BY SOFO ARCHON
For most people, life has become a burden on their shoulders, and year by year its weight is growing heavier and heavier, until one day they can’t carry it anymore.
But does life have to be such a drudgery?
No, it doesn’t. In fact, life can be stunningly great, if we allow it.
How? Keep scrolling and I’ll show you.
Why is Life So Messed Up?
This is a question I get a lot from readers. I find it quite misleading, since life in itself isn’t messed up. Rather, we insist on making it look like it. Here’s how: By complicating it to such a degree that we can’t enjoy it anymore.
Let me give you a few examples: We do work we don’t enjoy, we buy stuff we don’t need, we say things we don’t mean, we eat food that doesn’t contribute to our health… you get what I mean.
Of course, no person is entirely to blame for that. From an early age, society has conditioned us to live this way. Just consider, for example, the advertising industry, which is constantly preying on our insecurities in order to make us want new products. Or, contemplate on our school system, which is indoctrinating us with the belief that success is nothing but the result of getting good at things we don’t like just for the sake of an external reward. Or, lastly, think of our economic system, which is forcing us to work as wage slaves just so we can merely feed ourselves and sleep under a roof.
As you can understand, it’s not surprising that life seems messed up. But it’s in our hands to change this, if we want to, and make life worth-living again. There are various ways we can do so, and here I’m going to share with you some helpful ways you can create more space for peace, contentment, and health in your life.
Minimalism: A Turn Back to Simplicity
So how can we design a life that is less complicated and more meaningful?
If you haven’t heard of the term minimalism before, here’s its key idea: Getting rid of what isn’t adding value to your life, such as clutter, distractions and unhealthy relationships, and allowing more space for what’s essential to your well-being, such as creativity, love, and play.
Therefore, minimalism or minimalist living is about intentionally focusing on what truly matters to you, and letting go of what doesn’t. Or, to put it differently, it’s about enjoying life more with less.
Now, this might sound like an easy thing to do, but it’s actually quite hard. Why? Because during the course of our lives most of us have lost touch with our true needs and wants. This has resulted in a lack of inner fulfillment, out of which arises a desperate effort to fill our psychological void with physical, mental and emotional clutter, which, instead of making us feel better, actually makes us feel much worse.
The question is: How can one break free from this chaos we’re entangled in and which seems so out of hand?
If you’re trying to figure this out for yourself, I created the following guide to assist you in your journey to living a simpler yet fuller life. It consists of easy yet empowering tips and practices that you can apply in your everyday life in order to reap the incredible benefits of a minimalist lifestyle. Are you ready to dive into it?
A Guide to Minimalist Living
10 Ways to Enjoy Life More with Less
1. Get rid of stuff that doesn’t serve your happiness.
Most people’s living space is cluttered with myriads of things they never use and which don’t contribute to their well-being. On the contrary, those objects are only standing in their way, distracting their attention and preventing them from finding calm, clarity and focus. Some of them even need regular maintenance, and hence require money, time and energy to be spent — or, to be more precise, wasted — on them.
Have a look at your possessions and ask yourself: Do I really need ALL of them? Separate the one’s you do need from the ones you don’t, and throw the latter right into the rubbish bin — or better, give them away to people who might actually benefit from them.
2. Resist consuming products you don’t need.
Discarding things you don’t need is crucial to emptying your life from unnecessary stuff, but if you keep on acquiring new material possessions, it’s going to be filled up pretty soon again.
The solution? It’s simple: Stop buying things you don’t need.
The main reason why so many of us want to buy new products all the time is that we’ve been fooled by the advertising industry that shopping is all we need to be happy. However, the reality is that once we have enough to satisfy our basic human needs, products can’t improve our well-being in any way. They can only provide us with momentary gratification that quite soon vanishes into thin air, leading us in an even worse psychological state than before.
3. Appreciate all the amazing things you already have.
In the day and age of Instagram, so many of us have terrific self-esteem issues. That’s because we constantly compare ourselves to others who seem happier, more beautiful and way more important than us. As we are, we feel like crap, and we try our best to imitate those we are jealous of, in a desperate effort to feel better about ourselves. Yet no matter how much we try, we always fail.
If we’d like to stop feeling crappy, we need to learn to appreciate what we already have, instead of always being focused on what we don’t. That means we need to stop comparing ourselves to others and embrace ourselves for who we are, with all our flaws and imperfections. Only then will we be able to make peace with ourselves, focus on what’s truly important to us and feel grateful for the amazing gift of life.
Starting now, take a moment to appreciate that you’re pulsating with life and are able to experience all the goodness existence has to offer.
Appreciate the beauty of nature.
Appreciate the joy of tasting food.
Appreciate the heart-to-heart bonding between you and your loved ones.
Appreciate the little things in life, and all of a sudden you’ll discover that you actually have way more than previously thought.
4. Minimize your Internet distractions.
Was checking your email the first thing you did this morning? Or was it perhaps scrolling through your social media feed? Or maybe having a look at your favorite news sites for updates?
If so, then it’s very likely that you’re suffering from Internet Distraction Disorder.
But you aren’t alone in that. In fact, nowadays most people are constantly fixated on an electronic screen, wasting hours upon hours everyday being carried away by a constant flood of information. They endlessly jump from one social media network to the other, from this article to that, from one picture to the next.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore the internet and spend much of my time online myself. But if we don’t learn how to use it mindfully, and instead let it use us, then it can play havoc with our mental health.
If you’d like to find more a peaceful state of mind, then you likely need to minimize your internet distractions. To help you get started, here are some practical tips:
- Close as many tabs you can.
- Check your emails up to two times a day, filter and process them immediately, and clear out your inbox.
