Want to live a life that’s simpler, full of optimism and more content?
Perhaps you’ve come face to face with “the American Paradox” — more (stuff,
things to do, etc.) equals less fulfillment in life, not more. Lives can
become so hectic with lots of commitments and lots of thing people want to
do, want to keep up with. It feels like life is passing you by; like life
is living you, instead of you living your life.
If you, like so many other Americans, have come to the conclusion that less is more and it’s time to pare down, you may be wondering what are some good steps to take first?
If I could sit down with you and spend a leisurely afternoon sipping some chai tea, I would advise that you look to do some cleaning not just with your possessions but also with your most important possession – your wonderful mind.
Also, simplifying can feel daunting–and that’s the opposite of the freedom you’re trying to achieve. So, don’t think you have to do this all at once, like the guys from the movie “The Minimalists.” (Good info at their site, btw.)
So, with all that “in mind” here are some ways to simplify your life, step by step, so you can enjoy
your life more instead of feeling overwhelmed, that address both the physical and the mental house cleaning.
And just think: If you start today, then tomorrow you’ll be that much closer to achieving
the life you want!
Learn to Slow Down
Despite your best efforts, you can’t always be doing things. You can’t always be at your best so you need to know when to take time off and rest. It sounds ironic, but slowing may actually let you get more things done than when you are always on your feet. We hear so much about multitasking in this day and age. The truth is, you can’t. Your conscious mind is a serial processor—one thing at a time. It can only focus on one thing and then it loses efficiency and focus when you switch between things. Studies show you will be more efficient by setting aside other tasks and focusing.
Taking time to be still is a skill. Set time aside with no objectives tied to it—time to just live your life. Even if it’s just 15 minutes. At first, this may make you feel fidgety or guilty. Remember, it is a skill—and not one we’re taught by our world. Like Thoreau, we must learn how to “live deliberately.”
Own Just What You Need
What are the things you really need? Think of them and make sure that the things you have in your life actually have a reason to be there. If it doesn’t, then there’s no reason to keep it. Simpler life means you cannot let your things own you and bring you down.
The art of Feng Shui tells us that clutter robs energy from our spaces and our lives. It’s true. A clear, efficient space where everything serves a role in your life frees up mental energy. Clean a closet, or even just a drawer. Notice the shift in how you feel. Don’t let your things own you.
Start slow–clean that closet or drawer; create a way to evaluate whether or not new things come into the house. Make a goal to be 25% leaner in your possessions in 6 months or a year.
Make Time and Priorities
These days, people are so often used to saying they don’t have time. In truth, they don’t mean they don’t have time but doesn’t see something as priority. Are you one of those whose priorities are askew? To get a hold of your life, you need to make priorities and make time to things that are actually important.
Live Free From Debt
If you are full of debt, that’s a stressful way of living your life. If it is something that can be considered an investment like your home and you can afford it, then it’s okay. But if you can’t at least not right now, then may be it really just not the best time.
In fact, research shows that consuming more not only does not make us happier, it actually reduces our happiness. According to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention by Dr. Miriam Tatzel, the happier you are, the less you will consume, the less materialistic you will be, and so the less you will consume and the happier you will be, and so on (Tatzel, 2014).
Spend Some Time Unplugged
These days, people can’t seem to get away from the Internet. Even when it is their day off, they spend it plugged in all kinds of gadgets and applications. This kind of life could easily become an obsession and time passes by without your notice. Instead of doing more important things, you spend your time checking your Facebook, emails, tweets, etc.
Be comfortable with who you are.
Certainly it’s healthy to strive to improve yourself and continually learn and grow throughout your life. But at the same time, appreciate who you are and know that you’re good enough, just as you are now. Learn to accept yourself.
Recognize that a lot of the material goods we bring into our lives, are often an attempt to make up for something we feel like we lack within ourselves. Spend some time working on your relationship — with you. This, the most important relationship in our lives, is the one we are often the most neglectful and even abusive of.
Especially break the habit, if you have it, of comparing yourself to others. Studies show that this is particularly destructive to your self-esteem and linked to depression. Frequenting social media and
comparing yourself to other people on Facebook has been linked to depressive symptoms, according to a 2015 study (Steers et al., 2015).
Mai-Ly Steers, the study’s first author, said:
“This research and previous research indicates the act of socially comparing oneself to others is
related to long-term destructive emotions.
Any benefit gained from making social comparisons is temporary and engaging
in frequent social comparison of any kind may be linked to lower
On social media, people generally portray their lives as much better and more perfect than is true. Comparing your reality to the perfect version others show the world on Facebook isn’t real, anyway. Go do lunch with friends instead!
Embrace the simpler life—step by step
Embracing a simpler life can offer you peace and time to yourself and to things that are more important. While technology offers many advantages and convenience, it’s not good to be obsessed with it. At the same time, being in constant motion will get your exhausted and in the end unable to do what you really want to do.
It’s better to slow down sometimes so you can really enjoy what’s there in front of you. Apart from that, release from negative thoughts, eat well and exercise. These are good habits that will ensure both your body and mind are healthy. To live life well, you need to take care of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spirtually.
My advice? Don’t try to simplify your life all at once. Take it step by step. Make it one of your filters when you decide whether you need to buy that new gadget or whatever. Spend some time going low-tech: read a book, take a walk, connect with friends. Clean a closet out – and then don’t fill it back up. And keep in mind that the old saying really is true: the simple things in life are the best.