Once in a while, you read a book that speaks to you so deeply, you feel like it was written just for you. For me, Soulful Simplicity is one of those books. Written by Courtney Carver of Be More With Less, the book shares her personal story of why and how she simplified her life. She is also the creator of the Project 333 wardrobe challenge, which I am all about!
In this article I wanted to share some quotes from Soulful Simplicity that really resonated with me and share how they relate to my own story. While it will be hard not to make this very personal, I hope that these insights might help you or inspire your own journey to simplicity.
If you are looking to simplify your life, or you’re feeling stuck, stressed, trapped, overwhelmed, uninspired, or just a little lost, I highly recommend reading Soulful Simplicity yourself. See the link at the bottom of this article for where you can find yourself a copy if you’re interested. Now, let’s get into the quotes!
1. “We buy and hold on to things for many reasons, but usually it’s because we want to be someone we are not, feel something we don’t, or prove we are something we don’t think we are to someone else.”
Instead of looking to external sources and material things for validation or proof, we need to accept who we are. You don’t need a new dress or a fancy car to prove that you are worthy. You have the capacity to believe that within yourself, and only by accessing that belief will you find a true and sustainable feeling of self-worth that money can only buy for fleeting moments. Spending money on yourself can be a way of prioritizing yourself and practicing self-care, but it shouldn’t be something that we need just to feel like we are enough.
2. “We are weary because we do not rest. Weekends have become more about catching up, running errands, and planning for the next week than about resting or enjoying the day. The one time we actually take a day off is when we are sick. And why are we sick? Because we are weary.”
At some of my past jobs, going into work when you were sick was like a badge of honour – proof of your endless devotion to your work. How much can you get done, even when you’re under the weather? How busy can you be? Who will be the last one to leave? It was like a competition. What was I trying to prove? That by working the hardest I was the most successful, but also the most miserable? No wonder the weekends felt so short – by the time I was finished recuperating, it was the night before Monday morning yet again. There was no time left for living a life full of the things I actually enjoyed, and no paycheque is worth that.
I read somewhere that the typical work day of 8 hours was to break up the day into three equal chunks: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation, and 8 hours of rest. But when you start to do the math, it doesn’t really work out so evenly. Factor in your commute, unpaid breaks, and overtime, and your work day is starting to look more like 10 or more hours. Then think of all of the errands and to-do’s you need to get done on a weekly basis that eat into your ‘free’ time after work and on the weekend. Considering everything, we’re not given that much time to just be at all.
3. “Working more, longer, harder so you can afford your next vacation is not the answer. Incorporating vacation behaviour into your life every day is the better choice.”
Summer is a state of mind. I still sometimes struggle with the shame of feeling that I must be lazy because I prefer a slower pace to life. But then I realized that maybe all that ‘busy-ness’ I had grown accustomed to was the abnormality, not me. Of course, we all need to support ourselves somehow, and it’s not very realistic to think we could ever be on perma-vacation, aside from winning the lottery. But I don’t think that’s what she’s trying to say. Instead the message is more that we should shift from a mindset of being really busy now for future payoff, to one of enjoying the elements of that payoff now. To me that means living a slower pace, enjoying each and every moment in your day, and carving out more time for what matters to us.
I also loved Courtney’s reference to the story of the Mexican fisherman (you can read it here). The end goal should not be immense wealth and financial freedom, but to live a meaningful and fulfilling life each and every day.
4. “I know how it feels to do work you don’t enjoy to earn money to pay for all the things you need to make yourself feel better for doing work you don’t enjoy.”
THIS. What a crazy, vicious circle right? For me it actually got so bad to the point where I was so anxious all the time about work and so worn out that it drove me to periods of depression. I finally went to the doctor, who put me on medication to try and level out my anxiety. Just let that sink in for a moment – I was so miserable in my day-to-day that I was given medication just to get me through it. It’s so obviously backwards to me now, but at the time it seemed like my only option. An option that came with running to the bathroom every morning with waves of nausea, and other side effects caused by this ‘solution’. In my heart I knew that I wasn’t addressing the root cause of the issue, but I felt so trapped.
What finally freed me was realizing that I didn’t need all of those things to make me feel better if I was getting fulfillment from my day-to-day life. I stopped shopping so much, finally coming to terms with the fact that the strain on my bank account and clutter in my closet was making things worse, not better. It was the first step in breaking the vicious cycle that had trapped me for so long.
5. “When you live or work outside of your heart, there will always be a breakup, a breakdown, or both.”
Continuing on from that story, this is exactly what happened to me. I knew what the root cause of my anxiety and depression was. It was because – and I love how Courtney words this so perfectly – I was living and working outside of my heart. My life wasn’t full of the things that truly made me happy, and the lack of fulfillment from this made every stressful day so much harder on me. Whatever you want to call it – breakup, breakdown – I had one. I decided I couldn’t do it anymore, and finally left my job.
