Have you ever felt like you’re stuck and going aimlessly in life, starving for more, wanting to have this and that, and when you do it doesn’t seem to make any difference?
The truth is, having an abundance of material things does not always equal to being happy.
You may have a luxurious house, a striving career, or even a booming business, but if those things mean missing all the precious moments with your family, causing a decrease in your mental health, tainting your relationship with your loved ones—then can you really say that it’s all worth it?
Most of the time, less is more. Finding joy in simple moments, being more relaxed and at ease, finding peace, living your life in the present moment—having a simple and authentically happy life—don’t you think that sounds a lot better?
But how does one live a simple and happy life? We asked experts to shed light on this question. Here are their thoughts:
Giuseppe Del Giudice
BS Psychology | Life Coach, Real Potential Coach | Registered Behavioral Specialist
What does a simple life mean to me? Well for starters I’ve been around a while 57 years. For some that is old for others that is young. Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:
- Keep a light heart.
- Have a sense of humor.
- Help others as you are able to.
- Understand and define what your needs are.
- Understand and define what your wants are.
- Balance your wants and needs so your needs remain most important.
- Know yourself first before you know others.
- Reduce instant gratification by being more patient.
- Do not Should on others… (“you should do this” or “you should do that”.)
- Grant people their beingness.
- Watch your spending by keeping a daily journal. Because it’s not how much you make, it’s how much you have left in your pocket.
- Exercise 3-4 times a week by being active in something.
- Eat well enough to keep you healthy.
- Walk in nature more.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Read books, articles, watch videos on subjects you’re interested in.
Author and Creator, Superior Self Series | CPT, CFI | Nutrition Educator
Simplifying our lives can be in the mind and in our actions. It means ridding one of the thoughts and deeds which do not serve us. This is easy to say, but harder to do, as we live in a very modern and busy world with a lot of “stuff” and a lot of busyness.
It is helpful for us to simplify because it leaves a space for creative thoughts, imagination, and playfulness to dwell.
Simplifying the mind can be doing one activity that is so new and difficult that we cannot focus on anything else. That allows the negative thoughts and mind fog to dissipate. It brings an ensemble of calm and happiness over time.
Meditation is a way to simplify the mind too. Focusing on the breath, a candle, or a sound can allow a “shelf” to open up inside where there is nothing on it. We are more productive when we simplify the mind a little bit every day.
Simplifying the actions we do can be as easy as saying “no” to invitations and events that do not serve us or our inner purposes. This frees up time and space to really go after our goals. Another way to simplify our lives through action is to rid our dwellings of things we really do not use or receive joy from.
I clean out my closet and trinkets monthly, allowing only the most memorable items to remain. This simplifies the home, making cleaning easier as well as making the home a sanctuary instead of a cluttered place. The stuff is just stuff, and we cannot burden ourselves with consumption. It takes too much energy to keep track of it all.
Kelly Kandra Hughes, PhD
Former Associate Professor of Psychology | Writer | Blogger | Genesis Potentia
The best tip I have for living a simple life is to find joy in small moments. There are two ways to do this.
First, you have to know who you are at your core. Everyone has different values they idealize in their lives (e.g. achievement, wonder, service, etc.) and they have different ways those values can be met. If you don’t understand what your values are and how you can meet them, then a lot of your time can be wasted in activities that take you away from your values. For example, I find a lot of wonder about interacting with animals.
I may or may not find wonder at an art museum, particularly an art museum filled with Renaissance paintings (one of my least favorite types of art). Knowing this information helps me say no to an evening lecture by an art historian, but I would say yes to spending an afternoon with my friend on her farm.
The second way to find joy in small moments is staying present. Even if you know your core values and the ways they can pop up, you need to be mindful of their presence in your life. Otherwise, you may find yourself missing out on all the wonderful moments around you.
We spend a lot of time searching for what is oftentimes right in front of us and that again wastes our most precious commodity — time. But if I stay present at the moment, then when a dog comes up and licks my elbow when I’m sitting at the kitchen, I can delight in the experience and the joy it brings me.
Had I been distracted by mindlessly scrolling on my smartphone or caught up in some imaginary worry, I might never have felt that lick, and thus, never experienced that small moment of joy.
Content Creator| Award-Winning Blogger, Gypsy Soul
Starting to simplify your life can often be an overwhelming thought. A lot of people simply don’t know where to begin as simple living can mean different things to different people. There is no ‘one size fits all’. Before you begin I’d highly recommend spending some time thinking about what currently stresses you out and why you want to simplify your life.
Once you know your why’s you can start focusing on your how’s. How are you going to simplify your life? Set some goals and start working on them.
For some people that may mean downsizing your home. We did this a year ago and it was the best thing we’ve ever done. By moving to our downsized home we paid off all of our short-term debt and reduced our mortgage by 10 years.
Another must for simplifying your life is to declutter. Clutter causes stress. Get rid of anything that no longer brings value to your life. If you are continually surrounded by mess you will never be able to begin living a simpler life.
