I started an intern position at an office at the beginning of this semester (so it has been about three and a half months) and the entire time I have worked there, I have never repeated an outfit. Granted, I only work three days a week. My point is that I have a lot of clothes. That is partly why I struggle with the idea of simplicity. When shopping, I operate under the “sometimes you just need to buy a hat” theory. However, it sort of becomes a problem when I just go and buy more hangers, only to find that my tiny college dorm closet cannot possible fit any more hangers, no matter how hard I try to force them. But in my process of becoming content with my life, I am finding that in order to be content with my life, I need to be content with what I already have. My life needs to be more simplified than it already is.
It is incredibly hard to simply your life, especially in the Christmas season. Materialism has its peek at this time of year, which makes it all the more important to simplify your life. My family always tells each other what we want for Christmas. I have been making Christmas Wish Lists ever since I was a little kid sprawled out in the living room floor looking through catalogs of toys. I would generally offer well-thought out detailed reasons behind why I wanted all the many things I would want. And I was very spoiled when I was a little kid. I can remember Christmas mornings where I would get so many presents that I would build a fort of presents to hide behind. My family is no longer that financially stable to support the Christmas present-fort making habits. However, I believe that I should be able to get to a point where I simply want less.
Don’t get me wrong, I still asked for things for Christmas. I mean, I still keep finding more books that I would love to ask for. However, I noticed something while I was out doing my Christmas shopping. I would find something, and I would want to get it. After all, stores make their sales pretty irresistible. My mind is a little funny. Each time that I would find myself trying to justify how I could spend money on myself, I would think about how there are children without clean water. I told my mom about this and she reminded me not to take the joy out of giving and getting gifts this season. It is easy to be reminded of how selfish I can be when thinking about the needs of people who have less.
I think that are two practical ways in such I can embrace a simplified life in order to become more content. First, I need to remember to take time to be thankful. Second, I need to learn to enjoy the simple things in life. Not saying that these are the only things I should or can be doing, but this is where I am going to start. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God’s will for me is to be thankful in any circumstance. I know that I do not wake up in a thankful mood. I wake up in a grabby mood, either because I want to sleep more or because I have slept in too much and now I am running late. Whatever the case may be, I wrote down on a Post-It note: “Thank God for giving me this day.” Each morning, I should wake up grateful for the simple fact that I woke up. I am aware of the frailty of life, so I should be thankful each day that I am given another day.
When I wake up being thankful, then that thankfulness should just increase as the day goes on. I should remember to be thankful for all the things that I already have. I have been given so much and am entirely more blessed than I realize. Sometimes I take things for granted. Sometimes I take people for granted. My roommate makes fun of me for always writing thank you notes (she calls me a fifty-year-old), but I believe strongly in the importance of hand-written thank you notes. It does not take that much time to say a simple “thank you,” yet it is incredibly rewarding when a thank-you is not overlooked.
Epictetus said, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
Learn to enjoy the simple things. Enjoying life does not need to involve spending a lot of money. There are plenty of things that cannot be done without any money or on a budget. However, when spending money, do not feel guilty. Sometimes I feel guilty when I spend money going out to eat, but my mom always reminds me that she is not mad at me when I spend money to go out to eat. It is not selfish spending money on eating because eating is one of the greatest times of fellowship there is. Simple things include more than eating out, it also includes spending quality time with people. It does not need to always be this elaborate fancy occasion. My roommate told me once that some of her best college memories have been the times where we are both just hanging out, chilling on the couch. Some of my best college memories have been the late night conversations that I have with my roommate as we are both falling asleep.
I think that is sometimes easier said than done, but when you want less, you have time to enjoy life more. When you enjoy life more, it is easier to be content with your life.