02 February 2012

Step 2: Simple Living As Men's Trait

A full list of the Simple Living Challenge steps can be found here.

A full list of the Simple Living Challenge steps can be found here. On the 2nd step of the Simple Living Challenge I would like to give credit where it's due. We wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for my husband. Through his patience and gentle encouragement our family set on the simplifying journey about 6 years ago.

My struggle with simplification
Truth be told, I didn't embrace simplification right away. I was coming from a busy European capital, where the outer meant way more than the inner. I was always in a hurry, stressed out, busy and way out of connection with my inner self. Of course I read books about self improvement and thought I was following their advice but that constant hum of the busy city wouldn't leave me alone. It wouldn't let me hear my genuine thoughts.

I had the latest gadget, a wardrobe overflowing with clothes in the latest fashion, I was eating out almost every evening and the two tiny weekend days of relative serenity passed like a short and indistinct clasp. Year after year I thought I was chasing my goals, I thought I was ambitious and lead a purposeful life while at the same time I was just following someone else's dreams.

I am telling you all this with the sole purpose of assuring you that I too haven't always been actively simplifying my life. And I want you to know that wherever you are in life you can start the process. There is no obstacle big enough to stop you and no reason can hold its ground once you decide that simple living is what you aim for.

Simple living as men's trait
Photo: Kanelstrand


Men are happier than women
Since it is my husband who I am able to observe each day, the more I think about it the more persuaded I get that simplifying is a man's business. That is why you rarely hear them talking about it - they just know what pure simplicity is and they flourish in it.

According to research men are happier than women. Do you know why? Because they spend more time doing what they love to do! Why not learn from them! I can feel your rage already and I know you have a whole list of reasons why men can and women can't but hey, we live in a modern world, don't we. Women already can do anything men can. Long gone are the years when women were forced into staying at home and out of schooling or work. Whatever we do now it's because we want it. Yes, I mean it. You are here today as a result of your past thoughts, dreams or nightmares. And as Carl Bard puts it:
Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
You are not obliged to take all responsibilities of the world. In fact, nobody wants that from you. Even without you the world will keep turning around. Only when you realize that, but I mean truly, deeply grasp the knowledge that things will go on the same way even without you - only then you will be free to continue with the Simple Living Challenge. I am serious. We, women need to let go sometimes.

You can do this!
I encourage you to observe the man close to you. It could be your husband, your father, your brother, your father-in-law, you choose. See him in a new light, from the eyes of a stranger and learn from him. There is at least one area of life you can learn to simplify just by watching him. If you are a man, look deep in yourself and find out how women have influenced your performance and attitude to life.

Share your experience: Tell us what you learned from men today. What aspect of men's attitude to life can you adapt with positive results? If you are a man, what can you do to simplify with better results?

See also:
Step 1: Embrace Your Imperfections
Step 3: The Rules of Simple Home Organization
Step 4: Simple Crafting for Happy People
Step 5: Simple Scheduling and Planning Routines
Step 6: Spend More Time With the People You Love 
Step 7: Spend More Time Alone
Step 8: Connect to Your Inner Self 
Step 9: How to De-Stress 
Step 10: Learn to Live With Less and Enjoy it
Step 11: Start a Debt-Free Life
Step 12: How to Overcome Consumerism 
Step 13: Declutter Your Life  
Step 14: Get Rid of Toxic Cosmetics and Reclaim Your Natural Self  
Step 15: Wean Off Plastic  
Step 16: Celebrate Your Story
The Final Step: Gratitude 

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33 comments:

  1. You are so right. My husband sleeps like a baby every single night. Most often he is snoring before I even get to bed. He says he finds it easy to sleep because he just "switches his brain off" - no list making, no worrying about tomorrow. I really need to be more like him!

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    1. Nell, that is soooooo recognizable! My husband puts out his bedlight and before his hand is under the duvet, he's already sound asleep. Eventhough I don't feel like I'm working lists or something, I just don't catch sleep that easily.
      On the other hand... I'm still sound asleep when a storm blows the house away, while he has done an inspection round outside. :)

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    2. Ladies, I so wish we could just mimic what our husbands can do! But while we can't achieve that easily, I've noticed for myself that I can take at least something (even after years) and apply it to my "side of the bed" :)

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  2. My three grown sons are exactly like this. They each have significant others and/or families, and are very productive in their chosen careers, yet they are relaxed and happy. They will take on the task at hand and do it well, but they don't seek perfection in themselves or their accomplishments. (Spending time with them is always enjoyable....something to think about...)

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    1. You must be proud to have raised your sons like that! And isn't it exciting when the time comes to be able to look at them, as grown-up people and simply admire them for what they have become and how they have interpreted your parental efforts?!

