What does a typical day in your life look like? If you're like the rest of us, it's probably rushed, hectic and stressful with loads of things needing to get done and not enough time. You often drop into bed exhausted with one last thought on your mind as you drift off: is this all there is to life? The cycle repeats itself the next day… and the next, and the next.
It's no exaggeration to say that, for many of us, our lives feel like they're spinning out of control. It's scary because we feel powerless to stop the downward spiral and the inevitable derailment. It's no wonder that chronic stress and anxiety are on the rise. More and more people are struggling with mental and emotional issues. We often feel disillusioned and bitter and begin to question the whole purpose of our existence.
What's wrong with our lives today?
The problem isn't life. Life is an exhilarating experience filled with amazing opportunities for fulfilment and joy. Each of us was created with a purpose – to achieve our greatness and be the best we can be. The problem with our lives today is that we've lost our purpose and with it, our ability to find lasting joy.
So, what are we doing wrong? The short answer is that our lives are too complicated and complex. We’ve allowed ourselves and external factors to crowd our existence with things that sap our peace of mind and hinder us from finding our greatness. The solution is clear and straightforward. We need to take back control of our lives by simplifying them.
Why this article is for you
This article will help you bring sanity and peace back into your life by developing a mindset of simplicity in all that you do. Simplifying your life can transform your approach and outlook. Some of the benefits you can expect to enjoy are:
- You gain self-awareness and learn more about yourself and what you want in life.
- A simpler life improves your relationships.
- You enjoy stronger emotional and mental health.
- You become more creative.
- You find purpose and meaning in what you do.
- You make better decisions and choices.
- You focus on what brings you real value.
- You have time for self-growth and enrichment.
- You gain inner peace and tranquillity.
- You learn to be grateful.
- You learn to enjoy life!
Simplifying your life is much easier than you think. This book will give you some great insight into how you're unnecessarily complicating your life and how the whole picture changes with just a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle and thought process.
The 7 steps that follow will help you jump right in and start simplifying your life in no time!
Minimalism is a popular lifestyle choice that's said to have life-changing benefits. It's also often misunderstood and associated with deprivation and excessive frugality.
A minimalist is perceived as someone who owns one pair of socks, sleeps on the floor, and lives without heating in the middle of winter. Any minimalist will tell you that their life is immensely rewarding and enriching and that they live better than they did as a non-minimalist.
In a nutshell, minimalism means living with less. The minimalist motto is “less is more”. How much less is totally up to you. You can choose to go very minimalist, living only with the essentials (such as one mug and one set of plates and cutlery per family member, one TV, etc.)
You can choose to simply declutter and reorganize your home. The best suggestion is to take it in small steps until you strike the perfect balance between your comfort and how much less you can live with.
How do you start adopting a minimalist lifestyle? It's easy! Proceed with the following steps.
It's shocking how much clutter we accumulate over time without noticing it. That's why this step may take a week or two depending on how big your home is.
Go through your house room by room and thoroughly declutter each one. This involves separating clutter into boxes for trash, storage, or donation. Remove everything that you don't use regularly and keep only what you think is essential.
Don’t forget to declutter closets, cupboards, drawers, and shelves. You'll be amazed at some of the junk that's been lurking in there for ages! Also, remove knick-knacks and decorative items. You can restore all or some of them later if the room looks too bare for your taste.
Only move to the next room when you've completely decluttered and tidied the first. If you do nothing more than a thorough decluttering, you've already taken a big step toward creating a minimalist lifestyle.
• Streamline your space
Once a room is completely clutter-free, make sure everything has a designated place, ideally in a drawer or cupboard. Organize items neatly and rearrange furniture if possible, for a more streamlined and open look. You may want to consider getting rid of items of furniture that aren't often used as well.
The result should be a tidy space with bare surfaces and open spaces.
• Apply the 60-day rule
Anything that hasn't been used in 60 days goes – Simple as that! Be firm and don't tell yourself it’ll come in handy someday. If you simply can’t part with certain items that have sentimental value or are used infrequently, store them away in the attic or garage.
The 60-day rule states that anything not used for that duration is very unlikely to ever be used. This applies particularly to clothing, kitchenware and utensils, beauty products, and duplicate items.
