Friends at the lake

I love looking through old photographs. They carry such wonderful stories and memories. It’s ironic, I think, that the faded colors of old photographs often speak of a life that seemed much more colorful than it is today. Maybe it’s just me, but there is something so sweet about the “olden days”—the days when our grandmothers grew up. Photos from that time beckon me back and create a desire within me for a simpler life.

Life today is different than it was back then. Everything has become faster, bigger, and flashier. But does that mean it has also become better? Perhaps in our quest for advancement, we have let go of some of the key qualities of life that make it so sweet. Maybe Grandma’s stories are true and life really was much more full and lighthearted back in the day.

If we could, many of us would travel back into those old photographs and embrace that time when life seemed simpler. But since going back is not an option, here are some ideas to help you find your own simpler (and yet much fuller) life in the here and now:

1. Start a garden. Plant some wildflowers or herbs, even if it’s only in a clay pot inside. The fragrance they omit and the care spent growing them will bring a sense of peace and purpose to your soul and help your own roots grow and find nourishment in the midst of this fast-paced life.

2. Cook from scratch. Not only does it taste better to make your own food, but it’s also healthier and much more rewarding to eat. You’ll find yourself savoring each bite instead of  scarfing it all down like we all-too-often do with the rest of life.

3. Walk. In my humble opinion, people were not made for flying at 70 miles an hour down interstates. Now obviously, we cannot all just get up and walk everywhere (and I especially don’t recommend walking on the interstate), but there is nothing more refreshing than taking a stroll around the neighborhood at dusk after a good home-cooked meal, or starting your day off with a sunrise stroll through the park. Try walking more often and see if it doesn’t boost your spirits and enhance your appreciation for the little things in life.

4. Turn it off. Technology is undoubtedly a helpful invention. Many of us need it for work, banking, communicating and especially for school. However, like all good things, too much can be bad. Something is wrong when we are more present in cyberspace than we are in the living room with the flesh and blood family surrounding us. So step away from the computer, turn off your phone, pull out your earphones, and silence the television every now and then. Instead, enjoy the gratification of writing with pen and paper, hearing the sounds of real life all around you, and having face-to-face conversations with beautiful souls.

5. Cut the clutter. We have too much stuff. It not only crowds our living spaces, but also creates less room in our hearts and minds. It tends to clog the tubes where our creative juices flow, and it cause stress in our lives. Seriously, ladies, who needs 50 pairs of shoes? We have been tricked into believing that possessing more stuff is equal to possessing more joy and success in life, but the reality is that less is more—the less we have, the richer our lives can be.

This is just the beginning of a long list of things that we can do to simplify life. But when it comes down to it, it is not about the list of things we can “do”—that’s what got us into this busy mindset in the first place. It’s about pausing and just being. Be still. Be thoughtful. Be present. There may be a few more skyscrapers blotting the horizon now than there were back in the day, but it is not too late for us to return to our roots and live a little more simply like Grandma did.


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