Simple Living: Building Intentional Habits
Our day to day lives are built on the habits we, subconsciously or consciously, create. Our habits influence the routines our lives flow in. And that can either make us or break us.
I’m currently processing through an unexpected turn of events. It is easy when faced with something unplanned to just throw caution to the wind and stop caring, to lean into unhealthy habits. I realize, in this pursuit of simple living, I can’t afford to do that. Simple living is a lifestyle change and with any lifestyle change, my habits matter. And, that’s where I find myself right now. Asking all the questions:
What are my habits?
Do they create space for a slow and simple life or a more distracted life?
What habits can I create that lend to a more slow and simple life?
What small changes can I make daily that encourage a more simple and slow life?
For me, whenever I’m motivated or inspired by something, I get into this zone of “now or never”. I bite off more than I can chew and do all the drastic things to become what I’ve been motivated or inspired to become. Take this pursuit of living more simply and slowly. I’ve been on this journey for roughly 3 years, but, I would say in this third year, I feel a deeper conviction to pursue this. And with this conviction comes great zeal, however, I wrestle with doing all the big drastic things in pursuit of this simple lifestyle, yet skip over the smallest things. And, whenever this happens, it all falls flat.
Why? Because there’s no foundation.
Which brings me here. Here with these questions. Here with this perspective:
I can do all the big and drastic things, but if the habits of my life don’t reflect this lifestyle change I’m in pursuit of, there’s no foundation on which I can build.
Oof. Taking a moment to let that sink in.
Our habits build our foundation. Whatever we are pursuing, be that a dream or lifestyle change, our habits matter. So, how do we do this? How do we build intentional habits?
Start small and build slowly.
Changing habits and leaning into new routines and rhythms does not happen overnight. This is the space and time to extend extra grace to yourself and take small bites versus huge mouthfuls.
reflect and check.
This is where I am right now. For me, it’s been important to pause, reflect, and check myself; taking time to reflect and mentally go through my day assessing the things I do without thinking. This helps me gauge whether it’s something that’s sustaining what I’m pursuing or taking away from it.
Easily, a habit I have that does not lend to my pursuit of simple and slow living is the mindless Instagram scroll. I can easily spend 10 – 30 minutes just scrolling through my Instagram feed, watching IG Stories, looking up celebrities and stalking their feeds (because we all do it---don’t fake). Every time I do it, mid-way I stop and think, “well there goes 20 minutes I’ll never get back”.
It’s something I do without thinking. Waiting in line? Scroll through Instagram. Waiting for my gas tank to fill up. Scroll through Instagram. On the phone with a friend and the convo stalls? Scroll through Instagram. It’s impulsive and honestly not something I’m crazy about continuing.
That’s just one example and I know the more I lean into this process, I’ll be able to spot the habits I wanna break that aren’t sustaining my pursuit.
Thirdly, after identifying unhealthy habits, I think the next step would be to begin the process of breaking those habits and introducing new ones. They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit and I have no clue how long it takes to break an unhealthy habit. Either way, I think the next step is to think of what habits we want to create that sustain whatever we are pursuing. To do that, we gotta go back to our why; remembering what we are building and trying to sustain.
For me, I’m pursuing a more simple and slow life because I have found a life built on following the hype, keeping up with trends, and rushing through moments unfulfilling. We weren’t meant to be rushed; to live at neck-breaking speed; overwhelmed, overtired, and unfulfilled. More than anything, I want to live a life that shows up in the valley, finds joy in the mundane, is intentional with creating, community, and sustaining in all areas (emotionally, spiritually, physically, mentally). And, I believe living simply and slowly makes room for that. It helps one to see what matters and protect it.
Lastly, we go back to the beginning:
Start small and build slowly.
Think of little changes you can make each day and repeat those things. It is not enough to just identify what needs to go and working on releasing it. You gotta put something in its place—something better, healthier.
I’m still learning. I don’t have this figured out. Some days---even weeks I get caught up in the rushing and doing, forgetting the power of stillness and being. It happens. And when it does, I remind myself that this isn’t a race, but a marathon. I’m not following a trend, I’m changing a lifestyle and that takes time. The results are not instantaneous, but show themselves over time.
So, here’s to extending extra grace, celebrating the successful moments, and diving deeper into the journey.
How about you? How do you go about breaking habits and starting new ones? What are some healthy habits you’ve incorporated in your daily life?
Photos courtesy of Michelle Dant