I’ve dabbled with the idea of a beautiful life here on the blog before, yet I’ve never quite perfected that speech. I’ve talked about the quest to get there and shared little windows into my own idea of a beautiful life, yet I haven’t event finished the dialogue in my own mind, much less developed words eloquent enough to share. Today, I want to finally talk about what a beautiful life means and how to get there.
First, let’s talk about why this is important. Why does it matter if you have a “beautiful” life or not? And isn’t life just ugly sometimes? How can we avoid that? At first glance, it seems like this concept is something from a self-help book that isn’t even attainable for the average person. Wrong. This concept is something I’ve stewed over for several years. It was born from the idea that I wanted to truly love my life and be thrilled about both the possessions and people that surround me. I had this dream of waking up in a lovely space, putting on clothes that I loved, and using various items throughout the day that made me happy. In this dream, I’d sip from an inspiring, beautiful coffee mug while covered in the coziest blanket and sit somewhere in a beautifully decorated home where every corner was filled only with items that bring me joy. There was no clutter or items or colors that I hate. At first, this was just a dream. At first, it seemed like an impossible feat to get there. Then, I realized that I simply had to start somewhere. If I started replacing a few mediocre items here and there with beautiful things, I’d eventually only have things that I loved. If I started thinning my possessions a bit at a time, I’d eventually reduce clutter and be able to have a beautifully decorated home without excess piling up here and there. I finally realized that like any other dream, you just start somewhere and if you work hard at it, it can eventually be a reality. I’m a couple of years in to the process of making my daily life look just like this dream and here’s how I’m doing it:
- You must decide what a beautiful life looks like for you. For me, it was getting rid of clutter and replacing things that were “good enough” with things that were beautiful and pleasing. Your beautiful might look completely different than mine. To determine what your beautiful life looks like, simply think about your most perfect day. If today was an ideal, amazing day for you, what would it look like? What are you doing? What are you wearing? What’s the room look like? Make a list of the items that stand out. These colors, textures, and items could be the making of your own beautiful world.
- Determine the key elements that you’re missing from your ideal world. In your vision, you might have noticed lots of natural light. You might have been curled up in a cozy corner, reading your favorite book. If you identify that you’re missing natural light, a short term solution could be to change out darker, light-blocking drapes to something more airy. A long term solution could be to eventually install larger windows or make a plan and work towards a new home with more windows (and I can help with that!). If you dreamed of a reading area, you could simply create a cozy nook somewhere in your home. That could be as simple as getting rid of a piece of furniture you don’t really need and bringing in a comfortable chair, lamp, and table. Don’t make this process too complicated. Just do something…anything…that makes you feel more relaxed and excited about your world.
- Realize the magnitude of the project. The next step is to realize that you won’t transform your entire life in one Saturday afternoon. It most likely won’t happen in a matter of weeks or months. I’ve been working towards my ideal life for a couple of years now, and while it’s a thousand times better than what it was when I started, I’m not “finished.” This step of the process is important because you must come to terms with the fact that this could, and most likely will be, a life long task. You may not ever “finish.” The goal here isn’t to complete it and mark it off the list. Instead, the goal is to continually grow and make your world a better representation of your dreams. It’s a daily task of a life-long process.
- Start somewhere. Now that you understand that you might not “finish,” just start somewhere. For me, it could have been completely overwhelming to realize that I couldn’t transform everything right away. Just considering the sheer magnitude of change needed to get from my current situation to my ideal one, was incredibly daunting. As a matter of fact, it was enough to make me give up. However, I knew how important it was to me to cultivate my ideal world. I knew that I wanted my daily life to look amazing…not to just dream of it. I wanted to feel comfortable and cozy in my home, and I knew that I had a lot of work to do to get there. Step number four is possibly the most important of them all. You must simply do something. It’s easy to think and dream and plan and then do nothing. Starting is often the hardest part. The key to making your dream life a reality is to realize that you can’t do it all today and then to start somewhere.
My journey began with two of the simplest tasks. First, I emptied my cabinet of those promotional coffee mugs that meant nothing to me, and replaced them with a couple of pretty ones that I loved. Second, I bought lovely smelling hand soap and tossed the old, nasty ones out. These two tasks were the simplest possible and what I could control in that very moment. Both of these happened when we were still in our rent house where I hated the wall color and lack of light. I couldn’t control those two things right then though, so I found a few things that I could control. For less than $10 and in less than 10 minutes, I evoked a change that’s been continual and ongoing. And because I started somewhere, my life today looks much, much better than it did on that day when I first began dreaming of options. You simply cannot change everything today and there’s likely a few of the elements that are simply not an option to alter today. However, something can be done right now. What is that thing? Go do it.
When I think back on the time when this concept was born, I remember my thoughts feeling much more cluttered then. I remember things feeling darker and more overwhelming. I can easily attribute some of those negative emotions to my surroundings. My home wasn’t a relaxing environment for me and I didn’t feel comfortable there. When I finally made the decision to start changing things, I felt a difference almost immediately. I felt like I had control again and I knew that by repeatedly making little changes, I would eventually notice a big chance. So today, I share pretty pictures of cozy blankets on Instagram (see above) and it almost looks like those staged photos all of the bloggers and instagrammers share. For me though, it’s about so much more than that. For me, those photos are about creating a life that looks like magazine worthy photos. Don’t get me wrong – I get behind on laundry and dishes just like everyone else. However, with each Instagram snap, I’m internally celebrating how far I’ve come. I’m celebrating that I’ve replaced that tattered old fleece throw with a beautiful fur one that makes me happy. I’m celebrating that I’ve created a cozy space to enjoy my coffee rather that sitting in a cluttered room or gulping it down on the go. For me, it’s not about creating an image online. Instead, it’s about celebrating the years of work that I’ve already done in building my own beautiful life and encouraging myself to keep going. Eventually, I hope to have thinned closets and drawers that are easy to open and close. I hope to have a place for everything so that nothing ever needs to gather on tables or countertops. Eventually, all of my days will be structured so that I always have down time to rest, relax, and recuperate. I’ll only drink from pretty coffee cups and all the the cabinets will be filled with pretty, inspiring things. I’m not there yet, and I’m working every day…a little bit at a time….to eventually get as close as possible to living that dream. And it all started with a coffee mug and some hand soap. Today, you can choose to start somewhere. Or you can choose to not begin at all. As with everything else, your life is a result of your decisions. What’s your choice today?