Choosing simple living

An unclutterer is someone who chooses to live without the distractions that get in the way of a remarkable life.

Contrary to what you might assume, the most important word in the definition of an unclutterer isn’t distractions (or what we also call clutter) or even the goal of a remarkable life. The pivotal word in the definition is chooses.

The pursuit of an uncluttered life begins with a choice — you choose to practice simple living. No one can force you to be an unclutterer, and you don’t stumble into a simple life by mistake. Even people who lose all of their possessions in a catastrophe are not unclutterers, as they might choose to fill up their homes and lives again when circumstances permit.

Choosing to live an uncluttered life starts with wanting to get rid of distractions. Once this desire is present, you begin to see your life from this new perspective. When your mindset has changed, your actions will follow. Getting rid of clutter is usually the first outward sign of your choice to be an unclutterer.

From these first steps, you continue to choose to live simply every moment you’re awake. There will come a time when you stop acknowledging this moment-to-moment choice, but you continue to make it (or not make it). Then, when you turn your focus to the things that matter most to you, your reward is the remarkable life you desire.

It all begins with a choice …

23 Comments for “Choosing simple living”

  1. posted by Amy on

    Great Article! I made my choice when I turned 50…I have always been organized, but getting rid of three fourths of my possessions and downsizing to less than 1000 sq ft has truly been liberating! I don’t spend very much time doing housework on the week-ends, we travel instead. Living with less and keeping true to that decision has added tremendously to my level of contentment.

  2. posted by Dawn F on

    For me, the choice has always been easy – and the right thing to do for our family.

    We choose to spend our money and time on fun activities and outings, traveling and playing sports. We choose to NOT spend our money and time on storage units, more storage boxes, cleaning our stored items, insuring our stored stuff, etc., etc.

    It’s like a breath of fresh air – to surround ourselves with things we truly love and cherish and items which are motivating and cheerful.

    Being able to put our hands on what we need (our keys, for example) when we need them (let’s head to the playground or the movies) is an easy, comfortable way to live.

    For our family, the choice is clear and simple. Maintain a healthy, organized, cheerful household that affords us the time and money we need to be able to enjoy family activities, outings and trips.

  3. posted by Guy Towers on

    Erin, I guess it’s all about practice and consistency, right. That’s always been the hardest part for me.

  4. posted by Alex on

    I’ve had trouble uncluttering when it comes to the books I buy. I just recently acquired 11 books in 3 days for only 2 dollars. I don’t know when, if ever, I’ll get the time to read them since they’re being added to a reading list already at the ceiling.

    This may be clutter to some, but to me I see it as options. (This reminds me of a blog I started following: http://claremunn.com/2010/01/l.....there-one/)

    I never have to want for the next book to pick up because they decorate my room, my backpack, and my life. Clutter can be a good thing.

  5. posted by Danielle on

    @Alex–
    Things aren’t clutter when they help you lead the life you want. Things become clutter when they get in the way of the life you want to lead. Your books would be clutter if you had so many old books that you’d already read that you couldn’t find the ones on your to-read list, or if you didn’t have proper storage for them and they became a hazard to walking.

    Uncluttering isn’t about getting rid of things that you love for the sake of minimalism–it’s about getting rid of things that are weighing you down or preventing you from leading your best life. “Clutter” can’t really be a good thing but THINGS can be good as long as we don’t acquire them mindlessly or just for the sake of having them.

  6. posted by HappyDogs on

    Thinking about clutter….I am reluctant to click on the unidentified link in the article, one never knows. I’m sure you would not purposely link to bad site, but without the title attribute on the href to help me out, it’s hard to know. Just a suggestion….also good for site-limited folks who utilize readers, the reader speaks the title instead of the url. Anyway.

  7. posted by Karla on

    Our family has recently made the choice to live a simpler life. We have realized it has so much to do with attitude. When you wake up in the morning do you start complaining about what you do not have or are you grateful for all of your blessings? Organizing and cleaning out our “stuff” is going to be a long process, but as long as we keep the right attitude I think we will be able to do it.

  8. posted by Erin Doland on

    @HappyDogs — OR you could just hold your mouse over the link without clicking down and look to see what the browser says the link is. In most browsers, the link will appear at the bottom of the window.

  9. posted by Erin Doland on

    @HappyDogs — You’ll see that if you hold your mouse over my name “Erin Doland” that the link http://unclutterer.com/about/ appears at the bottom of the browser window.

