I met my husband was a 10-day camping trip. I was lucky to go on that trip with several friends and make several new ones. I spent the nights in a small tent, ate mostly canned food, had no access to a warm shower (the water we had was from a mountain creek that was about 55 F (13 C) all year round), used an outhouse and spent my days climbing mountains no matter what the weather was. It was so much fun! (By the way, the cost of this "pleasure” was minimal – about $90 for the entire trip.)

Growing up in Ukraine really taught me how to live with less and experience real joys of life instead of all the material goods of a modern society.

You do not have to move to a different (primarily third world) country to learn the practical benefits of living with less (frankly speaking, those are more survival tips than just benefits.) You can do it right here, right now (you can be sitting in the office, in your comfy chair or even passing some time at the airport.)

Living with Less is definitely the main concept of simplicity in life. It means:

  • appreciating what you already have;
  • knowing what truly makes you happy;
  • knowing how your actions affect your environment (planet and people);
  • knowing who you are and what your values are;
  • cutting through the false benefits of a consumer society;
  • finding clarity in life and (finally)
  • living in your own balance.

If you are looking for more practical benefits of living with less then let me give you a few more examples:

  • The less you have the more you will use what you own.
  • The less you acquire the more you will use what you already have.
  • The less you have the more efficient you are – less time spent searching for things (according to one study, on average a person spends 55 minutes searching for things in their own home.)
  • The less you have the more energy you will have for things that really matter in your life (instead of constantly cleaning, scrubbing and putting away things.)
  • The less cluttering activities you have during your day (watching TV, mindless social media chatter, and constant e-mail checks) the more you can focus on really important tasks.
  • The less you have the more you can focus on your priorities and not the tasks of dealing with the junk in your life.
  • The less you have the easier it will be to find your true life balance (less things to juggle on your plate, less commitments and less tasks to worry about.)

How do you feel about living with less now? What is the true meaning of living with less for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments?

Anastasiya writes about practical life balance on her blog Balance In Me. She is passionate about helping people find their balance in different areas of life: work, family, health, lifestyle, spirituality and others.

Download her free Simplify Your Life with Balance Workbook to bring even more balance and simplicity into your life.

* Adrienne and I had a talk sittin' around the campfire at Experience Life Fully. Please stop by and roast a marshmallow or two!

Photo credits Creative Commons License photo credit: Brainedge

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Little Lessons Under the Big Sky April 7, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I think this is such a valuable topic, and wonderful post! THanks Tess and Anastasiya!

For my family, living with less has meant trying to return to growing more of our own food, decluttering the house, and spending valuable precious time with our three children outdoors where everything we “need” is provided in the beauty of the moment.

It is hard to get started on decluttering, especially when I enjoy garage saling and second hand store shopping, but now that I have gotten started I find that the items I keep in the house all have a story and meaning behind them….much better than just random “stuff.” Plus, it is great modeling for kids.

Thank you for posting an excellent reminder and list!
Love,
Jen

Reply

Angela Artemis April 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Anastasiya,
I think your article is wonderful. Thanks for having Anastasiya here Tess.

I am learning to live with less – and enjoying it. The economic downturn of the last 5 years taught me the value of enjoying what I have without clamoring for more all the time. Since I’m no longer able to run out and buy things anytime I wish I’ve discovered I’ve stopped “wanting” so much. I’m very content with what I have and have even scaled down quite a bit. I sold my home in November and put all my possessions except for clothing and things I need for every day living in storage and I found that there is nothing I miss!

I feel so free without all that stuff – I might never take it out of storage.
Angela Artemis´s last post…Why Do We Resist Our True Calling

Reply

Tatianna April 8, 2011 at 1:03 am

It was a very very nice post. I grew up in Russia, so I know what it’s like living with less. When I had less, I didn’t know what more meant. But back then when I did have less, my life wasn’t easier, I was still cleaning, scrubbing and juggling things around. It was just a lot harder to do. Now I have a bit more, and all of the problems are still there. You can have more or less, the things don’t make a difference, it’s the mind set. You can have more, and have everything or you can have less and have nothing, it doesn’t mean you are going to find balance much easier. Balance comes from mind, not from physical things.
Tatianna´s last post…Snapshot Beauty Thursday