After you have decluttered your life you can then focus on getting organized. Never attempt to organize your stuff before you declutter. It just doesn’t work.
By being more organized and living in an organized space you can spend more time doing the things you love rather than wasting time looking for your car keys.
My top tip for organizing your home is… every single item in your house should have a designated home and when you use that item it always go back there. That way when someone says ‘Where’s a pen?’ You can simply say ‘In the pen drawer’.
Jessi Holden MS, RD, CSOWM
Registered Dietitian | Blogger, Nutrition Brewed
I think the best tip I could give someone on living a simple life is to take a look at what and who you’re surrounding yourself with.
First, take a look at the community of people in your life at work, home, extended family, etc. Are your friends and family helping you or is there toxicity that needs resolving?
Toxic relationships can easily get in the way of living a simple life. A good way to identify if a relationship is toxic is how you’re behaving before, during, or after seeing that person. If you don’t feel like yourself, there’s a lack of trust, or you’re not fulfilled after seeing them…there may be a problem.
Secondly, look at your home and your belongings. Do the material items in your home bring you a sense of joy or enrich your life? If all you’re trying to do is make your home look like a magazine, it’s not likely to feel uniquely homey to you. If the material items in your house feel like clutter or are things that aren’t enriching your life, it might be time to part with them by donating or selling.
Though many of us spend the majority of our time at work (which we can’t always simplify), it’s important to look at the environment we surround ourselves in outside of the workplace. Taking into account the people and the home and taking steps to make both enriching and joyful will help you lead a simpler life as a whole.
Reinvention Coach | Romance Author | World Traveler | Founder, Vision Of Success
I was sold the dream of “more is better.” Until one day I found out it simply wasn’t true. I had everything society said would make me happy; the house, the career, the family. I was living the American Dream. But I kept asking: “is this all there is?”
It started as a goal – a quest – to travel the world. So I hunkered down and started selling off my old life. The home, the furnishings, all the stuff, my business – it had to go. And piece by piece, I watched it leave until I only had my most important belongings left. When the first few things of meaning left, I cried.
But something happened after a dozen or so Craigslist shoppers left my home. Suddenly, I felt freer. I could breathe. What was left were items I truly cherished. When I packed up and moved to the Pacific Northwest, there was a sense of wonderment. I didn’t need stuff; I had what was important. A loving husband by my side. A daughter out on her own and making her own waves. And only the things necessary to help me experience life my way.
I sat down with a friend just the other day. “I wish I could do what you’ve done. I wish I could leave everything behind, write for a living, travel the world.“
She can. Because it’s all about mindset, understand what’s truly your number one importance.
When you define it, see it, focus on it, it pushes everything else aside. It gives you a life you truly adore.
Founding Organizer, Get Organized Already
The yearning to live more simply likely stems from being overwhelmed in a certain area (or areas) of your day-to-day life. It’s so important to be thoughtful about which areas those are.
The noise level of a place can really aggravate certain people. For others, stress comes very clearly from being surrounded by physical clutter. On the other hand, many people have emotionally taxing jobs which take a toll on the rest of their days.
Before you decide to make a big– and probably difficult– change in your routine or lifestyle, make sure you identify the specific anxiety triggers affecting you and your relationships.
Downsizing to a smaller house might seem like an obvious way to simplify your life. But if your anxiety triggers are clutter and noise, a smaller house may magnify those issues.
Curbing your purchasing and turning off electrical screens and sounds would be more gratifying (and much faster) ways to simplify your life.
Everyone is different. Be careful what you latch on to like the idea of a simple life.
Blogger, The Mindful Mom Blographer | Member, Ethical Writers and Creatives Group
My best tip for a simple living would be to reduce commitments. The biggest excuse I hear for why people can’t live a life according to their values is lack of time. The solution is easy in theory but can be challenging, and that is to say no!
Three years ago, when I started my journey towards simple living, I started scheduling time for self-care and family time on my calendar. As in literally blocked off time like it was a meeting or class or whatever. That way, if another commitment came up, I could confidently say ‘no’ without feeling guilty.
To try this yourself: you could make it a standing appointment, or treat it on a case by case basis. For example, I made a standing appointment on Saturdays. Whether it was in the morning or afternoon didn’t really matter, but each Saturday my family and I would spend time together relaxing at home or going for a walk. So if we had a commitment come up in the morning, then I would block off the afternoon, and vice versa.
The key to making this work is to treat it like any other commitment on your calendar. If you do, you’ll be amazed by how much more ‘time’ you have!
CMO, GoodLife Home Loans
Tip #1: Prioritize
Decide what is truly important and let go of what isn’t. Get the most important things done each day and set aside a few hours to do something you enjoy or find relaxing. Save the less important things for a day when you have free time to get them done without feeling overwhelmed. Don’t try to get everything done in a day. If it’s not urgent, don’t let it consume or overwhelm you.
Tip #2: Lower Your Expectations
It’s okay if everything isn’t perfect. It’s okay to leave things incomplete and come back to finish them later. It’s okay to lower your expectations. Lowering your expectations can help to elevate pressure and allow you to relax. Lowering your expectations doesn’t mean you’re settling, it just means that sometimes you allow things to just be what they are.
