Life’s Simple Pleasures

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Last week I washed two cars and cleaned my house.

These are things I haven’t done in years. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a housekeeper and I’ve taken my cars to the car wash. My time was too valuable to spend doing these menial tasks. My time was better spent building my business. I would be more successful if I paid others to do this work, and spent my time focusing on my areas of expertise.

Or so I had been taught by mentor after mentor.

As a result, the focus of my life became all about spending my time in ways that would help me become more successful. Don’t watch TV when you can read books or study information products to broaden your expertise and grow (never mind if you enjoy a little TV for entertainment or fun). Don’t spend time doing things that don’t require your expertise; pay others to do those things (never mind if you enjoy doing them, can’t afford to hire someone to do them, or you’re just good at them).

I can tell you it’s easy to buy into that mentality, but in the end it can result in an unbalanced, one-sided life. And for many entrepreneurs, it also results in burnout and an unprofitable business.

As I walk this breaking the spell journey, I am stepping out of this mentality more and more everyday. I do things that are fun just because I want to and don’t worry about them being “a waste of my valuable time.” I have stopped listening to what all the “experts” tell me I “should” be doing and am just doing what I choose to do.

And that brings me back to washing cars and cleaning house.

Last week I washed one of our cars we were hoping to sell, because I had a buyer coming over and didn’t have time to go to the car wash. I washed my car because it was a beautiful day and I had the time to do it. And, I let my housekeeper go as part of my ongoing effort to simplify my life and cut expenses.

Every time I’m able to cut an expense, I feel freer.

It’s less overhead. Fewer things to think about, schedule, make time for, and work to support. I feel unencumbered. Freer to do whatever I feel like doing with my life vs. spending every day working my butt off trying to make more money to pay for all of it. I’m creating a lower maintenance life and finding a lot of benefits in that.

One of the greatest benefits I’ve discovered is there’s satisfaction in taking care of things.

It is quite satisfying taking care of the material possessions we accumulate in our lives–like our homes and our cars. I think we value and appreciate them more when we take the time to care for them. It’s very different from paying someone else to do it. There’s a detachment that results when you do that.

There’s an energy shift that takes place when you appreciate what you have.

And what better way to truly appreciate something than to care for it?  Otherwise, it’s too easy for your focus to shift to acquiring more things, whether it’s greater business success, more clients, a bigger house, or even a new car. You get the thing, and you move on. However, when you take care of the thing, you don’t move on, you appreciate it over and over and over again. Can that appreciation be found in using the thing? Perhaps. But in my experience, it’s not the same.

And THAT was the epiphany I had while cleaning my house!

Now that I’m simplifying, I’m also taking back many of these hired-out tasks. And, it feels good. Even if I don’t enjoy scrubbing toilets, it makes me feel more connected to my home. As I washed my car I felt like I got to know every inch of it better. And in both cases my appreciation and gratitude for these material possessions increased. I’m also teaching my son how to clean so he can maintain his area of the house, and I have to say I was blown away by his first efforts. And I have to think he felt good about it too. Plus, it’s good to know he’s learning skills he can carry forward when he moves out.

As I do my own bookkeeping I have a much closer tab on my business finances. I’m paying closer attention to what’s coming in and what’s going out, rather than just looking at the bottom line. As a result, I’ve been able to cut unnecessary expenses without feeling any impact at all.

Is doing these tasks a good use of my time?

Most success coaches and mentors would say no. But I’m not so sure. I have to think that if more people were focused on appreciating and taking care of what they do have, they might be less likely to feel they always need more. The joy and satisfaction found in simple tasks can contribute to a happy life, one that can be more fulfilling than a life spent constantly chasing more money, success, and experiences. Because in that life there is no end. There’s always more to be sought.

Will I continue to do these tasks forever?

I honestly don’t know. Maybe their novelty will wear off over time. I may become busier and find I don’t have the time to do it all anymore. But for now it feels good. And I’m not going to let anyone tell me I shouldn’t be doing them. It’s right for me, and ultimately I think that’s what breaking the spell is all about. Listening to our own inner voice. Doing what works for us. Finding ways to appreciate what have. Instead of letting others tell us how we ought to live our lives.

Your thoughts?

Please post a comment and share. Let’s start a conversation.

About Debbie

Debbie is an author, blogger, online teacher, business owner, and mid-lifer. She's writes on a wide range of topics, from marketing, money and success, to finding meaning at midlife. If it's on her mind, you'll find her writing about it!

7 comments on “Life’s Simple Pleasures

  1. Debbie, I love this post.

    The piece that really resonates with me is the whole question of:

    Do I love to do it? Even if it’s not the best use of my time from a success guru’s standpoint, if it gives me peace and simple joy, that’s a pretty big payoff.

    I’ve been exploring this territory for myself recently, the ACTION around loving something. Here’s what I think: the way that you demonstrate you love something is to take beautiful care of it. Even as I consider going the other direction, and hiring out the heavy lifting in my cleaning chores, I will hold on to the pieces of it that I love doing. Doing those puts me deeply in touch with how much I love my home. Deeply into my appreciation and gratitude. And that, of course, is where the magic is. Always.

    Thank you for a really wonderful conversation here.

  2. I love this post because one of my favorite things to do is to wipe down my car after a rain –
    I figure I’m saving money on a carwash, no soap – just using Mother Nature’s water supply, and getting the satisfaction of instant results – a clean car! The break in the action from work and my computer is a wonderful stress reliever and I feel I’ve really accomplished something while getting some fresh air. It doesn’t hurt that when I drive to my next event, it will be in a clean car!
    Thanks for the post, Debbie!

  3. Thank you all for chiming in!

    Scout, I do believe it is about doing what you enjoy and ALSO doing what works for you. There is no one right way to live your life or run your business. It really should be about deciding what “fits” you and your family best.

    Roz, I love taking a break mid work day and getting outside, too. Especially when you work for yourself, it’s too easy to NEVER take a break because there’s always something to do. And that’s not healthy. I love that you use Mother Nature’s water supply to wash your car and also use it as an opportunity to “refresh” yourself!

  4. Debbie, it seems from the responses you are getting you are on the right track.
    I so love this articlel, becuase its also the way I live too. When we do things
    for ourselves our energy goes into them. not the energy of the housekeeper,
    your personal assistant or whoever, its OUR own energy that counts.
    I bet your family are appreciating YOU more NOW!!
    Warmly Margaret, your harmonising energy coach.

  5. What a great post.! Again! I really appreciate how you critically analyze those ‘truths’ that we tend to believe without questioning them when they are repeated enough times…
    And I agree that the notion of taking care of is actually an act of love and appreciation whether it is to living breathing creatures or material stuff.
    For my own part I have been pondering on the hiring of cleaning-help vs doing it myself but I´m not actually in a situation moneywise where I can choose. Which really leads me to want the help even more…
    However the funny thing about cleaning is that it is actually one of the core issues of Feng Shui :-)

    Warm greetings from
    Carina in Finland (the land of the Angry Birds :-)

  6. Debbie,
    Excellent post. I think the most important thing is to not take the advice of “experts” just because we think they are “experts”. So many people are so busy working on their success that they do not take time to experience life. If we enjoy doing a task than we should not give it up just because the experts tell us that our time should be spent more constructively. I also agree that to pay to have things done when we do not have the finances to pay for them is not good advice. I have too often heard “spend and the money will appear”. This can put undue stress on us to create enough income to pay for spending more than we can afford and usually results in our lives being out of balance.

    I am blessed to live in a place (Montana) where most people who choose to live here place more importance on living in the slow lane – living a simpler life.

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