What does it mean to live simply?
This is not an easy question to answer, since a “simple life” is understood differently by different people.
To me, to live simply means to let go of all that is unnecessary and stick to the essential, to make room in your life for what truly matters to you, to spend quality time doing what you are passionate about and to be with people you love being with, and, most importantly, to find mental clarity and inner peace, so that you can live in contentment, enjoying every little moment and being grateful for life’s wonderful journey.
To live simply, however, is not as simple as it might at first seem. In fact, in the chaotic world that we’ve been brought up into, it can be quite difficult. Our traditions, habits, and overall conditioning prevent us from finding simplicity, and it usually takes much effort on our part to master the art of living simply.
You might be wondering: “How can I simplify my life?”
If you are interested to simplify your life but don’t know how to do so, the following guide might come in handy.
A Practical Guide to Simplifying Your Life
1. Stop buying stuff you don’t need
Having grown up in a materialistic society, most of us have been conditioned by our environment — especially by manipulative advertising — to always want to buy new things in order to feel well and happy, regardless of whether we actually benefit from them or not. Thus, we spend big amounts of money buying stuff that in fact only leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled.
By consuming less, you will experience more financial and emotional freedom, and you will have more time and energy to pursue what truly makes your heart pulsate with joy and happiness.
2. Create a stress-free living space
Many of us have been used to collecting things upon things, so much so that we end up filling the space we live in with items that we don’t need and never use. As a result, our perception is constantly filled with countless distractions, which are negatively influencing us on a psychological level, confusing and agitating our mind.
In order to create more space in your life, experience less stress and find more clarity, let go of those things that you don’t need by throwing them away — or better, give them to people who might truly need and benefit from them.
3. Say NO to letting others dictate your life
From a very young age, we’ve learned to conform. We’ve learned to blindly follow others, to believe in things we have no knowledge on, and to walk on ready-made paths created by others for us, out of our insecurity that if we don’t do so we’ll be abandoned by society. Living this way, however, we suppress ourselves in all sorts of ways, thus making our lives immensely complicated which is filling our psyche with tremendous suffering.
From now on, stop saying yes when you feel like saying no, doubt tradition, and question your belief systems. In addition, stop trying to live up to others’ expectations and create your own path in life.
4. Surround yourself with positive people
Buddha is said to have uttered the following words:
“If you cannot find a good companion to travel with, walk alone, like an elephant roaming the jungle. It is better to be alone than to be with those who will hinder your progress.”
We are all deep down social beings, but that doesn’t mean that we should spend our lives with any people we happen to find ourselves with.
If your circle of friends consists of “negative” people, then I assure you that your life will sooner or later become extremely complicated, full of negativity and problems. On the other hand, if your friends have an uplifting spirit and a positive mindset, they will help you to grow into the best version of yourself and will do their best to bring more happiness into your life.
Therefore, you should make sure to choose your friends carefully.
5. Turn off your TV
If you want to simplify your life, a very good step to achieve this is by putting an end to watching television.
Television fills us with lies, fear and confusion, and, by continuously making us focus all of our attention on superficial matters, it programs us to live passively and neglect what is truly important in life.
One of the easiest yet best things you can do to improve the quality of your life is to decide to stop watching TV, and instead carefully select where you’re getting your information and entertainment from. Then, the change you’ll experience in your life will be tremendous: you’ll start spending your time much more creatively and productively, and find more mental clarity, joy, and peace.
6. Creatively express yourself
Suppressing our feelings and emotions is the main way we complicate our lives, and finding ways to be express ourselves can be very liberating.
The majority of people have been conditioned by society to do everything but what truly allows them to express themselves. Naturally, suppressing themselves in all kinds of ways, they accumulate negative energy in their psyche that is preventing them from celebrating life.
In order to unburden yourself from all your suppressed emotional baggage, be sure to start spending more of your time expressing yourself by doing what you truly enjoy — it doesn’t really matter what exactly that is, as long as it helps you to experience a state of inner peace and harmony.
7. Spend more of your time in nature
Living in chaotic cities of concrete, immersed in the stress of modern society, most people feel drained and confused, not having much energy left to be playful, creative, and focus on what gives them true meaning and purpose. Their lives are immensely complicated, and they are feeling trapped in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
To live simply means to live naturally, and what is a better way to live naturally than coming closer to nature? Scientific research has actually proven again and again the healing power of spending time in nature: it can help you feel less stressed, more focused, calmer, happier and at peace with yourself and others.
From now on, be sure to spend as much time as you can everyday in the company of nature and reap the amazing benefits of it.
8. Keep your body healthy
You might be wondering now: “What does keeping your body healthy have to do with simplifying your life?” Well, let me tell you.
Your body is the vehicle that you are using on Earth to experience and navigate through life. By keeping it healthy, you won’t have to waste much of your time and energy dealing with the complications that physical dis-ease brings, and instead you’ll be able to focus on what truly matters to you. In addition, since the body and mind are intimately connected, keeping your body healthy will also be benefiting your psychological health.
In order to keep your body healthy, be sure to eat a big variety of organic plant-based foods and stop taking into your physical organism garbage that mess up with it, such as animal-derived and processed foods. Moreover, remember to exercise your body on a daily basis, whether that is by walking, swimming, weightlifting, or any other way you prefer.
9. Practice mindfulness
Lastly yet perhaps most importantly, learn how to cultivate a state of mindfulness, and you will be able to live much more simply, without the worries and concerns that most people have.
Mindfulness means neither dwelling in the past not dreaming about the future, but being focused on the here and now, fully experiencing every single moment and thus savoring what life brings on your way. Mindfulness also means less conflicting thoughts, and hence less stress and suffering.
There are many meditation methods or techniques out there that can help you cultivate mindfulness. Discover them by doing some research, try them out, find the ones that benefit you most and keep on practicing them on a regular basis, and I assure you that your life will be changed in a very positive way.