The benefits of minimalist living
By opting for a less is more lifestyle, you've already immensely simplified your life. You'll enjoy the first benefit immediately after you finish decluttering and streamlining your home. An amazing sense of peace and calm will wash over you each time you walk through the door. Your home becomes a relaxing haven and calm sanctuary from the hectic outside world.
Here's what you can expect in addition.
• Freedom from material possessions
Today, we've become slaves to material possessions. We blindly follow the dictates of a crazy consumerist culture that tells us we need to have more. We need to own a bigger house, a better car, the trendiest fashion, or the latest gadget. Our closets are overflowing, our homes crammed with stuff we've spent a fortune on but don’t need.
Adopting a minimalist lifestyle opens your eyes to this madness. When you experience the peace of mind a simple lifestyle brings you, material possessions will lose their lure and cease to control you.
• Less work, more time
Owning less stuff means less time and effort spent on cleaning and maintenance. Enough said!
• You save money
A simple lifestyle and freedom from material possessions mean you buy less and save money. As you ease into your minimalist lifestyle, you'll be amazed at how much money you save.
These savings can be geared toward creating financial stability (another important life-simplifier) or spent on things that bring you real enrichment value such as travel and personal growth.
Takeaway: As you can see, going minimalist makes total sense if your goal is to simplify your life. A minimalist lifestyle means less stress, mental peace and clarity, fewer expenses, and more time to enjoy what matters in life. That's why more and more people are doing it!
2. Get out of Debt
Debt has a way of breeding more debt and dragging you into an abyss of constant worry, stress, and anxiety. Simplifying your life means making getting out of debt your first and most pressing priority. Any debt, big or small is not something you should be complacent about.
The only way to get out of debt is to confront it head-on. Living debt-free allows you to take charge of your life to create financial stability and even build future wealth. Start working towards these goals with the following steps.
Most of us live on a budget and you probably do as well. However, if you have debts, your budget must make allowances for a certain sum each week or month for paying off debt. This should take precedence over everything else.
The goal is to make sure that you're regularly and steadily paying off debt without fail. If you do this, you'll be amazed at how your debts gradually start to dwindle and experience a wonderful sense of relief as the mountain slowly becomes a molehill.
• Curb expenses
It's easy to save quite a bit of money by just cutting retain expenses as you're paying off debt. We mindlessly fork out money on things that we can easily live without when our priority is to become debt-free.
Consider cancelling gym memberships, cable subscriptions, clothing, and expensive outings. And let's face it, gourmet ice cream isn't a necessity! Cooking at home rather than eating out can save a bundle of money as well.
Shop smartly and take advantage of special offers and discounts and stock up on foods that can be cheaper to buy in bulk. You can easily find ways to cut out unnecessary expenses in your life that could be slowing down your ability to get out of debt. Next, put all the money saved into the repayment of debt.
• Use the envelope system
When allocating your budget, separate your cash into separate envelopes. One for recurring expenses such as food and utility bills, another for emergency expenses, and a third for paying off debt. Make sure something goes into that third envelope with every pay check.
• Stop investing
It's much better to delay investing if you have major debts to pay off. Settle your debts first with the money you put into investments. Once you're home free, you can plan for future investments with more clarity and peace of mind.
• Cut up or hide credit cards
If you have credit card debt, don't make things worse by continuing to use your cards. Cut them up or hide them and pretend they don’t exist. Once you've paid off your credit card debt, limit yourself to one or two cards in the future. This will simplify your life and give you more control over your spending.
• Go minimalist
As discussed previously, the money you save from embracing a minimalist mindset can be significant. You guessed – use it to pay off debt!
• Seek financial help
If you just don't know where to start, seeing a financial advisor is a good investment in the long run. He or she will analyze your financial situation and create a customized debt-repayment plan based on your income and situation.
How getting out of debt simplifies your life
It doesn't matter whether your income is big or small. Living debt-free on whatever you make gives you financial stability. Your income is all yours to allocate as you see fit and even to put away some savings.
• Less stress
Debt is one of the biggest problems that keep people tossing and turning at night. It's a major cause of stress and anxiety that can put immense pressure on you. In a nutshell, living debt-free means living with far less to worry about.
• Better perspective for the future
Paying off debt gives you a clearer perspective of the future and where you want to be financially. Just being able to plan better without the obstacle of debt simplifies your life immensely.