Tip #3 Learn to Say No
Many people feel overwhelmed from overcommitting themselves. Making too many commitments for many is a result of being unable to say no. Learn to say no and respect when you don’t have the time or energy to get something done. Learn to say no in your professional and personal life. Saying no can help others learn to respect your boundaries and can give you the freedom you need to live a simpler, more stress-free life.
Blogger at Flo’s Favorites: Eat, Play and Stay in the Midwest | Wife, and Mother
In reference to the best tips on living a simple life, my family and I achieved this by ridding our minds, homes, and lives of clutter.
We recently sold our 2-story home and moved into a 925 square foot apartment. The change forced us to get rid of nonessentials and things taking up space and focus on necessities.
As a result, we have more time in our day and fewer demands since we’re not continually working on upkeep. We also practice self-control with our extra time, not allowing too many pursuits or entertainment to crowd our lives. We focus on 1 or 2 things to avoid unnecessary anxiety which means saying no at times. It’s indeed alleviated much stress and given us peace of mind.
Parent and Entrepreneur, MomBible
Don’t be drawn in by consumerism. In today’s modern world it’s far too easy to be persuaded by the claims and exaggerations made by marketers. The reality is that the world of advertising is motivated by profit and therefore creates the desire for things you don’t actually need.
By being more aware of this simple fact, you can separate yourself from the consumer mindset and simplify your life by tenfold. Instead of buying things you will rarely use or even need, you will find that you save more money and actually need less too.
Full-time RVing Stay at Home Mom | Freelance Digital Marketer | Founder, Boundless Bakers
About two months ago, my husband, two kids, and I moved into a 300 square foot RV and started traveling full-time. We lived in a beautiful 2400 square foot home and were living the “American Dream” but found ourselves to be unhappy.
My husband and I both worked 40+ hours a week to afford our beautiful home which barely left us anytime to actually live in it. We had little time to enjoy life with our kids or each other.
So, we decided to do something drastic. We bought an RV, got rid of (donated or sold) 99.9% of our belongings, went from a two income household to a one income household, rented our 2400 square foot home, and hit the road.
We have found downsizing has drastically improved our lives. Living simply with few belonging and not having to worry about our mortgage has allowed us to enjoy life, be present, and spend more time together. Having a big home filled with clutter seemed to cause more chaos than happiness.
That all being said, my answer is downsizing. Downsizing is the best tip for living a simpler life.
As a Millennial entrepreneur and father of four, here are my top tips on living a simple life:
1) Take Pleasure In The Mundane. There is much beauty in that which we take for granted. Children playing, the sun setting. We live so fast and seek newer and greater thrills that we miss the simple beauty that the ordinary gives. So spend more time acknowledging and admiring the greatness of the basics to find more meaningfulness.
2) Embrace Minimalism: The minimalist lifestyle is all about living with less “stuff” and learning to embrace experience overindulging in material goods. With fewer televisions, tablets, and toys, we can focus our attention back to simple things in life.
Commercial Director at Storage Vault
A major step you can take to simplify your life, dramatically reducing your levels of anxiety, is to minimize the number of belongings you have in your home.
Embarking on a full-scale home decluttering, transitioning towards a more minimalist lifestyle, will reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning, deliberating over outfits, and just generally being anxious about the safety or whereabouts of your things. Too much clutter can be ‘noisy’, causing distress, which you may not even be conscious of.
Training yourself to be happier with fewer possessions will dramatically simplify your life, boosting your happiness long-term. You’ll become immune to the lures of sales or new trends and you’ll no longer feel the urge to spend on ‘stuff’ to boost your mood. Your wallet will be much happier and you can start treating your home as a calming haven to escape to, rather than it functioning as an extension of the worries of everyday life.
Personal Finance Blogger, Vital Dollar
Don’t compare yourself to others. No matter how successful you are, there will always be plenty of people who have certain accomplishments or things in their lives that could lead to jealousy.
Comparing yourself to others will lead you on an endless pursuit of perfection and it often leads to discontentment with your own life and your own situation. By not comparing yourself to others you’ll feel less pressure and you’ll be able to be comfortable in your own skin.
Health & Wellness Expert, Maple Holistics
Decluttering. Simplicity brings a sense of calmness, so in order to bring some serenity to your life you should clear out the clutter. And the best place to start is your own personal space, namely, your closet.
Take out anything you haven’t worn in a year and donate it to the Salvation Army. Anything that is not season-appropriate should go into storage, freeing up more space in your room. Being able to see all of your clothing while removing unnecessary stimuli will help you think and feel better. You’ll be able to decide much more quickly what you’re going to wear each day, and this will bring with it extra time to do other things.
Also, clear out your inbox in order to lead a more simple life. Get rid of all of your junk mail, and hit “unsubscribe” whenever you get put on an unwanted listserv. Only getting important messages that matter to you will make your life so much easier. And you can place emails in different folders in your inbox in order to be even more organized.