It’s difficult to keep a simple life. It’s a habit that’s not second nature to everyone. The reason we don’t strive for simplicity is that we’re constantly taught that life is complicated. We’re taught to make long-term plans, and contingency plans, and to prepare for the likelihood of failure. Not only that, but the people around us (teachers, friends, family) all want us to succeed in everything we do and never give up. But often it’s simplicity that can lead us to success.
Simplifying Life Can Give You the Mental Space to Achieve More
When you simplify your life, you free yourself up for personal growth and begin to transform your daily life. A simple life (or simple living) is powerful because it helps us get rid of negative thoughts that make us work so hard to lower our stress levels.
If You Want to Simplify Your Life, Focus on What’s Important in Your Life and Reduce Stress From Unnecessary Things and Bad Spending Habits
You can save time by getting rid of unimportant things so you’ve more time for the important things. When a lot of things are reduced and simplified, it’s easier to keep track of what needs to get done and when. It makes everything easier because there are fewer things happening at once and less unnecessary clutter around us – at home or at work!
Simple living can also improve our mental health because it reduces the amount of information we have access to each day.
Our relationships improve when we’re not forced into social situations where we have nothing meaningful to do; instead, we can have new experiences with friends who share common interests – instead of just having conversations about nothing important (at least not as far as I’m concerned).
It’s Helpful for Good Decision Making
Simplicity is an important factor in decision-making because it reduces the hard work required to make a good decision and makes it easier to evaluate options objectively.
Decision-makers often find that simple solutions are best because they require less time and effort to evaluate than more complex solutions. They focus only on the important thing.
Simplicity is valuable because it allows us to focus on the essentials when making decisions, rather than being preoccupied with extraneous details or distracted by superfluous information.
For example, if you need to decide between two destinations for your next vacation before you get overwhelmed by the travel agents’ ads, the easy way to start is by making a list of what you want (ex: minimalist lifestyle vacation, luxury hotel, adventurous road trip).
Knowing your desires can save you a lot of time when choosing your destination, and sometimes it’s just one little thing that helps you decide (e.g. if you don’t like spiders, all trips to jungle areas are out, or if you prefer a minimalist lifestyle, you probably don’t need a room where there are too many material things).
Why Is It So Difficult to Live More Simply?
Simplicity isn’t easy and there are many reasons why it’s so difficult to live more simply, but I’ve compiled my top 5:
We Have Too Many Choices
This is the most obvious reason and perhaps the hardest to overcome. We live in a world where everything is available anytime, anywhere, and somehow. We can get all the stuff we want or need whenever we want it and in the quantity we want it. This makes life very complicated because there are so many choices.
We’re Caught in the Loop of Consumption and Material Possessions
Consumerism has become an addiction for many people, causing unnecessary spending habits on material things they don’t need or want. The idea of “keeping up with everyone else” has spread from the upper class to society, where it’s become normal to spend money on things you don’t necessarily need (or even want).
This leads to over-consumption and waste, which is detrimental to the environment and our own financial situation – and leads us down a path of spending habits and stress that makes simple living seem impossible!
We Feel Overwhelmed by Technology and Social Media
Technology and social media have simplified life in many ways, but it’s also made it more complicated, with so much information available online that it’s harder than ever to keep track of it all.
Our Priorities Aren’t Always in the Right Place
We’re so busy trying to accomplish all the things we think will make us happy that we never stop to wonder if they actually are. We get so caught up in our own little world that we forget that there are other people out there doing the exact same thing. We’re so obsessed with playing the game of life that we don’t even realize that there’s another way to play.
We Fear Reality
For most people, reality is painful. It hurts our feelings. It hurts our ego.
As children, we don’t understand that things just are – I’m not sure many adults do either. We think there’s something wrong with us because we don’t conform to the ideal image we’ve set up in our minds. And so we try more and more to be different than we really are.
We try to be the way other people want us to be – or at least the way they think they want us to be.
There are many things you can do to simplify your life, but are you actually doing them?
Simplification is about letting go of what you don’t need and living your life according to your values. Often we know the answers and yet we find excuses to run away from them because it’s the easy option, because it’s our comfort zone, even though when you really experience simplicity, you may realize that your comfort zone wasn’t so comfortable after all.
If You’re Ready to Make Some Changes in Your Life to Live a Simpler Life, Start “Simple”!
For example, don’t try minimalism all in one go! Start with one small thing first and focus on one small thing at a time.
If you immediately jump into getting rid of everything in your home or office, you’ll probably get overwhelmed and give up before you even get started!
Take small steps first by deciding what small things you can get rid of now. Once you’ve mastered this phase, you can move on to other things like clothes or books, etc, until you have fewer things. If you have multiple rooms in your house, focus on one at a time instead of trying to do them all at once!