Reply

Anastasiya April 8, 2011 at 7:31 am

I completely agree that living with less is a state of mind, the way you look at the world. I also think that it is important to have enough of things (not more or less.) Yes, we can survive on bare minimum but like you said this life can be quite difficult. At the same time when we have too much of stuff (no matter how helpful it might seem at first) in our lives we also lose the simplistic mindset and balance.
Each person of course has a different opinion of what is enough for them. This is where balance comes in. Keep just enough stuff in your life to be satisfied without getting cluttered inside and out.
Anastasiya´s last post…Creating a Foundation for Life Balance

Reply

Tatianna April 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Hello Anastasiya, I checked out your blog, but the comments are closed :( . Thank you for replying, I can agree with the statement of keeping just enough stuff in your life to be satisfied without getting cluttered inside and out. Balance is what I am still trying to find.
Tatianna´s last post…Snapshot Beauty Thursday

Reply

Alex Blackwell | The BridgeMaker April 8, 2011 at 3:21 am

Anastasiya,

Thanks for this. I do resonate with your Living with Less list. Like you, I’ve learned to appreciate exactly what I have because it’s so precious and can be gone in the blink of an eye.

Tess, thanks for sharing Anastasiya with us.

Alex

Reply

sheila April 8, 2011 at 4:06 am

RIGHT ON!!! Great post! I know that since the economy dived a few years ago, we’ve learned how to make drastic cutbacks each and every year. It actually feels nice! And we didn’t even live extravagantly before the recession! lol.

Actually, I might be moving into the house in your pic sometime in the future, lol.
I JUST LOVED this post!
sheila´s last post…Classified Section – Position- Mother

Reply

Anastasiya April 9, 2011 at 10:25 am

Thank you Sheila. I guess if you put some elbow grease into the house it can turn into a really charming cutie :-)
Anastasiya´s last post…The Secret of Simplifying Your Life without losing your sanity

Reply

David | Listen Feel Breathe April 8, 2011 at 4:37 am

Hi Anastasiya and Tess

That’s some great truths about living with less. It’s very true, I have noticed myself that the less things you have, the less time you spend cleaning and maintaining those things.
The simpler you make your life the more time you have time to spend doing things that you love to do and actually want to do.

I’m hoping that somewhere down the track I will manage to minimalise and simplify my working life so that I work less hours with more freedom and flexibility, but still earn enough to do what I want to do.
David | Listen Feel Breathe´s last post…March Reflections

Reply

Evita April 8, 2011 at 10:11 am

Hi Anastasiya,

YES, YES and YES some more! (ha ha Tess is probably laughing as she knows me and my enthusiasm for this topic).

I so agree and share in all that you said. Last year my husband and I sold half our stuff and moved from the city out into nature. And although we already had a minimal lifestyle in many ways, we simplified it even more and made sure everything that was there added quality to our life, and took into consideration the environmental implications as well. Since then, as my husband puts it, we have decreased our financial obligations and our material possessions, while we increased the quality of our life. Now there is lots of time to just be in nature and observe…. more clarity too and so many other benefits!

Thank you for writing about this and being an agent of change and inspiration for others!
Evita´s last post…CWSS- How Can We Help Native &amp Indigenous People Heal

Reply

Anastasiya April 9, 2011 at 10:29 am

Evita, I bet living in the nature is really amazing. I personally live in a small town near the ocean. While some people might think life over here boring (none of the attractions of a big city) my family enjoys all the time that we can spend in state parks and on the beach. It is the biggest treasure for us and we want to instill the love for it in our little girls.
Anastasiya´s last post…The Secret of Simplifying Your Life without losing your sanity

Reply

Jannie Funster April 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I’ve always wanted to visit the Ukraine! Such friendly people.

Oh yes, I live with so much less, or desire so much less than ever.

You know that Leonard Cohen lyric that goes… “I wanted so much to have nothing to touch — I’ve always been greedy that way…” I think of it often.

I no longer go to yard sales, when I used to be an avid “saler.” Now I’m like, “Why?” I have enough.

Food, maybe a new pair of shes a year if I NEED them, some exercise pants when my others get holes, new drinking glasses and ice cream bowls, that’s about all I buy. i did get a nice new frying pan a couple weeks ago.

I have EVERYTHING I need always.

Life is beautiful. So many wonders in nature and in the hearts of so many fine people.

Nice to meet you Anastasiya.