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  3. absolutely true. i have observed this in my husband as well, and i admire him for that. it was also partly because of him that i started living simply and doing what i want. he lives simply but always has the most interesting ideas and opinions.

    girls, we can do this!

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    1. Yes! And the ability to accept and learn from what we at first might see as a flaw is character building!

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  4. Very true. I have often observed that my husband is much more content than I as well. I am always wanting something new and pretty. He is happy with what he has. I can learn a lot from him.

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    1. Yes, this is something we women should try and do: be content with what we have and don't count on objects to make us happy :)

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  5. This is a wonderful blog. I made my way here from a link on another blog and am so glad I did.:) I am extremely interested in simple living love reading about it. After reading several of your posts, I think we live in the same town, what a small world. :)

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    1. Thank you for you warm words, Colleen. I am glad to have you here, and I hope you will join the conversation in this backyard party!

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    1. Thank you for disagreeing, Margo! I appreciate the experience you share, it gives me food for thought. Of course, I know that not all men are created equal and I was sure there will be someone with a different experience.

      Do you think that it is possible that you are a perfectionist attracting such kind of men who mostly rely on you because you always strive to do everything perfectly and give attention and care even when YOU need them?

      I have a close relative that sounds much like you. She is an amazing person, who is skilled in almost all fields of life and basically appears to be self-sufficient. The men around here were intelligent and pleasant but never good enough. Her approach to work is pretty much the same - she does everything perfectly, and overtakes responsibilities to the point of turning herself into a physical and psychological wreck.

      Without a man by her side who is willing/allowed to take responsibility, she feels completely alone. Her daughter, who is in her late 20s, well educated and with a good job, living with her cannot help her much. In fact, she seems to be mimicking her mother. So both of them have been running in the same cycle again and again.

      Have all men in your life ever been how you describe them?

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  7. I've learned a lot from my handsome Yankee over the years. And, now I am learning from our son...He's just so relaxed and laid back... takes things as they come...that being said. I LOVE everything about being a woman and the yin/yang of a life lived with two men. I've learned to live with less in the way of material things, appreciate more and I embrace all of my womanhood, even perimenopause which I'm smack dab in the middle of!

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    1. Deb, I couldn't have said it better! It's like you read my mind. Thank you!

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    2. Thank you! I had another thought. I also believe that acceptance of the biological differences between men and women make living with each other much easier. We need to honor the way we are, have a sense of humor along the way and truly appreciate what each of us has to offer in a relationship. We are in our 20th year of marriage and it gets better every year because we have learned to " yield " more often that argue just because we look at things differently. That's a GOOD thing if you CAN let it be.

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    3. PS. Neither of us is happier than the other, but we are happier together because we work at it together! We honor the " we " that we are! That always comes first no matter what! There is no room for selfishness in a good and growing marriage...If there is one thing a couple needs to toss out with the recyclables it's selfishness. Yes, I do more housework, but he does things I don't do so it works.

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  8. Hi! I am new to your blog, but so far I am loving it!

    You are completely correct about men being simplifying naturals. I've been writing about this myself, and I am learning so much from my husband about prioritizing "me" time and doing what I want to do instead of what needs to be done for the household.

    This attitude not only makes for a happier wife, but a more equalized household - before this, I felt like I did all the planning and housework. And it turns out I was because I wouldn't put myself first, haha.

    Thanks for the thoughts!

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    1. Being a bit egoistic sometimes has its positive sides, hasn't it! It is a stereotype I think that women should put themselves last and it makes sense to a point but then... if you don't love yourself, who would?

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  9. I think it's dangerous to generalize that men are happier than women...simpler in their thinking about clutter? May be. But not necessarily happier in life in general. They have their stresses too but do not always share their innermost thoughts on that. Men are wired differently than women in all aspects so how they view 'simple' and 'happy' are not the same as women.

    And do men really do what they want to do always? No. Some men? Probably.

    But one thing for sure. Women have different priorities than men, whether we are raising our kids and staying home or working out side the home....we hate seeing dirty dishes in the sink. Not so much for men. They can watch a game on TV and not flinch if the sink is filled. That's the difference.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, as always.

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    1. You are right, Karen. Generalizing is dangerous and yet there are typical characteristics that are connected to both sexes. Sure, men are from Mars and women are from Venus and that is why there is a lot to learn on both ends.

      I would like to give women a chance to forgive their husbands and possibly see them in a new light. When you erase some of your stereotypes you are able to see things you haven't seen before and you are more positive. What is more, then you are willing to take and learn.