Don’t Be Afraid to Let Go
You may be holding on to things you no longer need, such as an old phone, a worn pair of shoes, or a tattered book. It’s very easy to get attached to things and not want to throw them away because they’re so familiar and comfortable.
But there are so many ways we can simplify our lives and make more room for experiences and memories that have more meaning.
For example, scrolling through your phone when you should be sleeping or watching TV instead of living in the present moment are just a few of the ways we avoid simplifying our lives.
Here are a few things you can do tonight to simplify your life and actually get some sleep:
- Turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before bed. The blue light from these devices disrupts our circadian rhythms (the internal clock that helps us fall asleep), so avoid them as much as possible during the evening hours.
- Take a hot shower or a bath before you go to bed to deeply relax and release muscle tension!
- Meditate for 10-20 minutes every night before bed – this will help you clear your head and lower stress levels so you can relax more easily when it’s time for a restful sleep.
- Use guided meditation apps like Headspace, Calm, or Plum Village that take you through the process step by step until it becomes second nature. This way, they do all the work while showing us how best to approach these tasks ourselves.
Live in the Present Moment
Let’s go back to basics and start with a few life hacks that will help you simplify your life.
Living in the present moment is a simple concept, but it can be very challenging. It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts about the past and the future, which pulls us out of the present moment. But when we’re able to live more in the present, we’ve many benefits.
- A greater sense of happiness and contentment.
- less stress and anxiety
- more joy and appreciation for what you’ve now, instead of always wanting more
- better health because it reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that cause disease
- Increased self-awareness because you recognize how your thoughts affect your feelings and behaviors.
It’s easy to get caught up in the past or future. We spend so much time worrying about what we did or didn’t do and what’ll happen next that we forget to enjoy today.
Living in the present moment doesn’t mean you don’t plan for your future or think about your past; it just means you try to focus more on what’s happening right now than what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. Here are some tips on how you can do that:
Stop Worrying About the Future or Regretting the Past
- Don’t multitask, e.g., don’t look at your phone while you eat or watch TV
- Take things for granted less often, e.g., take pictures of all the good moments before they pass and become forgotten memories. Be grateful for what you’ve.
- Be busy because you want to be productive, not because you “have to be busy.”
- Be yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other people who’re doing better than you, but stay true to yourself.
- Prepare your mindset.
- Breathing exercises.
- Positive thinking.
Affirmations, visualization, and self-awareness are great ways to learn how to change your mindset and improve your mental health – they can also help you achieve higher levels of self-acceptance, gratitude, self-compassion, self-love, and even respect for others!
Reduce Complexity Before Trying to Simplify
The first step in simplifying anything is to reduce the complexity of the thing you’re trying to simplify. Many people try to do good things, but don’t think about the bad things that might be included in the good they’re trying to do. The same is true of simplification: many people try to simplify before they reduce complexity.
If you want to simplify your life, you need to reduce the number of distractions, activities, and commitments that make your life complicated. If you don’t reduce complexity first, it’s impossible for you to identify what’s really important in your life and focus on those things.
The problem with trying to simplify first and then reduce complexity is that it’s difficult for most people to see where things get complex and why they get complex in the first place.
The solution is simple: discontinue everything else that’s not important to your happiness and well-being, and focus exclusively on those things until they become second nature. Focus on complexity only when it’s absolutely necessary.
Being Organized Is a Good Way to Get Started
Start today. Don’t wait for the perfect time to start simplifying your life, because there’s no such thing as a perfect time.
Simplification Can Be an Ongoing Process That You Should Continue to Work on to Make It Easier for Yourself Later
Organizing your life can help you see where you can make improvements and what changes will benefit you the most!
It’s easier to get organized when you have a system, rather than trying to do everything at once.
- How much time does each project or task take?
- Is it worth my time?
- Am I interested in doing it or not?
- Do I really want this thing or am I just holding on to it because it was “expensive”?
These are questions that need to be answered before I decide whether something should stay or go!
Set a Routine
A morning routine and an evening routine are good for staying organized and help eliminate mental clutter as you train to live a more balanced and simple life, which is good for your personal growth because they’re two parts of your daily life that you no longer have to think about or organize.
Make Yourself Disciplined
- Start small. There are countless ways to simplify your life, so don’t try to tackle everything at once. Instead, pick an area that’s bothering you (for me, it was my email inbox) and start there.
- Break down big goals into small, manageable tasks. If the idea of simplifying your everyday life seems overwhelming, tackle smaller projects first: “Simplify” could become a weekly task rather than an end goal in itself. That way, you’ll feel more successful and motivated each week!
- Don’t try to do everything at once. It can be tempting to feel overwhelmed with our lives or our homes, but don’t try to tackle everything at once – just take small steps to make changes that are good for your soul and your wallet!
