True happiness is found in the small, simple things. This is true, you know. That’s why many are now changing lifestyles and dedicating themselves to living a simple life.
Did you know that extravagance is often a sign of discontentment?
Think about it – there are so many people surrounded by excess. They hoard things because they fear they will run out. And they live in big homes that show their success and wealth.
But they are not happy.
Then, think about those who are living a simple life. They do not have much in terms of wealth or material possessions but they are happy and are living a more meaningful life.
Simple living does not mean to renounce your wealth, career, possessions and live in poverty.
Living simple means you are getting rid of the non-essentials in your life to focus your energy, time, and hard-earned money on things that matter the most. And we’re not just talking about material things here.
You should include the non-essential activities, feelings, people, and other areas that are giving you more stress than joy.
So, how do you start joining the simple living movement? Here are 10 ways to help you start living simple:
1. Start with your home.
Living simple starts where you live.
Take a look at your home. Is the space too big for you?
Big homes may seem to be the dream but it actually makes you want to spend more. You are tempted to fill it with things – even if you don’t really need them.
Plus, big homes also mean you have to clean and maintain a big space. It is good, however, for families of five and above members. But if you have less than that, it would be better financially to move to a smaller home.
Now if your home is just big enough for your family, then all you have to do is declutter. Evaluate your possessions and identify the things that you use on a daily basis.
As for the rest, they are clutter that you have to get rid of either by donating or selling. You do not use them every day, they are not essential to your life, therefore, they are just occupying space.
2. Assess Your Obligations and Activities
The weekends used to be the time to be lazy and have some family bonding. But today, everyone is bombarded with activities and obligations to eat up all free time.
Children are enrolled in swimming lessons, music lessons, and clubs. Parents have community and church volunteer services, social outings with their officemates, and parent teacher associations.
Do not get me wrong, these are not bad. But you have to make sure that you and your family have free time.
So examine which of these activities are adding value to your life.
For instance, you feel fulfilled with your volunteer work but you dread social outings with your officemates. Then the social outings must go. After all, you still see your officemates most of the week.
Cutting out some of these activities will be a positive contribution to your family and allow you to spend time with one another.
3. Loosen up your schedule.
Are you the type of person who adheres to a strict daily routine or schedule?
Isn’t it frustrating when some emergency or something unexpected comes up and throws off your schedule? You end up stressed out at the end of the day.
The question is, why are you living life that way?
Most of us are deceived into thinking that following a strict routine or schedule makes us more productive.
The truth is, simplifying your routine is more beneficial.
Think about it. There are so many unexpected things that can come up. You cannot schedule everything!
When you have a more flexible schedule, these interruptions can be accommodated without affecting your productivity, or how you feel about your productivity.
I am not telling you to ignore your deadlines. What I’m saying is you need to accommodate free time.
Instead of scheduling everything down to the minute, just make a general to-do list of things that you need to accomplish by the end of the day – no specific time except for important deadlines.
4. Watch your emotions.
Did you know that you can also simplify your feelings?
Most stress comes from how you react to situations and when you harbor negative emotions.
Feelings are essential but you do not necesarily have to overfeel everything!
You need to learn to let go because negative feelings are actually hindering any progress you want to achieve in life.
I am not saying that you walk around with no feelings. Each emotion has a reason to be felt.
But when you dwell on negative feelings and let them linger for too long, they become a problem. Why would you want that?
5. Control your spending.
We live in a culture where our ability to buy things is an indicator of success, and even happiness. But this is not always the case.
Simplifying your spending habits will greatly depend on your mindset.
You can be successful without having the latest gadgets. And you can feel wealthy without having the latest appliances, or buying the most beautiful dress, or going to the grandest vacations.
Simple living is all about forgetting the consumerism-based lifestyle.
When you spend money on things that you truly need and give you joy, you are not spending – you are actually investing.
You will be amazed at how much money you can save when you only spend on the essentials. That money can go to more valuable things like buying a heavy-duty washing machine to simplify your laundry.
Or you can spend it to allow you to stay home and care for your kids – creating even more meaningful experiences with them while they’re still young.
One great tip to accomplish this is to get rid of your credit cards. Sure, they are good for emergencies but if you know that credit cards are more often a temptation to you than a savior, then get rid of it.
Without credit cards, you are forced to buy only what you can really afford. And there’ll be no debt to worry about!
6. Lessen your bills.
Take a look at your list of monthly expenses.
Aside from the essentials such as rent, power bill, water bill, and phone bills, what else is there on the list?
Now I want you to think hard.
Are you getting your money’s worth?
For instance, do you pay a monthly gym membership but you are so busy you only end up going once or twice a month? Why not cancel your membership and just take a jog in the park when you have the time?
How about your cable bill? Do you actually sit at home and watch TV? Most of us now are just streaming our movies and TV shows online.
And not only that. You can actually get rid of the TV and use your time for more valuable things to do! I’m sure you’ll love them more than TV.
Getting rid of some of your monthly expenses leaves you with more money to save and spend on things that you really need.
7. Create firm boundaries.
Many of us get so easily abused because we do not enforce boundaries. We allow the abuse and as a result, we become a magnet for toxic relationships – whether it be a lover, a family member, a friend, or a colleague.
Toxic relationships bring a lot of stress and drama to your life. If you want a simple lifestyle, you have to let go of your toxic relationships too.
You do this by creating firm boundaries and learning to say “no.”
A simple lifestyle will show you what your passion and major priorities are. When you have a clear goal, it is easier to say no to things that deviate you from that goal.
Yes, you will lose some people in the process, but when you think about it, is it really such a huge loss?
8. Turn your gadgets off.
Your gadgets, no matter how high-tech they are, can be a major source of stress.
Getting notifications from social media, e-mails from work when you are supposed to be resting, and many more interruptions.
So make a habit of turning off your gadgets during bedtime, when you are on vacation, or when you are spending time with your family.
This allows you to live in the moment and focus on the people around you!
9. Create a “me” time.
When you barely have time for yourself, it is hard to appreciate life and what you have.
So find an activity that gives you some alone time – a chance to be on your own, reflect on your life, relax, and just be.
It could be gardening, meditation, coloring or doodling, writing in a journal, a walk in the beach – anything that lets you be alone and allows you to reflect on life.
Trust me, you will be able to have a more positive mindset and a more relaxed vibe when you create a regular “me” time.
10. Eat simple and go organic.
Do you need to have a slice of the most expensive chocolate cake when you will be satisfied with just a brownie?
Do you spend your money on microwave and instant food?
Simple living also affects what you put in your stomach. I am not telling you to diet and eat less.
On the contrary, I am telling you that when living a simple life, you will learn to prepare simple and organic meals.
Because organic food is healthier, fresher and more flavorful than non-organic, I don’t think you will eat less. You’ll eat more! But there’s no problem about that.
Because you’ll be eating more fiber, more vitamins and nutrients! But yes, you also will be eating less – less processed food, trans fats, sugar – those stuff that make you fat and expose you to ailments like obesity, cancer and heart disease.
Now, tell me you don’t like that!
So instead of buying your food in the groceries, go to the local farmer’s market or to an organic store.
You can even start your own herb and vegetable garden if you have your own yard. Or just plant in containers!
This is important because you need to have a healthy body as well. Simple living may clear your mind, let go of stress, but you still have to fill up and make sure that you feed your body well.
Living simple is MORE.
When you start living simple, life becomes more meaningful since you are now living it on your own terms.
With the non-essentials out of the equation, you now have the resources, space, and time to pursue what matters most to you.
Switching to a simple lifestyle is not that easy, but at the end of the day, it is definitely worth it!