“Common sense will only get you a common life.” Bryant McGill
Five Senses of Simple Living
If I had to choose my favorite sense I’d definitely pick taste. I love food; eating, cooking, reading about it, learning about its medicinal abilities. Food creates community, it comforts, it heals, and it can transport me to a different time, place and culture in a moment. But I specifically love sweets and as we all know, sugar has a well deserved bad reputation.
Have you ever removed sugar from your diet for an extended amount of time? I have, several times, if I’m being honest, for health reasons. And after each hiatus, the first bite of a sugary treat causes my face to contort and my taste buds to practically jump off my tongue. The sweetness is shocking. It triggers an intense reaction as my sensitivity to the taste has been heightened. This caused me to realize that what I thought was a harmless sweet tooth, is actually a desensitized sensory function of taste.
I’ve noticed this same effect of simple living. I’m constantly working towards a minimalist lifestyle and in almost every area of my life simplifying has heightened my senses. I’m more aware of all the invaders, obstacles, and the disruptors of simple.
When it comes to our biological human senses, most of us go through the day without a thought to our five senses. Our senses are constantly in action, allowing us to experience life through multi-colored sunsets, music that moves our souls, food that comforts, the smell of a newborn’s head, and the softness of her velvety skin.
Our senses give life texture and most of the time we are too busy to appreciate them.
Senses define how we experience our existence and too often we are too frazzled or overwhelmed to pay attention. The simple life draws us closer to our senses and the purpose we choose to pursue, and like removing sugar, when our lives are free from distractions our senses are heightened to live fully engaged in what matters most.
Simple living teaches us that when we seek approval or acceptance based on the standard lifestyle of consumption and keeping up with the Kardashians or the Joneses, it is just a desensitized sensory function; a misguided illusion of contentment.
Our physical senses dictate much of how we experience our natural world, but the pursuit of simple living requires intentional development of a different sensory system. We must create an environment that engages our attention and guides us away from sugary promises of happiness and into a slow natural fullness of simplicity.
Here are five senses that heighten the experience of simple living:
(Less) Common Sense
Common sense is loosely defined as a thought or action that is accepted by the majority of people. The simple life, however, distances us from the thoughts and actions of the majority of people. A slower, simpler life has changed my idea of some common sense values that are held by most of the population. Things like debt, fashion trends, and standards of beauty are no longer defined by the common sense of the masses. Now my (less) common sense is defined by fewer needs, fewer wants, controlled spending and saving habits, and a deeper appreciation for the character of a person over their appearance.
Common sense for the simple life is less common but makes more sense. Reduce stress by placing boundaries on your time, reduce debt and live beneath your means, reject unhealthy and unreasonable expectations of beauty, and live a life of gratitude for who you are and what you can give.
That is what should be common.
Dollars and Cents (see what I did there?)
Speaking of debt… a simple life certainly doesn’t require debt. In fact, debt steals the simple from our lives by demanding our time and attention. The effect debt has on our life is devastating and distracts us from pursuing what we value and love the most.
As simplifying becomes a way of life, I’ve experienced a new sense for dollars and cents. Though we would always like to see a bit more of it at the end of the month, I’ve noticed a paradox within my relationship with money.
On one hand I value money more. It’s no longer something I am willing to throw at every shiny and pretty thing at Target. Credit cards are no longer free money dispensers. Its value is much more than the number printed on the corner. The value is in the time and effort spent to earn it and its power to build up or tear down a life.
On the other side of the paradox I value money less. Its role in my life is less important. I don’t need more money to find happiness; I find that within myself and my attitude toward life. Retail therapy is less therapeutic and a newer car or bigger house is less appealing. The wealth flaunted in our world does not cause envy, it reminds me to be grateful for all the things money can’t buy.
Ab-Sense of Distraction
Busyness causes an epidemic of distraction seeking behaviors. It’s not hard to find with social media at our fingertips, streaming available on every device, and Pokemon Go taking over the streets.
Simple living redirects our intentions when we drift into distraction.
A slow life with less filling our calendars reveals the beautiful moments waiting to be noticed in the white spaces of life. The other night I laid down with my four year old as she was falling asleep. Just for a minute, I thought. Netflix was paused in the other room. But when she rolled over and put her arm around my neck and snuggled into my shoulder, I just about died. I didn’t leave for an hour and a half.
Netflix has nothing on snuggles from my firstborn.
Stop seeking distraction in your downtime because the most beautiful moments are right in front of you and I promise, they will bring more joy and fulfillment to your life then the blue glow of an LED screen.
Simple living gives us permission to declare a No Non-Sense policy on the cultural beliefs displayed before us (and it’s kind of fun):
Designer bags and shoes define my worth – NONSENSE
A new car means I’m successful – NONSENSE
Shopping a sale for things I don’t need, with money I don’t have, because it’s on sale – NONSENSE
Perfection is what makes me beautiful – NONSENSE
Conformity is acceptance – NONSENSE
See how fun that is?
I don’t want any of those non-sense beliefs in my home or heart. I declare No Nonsense!
Sixth Sense (intuition – not dead people)
No, you won’t see dead people when you simplify life, but you may resurrect your intuition. There is a voice within each of us that is silenced by all the other voices telling us who we should be and what we should own. Our intuition wants to reconnect our hearts with the life we’re capable of living.
Simplifying clears away the clutter and it clarifies our hopes and values. It causes a conversation within us that creates a greater sense of who we are meant to be. It gives us permission to live with our hearts. It takes away pressures of perfect highlight reels on Facebook and it reclaims the joys in the little, simpler things of life.
When we quiet the noise in our heads we can finally listen to the symphony of our hearts.
Our senses remind us to pay attention to the details because when you’re striving for simple, the details matter. The sweetest life isn’t discovered through instant gratification and sugar highs, but through intentional presence in the small, slow moments tuning into our senses.
Lisa Avellan is a stay at home mom striving for simple in San Diego, California. She writes about intentional living and minimalism on her blog Creative Holistic Home. She is passionate about writing, holistic nutrition, travelling and languages, and her family. You can connect with Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.