Takeaways: Debt doesn't go away on its own. On the contrary, it continues to grow as interest piles up or unexpected situations like medical emergencies force you deeper into debt. Debt complicates your life on so many levels and can affect your work performance and relationships.
3. Moderate your use of Technology
Technology is truly a double-edged sword. While it simplifies our lives on countless levels, it equally complicates them in other ways by being a hugely disruptive influence. So, while we can’t live without it, we certainly need to live with less of it if we want simpler lives.
First and foremost, technology is a big brain stimulator – and not in a good way. Spending excessive time at our computers or on cell phones keeps the brain in a state of hyperactivity as it works overtime to process all the data and information we're looking at.
The result can be severe energy crashes and brain fog that leaves us unable to focus or work at our peak. It's not hard to see how this can complicate and derail our lives.
In addition, things like social media, gaming, entertainment, and online shopping can cause unhealthy obsessions and addictions that we can very well do without. Cutting down on technology consumption isn’t too hard with the following suggestions:
- Limit the number of cell phones, tablets, digital screens, and other gadgets in your home. This is a must if you're considering a minimalist lifestyle.
- Use social media blocking apps while working.
- Limit computer time to 2 hours outside of your work needs.
- Do a digital detox once a week where you shut off all digital devices and abstain from using any form of technology for at least 6 hours.
- Monitor your kids' use of technology to make sure what they're consuming is appropriate and limit their time to 2 hours.
How toning down technology simplifies your life
• Fewer devices
Technological devices are often difficult or expensive to fix. The fewer you own, the less hassle (and cost) for you if something needs to be fixed or replaced.
• You go back to the simple things
Less technology allows you to enjoy the simpler and more meaningful things in life, such as old-fashioned quality time with family, curling up with a good book or taking a rejuvenating nature walk.
• It's safer
Limiting technology use for you and your family puts everyone at less risk of developing unhealthy obsessions and even a full-blown digital addiction. This includes compulsive shopping, gaming, and even online gambling. You also avoid serious issues like online bullying and privacy violations.
Takeaway: It's important to understand how technology can complicate and disrupt your life rather than think that it's benign and harmless. Enjoy technology in moderation and make the most of it to simplify your work. However, do keep an eye out if you feel that your love of everything digital is excessive.
4. Stop Striving for Approval or Perfection
How can these two behaviours complicate your life? In more ways than one. Let's start with seeking approval. We all love being praised and recognized for our achievements as well as feeling liked and accepted by others. As the saying goes, you can't please all people all the time and being an approval-seeker makes you do just that!
Going out of your way to seek approval complicates your life in the following ways:
- It strains relationships because others may see that you're sometimes insincere.
- It can cause you to compromise your values and beliefs, putting a big strain on your emotional wellbeing.
- It can cause you to be insincere or even to lie.
- It can cause you to live or spend beyond your means and get into debt.
- It can breed insecurity and make you obsess about being liked and appreciated.
When you constantly feel the need to seek approval, you weave a negative web around yourself that not only drains you mentally but causes you to often avoid the shortest and simplest route. Likewise, seeking perfection is both a tremendous life complication and a timewaster. It can lead to the following:
- You're never satisfied, which in turn raises stress.
- You waste a lot of time doing things until they're ‘just right'.
- You waste a lot of time on tasks that you can easily delegate.
- You're often critical and dissatisfied with other people's work.
What to do
Let your brain help you here. Change your thoughts to condition your mind to change your behaviour. This can be done with practice, by monitoring your thoughts and changing them in the following ways.
When it comes to seeking approval, look to please yourself first. Be your best at everything you do and honour your commitments and responsibilities but above all, live according to your values.
Let those be your terms and if they do bring you praise and popularity, take them in your stride and modestly accept them. This will take immense pressure and stress off you.
When it comes to perfection, again, do your best and let your mantra be, “My best is perfectly good.”
Always be honest, sincere, and straightforward. You'll be reciprocated in kind by others and earn respect and admiration. This will simplify your interactions and foster better relationships.
Takeaway: Seeking approval and striving for perfection take a big toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing. This just makes everything you do more challenging and complicated. Simplify your life by changing your thoughts. Remember that perfection and approval aren't really that significant in the bigger scheme of things. Learning to accept yourself as you are is the easiest way to undo a lot of unnecessary knots in your life.
