Living a Life of Simplicity: What I've Learned from Joanna Gaines

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Is it possible to live a life of simplicity in a world of constant busyness? Can we live a simple life and focus on the things that really matter when so many distractions fight for our attention? Learn how Joanna Gaines lives a life of simplicity despite her hectic schedule.

Anyone who has known me or read my blog for very long at all knows that I love Joanna and Chip Gaines- the stars of the HGTV show, Fixer Upper. The power-house couple does everything from making decrepit, old homes look brand-new to encouraging my heart in deeper spiritual truths.

I know, I know. That sounded a little bit dramatic, right? But by golly, it is just oh-so-true.

The Gaines have taught me what it means to love your spouse well. They have shown me the beauty of hard work. They have reflected a sort of grace that I would like to reflect myself. Basically, they've modeled all the values that I was already raised with- both on-screen and off.

But what I've been learning most recently- just before I hopped on my laptop, actually- is that I am NOT living a simple life, but I need to be. And not only that, but a life of simplicity takes daily effort. Not sure what I mean, or wondering what this has to do with you? Keep reading to find out!


The Truth About Simplicity

In the Spring issue of The Magnolia Journal, Joanna Gaines wrote a piece about how living a life of simplicity is something that is fairly complex. We tend to think that we can just say "Okay, I'm going to start living simply now..." and then everything is hunky-dory. But that just isn't the case.

When we really get down to it, living a simple life is a daily choice. It's a daily effort to choose the activities, the to-do list, and even the thoughts that matter most and produce true peace and simplicity in our lives. And yes, it is true that living simply is a personal matter. There isn't an easy answer that is one-size-fits-all. We each have to decide where we need to declutter in our own lives.

But Joanna says that if we take the time to look within and think about it, we will often intuitively know where the clutter is in our lives. We can usually realize on our own what is stealing our peace, our joy, and our simplicity. And, as she puts it so beautifully,

"...when I do choose simplicity and keep choosing it in whatever ways matter to me, I am different.  I have room to breathe. I have space to see clearly. My instincts are sharper and- to be really vulnerable here- my words are kinder." 
                                            -Joanna Gaines, The Magniolia Journal
 I am so thankful for that one little page in TMJ this Spring. I definitely know of a few areas that I need to declutter so that they stop encumbering me. I'd like to share some of them with you in hopes that it might encourage you to look within and see where you could use a good "Spring-cleaning".

Selfishness and Laziness Prevent Simplicity

I love me-time. I love to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. And I don't want anyone or anything to try to stop me. Even when I have important or pressing tasks to take care of, I am far more focused on myself and my comfort. This is called laziness and selfishness.

Unfortunately, these are both human nature and will be the toughest to change. The biggest issue with these is that they go beyond the surface. They are actually a spiritual problem-one that can only be broken through the grace of God and His intervention. It requires being shaped by Him. And to be shaped by Him, I need more and more of His influence in my life. Less TV and music about making myself happy. More scripture, prayer, and positive TV, books, and magazines. More focus on God's will- less focus on my own. Those things are easier-said-than-done, but incredibly necessary.

My Thoughts Can Prevent Simplicity 

When I look at the things I think about, it's often there that I find many of my distractions and burdens. Whether it be a negative thought about someone else, one that's selfish, or one that is filled with fear, anxiety, or paranoia, many of my stressful moments in life are connected with my thought life.

But daily choosing simplicity means choosing thoughts that are productive, helpful, and good. It doesn't mean that I am blind to important issues, but it does mean that I filter things through God's word and reject thoughts that hinder me from the life I am called to live.

My Need to "Fix It" Can Prevent Simplicity 

Sometimes, living a simple life means relaxing, remaining silent, and staying out of people's problems. I always want to help fix problems for people and while that can be a good quality, it can also put me in a position of being far too stressed about issues that aren't even my own. When this happens, I accumulate more anxiety and less simplicity.

I have to realize that not only is it not my job to fix everyone's problems, but I am also not capable of doing so- and I have to be okay with that. No one expects me to fix all their problems for them, so I don't have to make my life more stressed trying to.

Cleaning House

Finally, I need to simplify by actually Spring cleaning our home. Cleaning our home well means that I have space in my mind that is free from stress. A clean home means I no longer having to wonder when I'll be able to "get around to" vacuuming. It means no more deciding whether I'll clean OR get my blog work done. It also means that I don't have to fear being embarrassed if someone drops by unannounced. It makes me feel organized, secure, and gives me more peace-of-mind. This feeling frees me to live a more simple life.

Living a Life of Simplicity | Joanna Gaines | Lessons Learned from Joanna Gaines | Simplicity | Decluttering | Minimalism

I hope this post encourages you to work daily towards a more simple life. I know it isn't easy, and I know that finding what works for you will take some time, but I believe that living a life of simplicity is healthier for our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. And if that's the case, then surely the effort is worth it!

Do you struggle to live a life that is simple? Where can you improve and where do you do well already? Comment below!


