Soulful Simplicity - Book Review

How long can a book review of a 230+ pages book be considered ideal? I was not sure, so I ignored this and summarised it in my way. 

The author Courtney Carver was diagnosed having 'multiple sclerosis' – a gradually increasing and killing disease. She did not surrender, instead, she decided to live life debt-free, clutter-free, mostly stress-free, and this way she found out the purpose of life. To our surprise, she got cured of the disease. 

She shared her experience in this book talking about soul by 'hand to heart exercise' and simplicity in 'Project 333'. Let us see both and understand the book. 

Exercise 1: Hand To Heart Exercise

Put your hands on your heart. 
  • Time: Choose a time each day when you can sit alone for a few minutes. You may light a candle. Keep a pen and paper nearby to jot down thoughts. 
  • Sit: Sit comfortably on the floor, on a chair, on your bed or anywhere you feel comfortable. 
  • Silence: Try practising in silence or with soft music. 
  • Breathe: Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. 
  • Eyes: Close your eyes or turn your gaze down, and continue focusing on your breath. 
  • Hand on heart: Place one hand on your heart and cover the hand with the other hand. Feel the heart beating. Feel the warmth of your heart and your hands. 
Start a conversation with your heart. Be open, curious and compassionate with yourself. 

After putting hands on heart, start a conversation with heart ask questions that come up and be open to answers. Keep practising. Listen and trust your heart. She knows things it’s your right and responsibility to remember who you are.


My Heart’s Mission Statement

My mission statement describes how I want to live. When I forget my soul and get caught up in the show or begin to lose myself. I come back to my heart’s mission statement. 
  1. I work towards full clarity on what is most important by getting rid of everything that is not. To matter, they must support health and /or love in my life. 
  2. I reject perfection, comparison & competition.
  3. I do not resent the past or let the future dictate my present. I am firmly rooted in my present and to support that I take time to hear into my heart and feed my soul. 
  4. The quiet messages from my heart and soul guide my decision making in life & work. I trust myself to know what feels right and good usually is right and good. 
  5. I lift myself with good food, meditation, movement and creativity, so I can lift the people around me including my family, close friends and anyone also who needs something as simple as a smile and as complex as a massive change in their life, or work. Yes, think of your mission statement as a soul's face breathe work that guides you.

Exercise 2: Project 333

Here the author challenged herself to dress with thirty-three items or less including clothing, jewellery, accessories and shoes. 
  • She did not count underwear, sleepwear, around the house to wear or workout gear. 
  • Some may feel this challenge as weird, crazy or impossible. 
  • What is important is who I am and not what I wear. 
  • In fact, this project has more to do with health, happiness and heart and less to do with fashion or clothes.
  • We are spending money on what we don’t have, on clothes, we don’t wear. 
Lessons learnt after three months.
  1. I need way less than I think to be happy. 
  2. No one cares what I am wearing. 
  3. Deciding on what to wear requires mental energy (Decision fatigue) better spent on other things. 
  4. A simple closet is a gateway to a simple life.
  5. By eliminating everything that does not matter I finally know what matters, it’s love. 
  6. Home becomes a living space instead of store space.
Technique: This is the closet purging and de-cluttering battle. 
  • Round one: Empty your closet. Dump all on the bed. Take a break. 
  • Round two: Once you have thirty-three picked out, get everything else out of sight. 
As the wardrobe becomes less interesting, life becomes more interesting. 

Wanting More
The more I worked, the more I made. And the more I spent and I wanted even more!

Filling every moment with stuff and busyness makes one sick. When you work outside of your heart, there will always be a break-up, a breakdown or both. One of the reasons we keep our lives so complicated is so we don’t have to listen to our inner voice telling us what we need to do to make our life work better. 

With all these thoughts, the author learned that you can be more with less. You can embrace a simpler life and soul flames within it. Enough is enough moment has to come to learn the power of simplicity and connect heart to heart. You get more health, space, time and love by choosing less. 

