Updated: Oct 16
Over the past two years, while facing various personal challenges, I’ve been searching for ways to simplify my life. Living a simpler lifestyle has changed the way I do things and it’s something that has slowly evolved even before my life turned into an emotional rollercoaster ride!
From designing my own off-the-grid tiny home to wondering what possessions I could let go of should we actually downsize, living simply entails far more than I imagined. It doesn’t only mean letting go of physical stuff but also being willing to simplify the way I interact with people or situations.
In other words, shifting through the mental and emotional junk and removing what’s no longer necessary. There are numerous ways of living a simple life and I am sharing a few of the ideas that I’ve discovered in my pursuit of a simpler lifestyle.
What Does It Mean to Live a Simpler Lifestyle? Understanding Simple Living
When I first tackled the idea of living a simpler lifestyle, I was thinking along the following lines:
Decreasing mortgage repayments by downsizing
Going off-grid with solar panels and rainwater tanks
Growing my own vegetables
Having more acceptance and stronger boundaries
Yes, all of these things aspire to a gentler and simpler lifestyle. But, what exactly does simple living mean? In essence, it means to declutter and let go of physical (and mental) possessions) while removing daily obligations to slow down an otherwise frantic lifestyle.
Simple living talks about walking away from materialism driven by excessive consumerism, something minimalists strive to attain. It’s about finding joy and beauty in less than more and choosing quality experiences over quantity. A key aspect of living a simple life is about finding happiness in the things you truly value.
If I was to break down the cornerstones of a simpler lifestyle, I would say they include:
Living within my means
A healthy BUT simple diet
Having a simpler daily schedule doing the things I value and brings me joy
Doing things that align with my personal core values
Living a simple life means removing yourself from the rat race and slowing down so you can smell the roses (literally!) It means letting go of those people or situations that no longer bring you peace. A simpler lifestyle entails finding happiness in the moment, rejoicing in what you have, and being organized.
Charles Spurgeon defines simple living as “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.” I believe it also means choosing experiences over possessions, quality time with the people we love, and watching the sunsets.
7 Tips to Living a Simple Life
1. Live Within Your Means
With the cost of living rising at a rapid rate, most of us are trying to find ways to reduce daily lifestyle expenses. It’s not always that easy and it sometimes means making major life-changing decisions such as downsizing your home, eating a simple diet, and reducing entertainment bills.
Living within your means is the perfect excuse for having a simpler life. You no longer need to stress about high mortgages, expensive energy bills, or wasting time buying unnecessary stuff online! Living according to your what you have doesn’t equate to deprivation but instead gives you permission to get out of the vicious cycle of desire!
Instead of trying to fit in with the Joneses next door or buckling under social pressure to shop until you drop because your friends are doing it, you can stop, slow down, and be YOU.
2. Reduce Possessions
Reducing possessions, especially those that continue to cost you or take up precious space in your life is a great way to start living simply. It reduces anxiety, allows you to enjoy items that serve a valuable purpose in your life and decreases housework. If rising mortgage costs are drowning you in debt, perhaps it’s time to call it quits, sell, and downsize to a smaller home.
Are you still paying off vehicle loans because you wanted the latest model to fit in with your friends? Or, your mode of transport is a fuel guzzler because you “just HAVE to have that 4x4 truck so you can go bundu bashing on weekends” (even though you haven’t done it since purchasing the vehicle two years ago!) Downscaling to a smaller car cuts down on costs and gets you from A to B!
Decluttering your home removes junk that takes up space and serves no purpose anyway. Removing unnecessary possessions such as your grandmother’s rocking chair gives you a sense of relief while opening up space for energy to flow freely. How’s that for a breath of fresh air?
3. Switch Over From TV to Reading, Meditation, or Star Gazing
Meditating, reading, and star gazing are some of my favorite activities when I need to slow down and have a simple moment or two (or more!) It’s so easy to plonk yourself down at the end of a busy day and watch TV mindlessly for the rest of the night. However, you’re exposing yourself to endless ads promoting consumerism and mindless watching can make you tired and demotivated.