5. Learn to Say No
Struggling to say no puts pressure on our already limited time. There's no doubt that it's a habit that complicates our hectic lives and for many of us, saying no is impossible.
If you're one of those people who just can't refuse requests from friends, family, and co-workers, you're not alone. If you feel compelled to accept every invitation and attend every social event, join the club!
Millions of people like you are running errands or babysitting for friends, filling in for absent co-workers, or organizing church bake sales. They already have too much on their plates. They simply find it impossible to say no! We all want to be seen as selfless, capable, and willing to go that extra mile to help others. More importantly, we feel guilty or ashamed of being mean or selfish. The simple word ‘no' plays on all of these emotions.
Therefore, it's often easier to say yes despite knowing that we're spreading ourselves too thin. However, while your efforts will be appreciated, your life can become chaotic.
How not saying no can impact your life
• Your life becomes a frantic, stressful rush to keep up with an already crammed schedule. This causes your stress levels to skyrocket and your productivity to plummet.
• Family and personal relationships become strained if you're forced to break commitments and plans because you promised to help someone else.
• It hinders your ability to manage your time and plan effectively.
• You may start to feel resentful towards people you couldn't refuse because you're struggling to stay on track with your own life.
How to simplify your life by saying no
Learning to become comfortable with saying no comes with practice. Consider the following tips:
- Don't accept a task or invitation if it means having to reshuffle your schedule or postpone something else. Things have a way of piling up very quickly and throwing all your plans off track.
- Don't feel guilty or afraid of appearing mean or unhelpful. Your life and your priorities should always come first.
- Be honest. Tell the person that you simply don't have the time, otherwise, you'd be more than happy to help. If you want to, you can take a rain check.
Takeaway: Sometimes, all it takes is a polite but firm ‘no’ to simplify your life and spare yourself one less disruption to your schedule. You'll notice how calmer and structured your life becomes when you organize your time according to your capacity.
6. Invest in a Small Social Circle
‘Invest' is a very apt word here because when it comes to simplifying your life, the payoff is huge. Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn't enjoy a healthy social life and engage with lots of different people. However, it's important to make a clear distinction between your outer circle of acquaintances and your inner circle of friends.
Your outer circle of acquaintances as well as your networks can be large and varied without complicating your life if you engage in them loosely and with some caution. Relationships within this larger sphere are often shallow and not permanent. Making these your focus can needlessly complicate and crowd your life.
Strong relationships are vital and these should be developed with a small number of people rather than all and sundry. If you spread yourself too thin, you'll find it difficult to build robust, lasting relationships based on mutual trust and support.
In a nutshell, the smaller your inner circle, the more likely you'll be to avoid a lot of disappointment and frustration. Choose your inner circle carefully and invest in building true friendships.
How an extended social circle complicates your life
• Too many commitments
The bigger your social circle, the more hectic your life becomes. Your social calendar becomes crammed with parties and events, making your life a whirlwind of frantic socializing. Naturally, if this involves too many late nights, your work performance and other commitments will suffer. You must work harder to keep a semblance of balance and stability in your life.
While certain networking events may be important, others may be a waste of time. It's essential to reflect on an overly active social life and consider what real value it's adding to your life. You'll likely find that the cons far outweigh the pros.
• You develop the wrong perspective
Excessive socializing can negatively affect your perspective. The need to be popular, well-liked, and always the star of the show may become your main driver. This spills over into other areas of your life where you may become obsessed with seeking approval and acceptance – and we discussed earlier how this negatively impacts your life.
• Shallow relationships
Spreading yourself too thin can only lead to shallow, trivial relationships that bring no value or meaning to your life.
• Mixing with the wrong people
It's hard to be selective when you’re constantly meeting and mixing with new people. The problem is that human traits wear off on other people so if you're hanging out with the wrong types, your life can be negatively impacted. You could unknowingly pick up some bad habits and behaviours that again, will spill over into other areas of your life.
How a small circle of friends simplifies your life
• You can be yourself
There's no pressure to win a popularity contest or exert yourself trying to come up with witty conversation! Within your circle of close friends, you can just be yourself!
These are the people who love you and accept you just as you are. They celebrate your unique talents and traits and are tolerant of your flaws and shortcoming. How simple is that?