- Give yourself a break and acknowledge your successes along the way! When we overthink things, they can overwhelm us. Instead, acknowledge the progress you’ve already made, and don’t focus on the last few steps on the way to the elusive finish line of perfectionism!
Learn to Say “NO”
When you say no, you’re making a decision. You’re deciding that something else is more important than what’s being offered to you. When someone asks you for help, wants to meet you for coffee, or wants to share something with you because they think you’ll be interested – these are opportunities to practice saying no.
If someone asks me out and I don’t feel like it, sometimes I say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t right now.” Sometimes I also say, “Thank you, but unfortunately my schedule is full this week.” Both work; both are polite ways of saying no without my having to explain why.
I also think that in some situations it’s best not to apologize for not being able to go – because we all have reasons why our lives don’t always look the way others would like! Sometimes we’re just busy, sometimes we already have other plans… and so on!
So remember: there’s nothing wrong with politely saying “no.”
Declutter Your Inbox and Reduce Your Mobile Notifications
We live in a world of sensory overload. We’ve more information than we can process, and our attention spans are shorter than ever.
Inboxes and mobile notifications are overwhelming because they’re designed to be. They’re designed to make us feel like there’s too much to do and not enough time. When we declutter our inbox, we reduce our stress levels and start living a simpler life.
Inboxes are designed to overflow. Social media apps want you to check them constantly so they can show you ads. Cell phone notifications are meant to keep you glued to your phone. Here are a few things you can try to make your life easier:
Reduce the Number of Email Accounts You Have and Declutter All of Them
- Filter your emails so they end up in specific folders, and unsubscribe from anything that doesn’t need to be sent to you regularly (like daily deals).
- Set up rules for your emails that automatically file or delete messages based on criteria such as sender, subject line, keywords in the message body (e.g., “urgent”), etc., so that it’s not just receiving emails from certain people or organizations that create unnecessary clutter over time – once they’re there, chances are they’ll stay there until you clean up at some point in the future! You can also set up filters so that certain types of emails are blocked before they even get to your inbox. This is especially useful if you receive too many newsletters or other content on a regular basis, but don’t want them clogging up your inbox every day when they come in through a specific channel like Facebook Messenger.
- “Check your email only twice a day” (if you can) seems like an obvious rule, but it’s necessary because otherwise, we spend more time than necessary going through our inbox instead of focusing on something else important- and feeling stressed about what might happen while we’re not checking! This isn’t sustainable in the long run, because eventually, something will slip through our fingers if we ignore our inbox while we’re trying to get other things done (especially considering how often companies email important information these days!). Checking it less often means less stress in the long run.”
Make Sure You’ve Space for Activities That Make You Happy
We all want to be happier. We want to enjoy our lives more, be less stressed, and have more time for family and friends. But we also want to work hard, accomplish more, and contribute more to our community. It’s not about giving up the things that make you happy. It’s about cutting out the things that don’t make you happy.
When we feel happy, everything becomes easier. We don’t have to struggle so much with the little decisions of everyday life. We’re more present in our relationships – both personal and professional – because we’re not busy with other things. We can focus on what’s really important without worrying about what’s missing or what needs to be done next.
So how can we make sure happiness is a priority? Here are 5 tips to help you make time for happiness:
- Make time for activities that make you happy.
- Avoid distractions during your “happiness time” (turn off notifications, for example).
- Schedule your happy times like appointments (e.g. “10 am-12 pm: yoga class”).
- Balance work and play by setting aside two hours for yourself each day (e.g., 8-10 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.).
- Spend at least 15 minutes each day doing something outside your comfort zone (
Facing the Fact That You Have a Problem Is Always a Good Way to Identify What’s Complicating Your Life
One thing that can help simplify your life is understanding why it got complicated in the first place.
For example, if you have a problem with clutter but don’t know why there’s so much stuff in your house or how it got there in the first place, just throwing things away won’t help. You may end up hoarding more stuff!
If you understand what caused this problem in the past, you can take steps now to prevent it from happening again. One way would be to buy storage solutions that keep everything neat and easy to access when you need it later (but not too far away).
If you want to simplify your life, it’s important to understand the problem before you can solve it. You need to know what makes your life complicated and what you really want.
Habits are powerful
They can make or break your day, and the more you know about them, the better you can use them to your advantage.
Once We Understand How Our Habits Affect Our Lives, We Can Begin to Change Them
Habits are things you do without thinking about them – they’re automatic. For example: brushing your teeth every morning, making a coffee before work, and turning on the TV as soon as you get home from work. All of these are habits that you get into over time, often without even realizing it!
There are good habits and bad habits; some are good for us, and some aren’t. If a habit makes you feel good (like exercising), then it’s a good habit. If a habit makes you feel bad (like smoking), then it’s a bad habit.
