Think Simple Now — a moment of clarity

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The Simple Life

Photo by etringita
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ~Confucius

Don’t you just love the excitement you feel after coming home with a new TV? Driving home in a new car? Opening the box on a new pair of shoes?

I sure do. But, from watching the behavior of myself and my friends I’ve found that the new quickly becomes just another item. The excitement of novelty passes quickly.

As we become wealthier, people seem to be adding more and more things to our homes. We then use our homes, and our treasures, to justify that we have won the game of life. Growing up in a family of pack-rats, I spent many years in my teens and early twenties accumulating stuff. During this time, much of my self-worth was unconsciously associated with the amount of stuff I owned; the brand names, and the latest trends. I spent a lot of money on clothes and stuff that made me feel ‘superior’. They gave me a sense of identity. If I just removed these things without awareness, my ego would have suffered. I had grown so attached to that definition of myself, that my loss would have been much deeper than just the cute sweater.

Not only did I not find myself in all this, I’ve also accumulated a lot of clutter in my living space and my inner space. Ironically, the piles of stuff actually held me back from understanding and inner peace with myself.

We are so eager to fill our homes, yet so disinterested in cleaning it out. As a result, we now require larger spaces, more storage space, and more clutter for the mind. