“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”
We spend too much, own too much, and want too much — it’s the human condition — and as long as we aren’t aware of it we’ll be a slave to the cycle. Being the ingenious little critters that we are, we’re able to learn, and adapt pretty well. In other words, all hope is not lost, we still have a chance.
The truth is that many of us are overworked, sleep deprived, and generally not content with our lives. If we were content, would we be wanting more money, more stuff, more, more more?
There is a way out of this cycle, which involves decluttering, simplifying, and concentrating on what’s important. We each have our own demons to battle, but many of them fit into a cookie cutter template that we can all relate to. Do less, live more.
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
~Henry David Thoreau
- Do nothing. See you’re so task oriented that you automatically wanted a list of things to add to your todo list. Take some time to do nothing, just sit there and be with yourself. It’s so hard for most people that being left to do nothing is a severe form of torture.
- Throw something out. Look into a drawer that you haven’t opened in awhile and pick an item to throw out based on the fact that you know you won’t use it again. We are natural hoarders, but this just adds unnecessary complexity to our lives.
- Clean your desktop. Sitting at a desk with no clutter will keep our minds clear and thinking about the task at hand. Start becoming distraction free in the seat you spend most of your day in.
- Clean your desktop, again. This time I’m talking about the one on your computer. Get rid of all those icons and organize the folders in which you keep all your programs. Give yourself something visually simple to look at in order to keep a clear and focused mind.
- Make your bed. Many of us don’t make our bed the first thing after we get up. Sometimes this gets neglected completely, unless we’re expecting company. Make it first thing and look forward to climbing into something neat and comfy at the end of the day.
“The main purpose of science is simplicity and as we understand more things, everything is becoming simpler.”
- Clear your inbox. I love gmail’s archive feature, it let’s you put things away, and keep your inbox clean. Reply to everything you need to, delete everything else, and keep your e-mail as a focus point, not a clutter point.
- Eat slowly. Do not treat eating as one of life’s little inconveniences. Instead, eat slowly and enjoy each bite as if it were your last, and if it were, know that you got the most out of it.
- Drive slower. There’s no need to speed race, talk on your cell phone, eat, and take notes all at the same time. Treat driving time as a time for decompression, meditation, and decluttering of your mind. Turn off the cell and enjoy these quiet moments of solitude.
- Laugh out loud (lol). You really can trick your body into being happy by laughing out loud. If you don’t believe me, I’ll make a believer out of you. Spend the next 3 minutes laughing out loud, as hard as you can, making the sounds and body motions. You will be happier.
- Talk to people. Instead of being absorbed in newspapers and television shows find a person to talk to. Discuss goals, dreams, aspirations and none of that self-pitying or past tense thinking.
- Pick most important things. Sit down with pen and paper and decide on the 3 things that are most important in your life, and how you can drop everything else to achieve them.
- Drink water. Forget the sophisticated and often complicated drinks and stick to the most essential of all — water. At least 8 cups of this stuff a day — a bit less if you eat a lot of fruit — and a bit more if you exercise or sweat heavily.
- Go for a walk. You don’t even have to put on your fancy bubble sneakers and hit the treadmill. It’s enough to go for a nice walk — at least 30 minutes (yes, that’s 2x 15, you’ll thank me for it one day) — and let some blood pump through your body. It’s recommend to do this 3 times a week to stay healthy, but my personal recommendation would be to make this into your daily routine.
- Clean your closet. Do your laundry, put away all your clothes, and than take a good look at your closet. What do you not wear? What is not essential? Put the answers to these questions in a box and donate them.
- Plan your meals. Eliminate the guess work of where will you eat next by planning, if not the whole week, than at least this entire day, as far as what and where you will eat. I guarantee that planning will allow you to make healthier choices while going easier on your wallet at the same time.
- Visit nature. Bask in the beauty and serenity that nature has selflessly provided us with. Go to a forest, park, or simply sit under a tree, and do nothing, read a book, or chat with a friend. While out walking I saw a kid sitting under a tree with his laptop; while not the most effective use of nature, it still beats doing the required homework inside the house on a beautiful day.
- Play catch. You won’t find too many activities easier than tossing the ball around between two people. It’s great exercise, it’s relaxing yet invigorating, and a great opportunity to talk and bond.
- Eliminate distractions. Whether you’re working, reading, doing homework, or spending time with someone it’s important to give it your full attention. Turn off the phone, television, and any other distractions that can pop up unannounced. Be present.
- Say ‘No’. In an effort to simplify, do not accept new commitments that you don’t want to accept. Say no to your boss, spouse, kids, and friends. Explain to them that you need some time to concentrate on the tasks at hand in order to simplify your life and increase your happiness, productivity, and vitality.
- Read daily. If you were to take out 30 minutes a day to read (another 2×15), you will have spent 4.5 full work weeks reading by the end of the year. You would be very smart.
“Simply the thing that I am shall make me live.”
“Nature is what we know – Yet have not art to say – So impotent our wisdom is To her simplicity”
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
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