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  • Writer's pictureJason Weiland

When I Embraced Simple Living 11 Years Ago, My Life Changed

Before I fused simplicity and minimalism to my life all those years ago, everything was a mess.

Back then, it seemed as if I was constantly working against myself, my house was cluttered, and I could never seem to get a handle on the chaos going on around me.

As I was in a state of turmoil and my life was changing rapidly, I found I wanted to simplify everything. I had just gone through a divorce, and through a series of bizarre and fascinating twists, I met a woman from the Philippines that I wanted to marry.

After months of video chats, I knew I wanted to be with her, but due to a lack of funds and the strict immigration laws of the United States, I realized it would be easier to pick up my life and move there to her country.

After I bought my plane ticket, I knew there was no way I could take everything I owned with me. I needed to simplify and do it quickly because I was set to leave in a month.

I Was Ready to Try Simple Living and Minimalism

I knew I didn’t want to live the same chaotic existence in another country - if I was going that far, I was going to try simple living and minimalism.

Owning only a few things appealed to me. I loved the idea of a simple life and wanted to live with possessions I could easily count on my fingers and toes.

The next day, I tore out all the boxes piled up in my closets that contained all the souvenirs of a life well lived.

The problem with all of these boxes were they contained everything I ever owned: letters from a teenage girlfriend, pictures of my children growing up, mix tapes from 80s radio, notebooks full of stories, and journals that contained the deepest thoughts of my life.

I Wanted to Simplify, But What Was I Going to Do with It All?

Most of the pictures I gave to my parents and kids. Back then we still used flip phones and such, and taking pictures and saving them on an SD card wasn’t a thing yet.

I did have a digital camera, but it didn’t store many photos, so I only took pictures of important documents I planned to shred later.

I made different piles: sell, donate, toss, and shred.

The shredder came in handy, and I can’t even remember the times I clogged it by feeding too many papers into it. I made different piles: sell, donate, toss, and shred.

Believe it or not, the month I spent simplifying made me several hundred dollars richer because I sold much of the electronics that had been gathering dust. I also sold my furniture and appliances and donated the pots, pans, and utensils that were still usable.

Even though I focused on giving everything away and selling, I still ended up adding to the landfill because there was so much stuff that wouldn’t be useful to anyone else. There were bags and bags of shredded documents and broken knick-knacks that no one else would ever want.

At the end of the month, after weeks of sweat and strain, I was left standing in the living room of my tiny apartment with a big black suitcase, a small box that would go in my parent's shed, and a stuffed laptop bag.

At the end of the month, after weeks of sweat and strain, I was left standing in the living room of my tiny apartment with a big black suitcase, a small box that would go in my parent's shed, and a stuffed laptop bag.

Everything I owned fit in those three containers and I was proud of the progress I’d made.

My Introduction to Simple Living

The next week, I hopped on a plane and flew across the ocean in a brutal 26-hour debacle of airports, airplanes, and taxicabs. A new life was waiting for me, and I found I loved my new country.

I didn’t want to buy more stuff to add to what I already owned, but the clothes I brought were much too heavy and dark for the heat and humidity. I ended up buying shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops, and that was my wardrobe for the next eleven years.

During the time after I married the love of my life, we moved several times, had kids, and bought a house. There were times we had gathered more things than we knew what to do with, and it added to clutter which we all hated.

There were other times we gave our house an enema and sold everything, putting everything back in order and making it a simple living paradise.

Keeping Life Simple is an Ongoing Process

Today, our house is mostly uncluttered but not as much as we wish.

We have more than our share of brightly-colored educational toys filling every nook and cranny because our autistic son needs stimulation and engagement. His areas of the house need to be fun and colorful, so we cater to his needs and let him have a free run of the place.

I’ve been noticing that we have too many clothes as well, more than we need, and a cabinet full of documents. This will all have to change soon because we plan to move our family to the U.S. within a year and we cannot bring much with us.

A suitcase and a carry-on are all we will manage, so we must start getting rid of the extra now and go back to simple living.

Advice for Those Seeking Simplicity

Since I’ve been through the process of simplifying a few times now, I have three bits of advice for you if you want to practice minimalism. We all tend to gather stuff as the years go by, so don’t think you are alone in your clutter.

Here is how I banish chaos and simplify:

1. Take pictures of important documents on your cellphone. Then save them on a cloud service like Google Drive. Shred and dispose of documents so they are not taking space in your closets and life.

2. Go through every item in your house. If you don’t use the item every day or if the item doesn’t fulfill a purpose, get rid of it. Only make room for what is useful and for things that are necessary to make you happy. A picture of your kids on the desk would fit the bill.

3. Stop buying stuff you don’t need. Not only will you save money, but if you stop buying so many clothes and electronics and quit impulse-buying junk that clutters your house, you will find you only have a few things in your life that make you happy.

Final Thoughts

Take it from me, simple living is preferable to chaos, and simplicity will increase your happiness and fulfillment.

Enjoy this article? You might also enjoy Changing Your Job To Simplify Your Life.


Jason Weiland, Writer and Creator

Jason is a writer of essays and articles, currently enjoying the tropical life in the Philippines. When he is not writing, he creates music-themed YouTube videos. Living a simple life is important to him and his family, as is happiness and fulfillment, so you will often find them at the beach.

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