A simple life and be happy. That seems to be a good deal. We hear about the simple life but what does that mean? How can it make you happier and how do you get started? We started this journey in 2010 when my son was three. I did need a less hectic life. I wanted to spend quality time with my son and take time to breathe when we did things together. My idea was to give back to the world every day, and boy did I ever get a big surprise. When Nic and I started our first week of giving, I did find life to slow to down. I cleaned out the clutter in my mind and my day to make room for giving and the simple life appeared, just appeared. What I mean by a simple life is a life that is easier to handle, it is pared back, we did less but seemed to do more. Huh? Yup, by planning our daily gives for the week each Monday we felt we had more time. Our daily gives gave us time to breathe, we set aside up to 30 minutes for our daily give (sometimes less) and the day became more manageable. It all seemed like magic at the time, but after researching the benefits of giving every day it all became clear. Giving made us happier and life became easier.
This is how our simple life unfolded. And note, we never intended to live a simple life and be happy. Every Monday Nic and I would plan our giving for the week. We would set out going to the park to pick up garbage, dropping off our recycling, going to the local pet shelter to drop off blankets, shopping for clothes at the local thrift store, making a bird feeder to help the birds. This exercise let us prioritize our time and how we wanted to spend it. Sure we had necessary chores that needed to be done. Grocery shopping, Nic’s music classes, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, visiting grandmas. Sometimes we combined our gives with a chore. When shopping we would pick a new cleaning product that was good for the environment. We added an additional visit with a grandma and took them out for coffee. We made dinner and baked a few muffins for Nic’s music class. We packed our lunch and an extra one to give away to someone living on the street.
We found our focus on daily giving, a priority we made in our lives, let us simplify our life and cut out the stuff that was not important. The simple life did begin and we found ourselves to be happier. Nic loved making the list of daily gives. He loved completing the daily gives. They did not feel like a chore, we knew it was important, and it was. We saw the smiles on the faces of the people who received one of our daily gives. We loved the comments from other park goers who noticed us picking up garbage. Our park time became more important as we cleaned our community and helped the planet.
These are some of the things that changed in our lives as we planned and completed our daily give:
The result was mindblowing. When we focused on our daily give we did feel happier. We were changing the world and feeling great about it. We felt joy when we dropped off muffins, when we chose to donate blankets to the local animal shelter. We felt happy when someone said thank you for opening up the door. We loved leaving gratitude notes on people’s cars. We giggled and laughed and felt happy. I felt satisfied as a mother, my son felt his life meant something bigger than which toy to play with. We felt productive, focused and more productive as we completed one simple give every day.
I never as a mother could have predicted this outcome. I did not know that giving would make us happy, more productive, more focused. I had not idea our life would become simpler by giving every day. But it did. If you read the research on Happiness and Giving you will see how a simple act of giving does change us both emotionally and physically.
So if a simpler, happy life is on your list of your New Year’s resolutions, try giving every day and see what happens. You will be as pleasantly surprised as we were. One small give every day, changes you, the world, one day, one give at a time.
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