Focusing on developing positive habits is an important part of becoming happier and healthier. Here’s how you can transform your habits:
Understand How Your Habits Affect Your Life
Understanding how certain habits affect different areas of your life, such as your diet, the time you spend with friends and family, and even the way you interact with your partner, will help you figure out which habits you need to change.
Identify bad habits that need to be changed.
By identifying all these different areas where we’ve patterns of behavior that aren’t good for us, we can take steps to change where it’s most needed, even where it may not seem that urgent at first, but over time actually has a big impact on our quality of life if we don’t control it (eating junk food too often, for example).
Write down why these things are so important to you so that they come back to you every time you go through a stressful day or week where everything feels overwhelming – keep looking at them throughout this process until they become second nature to you!
We Get So Focused on Material Things That We Completely Forget What’s Really Important
We get so focused on material things that we completely forget what’s really important: community, family, and friendship. It’s easy to become consumed by material possessions and lose sight of the important things in life.
It’s great to have nice things, but it’s even more important to have friends you can count on.
A good friend will always be there for you, even if they don’t live near you. They’ll help you when no one else will, and they’ll never judge you for being yourself, even if it conflicts with their own values.
You can’t buy a good friend. You also don’t get a good friend by buying them gifts or treating them well all the time. A good friend is someone who cares about your well-being more than anything else – just like family should.
Simplify Your Diet and Keep It Balanced
You’re what you eat. You can simplify your diet by reducing food waste and choosing seasonal, whole foods. By eating less meat and sugar, you can better control your consumption of these substances and reduce the amount of time they spend on their way to your plate.
Eating local and seasonal foods is a great way to simplify your diet because produce has to travel less distance before it arrives in your kitchen, and there’s less packaging waste that often results from transporting produce from faraway places. By eating whole foods, you get more nutrients from fewer calories than processed foods, which leads us to another method of simplification: eliminating artificial ingredients!
Eliminating artificial ingredients, food additives (like preservatives), sugars, and fats can help simplify your meal plan because these substances are found in many processed foods that are commonly consumed these days – like granola bars or crackers with powdered cheese on them!
If someone is having a hard time making these kinds of changes on their own because they don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not so healthy, there are many resources on the internet (like this website) where you can learn more about what products should go into your cart the next time you go shopping…
Write a Diary
One of the best ways to simplify your life is to write a diary. This way, you can find out what’s complicating your life and then use that information to make positive changes in your life.
Journal writing can also help you understand yourself better by giving your thoughts and feelings an outlet. By writing down what you’re thinking and feeling, you can gain some distance from those feelings. If something makes you angry or frustrated, writing it down can help you let the negative feelings and reactions subside before they develop into something bigger (like a grudge).
Another way to simplify life is to figure out what’s most important to us in the future. If we journal regularly at least once or twice a week (or more) for a few months, we ask ourselves questions like, “What makes me happy? How do I want to see my future self? How do I imagine myself feeling when X occurs? What does success mean to me?”
These questions bring out our values: the things that really matter to us, not just what society tells us we should have (e.g., money).
Learn Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness means bringing your attention to what’s happening in the present moment. It’s a way of being instead of thinking about how you should be. When we’re mindful, we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging ourselves or trying to change them – we just observe them as they’re. We can practice mindfulness as a formal meditation practice or while doing other things, such as washing dishes or walking down the street.
Mindfulness Has Many Benefits Beyond Stress Reduction and Relaxation
Mindfulness helps us gain clarity and focus because it helps us block out distractions, so we can stay on task longer without getting distracted (or at least for shorter periods of time). This makes it easier for us to set goals and then achieve them!
It also increases compassion for others by helping us see them as human beings with similar problems who deserve to be understood rather than judged (including ourselves!). This makes life much more enjoyable when interacting with others because we judge our fellow human beings less, which leads to less conflict overall.”
Try a Retreat
A retreat is a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and focus on yourself. The world is full of distractions and temptations. We’re constantly bombarded with emails, text messages, and phone calls. Our workdays are longer than ever, leaving little time for family. And our homes can turn into a mess in minutes.
It’s also a great way to get away from it and learn good mindfulness habits as well as meditation techniques. Many people don’t realize how much they can benefit from a weekend at a retreat center or even just a day in silence at home.
Benefits of Retreats
There are many benefits to taking a retreat out of your busy schedule:
- Stillness – Stillness is sometimes hard to find in our hectic lives. When you take time out from technology and other distractions, you may enjoy this peaceful state for the first time in years.
- Time for yourself – When you take time off from work, you can recharge your batteries so that when you return, you’ll be ready for the challenges life has in store for you next week!
- Community – While most people go on their own retreats because they want some time to themselves (and we commend them for that), the energy of a community is very special, even during meditation. Just knowing that everyone is coming together for the same goal can help you feel stronger.