As much as I like the idea of a simple lifestyle in accordance with my minimalist way of life, is it possible to lead a too simple life? Is a cleared schedule really the ideal life?
Because I am a minimalist blogger, I tend to follow quite a few other simple lifestyle and minimalist blogs and accounts in social media. I am also an introvert (INFJ), and follow a handfull of accounts for introverts to boot.
What I have noticed lately, is that because I follow all of these accounts on minimalism, simple living and introversion, my social media feeds consist of people telling me to relax and to become un-busy. And apparently, as an introvert, what I most want in life is to be cuddled up on my couch with a blanket, a hot beverage and a book and not be disturbed for hours on end.
So, what happened then?
Well, if you have read some of my other posts of this year, you might have understood that this last year has been really hectic for me, with sickness in the family.
And this resulted in me feeling overly busy. Like, I felt exhausted. And, all of the social media accounts I was following told me that I should unwind, relax and stay within the safety of my own home.
So I did.
I mean, I’m an introvert, after all.
Surely, plenty of rest and downtime would get me back on my feet in no time? And I’m also a minimalist, so I do value the idea to take back simple, as it were, and not go chasing the next big thing all the time. Nothing good comes from being too busy.
Well, nothing good comes from being too un-busy, either, it turns out. After awhile, I didn’t end up feeling energized and invigorated. Rather, I felt drained.
Did I ‘fail’ at the simple life and being a good introvert?
It certainly felt like that.
So, I dug deeper. ‘Everyone’ in the simple living movement and the introversion movement advocates to lead a simple, un-busy life. They advocate to take the time to do nothing, and to merely exist.
But, what if you fall into the trap of thinking that you should spend much time merely existing, that you forget what life is really about? Because, isn’t life about so much more? Or rather, what does it mean to focus on existing?
What I feel is lacking in the social media communication of some accounts minimalism and introversion is the presenting of a nuanced view of what existing and being un-busy means.
Existing and living is so much more than sitting in silence and watching nature.
Existing is doing things.
It’s challenging ourselves. It’s doing things because we want to do them. But it’s also doing things that doesn’t give us pleasure, but that needs to be done. Because, if you just sit around doing nothing and watching life float by, that’s kind of the opposite of living, isn’t it?
I began to realize that the simple lifestyle has to be more about living an existential, mindful life, by doing things that matter. But not just doing nothing. Yes, we should schedule time for ourselves. Yes, we should take time to reflect and to merely exist, and we should take a day off to do whatever we want. But, I think it’s important to realize the true meaning of doing whatever we want. If you don’t make a mindful effort as to how you spend your time, this time might end up feeling wasted. And wasted time might make you feel useless.
In order to lead a full life, we have to use our abilities, we have to challenge ourselves, we have to be in the moment, and we have to do something with our time.
It’s not about being busy. I believe that a full schedule doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re busy. And an empty schedule doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not…
The important thing is to be mindful with our time.
To keep doing things. To keep challenging ourselves. I think this is the most important part of it. And I believe that this falls through sometimes, because the simple living and minimalist movement is so focused on slowing things down.
I was sick of doing nothing. Doing nothing to regain my energi after a hectic period simply did not help anymore. So, I began to fill my schedule. I began to schedule things outside the house, and began meeting up with friends. I felt busy in my mind, but I knew that it was important to prioritize. So I did.
I took back committing to my chores, to my abilities, and to my friends. Now my schedule is busier than it has been in a long time. And I’m still tired at the end of the day. But now, it’s a good kind of tired.
I think stress and being busy sometimes comes from not knowing where to focus our energy.
And I think knowing where to focus our energy is main the difference between simple, mindful living and a busy, hectic consumerist lifestyle. Sure, be mindful with your energy, but please put it to good use.
Sometimes, the right focusing of energy might be exactly what we need to be re-energized. If that’s snuggling up on the couch with a good book, sure, go ahead! (Maybe my problem was that I forgot the books and binged Netflix instead?) But, I find that sometimes seeking to nurture close relations and other activities rather than rest is what it takes. And that’s worth remembering.
I think Brooke Hampton of the Barefoot Five said it best:
“No, we don’t need more sleep. It’s our souls that are tired, not our bodies. We need nature. We need magic. We need adventure. We need freedom. We need truth. We need stillness. We don’t need more sleep, we need to wake up and live.”
Don’t be worried to fill your schedule.
Just do it mindfully, by spending your time doing things that gives you meaning and fulfillment. And be present in those moments, instead of worrying about what’s next.
Your life might just be all the better for it ♥︎