  10. posted by HappyDogs on

    Thanks Erin! I did know that, I was just trying to help you out a bit. I am sorry you took it as criticism! It was not meant to be. The title attribute is a Priority 2 checkpoint, but it sounds like you know all about that. (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10-HTML-TECHS/#links)

  11. posted by Shalin on

    Soo true…. Paper or plastic, finish it or leave for tomorrow, blue shirt or green shirt, get up or stay in bed another few minutes, simple or not-simple – not making fun of this entry of Erin’s, but living simply is a choice. I’ve had some trouble with it for a while – realizing I’d be a different person and that I’d be looking forward more than backward. But I’m happy to say I’ve found myself comfortable with going that direction – good things 🙂
    Best,
    Shalin

  12. posted by finallygettingtoeven.com on

    Being a new convert I wish I had discovered this way of life years ago. Oh well, I am here now. Getting rid of all the physical clutter which led to the emotional clutter leaving of its own accord has made these past 2 years the best I have lived in a very long time. I am just at the tip of the iceburg here and I intend to climb all the way to the top and stand triumphantly.

  13. posted by Maggie on

    I think I was born to be an unclutterer. My parents are pack rats and keep EVERYTHING. When my brother and I grew up and moved out, they bought a new, 5-bedroom, 3 car garage house and have completely filled it chock full with STUFF. I can’t stand it. I try to find something in my house every day to throw away or give away, and keep our belongings to a minimum. I really feel that I breathe easier this way! Love your blog – I will be sure to stop by again! 🙂

  14. posted by alwayslovely on

    Erin,
    I agree totally with you.
    I realize I love living simply perhaps due to my laziness to tidy up & do cleaning 🙂
    I start to be more conscious of my spending habits early this year. I don’t live with 100 possessions but I have a simple rule of ‘rid an old item, get a new one’. I seriously choose the necessary items to buy instead of on impulse.
    I enjoy my current lifestyle and this kind of mindset influences my work and travelling too.
    Thanks for your post.

  15. posted by Theresa Finnigin, Ready Aim Organize on

    Great post. So true. I teach clients to say “I didn’t make time” rather than “I don’t have time”. We (all people) need to learn to take responsibility for our time. Choosing how we spend our time is key!

  16. posted by Lulu on

    My family is a bunch of pack rats. I don’t know what it is, but I think it stems from my parents growing up kind of on the poor side, in the post World War 2 (not in the U.S.) era.

    We just had this discussion today – we stock up on food because it’s cheap when it’s on sale. But really, how many cases of Cup O’ Noodles do we need? They go one sale periodically and will we ever be in a situation where we “need” boxes of cup noodles? Or like at work, I (for some reason) bought extra toner cartridges for my printer and now they just sit there. I haven’t changed toner in probably a year (even though I use the printer regularly) and heaven forbid if my printer breaks – it’s an older model and no longer under warranty. All that toner will be wasted.

    I’m trying to change my mentality when it comes to buying stuff – just because it’s discounted doesn’t mean I have to buy it. If I only kind of like it, but would not really use it, what’s the point of getting it? It’d be much better to save the money and buy something that I like and would use, even if it’s slightly more expensive. Now if only I could help my parents change their habits!

  17. posted by Skyler Meine on

    I have always wanted to unclutter my life and get down to the root of what makes me have joy. The challenge for me is I constantly have wants that I think will provide me joy. I clutter my life up to get these wants only to find out that it wasn’t worth all of the cluttering to get it.

  18. posted by livesimp.ly blog - Chris Stroud on

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more that to live simply it starts with the choice to do so.

  19. posted by mildred on

    Alex, why buy books? There are libraries that have all of them. Let them hold the clutter which books actually are.

  20. posted by goodnessbaker on

    I find the most difficult thing is to get everyone in the house to jump on board the unclutter train. I seem to be the only one who finds clutter chaotic.

  21. posted by Healthy way of life lover on

    It is similar to the samurais way of life – “Live as if you are already dead.”

    If you constantly live as you have one hour before your death, you do really main things and do them easy, without any fear or stickness to results. You are totally in the process of what you are doing now.

  22. posted by Jim Abercromby on

    Between freecycle and craigslist as well as ebay I am starting to make a huge dent in uncluttering and streamlining stuff. We are going to sell our house and move into a tiny place.

    Remember the personal is the political.

    IMHO taking the minimalist path is very strong political and social statement that manifests itself through our actions and inactions to lessen our harmful impact within the universe.

  23. posted by Daniel on

    Love the blog, love the philosophy!

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