Join my book club?
Most people I know want to read more but don’t like reading so I thought that it might be useful to share my key takeaways and thoughts after reading a book — especially for those of you that don’t want to read the whole book yourself (or maybe you will after reading my reviews?).
A word of warning: these may be lengthy posts.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions for the next book I should read (or re-read)!
I added a post-note every time I underlined something
L’art de la Simplicite: How To Live More With Less
by Dominique Loreau
Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help and personal development
I bought the book L’art de la Simplicite by Dominique Loreau on a whim because the cover and title caught my eye. It covered a broad range of topics so it wasn’t as in-depth as I had hoped but overall, it was an enjoyable, easy read. I liked that, for the most part, Loreau focused on the power of the mind in shaping our reality.
If you’re looking for a gentle introduction to slow living and minimalism then this book could be a good place to start.
Here are some of my favourite quotes and thoughts…
On material possessions
I feel that this quote captures the essence of minimalism so well. Minimalism, to me, is not about owning little, but rather, discarding the unnecessary. It’s not about the amount of things, but the value of what you own
My grandma and my mum are both clothes hoarders with rooms filled with clothes. In some rooms, there aren’t even any beds — just overflowing clothes racks, cupboards and hangers on doors. Ironically, the rooms are so cluttered that they end up just wearing the same pieces on rotation that have recently been washed.
When I first began to really declutter my wardrobe, I was overwhelmed with relief. I hadn’t realised that my possessions were holding me back from living my best life. Now with only a fraction of what I used to own, I have a greater appreciation for the pieces in my wardrobe. Instead of impulsively buying something new every week, I might add a few planned pieces every few months. Decluttering my wardrobe wasn’t just a physical change — I left lighter and less stressed when getting dressed. Getting rid of what was unnecessary felt like I was making room for me to be me.
On the mind
I agree that we should always be striving for a deeper understanding of our inner selves. But I disagree that seeking pleasure in food, drink and exciting experiences is a bad thing. I’d argue that owning less only reinforces the significance of experiences.
To me, nothing compares to that first sip of hot coffee in the morning, going for a long hike with Kevin, having a glass of red wine after a long day or packing for a holiday.
Sure we could all live on very little, but where is the joy in discarding absolutely everything unnecessary? As Loreau wrote, it’s about “a life more richly lived”.
Eating when you’re not hungry. Shopping when you’re bored. Scrolling through your social feeds because you have nothing else to do. These are all examples of ‘passivity’. It’s never been easier to run away from yourself. Instead of spending time with ourselves, we distract ourselves with our phones.
It is all too easy to be distracted and react whenever our phone lights up. We are human and we will make mistakes. But we need to resist passive consumption, and spend more time being comfortably alone with our thoughts.
I love this quote. I always hear people complaining (and humble-bragging) about how busy they are every week. I never understood this because when I am busy: I’m too busy to complain or talk about it!
Let’s stop the glorification of ‘busy’. Or at least, let’s stop telling everyone how busy we are as a way of bragging. It doesn’t help anyone or do anything except promote a culture where we are valued based on how much we have going on.
And if you struggle with procrastination and being productive, take a peek at my shop for downloadable templates designed to help you achieve your goals.
There is so much to be grateful for, and to appreciate, each day.
Warm weather (if you’re into it), a train arriving on time, discovering a new favourite song, remembering your keep cup, falling asleep as soon as you get in bed, coffee, a good hair day, a cute dog, a friendly face, not tripping over your own feet… you get the idea. Even the simplest everyday things can bring the most joy — if we only allow ourselves to notice them.
On personal development
The most unhappy people I know also complain the most about their situation. Not because their situation is particularly worse than anyone else’s — but because they’re not taking accountability for their own actions and choices. In other words, they have self-serving bias.
If I could give everyone a gift, it would be self-awareness. People can be so blinded by their own shortcomings and biases that they have no idea why some things happen.
I used to believe that people, at their core, couldn’t change. But I realised that change was indeed possible but it required a lot of work — more than most people are willing to do.
This quote captures the bizarre thing we all seem to do. We live each day the same way, but cross our fingers hoping for something different to happen each time. Why do we do this? Whether it’s sleeping late and hoping that we won’t be tired the next day or dreaming of a better life without taking any steps towards making it a reality.
If we want our lives to change, something has to change. We have to do things differently.
