Essential Living

Up until about 100-150 years ago, people worked every day just to put food on table, make their own clothes, and build their own houses. Survival included the basics like food, clothing, and shelter. You didn’t go to the store to buy things like bread and butter. You grew the wheat, ground it up, and made the bread yourself. If you were lucky, you had a cow that you milked in the early morning hours, then churned the milk into butter.

All day the chores focused on survival and providing the essentials for living. Life was hard, but simple.

Today, we go to the grocery store and in about an hour, we can purchase everything we need to eat for the week. We buy clothes when we need them and we either purchase or rent a home. We work less hours than our farming ancestors because we don’t toil from dawn to dusk. We have a little more time.

We have time for vacations. We have time for video games and social media. We have time to chat with friends all day and take selfies. We watch Netflix for days at a time, a new activity called binge-watching. So even though life is less hard, it is not simple because all that extra time has been filled with “stuff.”

Life can be simple, but it doesn’t have to be hard and complicated. But we make it difficult by filling every second of our time, doing activities that are not essential for living a really, good life. A lot of the time, we think we are busy because someone or something is constantly demanding our time. Our phones are proof of that.

What if you stopped everything?

Our family moved to California about fifteen years ago. The best part of that move was that my calendar was blank for about three months. I had no appointments, no social life, no events, no time commitments. It was the best feeling because it felt like I was on vacation for a little while, but I knew it wouldn’t last.

I learned a valuable lesson though. I became very protective of my time. I was careful when I made commitments. I was trying to prolong the inevitable full calendar. I decided that I did not want to be as busy as I was. I wanted to slow down and use my time more wisely. The only way to do that was to figure out what I absolutely needed in my life, the essentials.

What are my essentials for living a good life?

Food, clothing, and shelter are the only things people had time to think about a long time ago. Today, those things are still essential, but they are readily available which allows us the opportunity to enhance our lifestyle. We can think about pleasure, happiness, and joy.

Each person’s essentials are different. For me, quiet time in nature, reading a good book, journaling my thoughts, or creating a piece of art are some of my essentials. These activities aren’t costly, they just make me happy. They have become essential to me because without art, for example, I sort of dry up inside. The important thing is to figure out what are the essential things that make your life what you want it to be.

How can I use this knowledge to change my life?

You can improve your life simply by changing the way you spend your time. Prioritize the things that are essential for your life to feel good. Add them to your calendar. Guard the time you set aside for yourself. You are in charge of how you spend your time.

Life does get busy just because that is life, but it doesn’t have to be hard and complicated. Simplify yours. Clear your calendar. Start fresh and add your essentials first. The rest will fall into place.


This image was taken by Blessing Ri and can be found on Unsplash here: