Five Simple Truths for a Happier Life

Janae is the founder of the health and lifestyle blog Bring Joy. There, she develops fabulous vegan and gluten-free recipes, exercise videos, and posts about her life as an Air Force wife and mother of four young children. She’s currently living in Washington State as a temporary single parent while her husband completes JAG training; the family will soon be moving to Texas.

Janae is one of those inspiring, deeply honest women who I know could run the world if she chose too. Here, she’s sharing five truths she’s discovered to live a simpler and more fulfilling life.

This summer my husband and I took our four kids on a road trip. It was a time of family, of being completely disconnected from our routines.  In three weeks, we traveled over 3,000 miles and passed through five states.  You could say it was our time to just be.

While my husband has been away on active duty military training, I have had time and space to think about what it means to live simply. For the past six months, I have had none of my personal belongings, other than a few sets of clothes and pairs of shoes.  My kids only have some of their books and clothing.  We’re living in my parent’s basement.  It’s odd, once you have separation from things, what that does to you.

On our road trip, one of our favorite places was the beach in southern Oregon.  We had come from the crowded beaches in California.  In Oregon, at least where we were, there was no one in sight.  It was just us, with the sand and water stretching into the horizon.  My boys could have spent the whole day there, playing tag with the waves, digging holes, running along the shore.

I’ve thought about that place often.  How that simplicity brought us so much joy, and how nature has a way of smoothing out the roughness of life.  And how I have filled my day to day life with things that only add clutter and chaos, when what I desire is simplicity.

I guess you could say I’ve been forced to scale back.  Without a home to care for and classes to teach (I used to teach a dozen fitness classes a week), my world has become open and rather simple.  I’ll admit that it’s taken a few months to get my bearings.  I’m a bit like a fish out of water, learning, discovering the answers to these questions: what do I really want out of life?  What is most important?

Here are five of things I’m discovering:

1.  Time is a finite commodity & my most precious resource.  Can I do something in a more efficient way?  If yes, will it be at the expense of my relationships?  If no, I know I need to do it.  I love social media (Twitter is my fave) and blogs.  But I’ve realized that the people and blogs that are important to me — the stuff I really care about — will rise to the top.  The other, non-essential stuff I’m not really all that passionate about will fall by the wayside.  Spending time online, unlike most other forms of media, have no end.  There is no end on the internet.  If you are an adult, there are no parental controls or limits on how much time you can spend blog hopping, tweeting, and facebooking.

2.  Real face time trumps all.  Eye connection, a person’s warmth, a handshake, or hug —  these things are far more valuable than a text, email, or tweet.  I strive to get as much face time as much as possible with the people who matter most.  That physical contact is a key component to happiness and security, which is missing in our modern lives.

3.  Free is free is free.  Did you know there are so many free, good things?  My faves:  the library, Pandora, parks, going for a walk, cuddling with my kids, doing my personal yoga practice at home.  And breathing deeply.  That’s free too, and that fresh air is good stuff.

4.  It’s much easier to reduce expenses than it is to earn more.  Readers of my blog know of my journey towards a debt-free life.  I’m realizing, in a very real, acute way, just how true this principle is.  I’m squeezing the life out of every penny that crosses my path.  And by golly, it’s making a huge difference.

5.  Ockham’s Razor just may be the answer.  Ockham was a mathematician who theorized:  “Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.”  In other words, when applied to science or math, if two competing theories make the same exact predictions, the simpler one is better.  I see these bizarre, complicated fad diets; ways to get rich quick; detailed and complicated parenting books — it seems as if we want to believe that the more complicated a process is, the more likely it is to work.  But experience has shown me, whether it be with weight loss, finances, or relationships, things are very simple.  It’s the simplicity of principles, not rigid, complicated rules, that set us free.

See more of Janae’s thoughts over at Bring Joy

More posts to love by Janae:
Pumpkin Caramel Blondie Bars
Workout Video: 5 Minute Abs
Get on the Debt Free Boat

You can also find Bring Joy on Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest.  You can read more about Janae, here, & more about her family, here.

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Comments

  1. Lovely as usual. Especially love the emphasis on simplicity AND relationships. And paring down – I JUST said last night to the man that I’m feeling a bit crammed in with too much “stuff”. I’m not living in a basement suite but this small renovated cottage doesn’t have a ton of storage.

    I feel lighter and more open when I have less.

  2. Lovely post, Janae! The Oregon coast is one of my favorite places ever. We have a family tradition of going there every summer with no plans except to play on the beach and fly kites and we always have a wonderful time. Enjoyed reading your lessons on simplicity… I think living below your means is smart for many reasons., no matter what your income level may be. Have a wonderful weekend, Janae and Joy! 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this post Janae & J! I’ve been wanting to live simpler for a while now. It’s tough…esp when you have children and you’ve got humungous goals that you want to see through to fruition. But I’m trying. I’ve let go of some clutter and chaos in my life (literally & figuratively…i.e. toxic people), and it felt so liberating. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have been had I started trying to live more simply earlier on in my life…but I know that everything happens for a reason. It’s an ongoing process, but that’s the best part…learning & evolving. Thx for this post…esp now, during the holidays….I’ve made it my priority this year…to really enjoy the holidays…enjoy time w/ my family and not spend hours at the mall or wait in long lines just to buy the latest toy. Time is fleeting, and not something you can easily gain back. Hope you both had a wonderful Thanksgiving! XOXO

  4. Such a great post, and wonderfully written. Your interest in keeping things simple reminds me of a book I read last year titled, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross. Have you read it? It’s a wonderful book about simplifying life and living with less. Even if you don’t have kids, the book is still a great read. Janae, you may not even need to read it since you’re already following many of the books principles. i.e., You’re doing a great job! 😉

  5. Clare Wilkinson says:

    Sorry I’m so late reading this wonderful post. I so agree with all of this, Janae! Moving back to the USA has made me realize how complicated and expensive America can be. Keeping things simple is such a better way to live, in my opinion. You are a great Mom and role model – thank you for sharing these words of wisdom!

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