Part of living a Simple Life is flexibility. Life is hard enough. Make it easier. Learn to be flexible!

There are times in our lives when our things to do list is long. It seems as if it could wrap around our house and extend down the driveway, with a few feet left over. We get overwhelmed and become a bit obsessive about accomplishing all the things on the list. It can drive us crazy.

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Do you want some relief from the pressure? Then here it is. You now have permission to go play. Yep. You heard me correctly. Go have fun with a friend, take an Afternoon Tea break, or just relax and enjoy life for a few moments. It’s a great way to learn to be flexible with your life, your time, and your health.

You didn’t expect that, did you? But the truth is, inflexible behavior can lead to other problems. Another way to define it is to be rigid, close-minded, resistant to other ideas and methods, and controlling.

Being Inflexible Can Be Harmful

graphic image of a heart created with squares exploding

Inflexibility. Rigid. Strict. Uncompromising. Call it what you will. But being inflexible can lead to negative behavior. Massive meltdowns. Emotional explosions. This type of behavior can quickly lead to stress and depression. You will start to feel as if you have lost your last thread of control.

Negative emotions such as these can lead to physical health issues, as well as affect those around us. And none of us wants that. Think of these as Emotional Muscle Cramps. You are gripping so tight your muscles are screaming in pain.

The truth is, we all lose our grip on control from time to time.  And it isn’t just on trying to get things done. Instead, learn to be flexible. You may just get more done and enjoy yourself in the process!

Learn to be Flexible with your To Do List

graphic image of a list of things to do with two crossed out and 'Lunch with Jane' penciled in

It is a rare day when we find ourselves with absolutely nothing to do. On occasion, we may wake up to discover our calendar is free and clear. Dishes were washed the night before; the house is clean. The weekend was dedicated to getting the yard in tiptop shape, and there isn’t a weed to be found in the garden. Since we are so caught up, we just decide to have a play day.

Sounds like a dream day, doesn’t it? In truth, we will probably always have a To Do List. Some days may be lighter. Others may feel as if it is so long, we’ll never get everything done. But we still tackle them.

Some items can be done in a matter of minutes. Some may be easier than others. And some may not be completed due to valid reasons. Things happen that are outside of our control. We don’t have all the supplies or equipment to make it happen. Or we may need another set of hands.

When that happens, it may be time to just move on to the next thing on your list. In many cases, it really is okay to let a project slide for a day or two. But by completing other things on your list, you will still feel a sense of accomplishment.

And NEVER think you can’t just set that To Do list down and go have fun. Yes, we do have to be responsible and work on the items on the list. But don’t feel guilty when you occasionally just need a break.

Go play outside. Take the kids (or just yourself) to the park. Have coffee with a friend. Read a book. Just find something to do that you enjoy.

I promise. That list will still be sitting there where you left it!

Learn to Be Flexible with Your Schedule

sheep grazing in a pasture

I am not sure I have ever had a full week in my life that has gone as scheduled. At least once in that seven-day period, something came up that changed my plans. Most likely, it was something simple. A phone call while I was deep within the creative flow. A neighbor stopping by with a question and end up staying for a visit.

Or, it could have been something a bit more drastic. Like when the washing machine overflowed. That blew a whole day’s worth of plans. Occasionally, one of our elderly parents would have a medical emergency. Or the cows would decide to make a jail break, or the neighbor’s sheep decided to stop in for a visit. Not only did we have to herd them back, but also fix the fence.

large tree covered in snow in a snow-covered pasture

Things happen that are outside our control. We can’t dictate the weather, an illness or a water pipe breaking. That is one of the reasons living a Simple Life strongly suggests keeping your calendar from being over scheduled.

It allows you to have more flexibility during the day. Knowing you can stop what you are doing to attend to something else gives you a sense of freedom. With that freedom comes a different type of control. Instead of allowing external ‘things’ dictate what will and won’t be done, YOU get to be the one in control of your life.

It also gives you time to relax. Having time during the day to just sit down and rest can help you improve your mind, attitude, and strength.

Learn to Be Flexible with your Finances

a wallet with bills peeking out, a yellow sticky note that says 'spend wisely'

Dealing with finances can seem like a treacherous balancing act somedays. There are times when it’s a walk in the park. The path is a smooth paved walkway. Other times you feel as if you have joined the circus and are on a tightrope. Barefoot. Without a safety net.