Courtney Cover was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis), a killing disease. She decided to fight for her health and win. She is happy and symptom-free today. 

Soulful Simplicity 

With soulful simplicity and living with less my life has become more than I ever imagined. 
Instead of more money, more stuff, more busyness, and more stepping outside of myself to be who other people may need me to be, I am enjoying a different kind of more.
  • I am more myself and more connected to my heart. 
  • I am more available for people I love and projects I care about.
  • I am more present and focused.
  • I have more space, time and love in my life along with all of the other mores I craved for so long.
The changes started on the outside while the real work was happening on the inside. Give yourself all the space, time and love you need to remember who you have let us see how soulful simplicity works for us after learning hand to heart exercise and project 333. 

I am sure, it will open the door to a new philosophy of life. 

Action For Soulful Simplicity

After learning the basics of the two exercises, we need to advance more by learning more about life. Here are the details: 
  1. Be more with less 
  2. Do the things you do not want to do 
  3. Best friends, envy and lie
  4. Shopping
  5. Wake-up calls for you need to change 
  6. Art of saying ‘No’ 
  7. Smile 99
  8. 21 days busy boycott challenge 
  9. Sabbath
  10. Do more with less
Be More With Less

Be more you – yourself. Give yourself all the space, time and love to remember who you are. Living with less clutter, busyness, stress and simplifying your life will help you make the room to do what you need to do. Simplifying my life gave me space, time and love to be more with me. 

Do Things You Do Not Want To Do

Eating greeds.
  • Walking: Take a walk every day – preferably outdoors
  • Sleeping 7-8 hours: Prioritise sleep
If you want to get out of your slump or if you feel stuck, try something you have never done before or something that you do not want to do. 

Best Friends

My best friend is a magical rooftop sunrise, the ocean, a hike in the mountains, a peaceful afternoon, a good book, laughter and seeing the world.
  1. Envy: Envy shows you when somebody has something you wish you had. 
  2. Lie: When you lie about something, you are showing yourself. There is something that is not right in your life. 
If you have to step outside of yourself, away from your values and soul to get your needs met, then you are not going to get your needs met. - Danielle La Porte
Shopping is for what you wanted or needed, but it is not for numbing your pain. So for pain, take care of yourself and don’t go buy things. Instead of going shopping,
  • Take a walk
  • Go for yoga 
  • Call a friend 
  • Make a smoothie
  • Get a message 
  • Sleep for an extra hour
  • Write 
  • Meditation 
  • Send a thank-you note
Three Shopping Mantras:
  1. I do not have to buy this today. 
  2. I can return that. Do not hold on to something that makes you feel bad. 
  3. I have paid enough. Accepting this allowed to cut ties between emotion, shopping and holding on. 
I do not value material objects anymore. I value people, places and experiences. I will never purchase something because I want to portray a certain level of success or character quality I wish I had. 

Without love for yourself, and love for how you live, and who you spend your time with, the drugs aren’t going to be helpful for long, if ever. 

Identify your wake-up calls for the need to change. 
  1. If you are constantly self–medicating with food, shopping, alcohol, tv or other distractions
  2. If you are worn down, beat up, stressed out or completely depleted
  3. If you never put yourself first
Such symptoms tell to wake up and know it as a time to change. Each change she made to simplify her life, she found less stuff - more love. 

Once simplifying your life becomes a matter of heart, you will connect with like-minded people and find the strength you need to let go of the clutter, busyness, and all of the other things standing between you and simplicity. 
  1. Yoga (Savasana + Pranayam): Take a deep breath in through your nose and release it through your mouth. It will release stress, anxiety, excitement or frustration.
  2. Let go.
  3. Stop comparison. 
Sigh Warner calls it 'SIGH' - Sitting In God’s Hands!

Saying ‘No’ Is An Art

Saying no is no easy feat, especially for kind, generous souls, for people pleasure and for the people who are used to saying yes to everything. 