Unhappy people tend to trap themselves with negative thoughts and reinforcements.
“I’ll just fail anyway so there’s no point trying.”
“I’m not smart/creative/attractive enough.”
“I don’t have the time.”
We tend to underestimate the potential of our thoughts and attitudes. If you think of yourself as a victim, you won’t ever challenge yourself. This self-defeating behaviour, that I’ve seen way too many times, is unhealthy and counter-productive. People are afraid to fail, so they don’t bother taking a chance. Some people deflect and others self-sabotage (me) but the result is the same: if you don’t try, you’re already guaranteed to fail.
We need to be honest with ourselves and not be afraid of exploring these feelings.
I don’t know if anyone else struggles with this, but this is something I really struggle with. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to say no — that you have a right to say no. If we give too much of ourselves to others, we’ll have nothing left for ourselves.
Please remember that it is not your job to be everything to everyone. Take care of yourself first.
On beauty and style
While I enjoyed most of the book, I found myself cringing throughout Part II (Body). At times, it felt like I was reading a ‘50s women’s magazine (there was even a quote from a 1948 women’s magazine) which made it clear that this book was written specifically for women. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but the tone and advice felt like a limiting, old-fashioned narrative on how women should look, behave and feel (was a handbag and vanity case checklist really necessary?) Loreau even recommends “a full-length mirror, reliable weighing scales and a small notebook in which to keep a record of your weight”. I would have rated this book higher if she had hadn’t put so much focus on a women’s appearance.
…But let’s focus on some of the positive takeaways from Part II:
Now that I’m on a journey towards building a capsule wardrobe, I’ve come to realise that having pieces that you love and that fill you with joy really makes all the difference. From experience I can tell you that having a wardrobe overflowing with ‘good enough’ pieces won’t bring you nearly the same satisfaction as a curated wardrobe.
Loreau says “A woman’s style should become plainer and simpler with age… As a general rule, avoid multicoloured, floral prints, spots or stripes” but I disagree wholeheartedly — I think a woman should be able to wear whatever the heck she likes. Screw the rules. Even though I personally can relate to this because I wear neutrals and simple pieces, it doesn’t mean that it’s the ‘right’ style. Style is very personal. I believe that people can express themselves in a bold, unique way that’s still minimal. Minimalism and intentional living doesn’t have to be restricted to plain and neutral-coloured clothing.
When I was younger, I was always fascinated watching my mum spend up to an hour each day on her morning and night beauty and skincare routine. Her vanity table was completely covered with skincare, make-up, perfume and jewellery. As she got older, the skincare products got more expensive - with promises of anti-ageing and rare ingredients - and she got more anxious about her wrinkles and sun spots.
Now I hate that the beauty industry preys on vulnerabilities and makes people feel like they need certain products to feel like beautiful. As I got older, I realised that I didn’t want to go down the same path. I wanted to age with grace, and to not depend so heavily on expensive creams.
Over the years I’ve accumulated a number of products which I didn’t love but am now in the process of reducing. I know that certain products have an expiry date but I’m using up what I can so long as I don’t have a bad reaction to it. My goal is to have no duplicates or unnecessary products: just a simple skincare routine using affordable, cruelty-free products.
I should note that Loreau does include several good DIY recipes in this section using simple, natural ingredients like coconut oil and avocado oil.
I am a big believer in rituals. I love my rituals.
Unlike routines, which are done on autopilot without much thought, rituals are intentional and meaningful. When I was in high school, everything was a routine. I would wake up sleepy and late, eat my breakfast quickly and pack my bag as I walked out the door (I used to shower at night). Now, I am finally able to appreciate time as a luxury.
If you fall into a routine, you’re typically no longer aware of your surroundings or of your behaviour. By turning a routine into a ritual, every action is intentional. You remain aware of every surface you touch, the thoughts that are passing through your mind and how your body feels in that exact moment. To me, it feels almost meditative and being present allows me to practice gratitude too.
This is what Loreau writes for the last sentence of the book. And I couldn’t agree more. As cliché as it sounds… when we simplify our lives, the more content we’ll be. There is a limit to how much happiness owning more stuff will bring, and that limit differs for everyone.
What about you? What area of your life do you want to simplify? Do you have bad habits or behaviours you are trying to unlearn?
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i love adventures of all sizes, capturing little moments, daily coffees and kind, wholesome human beings