It doesn’t have to be that way. For the most part, simply gaining control of your finances will be enough. By doing so, you know how much you have coming in and going out. In order to save more, you more than likely have reduced your spending on things that are unnecessary. You may also be working on building your savings.

The flexibility question comes into play when you consider spending any amount left over. Many of us are afraid to spend a little on ourselves, for something that only serves as sheer pleasure. Our thoughts are, if we spend it, will we regret it later? The key is to simply spend wisely.

We know a trip to Paris, France, will break the bank. But you may be able to afford having lunch with a friend at that new Paris-style Bistro that just opened up.

Learn to be flexible with your spending. It is absolutely okay to spend money on yourself. You are even allowed to purchase a small treat for others.

But for the most part, we don’t flinch at spending $5 or $10.

Instead, we cringe when we want or need to spend money on what I call ‘big ticket’ items. This can be anything from an appliance, a semester in college, or ‘investing’ in your lifestyle.

Most of us define ‘investment’ as a 401K, stocks, bonds, or even other interest-bearing accounts. But there is another way to invest. By purchasing the things you need to improve or ‘grow’ in your Simple Life, passions, or to realize your dreams.

For instance, one goal in living a Simple Life is to grow and preserve as much of your own food as possible. There is a good possibility we may be heading into another Recession. If so, investing in items that are related to food production is a smart way to spend your money. Think:

wooden garden tray filled with seedlings in Styrofoam cups and a green plastic watering can

Just these items alone can get you started and well on your way to growing and preserving as much of your own food as possible. The return on your investment comes in a reduction of your grocery bill, healthy food to feed your family, and exercise. You also get the added benefits of a sense of accomplishment!

There are many other ways to invest in yourself, your family, and your lifestyle:

  • Take an online class in an area in which you want to add to or improve your skill level
  • Establish an in-home library by purchasing books and workbooks to help with your research
  • Sign up for a local course, program, lecture, or other educational curriculum
  • Bloggers have a wealth of information through digital downloads in the form of books, manuals, recipes, financial tools, and more

If you aren’t comfortable spending too much, then ‘save your dimes’. This is something I learned from my Aunt Dot. She loved to splurge on herself from time to time. In order to do so, without breaking the budget, she saved her dimes.

We save our change and use it for our splurges. From time to time, there was enough to splurge on a weekend getaway and other fun things. Saving your money to do something special for yourself just adds to the anticipation. With each dime dropped in the slot, you know you are that much closer to having a bit of fun!

Learn to Be Flexible with Your Family

elderly woman and older man in a side-by-side; younger man and small girl sitting on a four-wheeler

A ‘family’ is usually thought of as a group of two or more people who are related. Family can live in different homes, cities, states, and even countries. For the sake of this post, we will be looking at those who live within the same household. But with that said, there are often times we need to learn to be flexible with family members who live with us, and who live elsewhere.

No matter who they are, or how they are related, every person in your family is an individual. They have differing likes, dislikes, opinions, and viewpoints. Each one has different needs. Their schedules will be different than yours.

When you learn to be flexible with family members, all of this needs to be taken into consideration. Everyone needs to have time for themselves, but also for school, work, social activities with friends, and family time.

wooden wall painted red with a Flea Market arrow sign painted yellow with red letters

Each person needs to be allowed time to be themselves. You may not enjoy archery, but if your child or spouse does, go with them to the range, or try it out yourself. Ask them to show you the same consideration. Invite them to go with you to the flea market.

Don’t fill your calendar so full you can’t find room for one-on-one time. Be sure to schedule family time. Learn to bend. Accept your family members for who they are, and what they love to do. And learn to be flexible with their time, passions, and dreams.

Remember, we aren’t soldiers, marching in formation. Instead, we are individuals with a unique set of dreams and passions. When we learn to be flexible with family members, we can relax and enjoy each other more. And in the process, we can discover things we may never have thought we enjoyed doing.

Learn to Be Flexible in Your Simple Life

When living a Simple Life, our goal is to live our lives with purpose and passion. But that doesn’t mean we have to be rigid in the process.

Instead of gripping control so tightly, avoid the Emotional Muscle Cramps. Learn to be flexible. Let it go. Relax. Understand that you are just one person – not invincible. But you can be your own version of a Superhero just by knowing you can be flexible, handle the crises, and still stop to relax and enjoy life.

By doing so, you may just discover that living a Simple Life is so much better and provides even a deeper sense of contentment. Learn to be flexible and settle in to enjoy life to the fullest!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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