I add social media, gaming stations, and other digital activities to this category – endless scrolling, fighting aliens, or picking up your mobile every few minutes to check for messages is exhausting. Choosing gentler activities such as yoga, doing moon rituals, or journaling is far better for your mind, body, and soul.
Picking a creative hobby or coloring in mandalas is a constructive and enjoyable way of filling your hours at the end of a hectic day or spending quality solo time on the weekends. Whatever your favorite go-to is for some quiet time, make sure you keep it simple.
4. Plan a Simple Daily Schedule
I know this isn’t an easy one for busy parents or workaholics but if you’re serious about living a simple life, you need to put aside some things when planning your daily schedule. It could also mean waking up an hour earlier every day for morning rituals that will set the tone for what’s ahead.
A simple schedule entails removing obligations from your calendar that don’t bring you happiness or add value to your life. The message here is to focus on what you love doing! It means putting family and friends in place of TV watching or Internet trawling. Your daily routine should be a reflection of what truly matters to you and not what society expects.
Planning a simple schedule helps you to slow down and gives you time to do the things that matter to you most. It’s about organizing your life better so that you have a work-life balance that’s all about quality and not quantity. Your schedule should bring you peace – not overwhelm and late working hours!
5. Install Strong Personal Boundaries
One of the biggest reasons our life gets complicated is that we don’t know how to say NO. Having poor boundaries is a surefire way of living a chaotic life especially when it involves people and situations you don’t want in your personal space! Installing strong personal boundaries defines your wants and needs and getting them met.
Healthy boundaries allow you to surround yourself with people who respect and genuinely care for you without demanding anything from you. Your consensus circle is your sacred space and lets you practice self-love without feeling guilty you’re not spending time with those who drain you.
Poor boundaries keep you on a perpetual emotional and physical rollercoaster ride and this is no way to live a simpler life! Instead, start off by understanding your wants and needs so you can install strong personal boundaries that let you live a whole and complete life without any complications.
6. Set Meaningful Goals That Talk to Your Life Purpose
Setting goals is the stepping stone to your life purpose – or they should be! Meaningful goals aligned with your personal core values take the angst out of changes you need to make to bring you closer to your life purpose. This way, you can simplify the process of change while enjoying it at the same time.
Living a slow, simple life doesn’t mean you stop achieving and being successful. But, it does mean reducing the to-do list and removing overwhelming tasks that serve no purpose in the long run. Knowing this is essential prevents you from turning your goals into mammoth challenges that drain you instead of motivating you to keep it simple.
If your next goal is to find a simpler lifestyle, start making a list of activities you can do to help bring you closer to your ideal outcome – using these tips in this article is a great starting point. Hiring a transformational life coach will help you set achievable and meaningful goals while keeping it simple too!
7. Live in the Moment
Living in the moment is one of the most powerful ways of minimizing stress, slowing down, and living a simple life. When I was facing some of the most challenging times of my life in these past two years, I would remind myself to stay present. Only then could I stop that anxious feeling that threatened to topple me over the edge!
When you live in the moment, you notice the flowers that are blooming, you hear the birds twittering in your garden, and you taste the food you’re eating. Being present means using all your senses while staying grounded in the moment. It prevents you from going down the rabbit hole because of an overactive imagination that creates fear-based scenarios that elevate your blood pressure unnecessarily.
NOW is the moment of power and it’s all you’ve got to keep you in the right lane. You don’t need to linger in the past or frantically try to control the future, all of which creates a stressful life. Living in the moment keeps life simple – believe me, I know and encourage you to try it.
Practicing gratitude, playing with your dog instead of heading off to the mall for some mindless shopping, and spending time in nature is simpler and kinder to your soul. Opting for a minimalist lifestyle takes time and patience but it can be done and the rewards are enormous – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
It’s about knowing what you really want from life and striving to achieve it if you want to be true to yourself. I choose gardening over shopping malls, moon rituals over TV, and reading over socializing with people who drain me. These things keep me grounded while keeping my life uncomplicated. What would make your life simple and meaningful?