Tess, big bear hugs to you!

xoxo
Jannie Funster´s last post…Flash 55 — They Say Give Away What You Love Most…

Reply

Anastasiya April 9, 2011 at 10:38 am

It’s nice to meet you too, Jannie :-)
I loved poetry on your website – it’s beautiful (and of course your little girl is simply adorable!)
I experience the biggest joy now when somebody asks me what I want to get as a present. The only thing I say “Nothing, because I already have everything.” (Of course it doesn’t make the job of that person easier :-) )

It’s really an amazing feeling to have everything that you need and be completely satisfied with it.

I am glad to see so many people on Tess’s blog who share this joy of less.
Anastasiya´s last post…The Secret of Simplifying Your Life without losing your sanity

Reply

Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord April 9, 2011 at 7:14 am

Beautifully said! I live with what moves me, and am constantly cleaning out to make room for “new.” I consider myself a minimalist in most areas of my life and it feels VERY good. One thing I do need to learn how to become more minimal at is distraction. I let myself get distracted fairly easily — but it’s a process and the more I scale back in other areas of my life, the clearer my mind becomes.

Less really is “more.” Great post!
Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last post…One-Day Healing Workshop w- Simon Hay and Oneonta Wellness

Reply

Tammy April 9, 2011 at 9:43 am

Tess, thanks for bringing Anastaysia. I love this post and I love living with less. Even the act of decluttering is therapeutic for me.
Tammy´s last post…Cracking the Cultural Nut

Reply

Galen Pearl April 9, 2011 at 10:40 am

Great guest post–thanks to you both. I was reminded of the passage from the Tao Te Ching “He who knows enough is enough will always have enough.” I have this framed on my desk!
Galen Pearl´s last post…Mad-Sad-Glad Game

Reply

Dandy April 9, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Hi Anastasiya,
This post is gorgeous. Americans can certainly take a lesson from you. We put way to much value on materialism and it’s a shame. Most have been overly spoiled. I see people judge others based on what they own and what they drive. It’s a small way of thinking. I give myself permission to have peace over stress and to have mindfullness instead of finacial burdens. Thanks so much Anastasiya. I look forward to checking out your blog!

Reply

Sandra / Always Well Within April 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Anastasiya,

I’m am so touched by your article. Thank you for sharing the contrast between living in the Ukraine and living in America. It really is shameful to think of how we indulge ourselves without considering the rest of the world. You are really giving us a needed wake up call. You’ve underlined the key point about living simply: it’s about learning to live meaningful.

I also am doing my best to live simply and I don’t live in a shack. :) Thanks for sharing your heart with us today.
Sandra / Always Well Within´s last post…Stop the World and See

Reply

ecoMILF April 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Such an informative post. Thank you!

Reply

Diana April 11, 2011 at 3:21 am

What a great write! I don’t really know where to begin. Every point could be a full blog post! I love this post because it’s really practical.

I lived in Germany years ago after the wall fell. I taught English there. Lots of my students were from former East Germany and I heard the echo of what they told me when I read your post today. Their joy and enjoyment came not from things, but from time spent together when they were growing up. Not that any of them necessarily wanted to go back to that system, but the benefit was being able to count the things that were important because material goods didn’t play a role.

That has stuck with me through the years.

Thank you both – Tess and Anastasiya, for a lovely read.

Reply

Patti Foy | Lightspirited Being April 11, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Oh, Anastasiya, I just love this post! I had to laug

h because I did indeed move to a “shack” out in the middle of nowhere. This was in the mid-90′s before minimalism was so in vogue. But my husband and I definitely simplified at that time, and have lived debt-free since then as well.

But like you make so clear in your article, there are different ways to think about all this. I wouldn’t even consider myself a minimalist but I do live a simple life and feel no need for lots of things or even lots of activities. And I love living this way. For me, it’s balanced.

Thanks so much, and to Tess too for hosting.
Patti Foy | Lightspirited Being´s last post…5 Reflections to Help Activate Your Magic

Reply

T. AKA Ricky Raw June 3, 2011 at 9:09 am

I’ve applied minimalism to much of my life, but I still have so far to go. Especially when it comes to getting rid of books, my biggest weakness. But the best thing I’ve found from the process so far is how reducing physical clutter totally helps eliminate mental clutter.
T. AKA Ricky Raw´s last post…Raw Concepts- The Theaters of Operation

Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge