Maybe the question should be, “What is your biggest challenge when it comes to simplifying your life?”
For the first 24 years of my life I lived that simple lifestyle without any extra effort. Email me your challenge and I will make it my personal challenge to find a way to simply it for you by comparing what was second nature to me when I was still Amish. If I cannot come up with anything I will provide a very detailed reason as to why I cannot help you. I have lived in both cultures and I see what the difference is very clearly.
In the last 16 years that I have not lived the Amish lifestyle I had some very hectic months and then I go back to implementing some very simple things to stay grounded and stop rushing so much.
Everyday was very important to us and we never wasted a whole day away by lying around doing nothing. God had given us the day and I was taught that it was only right to make it a good day. On Sunday’s when we did not have church (the Amish only have church every two weeks) we did not work but the day of leisure was used to read the Bible, write letters, play games, or visit friends or relatives.
To begin with I am going to provide you with the top 5 ways to simplify your life as follows:
Your Mind Needs a Rest Once in a While.
I did not have TV or radio to occupy my mind. My brain had to work to occupy the quiet moments in my life. Today if I don’t create some quiet time for myself my mind gets very tired of all the information it receives. I find my quiet time to be very rewarding for me. When I am driving in my car I turn off the radio or when I am home alone I turn off the TV. Create a party with just you and your mind, you might be surprised what you can come up with or how you will feel. It is a form of meditation.
Create Structure in Your Daily Life.
Our life was very structured. Example: We always gathered at the table for 3 meals a day. Now today even that gives me a challenge because my husband and I do work, but maybe you can make it a goal for every evening or so many days or times a week. My parents never swayed from that schedule so I grew up knowing only that and expected it. Children like structure in the home.
3. Self Discipline
Don’t Sway from Your True Values.
My parents had many challenges to raise 10 children. My siblings and I came up with many ideas on how to modernize certain tasks/chores but my parents had the self discipline to keep it simple. I was taught to never be proud of anything or anybody. The only time I would consider the pride showing in the Amish communities is when tradition is passed down to the next generation. That was very important to my parents and any Amish person. When I asked why our buggies had to be black the answer was; because that is how our parents taught us. Honor your father and mother was #1. Have enough self discipline to stay within your true values.
4. Volunteer Work
A true feeling of Satisfaction.
Through the media we all know that the Amish take care of their own. If someone needed help we dropped all our own work and showed up to help. I will never forget the help we received when our house burnt down and during the rebuilding process. All this was done without any compensation. It is never easy when you loose everything you own by fire but that tragedy taught me the real value of “help one another”. The Amish do not depend on insurance but are self insured by helping each other out when needed. Many days I was sent to a fellow member’s home to help out a new mother without expecting to be paid. The feeling of satisfaction is definitely worth it.
5. Family Values
It is The Only Family You Will Ever Have.
My parents do not agree with my lifestyle that I have today and that is sad. However, I don’t have any hard feelings towards them because I understand why they cannot agree. I love them very much because they are the only parents I will ever have. I learned to love and respect my family because they taught me the importance of it. Spend more time with family and the children will learn family values. Once learned they will never forget.
Anna Dee Olson is the author of a book called: “Growing Up Amish: Insider Secrets from One Woman’s Inspirational Journey”