• You have a strong support group
Your inner circle consists of the people who support you through thick and thin. You know that you can always count on them for help and support whenever you need it. Likewise, they know that they can expect the same of you. Knowing that you have a strong, loving support group fires you up and keeps you motivated.
There's absolute mutual trust between you and your inner circle. You know that they'll always be honest and open (even dishing out some tough love when you need it). Likewise, you can always express your feelings openly without fear of being judged or criticized.
Takeaway: Simplicity and structure in your life can be achieved by investing your time and effort into what really matters, great friendships. Strong friendships are vital to your -emotional wellbeing and mental resilience. They help you navigate the complexities of life more smoothly and empower you to overcome hardship.
The smaller your inner circle, the stronger these relationships will be, providing you with a powerful buffer as well as a source of deep joy in good and bad times.
7. Awaken your Inner Child
Each of us had an inner child that we never outgrow. What we do, however, is suppress it because as we grow older, we perceive life as a serious business with no room for frivolity or childish antics. So, that inner child continues to lie dormant deep inside and over time, we forget it altogether. That's such a shame because tapping into your inner child is a remarkable source of empowerment, inner peace, and joy. It's a totally different and much simpler outlook on life that can truly be transformative.
So, when was the last time you looked at the world through a child's eyes? To a child, life is simple and straightforward. It's typically black or white with very few grey areas in between.
More importantly, life is a thrilling adventure filled with winders and adventures at every turn. Everything's waiting to be explored and enjoyed with all five senses. There's so much to be learned and experienced, and so little time!
What a refreshing perspective to have! It's easy to see how it can help you overcome negativity and triviality and see things as simple, clear-cut… and awesome!
How to awaken your inner child
When was the last time you fully experienced something with childish awe and wonder? If it's been too long, it's high time you awakened your inner child. Here's how:
• Have faith and trust
Children are so trusting. They see good in everything and believe that just like in fairy tales, everything has a happy ending. As adults, we've become jaded and cynical. We're often guided by suspicion and mistrust and quick to judge negatively. We don't believe in happy endings.
Reawaken your childhood faith and trust by always expecting good of others. Give people the benefit of the doubt rather than being hasty to judge. Naturally, you shouldn't throw all caution to the wind but if you are excessively mistrustful and judgmental, try to moderate that. Try to trust more and have faith in the natural goodness and integrity of others.
More importantly, trust yourself. Have confidence in your abilities and never seek validation from others. Suddenly life becomes so much simpler and more positive! Whether you believe it or not, happy endings are totally possible.
• Express your emotions
Another wonderful thing about children is that they're amazingly open with their emotions. They laugh and clap when they're happy, squeal with joy when ecstatic and are never ashamed to cry (or scream) when angry or sad.
We've been conditioned to suppress our emotions because they're thought to be a sign of weakness or not appropriate in certain situations. This complicates things for us emotionally because we're always struggling to suppress how we feel.
Start expressing your emotions in simple ways, such as smiling when you're happy, thanking others sincerely and being more open with others. When you feel anger or other negative emotions, pause for a moment and express how you feel calmly and rationally.
As you learn to express your emotions, you'll experience a wonderful sense of liberation. With it comes the realization that openness is much simpler and rewarding.
• Do creative things
Make time to let your creativity and imagination run free by engaging in creative activities. This is another way that children express themselves so well. Get some colouring book and crayons, paint, dance sing or join a drama group. Better yet, join children in their creative activities as often as you can!
Takeaway: Your inner child is waiting to be awakened! When you allow it to express itself, life becomes simpler without the negative emotions we've adopted over the years.
If you're feeling increasingly overwhelmed and frustrated with life, something's wrong. If you're beginning to ask yourself deep questions like “What's the purpose of it all? Why does my life feel so meaningless?” then you need to take action.
The good news is that your life's probably too complicated. There's nothing wrong with you. How is that good news? That is because it's super simple to set things straight by simplifying your life!
These 7 steps are powerful lifehacks guaranteed to simplify your life and bring you more stability, clarity and peace of mind. They don't cost anything nor require any major life changes but they can be life-changing!
It's that simple (no pun unintended)! Start simplifying your life today by practicing these 7 steps. You'll be amazed at the results.
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