  1. Enjoyed reading the tremendously. I do love the show, and we could all use some simplicity in our lives.

  2. I definitely struggle! We've been working on simplifying for 5 years!

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I think we all have days that we are lazy and selfish. lol We just have to remember to not get stuck in this. I too am working on this and simplifying my life. I've recently realized just how important this is! Great post!

  4. I've never seen their show, but I've heard of it from so many people at this point! I really, really like how you honestly talk about how desire for "me time" can so quickly turn into a sort of excuse to be lazy and selfish. I completely agree. Yes, there is need for rejuvenating activities and rest in any balanced life...but we all experience the temptation to go a little too far with 'me time' when really we should be opening our hearts to service.

  5. So true! Love this perspective!
    I try to do so much and not realize that simplicity is where it's at! Thank you for sharing.

    Sincerely Miss J

  6. I love Joanna Gaines and actually just wrote a post about the Magnolia Story, which is also a great read :) I love her honesty about living a 'simple life', it sounds like it was a great article - I need to pick up a copy of the Magnolia Journal!

  7. I live a pretty simple life. I strive to keep it that way and like you said it can be hard because so many things want my attention. I am a homeschool and work at home mom. Both of these things take time, but I've found by writing down my why and sticking to it unless God shows me otherwise I helps me not to overload my life.

    I can relate to being the problem fixer. I think I have recovered from it because I realized that I was putting too much energy into other people's messes when I truly didn't have any control over the outcome. Now I limit, my questions and interactions to help me to not become too engrossed.

    Cheering you on as you head into a more simpler life. :)

  8. I definitely need to spring clean as well, but also need to get rid of some things, and NOT talk myself out of each item. and then it will be yard sale time ;-)

    Something I notice when I travel is that I'm able to live off of a small bag of things and usually I feel free and comfortable and it makes me realize how many extra things I have that are just taking up space or things that "I want to use someday"

    I'm hoping to simplify my life a bit more this spring!

  9. I love Chip and Joanna Gaines! I really enjoyed reading your post. It is so hard to keep life simple with all the technology constantly at your finger tips. Thanks for a post that made me think about slowing down my own life!

  10. Gotta love Chip and Joanna! I love the ways you're focusing on living simply. I'm so much the opposite - I'm obsessed with DOING, accomplishing tasks on my to-do list. Sometimes, I need to sit back and tell myself that it's okay to sit on the porch for an evening with my husband as opposed to always making sure every little chore is done. It's hard!

  11. Yes girl! For some reason cleaning gives me such a sense of grace and peace. I feel content!!

  12. This is such a good reminder, and I think we all struggle with the things you mentioned. Especially learning to not try to "fix" everything..sometimes finding contentment is the best thing.

  13. What a fantastic message! I love Chip and Joanna Gaines, too. Simplifying my life is an ongoing process. Spring cleaning is a great place to start!

  14. So many of these ideas resonated with me. I love Joanna & Chip, too - I remember seeing Fixer Upper on TV for the first time, back when the first handful of episodes originally aired, and knowing that there was something about them that was pure magic. I think it was their sense of humor and chemistry as a couple; paired with their pure talent for spotting homes with potential that no one else could see and putting their unique, breathtaking stamp on them. When it comes to living simply, I'm the first to admit that my mind LOVES complexity - I can find infinite layers of meaning in literally anything, and that's why I gravitate toward creative work! But I've been gradually learning to balance that tendency with a lifestyle that's simpler - focusing on enjoying the food that I'm eating, the conversations that I'm having, and the things that I'm experiencing in the moment rather than letting them fly by and missing them forever after.

  15. i so love her and everything you wrote here is so true.

  16. I've never seen that show or read their book but I keep hearing about the Gaines everywhere! I need to check them out I guess! :-)

  17. This is a great post, Kristin! I do struggle a lot with simplicity. Especially in my thoughts!

  18. Yes! I definitely tend to overcomplicate everything I do. That's why my vision for 2017 was "simplicity." I have to constantly bring myself back to it and remind myself that things don't have to be as difficult as I make them out to be!

  19. I love Chip and Joanna! My husband is exactly like Chip! I wish I was more like Joanna!! LOL I too am trying to simplify my life. Its been easier said than done but it is definitely a work in progress!!

  20. I love this! I have not gotten to that article yet in the magazine but I can't wait! I love your findings. And I love how you bring up your thoughts. I get caught up in wild scenarios of what could go wrong or what someone might say and it is just a waste of time and energy. Keeping my thoughts captive and dismissing worthless thoughts while focusing on the important ones is so key. It relieves a lot of burdens for me too. Great post! :)

  21. I don't watch the show but know everyone loves them. Sounds really insightful and inspirational. I agree with simplifying one's life and not trying to fix things, both are really important in finding happiness IMO

  22. Perfect article for me this morning, as though God put pen to paper all the he was sharing with me yesterday. How wonderful how He meets our needs, so timely. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. It is so cool when God does that! So glad it was an encouragement to you!