Recently I took a ride through Ohio’s Amish Holmes County. I found myself on a dirt road driving by picturesque white clapboard farmhouses with large barns and pastures full of cows. It was a warm spring day and I came upon a family sitting outside around a big table just chatting, kids, adults and, grandparents altogether. They looked happy and content not paying me any mind at all, just simply enjoying the day. In my travels, I stumbled upon an Amish quilt shop that called my name and made me stop. The woman was open to sharing some of her family’s background and told me how her mother started to teach her to quilt when she was five years old. A simple uncomplicated way of life that is always so appealing to me. The older woman and I had a wonderful conversation about how she runs the quilt shop with her daughters, and her husband and sons run their dairy farm.
Again that word, “simplicity” kept creeping back to me…no computers, no cell phones, no electronic stimulation just plain hard work all to glorify the Lord and the needs of her family.
When I think of that day I am reminded of this verse:
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you” and “to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:12).
Even though most of us could never live an Amish lifestyle we can model our lives after some of their basic living guidelines:
- Simplify your life by eliminating the useless clutter that surrounds you. Make your new motto is “less is more.”
- Learn to say no. It’s one of the simplest words in the dictionary, but the hardest word to say. I can’t stress enough how important learning to say no is. Prioritizing what’s important and saying no to the rest is the only way to keep an otherwise crazy life in check.
- Be more giving. Do you seem to never have enough time to give the one thing you love to give the most – your time? Learn to step back and slow down and give more time to others.
- Good old-fashion hard work– There’s nothing more satisfying than a few hours of hard work. Trade those fancy gadgets in and use your hands. Wash dishes, knead bread or even rake your yard by hand. Anything you can do the old-fashion way will connect you to a simpler time.
- Connect with nature – Dig your hands in the soil as much as you can and connect with the earth by feeding the birds, plant a garden, and just stand in awe of the changing seasons.
- Choose quiet – Often the noise and stress we allow in our lives come from the constant stimulation of our brain. The sound of the television or the beat of the radio all adds clutter to your world and is the one thing you have complete control over.
You don’t need to be Amish to simplify your life, you just need the desire to slow down and enjoy a life that is uncomplicated. Use the tips above to start adding some direction to your life, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is once you get started.
Photo by Jim Fisher