A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Sing at the Top of Your Lungs

I love to sing at the top of my lungs when I’m alone in my car. It doesn’t happen very often since I don’t have many reasons to be driving alone, but when it does happen I like to indulge in this silly solitary act. In fact, it’s probably more like screaming because I have the music turned up so loud I can barely hear my own voice. I also bust-a-move with a little car dancing if no other cars are around. It’s the closest I come to real dancing because, frankly, I have no rhythm at all.

In my head, the stage is mine and I am a rock star.

I feel so great after I totally let loose like that. It’s funny how a few moments of behaving exactly the opposite of my regular self, makes me come alive inside and feel completely free.

When do you feel completely free?

The word “freedom” stirs such an emotional response in people. For many it instantly brings up patriotic imagery. Whenever I think about being free, I have this mental picture of a wide open field of prairie grass blowing in the wind. It’s an unconfined sense of possibility.

Typically I don’t feel very free at all. I wish that weren’t the case and I look forward to the day when my life resembles that open field of prairie grass. For now, I am busy teaching and raising kids and trying to find creative ways to dig us out of our financial hole.

The times when I feel the most free are the days when I let loose like I did today in the car. Being spontaneous makes me feel free. Being silly with my kids makes me feel free. Letting go of my schedule and responsibilities also makes me feel free. Not being tied to my possessions makes me feel free as well.

But what makes you feel alive?

Feeling free isn’t always the best thing in the world. A prairie can be a quiet empty place. I know some free people who are also very lonely and unfulfilled people. That doesn’t have to be the case, but perhaps we should work towards feeling alive and not just feeling free.

  • I feel alive when I follow my passions.
  • I feel alive when I feel like I know where I’m going and that I have a purpose in life.
  • I feel alive when I look around and count my blessings.
  • I feel alive when I reach out to help others.
  • I feel alive when I look at my children and see how much they have grown. (Ok, that also makes me feel old . . . but you get the idea.)

The Best of Both Worlds

I am seeking a combination of both feeling free and alive. Freedom from obligations, chaos, and possessions are definitely at the top of my list. Deciding how I use that new freedom is what makes me come alive.

Minimalism is making that possible for me and I know it can do it for you too.

What makes you feel alive? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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When I sat down to write this post, I really tried to write about some practical tips that dealt with clutter or organizing something. Instead, this is the post that came out. I’m personally going through lots of time of reflection and trying to figure out what I want to pursue in my own life. Apparently that has lead to lots of “mental minimalist” thoughts. Be on the lookout for a series on my Mental Minimalist thoughts coming soon.


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Article originally published on 03/24/2011

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  1. One word albeit hyphenated

    • Faith Janes says

      I’ve only been skiing twice in my life and I was in high school. I do remember being afraid for my life when I couldn’t figure out how to stop. So I guess NOT dying would make you feel alive. 😉

      I’m just teasing…it is a pretty cool feeling (minus the freezing and dying part.)

  2. Hey Faith! I LOVE this post and seriously feel like you were writing thoughts right out of my own head.

    I’m also trying to achieve more freedom in my life, but as you know, being a parent to little kids limits us from having a great deal of freedom right now. I guess that’s one of major reasons I’m trying to ditch all of my debts and downsize my possessions. Those are things I can actually control that will ultimately bring me more FREEDOM! 😉

    As far as feeling alive – I feel most alive when I’m traveling with my family. I love getting out of my familiar surroundings and experiencing a new place. Oh, and I feel alive when I write.

    • Faith Janes says

      Hi Jenny,

      I love traveling with my family too. I’m looking forward to doing more traveling and camping. Freedom with kids doesn’t quite have the same feel to it as it once did. But it’s great in a different sort of way and like you said, it’s one of my main motivations for doing all this.

  3. Music takes me away from my real life and transports me to very emotional places. I crank up my radio in my car all the time. A few current favorites are: Blue October – Balance Beam, Adele – Rolling in the Deep and Linkin Park – When they come for me. I’m sure I look real funny in big city rush hour traffic singing like a rock star. But you are sooooo right, it does make you feel good.

  4. I completely agree! I’m trying to write down 1 thing every day that makes me happy, and most of the things seem to revolve around music. I LOVE singing in the car, and I know I’m a bad singer so I turn it up so loud that I can’t hear myself. I rock out with the kids in the car too (obviously not that loud), and my 2 year old always says “turn it all the way up mommy!”

  5. Aloha Faith! I feel very free when my husband and I are snorkeling hand in hand in some of our favorite spots. The cares of the world are nowhere to be found we are aware of each heart beat, each others gentle tugs to discover a new fish or curious formation. We are submerged enough that all we hear are the distantly roaring waves and our slowed breathing. It makes me slow down and just makes me feel at peace as I enjoy some of creation. I can see you’ve been ruminating…I hope you enjoy some peaceful digging in and take some time to slow down this weekend and enjoy just feeling free and alive! 🙂


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