Developing Graceful Simplicity

By on 04/08/2014

It is not having what you want; it’s wanting what you’ve got.”

-Sheryl Crow in “Soak Up the Sun”


A couple of years ago, this was me: unstable, volatile, impulsive, unplanned, unpredictable, inconsistent, exhausted, chaotic, misaligned and muddled. These are just ‘few’ of the words that come to me when I think of my old self and my spending habits then. I’d walk into Boots to buy my favorite shower gel and would come out with $70 worth of things I probably didn’t need. These included the latest oils, newest shades of lip gloss, some items that are on an introductory offer, dental care products, almost everything that I probably already had at home or something that I did not need. Let’s not even get started about my mindless spending habits when I entered the cosmetic or beauty section at Debenhams or Harvey Nicholas.

Shopping was the best stress buster I had and I could almost always justify in everything I purchased. With over 20 plus perfumes standing on my dresser, I could still justify why I wanted to invest in Escada or Dior’s latest scents. Well, the most commonly used justification I made to myself was that it made me feel gorgeous, so why not.

Now that I think of those mindless and meaningless purchases, I feel they were filling me with anxiousness, worry and regret (later of course) and this is probably not how I or for that matter anyone would describe beautiful or gorgeous. So how do you really break this compulsion or habit of mindless spending?

I was forced to change myself when I met this Italian lady who looked as if she had just stepped out of the covers of Vogue at a coffee shop in Venice. Out of the blue, we began to start talking and met a couple of times before I left the city.

money-down-plughole-hECtIn between our short chats, she made a statement that I’d probably never forget and which has been a ruling mantra in my life now, “a lady does not require a wardrobe packed with clothes and accessories to look stunning and all she really requires is the power of imagination”. She truly stressed on the words ‘minimal, ‘graceful’ and ‘simple’ and yes she did live a minimalist lifestyle which was truly simple, yet graceful.

Our meetings and chats are probably the fondest memory I have of the city and I left the city all strong-minded to master the art and knack of graceful simplicity. While the new lifestyle hymn is going to take a while to master, but am trying… and trying hard.

In fact, every time I get rid of something I don’t think I need or like, I feel the happiness of losing a pound or so. Seriously, it sounds insane but it’s true!!! The happiness I get from losing things I once valued (or thought I valued) and don’t anymore is just so fulfilling and gratifying.

Find out some other practical and easy-to-follow guidelines to develop graceful simplicity in your daily lifestyle:

Tip No. 1: Analyzing Weekly Spending: Jot down everything you buy in a week and sit down with the list at the end of the week and ponder over it. There could be something that you probably didn’t need or something you regret buying now? If it’s not really a necessity, think over and think deeper into why you purchased it. Awareness leads to graceful simplicity.

Tip No. 2: Have a Do-Not-Spend Day: You have 7 days to choose from. Select one day and decide not to spend anything on that day. Instead, spend the day with friends and family or do something for yourself, a lazy day on the couch, a refreshing swim, a good read or some meditation. Your body will thank you.

Tip No. 3: Bring into Line the Value of your Spending: I value appetizing food made with quality ingredientsgovernmentwastingmoney and learning new things. So I know that eating at a nice restaurant or spending big on my grocery shopping or taking a cooking class is aligned with my personal spending values. If you have to, ask yourself the ‘this or that’ question. Do you want to spend on that little yellow dress you have been eyeing or on a relaxing massage at a luxury spa? While it’s not an easy task, there are times when it is essential.

Tip No. 4: Utilize the 6 Month Rule: If you haven’t worn it or used it in 6 months, throw it or give it away. You need to get rid of all the things you probably haven’t worn or used in the last few months. Chances are if you’ve not used it until now, you probably will never.

Tip No. 5: Formulate a Shopping List: Always! And hold all your inner rages of getting side tracked from the list formulated. When you go out grocery shopping or even clothes shopping, have a list ready and stick to it. Just don’t look anywhere else.

Tip No. 6: Follow the 24-Hour Rule: If you are still thinking about something after 24 hours, give yourself the acquiescence to purchase it. I hold this rule especially for big purchases. This ensures elimination of spur-of-the-moment buying.

Tip No. 7: Get Back to the Old Days: Don’t get me wrong here. I love technology. I love Apple and I love all the mind blowing gadgets and devices hovering in market stores at the moment. However, there are times when I like how things were done when we were young. For example, there are times I like writing a letter on handmade paper rather than emailing, or reading a book with real pages that I can flip rather than an eBook read or maybe simply using a whisk to mix the cake batter rather than an electric beater. I think it’s about infusing a little bit of old into new and bringing a balance between the two.

Tip No. 8: Aim to Impress Yourself, Not Your Neighbors: Pride can drain your financial budgets and destroy your relationship with yourself. Stop impressing yourself with material possessions and just enjoy what you really have. You don’t have to have everything that the person next door or your colleague at work owns. Don’t aim to impress people around you. The only person you really need to impress is yourself and you’ll be proud about spending money on things you cherish, enjoy and like rather than on things people around you like and own.

Tip No. 9: Be Grateful: The art of graceful simplicity requires you to be happy with what you have. It minimizes the desire to run after things that you probably don’t need or require or will regret after buying. The art can really only be mastered by appreciating all that you already have.

We’d like to hear how you think. Have you mastered the art of graceful simplicity or do you still struggle with it? Do you have other guidelines or tips for graceful spending? Please tell us in the comments section below.

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