While some people may think it is hard to live simply in today’s day and age, we are a big believer in living a simple life. We also think it does not need to be that hard to do, as long as you have the strength to do your own thing, not give into peer or societal pressure and maybe most importantly, the ability to say no. Life amounts to choices and decisions you make, and people can decide to either make things complicated or simple.
No matter what someone’s income or financial status is, they can decide to life simply. They can wake up every day and make the choices that cultivate this. We define simple life to include many different things. It is not just not being materialistic, though that is a part. We also consider it to be using time effectively, avoiding drama, peace, decluttering, having more energy, nature, and much more. Some of the below is my own experiences, and some is from other sources/experts.
Many readers of this site are low to moderate income, and living simply definitely includes not being materialistic. Do not spend your money on things you do not really need, and know the difference between a “want” and a “need”. What are some examples?
• People do not need the latest cell phone the moment in comes out, and can wait months or even year(s) for the price to drop. The same concept applies to other electronics, cars, TVs, and countless “gadgets”.
• Do you really need to pay an outrageous cable bill for hundreds of channels, or can you cut back to save money?
• Studies show costly, brand name clothing is not any better than store names, and in fact most of it is manufactured in the same factories. Do you need a brand name clothing, or tons of coats, shoes, and other clothing items?
• Live simply within your budget, debt free.
There are countless examples of people being responsible for their own complications in life. We get emails from people who are in financial difficulty, yet they want help paying a cable TV bill! People want the latest clothing, cosmetics, and “stuff”. It is never ending. Materialism can cause a low income family to live right on the brink, so if they miss a paycheck they could be evicted or have their lights turned off.
Living simply, and cutting out pursuit of material items, also can help middle and high income households. The need for more and more is never ending. Even if you have the latest car or phone, someone else will soon have it. Then what is next? It has to be bigger and better, and it is endless pursuit of that. You will want the latest gadget or item again, as soon as it comes out. If you have a lot of money in the bank, someone else in your orbit or area always has more, so wanting more and more address stress, pressure, and complicates life. The pursuit of material goods and money is often endless, and that pursuit is not the definition of living simply.
Living simply in other ways
Learn to live with less pressure, time commitments, clutter, and expectations in your life. You do not need more and you do not need to be everything to everyone. Realizing, and executing on this will give you more joy in life, time for you or what is important, and “freedom”; which is a benefit of living simply.
As we noted, cutting our materialism is just one aspect of this. But living simply also involves many different things, such as decluttering space, freeing your mind, acceptance, connecting with people or nature, getting rid of distractions, letting go, and similar activities.
You can’t be everything to everyone; the pressure is too intense and it leads to anxiety (I know this first hand!), guilt, panic attacks, feelings of being sad, exhaustion, and even mental issues. You need to cut back, and focus on what is important and what you can do well. Learn to say no….you can’t overextend yourself and be everything to everyone. Learn to accept you and make peace with it.
Cut out drama. That brings stress, complication, and can hurt your health. Calm and peace are important to a simple life.
Declutter where you live, and getting rid of all those countless distractions such as junk drawers, unnecessary paper, shelves full of junk, all extra clothes, and more is a start. Just think, what in your home is there but you haven’t used it in months or even years….that is probably clutter.
Free your mind. People spend hours on their phones, have TV running in the background, etc. All those distractions cause your mind to never rest. Plus you will see more beautiful people on TV or online, people with “stuff”, etc. and it may cause you to want more too. Ending that can help break the cycle. Even cut out the cable to free your mind and save money on TV bills. Or learn to mediate to rest your mind and enjoy the solitude…it is free to do!
Get off social networks and electronics. People spend an average of 2 hours per day on social networks, often just scrolling and mindlessly wasting time. That is equivalent to 30 days per year at 24 hours per day. If you back out sleeping time time, it is equal to about 45 waking days per year! Teens spend several hours per day on networks so it is much worse for them. It also impacts sleep, causes unhappiness/depression, and worse.
Do not overcommit. Life simply, spread your time wisely, and say no to activities. Leave time to yourself each day, your thoughts or an activity that rests your mind. Go for a walk, sit in a park or quiet place in your home or in your neighborhood. Even in the biggest cities in the world you can find peace. In London, San Francisco, NYC, and many other cities during the early mornings the streets are quiet…it can be peaceful.
It is OK to be imperfect. Chasing something that is not achievable can be stressful, and is a never ending battle. You do not need to be a CEO or be rich. Living simply is accepting those imperfections, no matter around physical appearance, your personality quirks, income, etc.
Life simply by spending time with yourself. Mediate, go to a park, sit in nature, read a book, and turn off the phone/disconnect for your own time each and every day. No one needs to respond instantly to every work or personal email. You do not need to like every social feed, for many people you may not know or not say for months and/or years.
Learn to focus on an activity or person that is in front of you or that you are communicating with. Give them your attention, as it is something that is important.
Eat healthy, simple food. It is obviously better than junk food and good for your mind and body. Studies show people who live simply are healthier, live longer, more mindful of diets, etc. Sit down and enjoy eating a meal. Shop for groceries efficiently with a plan ,which can save you money on the healthy food.
Do not run up debts and overspend. Live within your means. Heck, never ever use a credit card unless you have bonus points/incentives to do so and unless you are 100% sure of paying the monthly bill off each and every month.
Be generous. As you declutter in an effort to live simply, give to others, the less fortunate, thrift stores, or poor. There are many health benefits to giving and/or buying for others…studies show giving and being generous with others leads to much higher levels of happiness.
Be content. Find what makes you happy. The cup of coffee and stop to relax/enjoy it. If you volunteer, the smile from the person helped. Listen to music, or find something simple that bring you a small or moment of peace. For those lower income readers, it does not need to be costly to find something small in your life you can enjoy. Make the most of it. If you cut out all the distractions (such as hours per day online, TV, etc.) it is simple to find the time in your life to do that.
Live in a simple home or apartment. Do people really need all those room and/or square feet in their house? Live is a small, simple home that is cozy. It brings peace, and also saves money on taxes, utilities, rent, mortgages, and the fact you do not need as much “stuff” for it.
Accept your flaws and who you are. It is OK to make fun of yourself and your imperfections. Pursuing material things or beauty through products or surgery is a never ending battle, no to mention a waste of money. You will only want the latest product, make-up or surgery. Accept yourself to live simply.
My ideas of a simple life
While there will and need to be many common themes to living simply, every person may have their own twist on it. What is your definition of a simple life?
Personally, I try my best to live simply. I enjoy walking my dog, just sitting at the beach watching waves crash in and listening to the surf, going for a slow walk outside so I can look at nature while soft acoustic music is playing on my headphones, reading a good novel, and I like quiet. I do not desire material possessions, and for the “possessions” I do have, I like the simple things in life; I do not insist on “brand-name” or top of the line items. (I dislike materialism).
I try to laugh my myself, love getting up in the morning for the sunrise or seeing the sunset at night, love the peace in the early morning, like to exercise, and eat healthy. I live within my means, do not take on debt, and want peace with no drama or fighting. Those are just a few of the things I try my best to accomplish in my effort to live simply.
But to live simply, we think it is critical to find what is important to you, and say no to things that aren’t. Steve Jobs said “Your time is limited, and don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Free your time from distractions, and focus on what makes you happy and let other pressures, stuff, and pursuits go.