      And exactly because men are wired differently, I think we can adapt some of their traits, which sometimes have to do with simplicity,

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  10. First of all, that is an absolutely gorgeous photo of your husband! As a psychology teacher, I can confirm that men are happier than women. The statistics prove that - but only for a certain type of man - guess which one...

    married men! It's true! So that should make everyone feel better. Life is about relationships. In order to be happy we have to work on our relationship with ourselves (that's what this challenge is about!) and on our relationships with those around us. Married men are not only happier, but they are healthier and live longer than unmarried men. As women, we obviously play an important role there!

    You have touched on the big difference between men and women, Sonya. Men don't have any trouble prioritizing. Women do. I'm convinced it's part of our nurturing genes. We equate a priority with love or importance. "My husband can't be a priority over my children." So everything we do becomes a #1 priority. This leads over time to physical and mental illness (I am unfortunately speaking from personal experience).

    20 or 30 years (or more) of bad habits can be changed. It takes patience and determination and wonderful blog friends and it can be done!

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    1. I am thankful to have a psychologist as a best blogging friend that can pull a statistic or two at the right moment!

      According to the statistics then, it turns out that we fuel each other, right? Men are happier because of us and we should be able to become happier by absorbing, instead of hating and complaining.

      It takes a lot of hard work, and I know that not all men are equal but it is always good to keep an open mind and as you say, to have wonderful blog friends. Then only the sky is the limit!

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  11. This is an interesting take on simplification. My husband is a big city guy, he loves all the little luxuries of life. I myself like to keep things simple, and only need a few things to get by. It drives my husband crazy when he wants to buy me gifts, and I only want books. We have been married almost 24 year and over the years he has learned to enjoy life with a little less and a simple home.
    Valerie
    Everyday Inspired

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    1. Valerie, you are stronger than all of us and we should definitely learn from you if you are the simple one in the family. I hope you will be around to give us your advice :)

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  12. I can definitely see how men could be happier than women, at least in some ways. Like, for instance, women are constantly stressing about how they look, particularly when they begin to age. Is that a new wrinkle? Is my hair going grey? Does this dress make me look fat? It's just an acknowledged fact that women tend to be more worried about their appearance than most men, and I think that could probably take a lot of enjoyment out of life.

    It's great that you've learned from your husband, and it sounds like you've come a long way. Great post!

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  13. Love this post Sonya, I agree. Men address all things in life very directly and simply. There is a lot less drama in how they perceive things that happen. My husband can get into an argument and forget about in 20 minutes. And I mean totally forget about it, no throwing it in my face much later. It is in the past and he has truly moved on. Hmmm...much to learn from them:)

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  14. These comments have been as interesting as the post!

    My husband definitely handles general life stress much better than I do, and I think it's because he's better at prioritizing and (going back to lesson #1) he knows everything can't be perfect. He keeps telling me to just "let things to" so maybe I need to take a little of his advice!

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  15. Oh, I loved reading more about your story and where you've come from... and where you're heading! ;) I love, love that quote and may need to post it somewhere, it's so simple and so true. This week has been an unusually busy one for me and at the end of it I realized that I was so mentally tired I wanted to cry as I crawled into bed last night. This morning I realized why the week had drained me so much ~ I hadn't done anything creative and 'just for myself' all week. I usually maintain a balance and spend some time each and every day doing something just because it brings me joy. This week was a reminder to me to slow down and make time, all the time. :)

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  16. My boyfriend is incredibly optimistic and has an 'everything will be alright' attitude, no matter what the predicament is. When I'm stressing out about something, this drives me up the wall - but I'm not annoyed at him, I'm annoyed that I don't have that attitude. He doesn't lose his temper and he knows how to deal with difficult problems without breaking down. It's something I very much admire and love and I will try to learn to keep calm - and keep things simple!

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    1. Feeling out of control and a victim of consequences makes you so powerless, doesn't it! I have noticed how much keeping calm can change my attitude and the way I feel about myself afterwards. It is great that you have such a boyfriend to learn from!

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  17. i just found your blog through craftgawker, and i'm so glad i did! i've been thinking a lot about simplifying my life and living more in line with my priorities lately, and your 8 steps will be very helpful. i have often found myself frustrated at how my boyfriend falls naturally into a simple life, and yet i, the only one of us consciously trying to live more simply, struggle. eric likes what he likes, and those are the only things he buys. i, on the other hand, seem to like and want a much, much broader range of stuff, and i have a hard time treasuring and/or using up what i have before i move on to something new. thanks for voicing what i've been feeling--it makes me feel much more normal, and it gives me hope that i can steadily improve, even if i don't immediately jump to "eric level" simplicity!

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    1. Welcome, Kelly! There are much more steps coming up in the next weeks than the 8 that have already passed. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I fully relate to what you are saying. The thought that you are the only person going through hard times can be devastating, but here it is that you have the luck to meet us and we are lucky to have you! I hope you will stick around while the Simple Living Challenge continues.

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