Saying yes when your heart says no is a disservice not only to you but to everyone you say yes to. You won’t give your best and you may end up resenting the commitment or the person who asked you to commit.

Here are techniques for saying ‘No’:
  1. Be grateful and graceful while saying ‘No’ 
  2. Be clear: when you know it’s a no, say no. 
  3. Keep short: ‘No’ is a complete sentence. No long explanation or sorry are needed. 
  4. Try a “yes” fast: commit to saying no to every request for thirty days. Practice the loving no over and over again. 
  5. Say no to guilt following no: Dump the guilt around not doing someone’s work. Believe in yourself and what you know is best for your life and say no to guilt. 
Creating a life with fewer decisions and distractions will dramatically improve your health, work and relationships. 

Smile 99

Make a life that makes you smile at least ninety-nine times a day. Commit to smiling when you wake up and before you get out to bed.

Meaningful morning routine: Instead of snooze, snooze or no, I am getting late, coffee, shower, a kid in the car, start the day half asleep running late and frantic, make a meaningful morning routine. Use the first five minutes for yoga, the second five minutes for writing and the last five minutes for meditation. Before you begin a day feed yourself first with these three. You can change the list of habits, either yoga, writing, meditation, walking, reading, or hands-on heart practice. 

21 Days Busy Boycott Challenge 
  1. Day 1-7: Ban the word 'busy' from your talk and vocabulary. Stop saying 'I am too busy.' To avoid the word 'busy'. Use other sentences like how are you? What made you smile today? Did anything interesting happen today?
  2. Day 8-14 (Do less): Eliminate one thing from your to-do list. Stop comparing your lists, your life & your love. 
  3. Day 15-21 (Linger longer): It’s ok to be still and stop listening to your heart. There is no guilt in self-care. Savour good food, conversation and beautiful views. Fall in love. Smile. Breathe and then fall in love again. 

A day of the week for rest and prayer: Sunday in Christians, Saturday in Jews and Friday in Islam. 

The fruitful uselessness of rest, play and delight can be on a Sabbath morning. Wake up but do not get up. Do something delightful. 
Use your imagination, be frivolous, be daring. Invent rituals. Do nothing of significance. - Wayne Muller (Author: Sabbath) 
We are weary because we do not rest. On weekends, we go grocery shopping, banking, cleaning, laundry, washing the car, entertaining, TV viewing, e-mails. Yes, they are necessary, but, when do your body, mind and soul get to rest? 

Stop distractions:

Make it a 'Digital Fast'. Hundreds of TV channels, e-mails, magazines, billboards, social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. 
  1. Schedule your Sabbath
  2. Tell the world you won’t be available 
  3. Put anything in the Sabbath box that you don’t want to use:
    • phone, tablets, digital devices
    • mentally put in a box: car washing, meditation etc. 
    • write on paper to put in a box: worries and things left undone
  4. Time out: eat when you are hungry, drink when you are thirsty and sleep when you are tired 
Be More With Less

Better connect with people you love and enjoy your life. 

Several grateful reminders:
  1. If you are always getting ready for the next thing, how will you ever enjoy this thing?
  2. Remove the things that remove you from life. 
  3. Create some time to spend your life the way you want to spend your life. 
  4. If you want a real connection and an honest answer, check your heart more than you check your phone. 
  5. You are allowed to protect your time and energy. 
  6. When all of your free time is spent catching up or getting ahead, that’s not the free time to be free. Use your free time, to be free!
  7. Simplicity does not change who you are, it brings you back to who you are. 
I am sure if you have read all that I wrote, you are an enlightened person by now. 

Yes, do not wait to start your search for 'soulful simplicity'. Best of luck! 

Soulful Simplicity
  • Book TitleSoulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More
  • AuthorCourtney Carver
  • Book reviewed by: Dr Bharat Desai, Bilimora on 20-Jul-2020
  • Pages: 256 pages
  • ISBN-100143130684
  • ISBN-13978-0143130680

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