Living without sounds scary. It sounds like saying goodbye, like sacrifice and pain. Or at least that’s what we think.
I quit drinking alcohol for good this year … I stopped forever. Living without coffee this year for almost five months was a great learning experience. Now I drink coffee sometimes but not all the time like I used to. Taking breaks from things like alcohol, coffee, sugar, shopping, social media and other things I wasn’t sure about gave me information I needed on how to proceed … based on how I feel instead of what I think I will feel.
Something special happens each time I live without. I either give it up completely, learn that I don’t want to live without it or that I want to live with it differently. Even better, what I gain from living without certain things is pretty remarkable.
What I get from living without
- Living without internet one day a week, I get to be more creative in my life and work and more connected to what and who I love.
- Without coffee on a regular basis, I get to enjoy the occasional coffee when I go out and I don’t ever feel like I “need” coffee to have energy or avoid a headache.
- Living without alcohol, I’m saving thousands of dollars a year. I never have to worry about having a hangover, or what I promised or said while drinking. I don’t have to make any decisions about drinking ever again and that feels really good to me.
- Without shopping while I’m practicing minimalist fashion challenge Project 333, I save money, time and energy. By dressing with less, I’ve realized that no one really cares what I’m wearing. It’s the least interesting thing about me.
Usually the hardest part of starting anything is thinking about starting. The first step isn’t that challenging, but thinking about that first step often stops us in our tracks. Instead of thinking about living without something forever, make a plan for living without it for thirty days, three months, one hundred days, a year or another time frame you choose.
If you’ve been using the internet every single day for the last five years, you might think you won’t like living without it. The same goes for shopping or alcohol and other things. But the reality is that you don’t know what it feels like to go without. You only know what you think it will feel like. And so the decisions you are making may be based on fear instead of facts.
A year of living without
My friend Leo challenged himself to live without something every month for a year. Each month he gave up something he was used to having in his life. Things like coffee, internet and buying new things. He called this experiment A Year of Living Without, or How I made Room for Life.
The second part of that title, How I made Room for Life, is the most important part for all of us to remember while we are engaged in the practice of living without. Instead of focusing on what you are giving up, pay attention to what you get, how it changes your life, how you feel and how you want to move forward.
I’m not suggesting that permanently living without alcohol, social media or anything else is best for you. That said, if you are curious about what is best for you (and your health, relationships and lifestyle), living without can be a powerful practice.
We are privileged to have the opportunity to engage in this powerful practice of living without when for many, living without isn’t a practice, it’s survival.
We have the privilege of choosing what belongs in our life and what doesn’t, the privilege of living intentionally.
Don’t be afraid to live without to learn about what you want and need to love your life.