Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less: 101 Stories about Having More by Simplifying Our Lives by Amy Newmark, with Brooke Burke-Charvet, came into my life at just the perfect time. Four years ago a tornado destroyed my family’s home, sucking up and spiriting away many of our belongings in the process. Much of what was left became water-logged due to the several days of rain that followed. We acted fast and were able to salvage a few dozen plastic totes and some trash bags full of possessions and a few pieces of heavy furniture that escaped the F3 tornado winds and the huge tree that was uprooted and catapulted through my kitchen. Our home, 2,200+ square feet worth of living space filled with personal possessions was suddenly, abruptly reduced to about the size of a couple of storage units.
Oddly, there wasn’t much I truly mourned losing as time healed the initial shock and we began to build a new home. What still hurts, even now, after four years is the loss of Christmas ornaments. Odd. You may think that’s silly. Well, it’s not. Let me tell you why. It’s not the commercially-made, mass-produced ornaments that I miss. I miss all the handmade ornaments and other holiday decorations that my kids made for me at school and then wrapped in their awkward, kid-clumsy way and presented with huge cheesy smiles for my approval. I miss the homemade ornaments that my kids & I made together during years of holiday breaks from school. I miss the heirloom ornaments passed down through mine and my husband’s family, the ones that hung on our ancestors’ Christmas trees or adorned their mantle pieces and tables. They are one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable. As a matter of fact, I’m shedding a tear just thinking about it now.
I say this book is timely because, even though we lost most everything when the tornado struck, in just four years we’ve rebuilt a home and managed to amass more “stuff.” Sometimes, I look at our home and wonder where all this stuff came from. I semi-regularly purge things, but it still seems like we have a lot already…again.
It has been inspiring to hear how others have purged material items and streamlined their activities and involvement in organizations to have more time to enjoy their lives, their friends and family, and even the material things they love the most and truly cannot part with. If you are finding your life feeling overwhelmed or unsatisfactory, pick up a copy of this book and see if maybe you, too, need to purge unnecessary things and activities from your life in order to enjoy the people and things you truly cherish!
This story from the book, Trading Bandwidth for Bonding, particularly resonates with me because, though my children like so many others love their computers and electronic games, do still enjoy family bonding time when we make them put those items away on occasion. We like to play board games, go out to eat, visit theme parks, watch movies and generally goof around and be funny together. It’s a nice break from the electronic world that we all live in daily.
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In the Age of Disposables—fashion, phones, glasses, and even friends!—some people are finding joy by rediscovering the simple life. They’re cleaning house, both literally and figuratively, and finding themselves better for it. By getting rid of excess “stuff” and trimming down their over-filled schedules, they feel happier and more fulfilled than ever before. It’s really true that little can go a long way.
With Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less, spring cleaning takes on a whole new meaning. You’ll read stories about people who found happiness in an unlikely way: by saying no. No to buying more stuff, no to taking on additional time-filling commitments, and no to trying to please everyone all of the time.
In this book, you’ll also meet people who have found contentment in simplicity by spending time with their family during “staycations.” You’ll also read about people who cut out some of the everyday stressors in life by simply “unplugging” by turning off their smartphones and staying away from the Internet for a day. It’s amazing what a little break can do.
You’ll even meet people who lost almost everything but found happiness rediscovering who they really are and turning catastrophe into opportunity. When forced to simplify because the going gets tough, the tough get creative and find ways to flourish.
Whether it’s cleaning out your closets and holding a yard sale or taking a stand for your wellbeing by keeping time to yourself, there are a hundred different ways to find joy in less.
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This series of books have been around since 1993 and has published many titles touching on all areas of one’s life where inspiration can help them. Also, a portion of the proceeds from sales of all Chicken Soup for the Soul books benefits the Humpty Dumpty Institute. You can head on over to the Chicken Soup for the Soul website to find information on their book series, how they give back to communities, sign up to receive their newsletter, find a link to their podcast and much more! You can even submit your own story for possible inclusion in upcoming titles. How cool is that? I’m totally going to submit a story! 🙂
You can find Chicken Soup for the Soul books at your local bookstore or at any of the major online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Chicken Soup for the Soul books are also available at stores such as Walmart, Kmart, Target, Sam’s Club and CVS. You can also order books directly from their distributor, Simon & Schuster, at SimonSays.com.
Do you feel the need to purge your life? What would you start with — material possessions, dysfunctional relationships, participation in too many activities or organizations?
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this title free of charge to facilitate review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.
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