In all my conversations with others, I’ve never heard anyone say “You know, I wish my life wasn’t so simple. I wish maintaining an organized home wasn’t so simple. I just have too much joy and ease.”
We all want a sense of simplicity and ease in our lives. Sometimes, we wish we could just ‘go back’ to times when things were simpler. We want freedom from all the stuff, from the pull of technology, from the constant onslaught of messages telling us who we should be and what we should buy.
This desire we have for simplicity – for freedom, really – is no secret. Companies know all about this fundamental desire we have, and they target it by creating products and services that promise to make our lives easier, quickly. They promise convenience.
Convenience caters to our primitive brain, which is motivated by three things: to avoid pain, seek pleasure, and conserve energy by doing the easiest thing possible. The primitive brain is the part of the brain that makes ‘in-the-moment’ decisions.
When we haven’t become clear on what is most important to us and planned our decisions ahead of time by using our higher brain (prefrontal cortex), we live our lives directed by our primitive brain. And when we are directed by our primitive brain, we will always be biased to choose the most convenient option. Convenience is all about little effort or difficulty, and the primitive brain is 100% on board.
But here’s the thing: convenience – which we are sold – and simplicity – which is what we really want – are not the same thing.
I like to think of convenience as a cheap knock-off of simplicity.
Simplicity is plain, clear, uncomplicated and free from secondary complications. Simplicity is not always quick and easy and flashy, but it doesn’t have strings attached. Achieving simplicity may require a little effort right now, but makes your life easier and lighter and less complicated in the future.
Convenience, while quick and easy and attractive, almost always has strings attached.
Convenience postpones effort and discomfort to a time when your future self will have to deal with it. Listen up: when you choose convenience now you choose to make things more difficult for yourself in the future. This is why, despite all the convenience that surrounds us, our lives feel more complicated and frazzled and unorganized than ever.
Especially when it comes to our homes, opting for convenience can make our lives more complicated.
Sure, it’s convenient to rent a storage unit or throw things in the basement and attic and behind closed doors. It might give our primitive brains a little hit of dopamine right now to just hide all the stuff, but ultimately, we are postponing the problem and requiring our future self to deal with it.
And yes, it may be convenient to leave small appliances, toothbrushes, makeup, and paperwork out on the counter, but the visual clutter these items create actually steals time and energy from us every time we see them and work around them. By choosing convenience now (just putting things down, instead of away), we create problems later.
There are countless ways we choose convenience over simplicity every day, and each time we do, we make a small deposit in our ‘Problems to Deal with Later’ account.
Fortunately, you don’t have to keep investing in our future problems. The only reason you choose convenience is because you aren’t clear on what is even more important to you.
Is it connection? Contribution? Purpose? Freedom? Peace-of-mind?
When you are able to identify what you value more than convenience, you can take the first steps towards truly simplifying not only your home, but your entire life.
As soon as you identify what is most important to you, you can identify what isn’t.
Armed with the knowledge of what you value most and what isn’t important to you, you immediately invite simplicity into your home and life. Whether you’re making decisions to let go of things or buy new things, the decision is simple. Choices are either aligned with what is most important to you or aligned with what’s important to your primitive brain (seek pleasure, avoid pain, do easy things) and you can decide to serve you, not your primitive brain.
As you make choices that are aligned with your values, your home transforms into an edited sanctuary of items you value and which serve you, instead of a storage unit of stuff your primitive brain wanted in-the-moment.
So, it’s simple, my friends: The first step to a simpler home isn’t decluttering. The first step isn’t buying a bunch of totes and bins. The first step is simply identifying what is most important to you life, even more important than convenience.
Looking for guidance and a step-by-step process for simplifying your home and inviting more joy and ease into your life? Sign up for a free mini-session with me.