- Spend as less time on social media as possible (I’d recommend not more than an hour per day).
- Pick a handful of good sources and check them only once a day.
- Set some hours offline each day.
After you’ve applied them for a month or so, shoot me an email at [email protected] and let me know about your progress and the impact this small minimalist lifestyle change has had on your well-being.
5. Build intimate relationships.
What’s missing in the world more than anything else is human connection. People feel disconnected from one another, and that’s for plenty of reasons, with the main being our economic system, which is compelling us to compete with and exploit each other in an endless effort to maximize our personal gain, and thus is constantly reinforcing the idea that others are inimical, or at best indifferent to us.
The result? Loneliness, insecurity, depression.
Every person — including you — is a social being with an emotional need to connect with other people. We all deep down want to be heard, understood, and embraced for who we are. Loving others and feeling loved by them is what brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives more than anythings else. So whenever you find an opportunity for human connection, don’t shy away from it. Put your mobile phone aside for a while and take the time to look at someone in the eye, listen to their story, and open your heart to them.
6. Be truthful with your words.
One of the main reasons why our lives are so complicated is that we’re not quite honest with each other. We say things we don’t mean and we don’t say those things that we do mean, and this inevitably leads to plenty of misunderstandings and interpersonal conflict.
From now on, be sure to avoid uttering lies, and instead voice your sincere thoughts as well as express your feelings. This way you’ll be able to form healthier and more genuine relationships, which will do wonders to simplify your day-to-day life.
7. Do one thing at a time.
Minimalist living in essence means focused living, and focused living means making the most out of each and every moment.
The problem is that, because of the constant distractions we experience in the modern world, most of us haven’t learned to fully concentrate on one thing at a time. Instead, we’re usually carrying out different tasks at the same time, and so whatever we are doing, our mind is partly wondering somewhere else. Here are some examples:
- We check our phones while we’re eating.
- We are jumping between tasks in a browser.
- We are lost in our thoughts when others are talking to us.
- We are thinking of what thing to do next before finishing the current thing.
This way, not only aren’t we able to give our best to what we’re doing, but also we can’t enjoy the task at hand.
If you’re used to multi-tasking and would like to change that in order to be better at what you do as well as to get totally immersed in the things you like, make sure that you concentrate on a single thing or task at a time. For instance, when you’re eating, don’t check your phone at the same time and just focus on savoring every bite of your food. Or when you’re talking to someone, don’t be preoccupied with what you’ll say next when your turn to talk comes — instead, give your full attention to your partner so that you can understand what he or she is saying.
8. Treat your body with care.
In order to be able to enjoy your life, you first and foremost need to be in good health. Hence, it’s vital that you treat your body with loving care.
Unfortunately, this isn’t how most people treat their bodies. They tend to consume toxic foods, they don’t exercise, they sleep less than needed, and do all sorts of other things that mess up with their health. Of course, they don’t do so on purpose. Rather, they usually act like this either out of ignorance or because the stress of everyday life has led them to make poor lifestyle choices. But one thing is certain: They’ve stopped feeling connected to their bodies, and no longer understand how their actions are impacting their health. As a result, they sooner or later end up experiencing all sorts of illnesses that could have been avoided if they payed more attention to their physical needs.
If you’d like to optimize your health, you need to turn your attention inwards, get in tune with your body, listen to its needs and act accordingly.
For example, if you feel like moving, move. If, on the other hand, you feel tired, stop moving your body to recharge your batteries. Or, to give you another example, if you feel hungry, eat to feed your body with fuel, but if you feel that your stomach is full, don’t eat any more and burden yourself with extra food.
The body has its own wisdom but we’ve lost touch with it. By starting to pay more attention to it, we can re-connect with it and allow it to lead us to a healthier and more fulfilling life.
9. Focus on your most important goals.
People usually have a big number of goals they want to achieve, and those are often opposing to each other. One day they want this thing, the next day another, and the next still another. No wonder they usually end up achieving nothing but complicating their lives.
A life that is simple has a clear purpose. To live such a life, you need to discover those few things that you’re most interested in and dedicate yourself to them. Whatever they are, be sure to make them your top priority. By doing so, you’ll be able to live a life that is filled with meaning and purpose, without getting sidetracked by things that don’t matter to you.
10. Cultivate mindfulness.
Lastly yet perhaps most importantly, minimalist living requires a calm and undisturbed mind — that is, a mind that is free of conflicting thoughts and in tune with the present moment.
Unfortunately, in our busy, stressful lives, our minds are filled with worries — worries about what happened in the past or what is going to happen in the future, which don’t allow us to let go and enjoy the only moment that ever was, is and will be — the here and now.
To be able to regain a peaceful state of consciousness, you need to develop mindfulness. Mindfulness means fully attending what’s happening in the present, instead of dwelling in the past or the future. It also means observing your thoughts and feelings without judging, resisting or feeding them. Lastly, it means consciously responding to situations instead of overreacting to them or being overwhelmed by them.
Every single person can develop mindfulness, and there are many ways one can do so. Perhaps the most common way is to sit for about 30 minutes somewhere comfortably with your upper back straight and pay full attention to your breath as it’s coming in and out through your nostrils, without allowing yourself to be distracted by your thoughts. When, however, you feel that your mind has carried you away, make sure that you return your attention to your breath and continue your practice. By doing so, you’ll find that slowly slowly your thoughts become less and less, and as a result you’ll experience more clarity, focus and a sense of inner peace, which you can carry with you throughout your day.
Mindfulness is an ancient practice that is now backed up by science. By implementing it into your daily routine, you’ll be able to relieve yourself from the constant stream of thoughts that is flooding your mind, and savor each and every moment of your life.