A beginner's guide to living a simple life. Simple living is possible without getting rid of all my stuff.

The Beginner’s Guide to a Simple Life

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The Simple Life Explained

Simple living isn’t a new concept, but it seems all the more important as the world grows more and more connected, and the pace of life grows every faster. We want everything one day ..no wait one hour… shipping; fast food, pre-chopped vegetables, even fast fashion: some starlet wore this dress on the red carpet last week? Buy the knockoff dress today! But is that really the best way to live? Is that really how we want to live?

I grew up as an only child with parents with health challenges, my dad on the verge of retirement. My home life was the very definition of a simple life. My parents weren’t in a hurry to get anywhere. And they weren’t in a hurry for me to grow up. I loved the less frantic pace of my life over what I saw in my friends’ families.

When I grew up and married and had a family of my own, I was in no hurry either. I loved keeping a slow pace, the kids in limited activities, Sunday afternoons throwing rocks in the creek as entertainment. A simple life was in my nature.

But even for me, with the rise of smartphones, social media, and the neverending buzz of email and text alerts on my phone, I find it more and more difficult to keep life simple unless I am intentional. And that is what I am choosing to do every day: remember to focus on simple living and let everything I do flow from that one decision.

What is a simple life?

Simple living is about living deliberately. That’s all.” Simple living is about making a choice to focus on our priorities and not live on autopilot, simply reacting to circumstances. It is knowing what you want and getting it with creativity and determination. It’s not waiting around for the perfect opportunity, but creating it.

Simple living is not about placing blame for bad experiences but using them as opportunities to refocus and work towards the life you desire. A simple life is a life that shows what you love and your priorities by your actions, not your words.

Simple living is not about moving to the woods, growing your own food, and building your own house. You can practice simple living anywhere from a rough-hewn log cabin in the mountains to a mansion with a pool.

The only thing that you need to live a simple life is to live deliberately and with intention. Simple living is not the same thing as minimalism. Marie Kondo-ing your life is not required. All a simple life needs is for you to be awake and in the moment.

“We don’t need to go shopping for a full life. It’s right here in front of us, waiting.”

Janet Luhrs

First Steps to Simple Living

Getting started with simple living is…in a word, simple. It’s not complicated, but it likely won’t be easy, at least not at first. It will require vigilance and attention, and many course corrections. But it doesn’t require you to buy anything or even necessarily spending any more time than you spend now. It just requires intention.

When you are ready to start living more simply just spend some time (it doesn’t need to be much!) thinking about your priorities.

  • Think about what you want to be said about you at your funeral.
  • What you would do if you had a year to live?

Try writing a personal mission statement, You can refine it over time but start with something. Look at the big picture; instead of maximizing small chunks of time, maximize your whole life. Once you know what the theme of your life is, commit to letting all smaller decisions flow from these larger ones.

Simple Living Success Tips

Stop multitasking

Nothing is done well. You don’t actually experience anything. It’s a huge source of stress because you worry you’ve forgotten to turn the stove off, or that you haven’t prepared well enough for the big presentation because you don’t remember what you’ve already done. If you are having a conversation with a friend who is checking their email or grocery shopping, how do you feel knowing that you only have their partial attention?

Don’t double book yourself

If you plan a lunch with a friend and then get invited by another set of friends to go see a movie in the evening, with just a small space of time in between, turn the second invitation down. Your first friend may not care, but you will not be able to be relaxed and in the moment during your time together.

Instead, you will be worried about how soon the check will come, how heavy traffic will be, and if you will make it in time to get good seats in the theater. It also means that the two of you can’t decide to go window shopping at the perfect little antique store next to the cafe where you had lunch. Single booking time with a friend shows how important time with them is to you.

Look at timesaving devices with skepticism

What’s the big rush? After you cram dinner dishes in the dishwasher and start it, what are you doing with the rest of your evening? Did you rush through kitchen cleanup in order to flop down on the couch and scroll Facebook or binge watch Netflix?

What relationships could be built by spending that time actually washing dishes by hand, while your partner dries? Or what about the moments of silent contemplation that you could have had washing the dishes alone?

Get comfortable with downtime

Today’s life is so busy, but often we are busy because we want to be. Staying busy appears to give our lives meaning. It is safe, we are addicted to the adrenaline rush of the time crunch. When we’re busy we don’t need to look inward and get to know ourselves. Anytime we have a small hole of time in our schedule, we rush to fill it in the name of being efficient.

Spend some time alone with yourself and your thoughts. Get to know yourself.

Put boundaries around your time

Time is sacred. Once it is spent it never comes back and every day you spend 24 hours of it and wonder where it went. Know your limits and be aware of what you value. Be discriminating with how you choose to spend your time because it is always a choice. When you know what you value and live in a way that shows it, you are succeeding at simple living.

Common questions about Simple Living

Is simple living the same thing as minimalism?

In a word, no. Simple living can be about minimalism, if that is your value and intention. But it isn’t a prerequisite. Simple living is about focusing on what you think is important and making decisions based on that.

Can I simplify my life living in the city, in an apartment, etc?

YES! You don’t need to change your clothes, your food, or square feet in order to get started with simple living. If you find that your living situation doesn’t line up with your values, then you may decide that you want to move, eventually. But many people can live very happily and simply in small city apartments or even large ones!

Is simple living about homesteading?

No. Going back to the land and building your own house and growing your own food is not required for simple living.

The key to simplifying your life is to take time to decide what you value and what is important for you and make your life choices based on those values. For many people, homesteading is not part of their values. You can live a simple life in the suburbs. And it is definitely possible to homestead and not live simply.

Do I have to get rid of all my stuff?

Decluttering may be a good idea, just because clutter often raises our stress levels, but you can keep all the stuff you love and commit to simple living. It is all about your priorities and your values.

How do you simplify your life?

Simplifying your life is a journey and not a destination, and definitely not one you will get to quickly. The world today is constantly pulling at everyone to react instead of act. And focusing on simple living needs to be intentional daily.

The best way to start to simplify your life is to think about what you want the big picture of your life to be, think about what you value, and what you can let go. Then make all your life decisions, whether big or small from that place and you will be well on your way to simple living success!

A Simple Life is Possible!

Simple living has nothing to do with your zip code, your wardrobe brands or bank account size. When you decide to focus on simplifying your life, it is likely that nothing will change from the outside. It is the decision to live deliberately and mindfully that will be the measure of your success at simple living.

If you are interested in learning more about how to get started with simple living or if you are an old pro and just want to meet and connect with other like-minded people who are practicing simplifying, like me on Facebook and let’s chat!

A beginner's guide to living a simple life. Simple living is possible without getting rid of all my stuff.
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