Luckily, I had already started simplifying my life and was in a position to carry on with my savings while I figured out what I wanted to do. I also had an idea for a small business which gave me a sense of purpose and hope that I could build a life around something I love. Wherever you are in your journey and whatever your means, you can still make changes, however small, that will make your life simpler and get you one step closer to living and working within your heart instead of outside of it. Try my free 30 Day Simple Living Challenge for some small actions you can take today that will have a big impact on your tomorrow.
6. “People may have thought we were going backward, or making poor financial decisions. The benefits of all these changes made us less concerned with what other people thought. We just didn’t care.”
Quitting my job was not an easy decision. It meant leaving a secure and stable income, saying goodbye to colleagues I enjoyed being around, and giving up the feeling that I was successful and independent. It was a risk, but it came with so many benefits. As much as I was scared, I felt like I was finally on the path that was meant for me. The benefits of simplifying my life were immediate and enormous. As I slowly decluttered my house, I felt less attached to things, and felt more peace and calm in my day-to-day life.
The bottom line is that I’m happier, and that feeling has really drowned out a lot of those voices in my head that came from a place of fear. I went from caring a lot about what people thought to really letting go of that and focusing more on what was truly making me happy.
7. “Each of their stories encouraged my journey and showed me that your story doesn’t have to be perfect or complete to inspire others. After all, perfect isn’t real. We cannot connect with, or be moved or changed by perfection.”
I found Courtney’s story extremely inspiring. But even she herself admits that her story isn’t perfect and she doesn’t have all the answers. Who does? We’re all just trying to figure it all out. It’s hard putting myself on Instagram and on this blog in a real way, and not even subconsciously try to make it seem better than it is. I try to create good content, so my perfectionist tendencies kick in – but at the same time I want to be authentic and real. It’s something I need to work on. My story isn’t perfect, and it’s certainly not over. As I continue to grow and learn, I look forward to sharing my story with you here, including both the ups and the downs.
8. “There isn’t a pattern for what the life of a saint looks like, or the life of a minimalist, or the life of a deeply soulful person. We get to be who we are. We can stop comparing, measuring up, and trying to prove our worth by emulating some version of ourselves that people expect us to be.”
Life really isn’t a big competition. Your path might not look like everyone else’s, and that’s okay. In fact, that’s sort of the beauty of it. Typical definitions of success led me to believe that there were expectations about how I should live my life. But the truth is that there is no definition of success other than your own. If your definition of success is living a simpler life, then that’s what you should aim for. You don’t need to try to be someone else. You can be you and that’s enough.
I had lost sight of that by being swept up in the typical definition of success and all the trappings that came with it – good job, nice apartment, expensive clothes. I wound up living a life that felt like it wasn’t mine. When I finally gave up those expectations of myself, I realized that no one else expected me to live a certain way, either. Removing those expectations made me feel like a door had opened. It was an opportunity for me to reconnect with my true self and be me again, instead of this version that I had created in order to fit in.
Even now, my definition of being a minimalist and living a simpler life might be different from someone else’s. I still buy and own things, but I consider them more carefully now, and make sure they add value to my life. I focus more energy on the few things that matter most to me as opposed to being distracted by a lot of inconsequentials. I’m not trying to be something anymore; I’m just being the way that makes me happy.
9. “We simplify to have a life full of the things that really matter to us. For me, that means a life of purpose, connection, contribution, adventure, laughter, early mornings, quiet evenings, and love. Your list may look a little different but when you are engaged in the things that light you up, it’s easier to let go of the things that don’t, including perfection and comparison.”
When you let go of everything that doesn’t matter, it’s amazing how quickly it becomes clear what is important to you. Simplifying is a way to create more space for those things that do matter by removing all of the clutter (physical, mental, or emotional) that gets in the way and makes everything murky. You have to start somewhere, and the first few things you let go of might be hard. But once you begin to see your life with more clarity and purpose, like Courtney says, it becomes a lot easier to simplify and focus your energy on those things that ‘light you up.’
10. “Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are.”
I couldn’t agree more with this. I feel like a lot of the problem with consumerism and materialism is that we start to place our worth in external things, instead of finding it within ourselves. Our own self-worth and identity becomes tied to the pursuit and acquisition of objects that we think have meaning, but are really just meaningless. It’s scary to let go of these things that our identity has become so strongly associated with, perhaps because we feel like we’re losing a part of ourselves along with it. But in reality, we’re just uncovering our true selves out from underneath this pile of stuff that has accumulated on top of us. I’ve never felt more like myself now that I live with less. Everything about who you are is within you – simplifying your life helps you find that.
11. “Simplicity is the way back to love. It’s been my way back to people I love, work I love, and a life I love. By eliminating everything that doesn’t matter, I finally know what does.”
At the end of the day, it’s all about living a life you love, that fulfills you, and that makes you happy. You might not need to simplify your life to know how to do that. But if you’re ever feeling like you’re in a place outside of love, whether it be in your career, relationships, home, finances, or other area of your life, living more simply is certainly one way to help you find your way back.
Which quote is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,
Do you want to read Soulful Simplicity?
Soulful Simplicity is available on Amazon, at bookstores, or from your local library.
Pin for later
*This is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase through this link, I may receive a very small portion of the sale (at no extra cost to you). Please see my disclaimer for more information. Thank you for your support!