The Challenge of Keeping Life Simple + 10 Simplicity Quotes To Help

It takes some work to keep things simple in our lives these days. It does seem that “simple” shouldn’t take extra work, it should just be, well, simple. But, despite our best intentions, we can end up with more complexity when all we want to do is simplify.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” (John Maeda)

Keeping Life Simple Is Harder Than It Seems

We have all longed for a simpler life at some point. But reaching that point may be harder than we bargained for. I have found that allowing confusion and disorder to rule my life is all too easy.

When we try to do too much, we set ourselves up for failure (or a breakdown). Here are a few examples of how easy it is to make something simple into something complicated:

  • We’ve put 16 to-do’s on the daily list when 5 would have kept us busy.
  • We’ve wasted time on “screens” and left too little time to complete what we set out to do.
  • We’ve chosen to make something by hand when buying it would be just fine.
  • We’ve created too many categories in our lists/filing systems/budget/(fill in your blank) when a mere few would get the job done.  
  • We’ve decided to make frosted cut-out cookies when a pan of brownies would have been much appreciated. 
  • We’ve send 75 Christmas cards when 18 (or none) would have been fine. 

Buy less, choose well, make it last. (Vivienne Westwood)

There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. (G. K. Chesterton)

Keeping Life Simple Is Not Necessarily Minimalism

I’m not a minimalist – no – far from it. And although the concept of minimalism fascinates me, it’s not my goal.

But I am learning to slowly adjust to owning less, creating fewer steps to accomplish a project, expecting a little less of myself. And…I no longer send any Christmas cards at all. 

Although sometimes I start to plan for the more impressive dessert recipe for guests, I usually do some self-talk and decide on the simpler one, because we really enjoy the company more than the food, anyway. 

The busy decorating style of past decades suited me just fine at the time, but I’ve transitioned nicely to plain painted walls and a select few decor items in a room. 

I used to buy at least one storage bin whenever I went shopping. Now I’m storing empty storage bins, and donating them to the thrift store when I realize I no longer have the need for them.

A person with taste is merely one who can recognize the greatest beauty in the simplest things.   (Barbara Taylor Bradford)

Complicated rules paralyze people. Simple rules empower people. (James Clear)

God Gives Us Seasons Of Life For A Reason

There are many different seasons of waiting throughout life. God knows we aren’t equipped to handle everything at once, so He equips us as we go through life, moving from one season to another.

We often wish for the ability to do things that don’t fit into our current season, and that’s when God says, “Wait!” for our own good and for His glory.

Looking back on the times when I felt the most impatient for a different season, I can see why God kept me right where I was. We won’t always be able to see the reason at the time, but later we may be glad we didn’t get what we thought we wanted.

…there are often many things we feel we should do that, in fact, we don’t really have to do. Getting to the point where we can tell the difference is a major milestone in the simplification process. (Elaine St. James)

Check Wasted Time

Everyone gets 168 hours in every week. This may sound like a lot, but most of us have had the thought the we just need more time in a week, or a day.

I suggest taking one week to be thoughtful about how you spend those 168 hours. When we are concsious of how much time something realistically takes to do, we may rethink a few of our tasks or activities.

Some people even keep a log for a week or a month, tracking what they do with their time, so that they can reevaluate and make changes.

Consider Your Excess

I for one, am realizing the excess of belongings I have, and I am constantly paring down the number of “things” I own. Closets, drawers, and shelves are less stuffed than they used to be in my house. And it feels so good to have some extra space.

Not only have I discovered that the surplus of belongings isn’t necessary, but I also spend much less than shopping than I did in the past, and I have become much more content staying at home, not filling my schedule with going here, there, and everywhere.

I do not promote simplicity just for simplicity’s sake. I am a firm believer that God has a purpose for each of us in every season of life. You’ll find a more thorough explanation in Called To Live A Simple Life For Jesus’ Sake.

 I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind. (Albert Einstein)

Decide On Your Priorities And Essentials

Considering and deciding on what is essential and what is not, can take time, There will be some things that you just can’t make a decision on, and that’s alright. Move on to the things that you can easily eliminate.

Scanning papers and photos is a huge space-saver, and often the images are better than the originals.

Giving things away to someone who will use and appreciate them is rewarding. Picking out and keeping only the home decor items that you love and rotating those things in creative ways is fun and can give your home a new look without a new thing.

It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials. Bruce Lee 

I confess that in our home we have thrown out or given away a few things that we went looking for later. Sometimes the item turns up and surprises us later. Here’s the best story about something that went missing for a long time, and was found much later.

Several years ago, I thought I lost a framed picture that my dear cousin made for me out of fabric scraps.

To make matters worse, she asked me to send her a photo of it so she could make another one. I looked high and low everywhere in our house and finally deduced that it had been put in a bin by mistake that had gone to be donated. I had to tell her that I no longer had the picture and I felt terrible.

Over a year later, I was looking for something in a large storage closet in our home. I saw something on the floor below the bottom shelf and picked it up. I was delighted to realize it was the lost picture, that had fallen off the shelf and landed upside down and lay invisible on the floor.

I sent her a delighted text with a photo of it, saying, “Guess what I found?!!” I felt so much better and immediately put it out on display. I still chuckle warmly whenever I see that pretty little handmade framed heart.

May God give you – and me- the courage, the wisdom, the strength, always to hold the kingdom of God as the number one priority of our lives. To do so is to live in simplicity.  (Richard J. Foster(

“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21, (the Bible, ESV)

When we know what our true treasure is we can hold “things” loosely and get our true priorities in order. Knowing what is most important will help to keep life simpler. For me, God is number One, my husband and family are next, and the things I own come somewhere down on the list.

I won’t lie, there are days when I have to pray and do some soul work to keep it that way. But I know what my God and His Word mean to me, and it doesn’t take long to re-align myself with what I know to be my true treasure.

The Challenge Of Keeping Life Simple

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