Astrid & Irene: thriving on less

nothing

‘Is it okay if it’s a bit more?’ We used to hear that question a lot: at the grocer’s when we ordered a kilo of apples; at the store when we asked for 100 grams of our favorite candy; at the market when we wanted 500 grams of cheese. But in today’s world, that question rarely needs to be asked, mostly because we now shop in large supermarkets, serving ourselves and weighing our own goods.

Nevertheless, we’ve been thinking about that question quite a lot, because sometimes our lives seem to simply revolve around the idea of getting ‘a bit more’. We walked into that trap straight out of university: We started earning a bit more, added more to our wardrobes, went traveling a bit more and wanted a house that was a bit bigger every few years, collecting more and better furniture on the way. Until one day, the realization struck us that it wasn’t making us happy.

In fact, it was starting to be disappointing. What was the value in more? To keep up such a lifestyle, we had to work more, become ever more organized to fit everything into our homes, and say ‘no’ to so many fun things because we didn’t have time for them all. So we’ve started making more conscious decisions. We’ll never be true minimalists—we’re just too fond of some things for that, truth be told. But it’s such a liberating feeling to no longer feel the urge to spend Saturdays shopping in town.

It feels so much better to spend an afternoon walking in the woods. Flea markets and garage sales? Once a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning—but now we genuinely prefer to stay at home and read the newspaper from cover to cover. The only thing that still bothers us is how focusing on less does sometimes have a pretty dull feeling about it. The excitement of finding some hidden treasure buried in the piles at the flea market or coming home with bags of brand-new clothes is now missing.

Luckily, we’ve found other ways to experience that excitement. Irene is practicing lowering her expectations (yep, especially in love) and Astrid is practicing saying ‘sorry’ less often and just doing what her heart tells her to. This is causing all kinds of shifts in dynamics and funny situations, and we’d like more of that please!

  • Read more about thriving on less in Issue 26.

Illustration Amy Blackwell

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