Ten Ways to Simplify your Life
by Patrice Lewis If you ask a hundred people how to simplify their life, you’re likely to receive a hundred different answers. But simple living is nothing more than the accumulation of making good choices. Ironically, simplifying isn’t always easy; but it’s always worthwhile.
Here are 10 ways making good choices can simplify your life. Some of these suggestions are relatively easy, some are unbelievably difficult, but all will contribute toward a simpler life.
1. Take control of your health.
The entire health industry — all the books and organizations and doctor’s advice and medicines and everything else out there — that attempt to keep us healthy can largely be reduced to four major things:
- Don’t smoke
- Keep to a healthy weight
- Eat at least four portions of fruits and vegetables daily
- Exercise regularly
That’s it. Very simple. Doing these four magical things will reduce or solve the health problems of 90% of us. Studies have shown that people who do all these things live an average of 14 years longer than people who adopt none of these behaviors. Yet surveys have shown that only 3% of us do all four. And the nice thing is that these four major things are within our control. Not all health issues can be solved by adopting these four things, but it certainly can’t hurt.
2. Control your debt.
Few things make us feel less in control of our lives than owing too much money to too many institutions.
There are many recommended techniques for eradicating debt, including not acquiring it in the first place. Think carefully before taking out student loans or a hefty mortgage. Try living an all-cash lifestyle. Stop giving in to instant gratification.
Sometimes addressing debt means making unpleasant or unpopular decisions — living with roommates or selling an expensive home — but often these short-term sacrifices result in long-term benefits.
3. Avoid toxic people.
Whether its friendships gone sour, difficult coworkers, or (heaven forbid) an impossible marital situation, jettisoning toxic people goes a long way toward simplifying one’s life.
There are various techniques (ranging from mild to extreme) to minimize contact with toxic people, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But consider how avoiding toxic people might simplify your life, and take steps to make that a reality.
This is probably the most common advice on simplifying, with good reason. Let’s face it, the vast majority of us simply have too many possessions. Do we own our stuff, or does our stuff own us?
Decluttering goes beyond just cleaning out one’s closet or organizing the pantry. It can include selling unneeded or seldom-used big-ticket items (boat? second home? RV?) that take up both mental and physical space. Decluttering might permit us to downsize to a smaller and less expensive living space. If nothing else, decluttering possessions means less maintenance for things we don’t use and being less overwhelmed with stuff. Decluttering can be done in one massive purge, but it takes constant monitoring afterward to maintain. Try it and see if it doesn’t simplify your life.
5. Discipline your kids.
The concept of discipline for children has become watered down in recent decades. As a result, many children run amuck, wreaking havoc in parents’ lives.
The fact of the matter is that children need strict, loving, consistent discipline. They need to learn the parameters of acceptable behavior in our society. By teaching your children acceptable behavior — and yes, this includes discipline — your kids will be a source of pride, not stress.
6. Keep your personal relationships clean.
Don’t cheat on your significant other; don’t behave in toxic ways; don’t pick fights over silly things. Even if your home life is less-than-ideal (in which case other measures may be needed), your life will not be simplified by cheating on your significant other.
7. Limit media consumption.
Some people watch too much television. Others are glued to their smart phones for 18 hours a day. Others are news junkies. Yet others are addicted to video games to the point of excluding or alienating family members.
Too much media consumption doesn’t just waste time, it clutters your mind. Whatever your vice, limiting media means not just having more time for the important things — spouse, kids, pets, home — but also it means less intrusion from a crazy world that we can’t control. Put away your media device and spend time doing something less “connected” and more fulfilling.
8. Learn to be content with less.
Here’s a paraphrase of an ancient story from approximately 400 B.C.: The Greek philosopher Diogenes had a conversation with a fellow sage. This other man had won himself a comfortable position at court by toadying to the tyrant king. One day the sage observed Diogenes preparing a meager meal of lentils and said, “If you would only learn to compliment the king, you wouldn’t have to live on lentils.” Diogenes replied, “If you would learn to live on lentils, you wouldn’t have to flatter the king.”
There will always be something new, flashy, exciting, or ego-enhancing to strive for, but it’s a never-ending chase. Instead, simplify your life and learn to live on lentils (so to speak) and be content with less.
9. Be kind.
Kindness is such an underrated trait that its power is often overlooked. Kindness to spouse, kindness to children, kindness to self, kindness to strangers … the opportunities are limitless. As the saying goes, “You can judge someone’s character by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”
By being kind, you not only impact others in ways you may never know or appreciate, but it will impact your own life as well. Rather than losing your temper at the overworked waiter, you’ll make both your day and his by understanding the pressure he’s under and the grumpy customers he must serve. He’ll feel better, and you’ll feel better.
10. Assess your “complexifiers.”
We all have something that causes stress in our life. Is it debt? An abusive relationship? A long commute? An addiction? An unhealthy lifestyle?
Whatever the issue, your task is to identify what causes the most grief for you. Then seek help to mitigate whatever is “complexifying” your life and keeping you from a peaceful, happy existence.
They say life is only as complicated as you make it. This may sound like a cliché, but the key is to listen to your intuition and then act on it. Everyone’s journey is different. Find what works for you.
Don’t give up. A simple life is within almost everyone’s grasp.
PATRICE LEWIS is a wife, mother, homesteader, homeschooler, author, blogger, columnist, and speaker. An advocate of simple living and self-sufficiency, she has practiced and written about self-reliance and preparedness for almost 30 years. She is experienced in homestead animal husbandry and small-scale dairy production, food preservation and canning, country relocation, home-based businesses, homeschooling, personal money management, and food self-sufficiency. Follow her website http://www.patricelewis.com/ or blog http://www.rural-revolution.com/.
Originally published in May/June 2022 issue of Countryside and Small Stock Journal and vetted for accuracy.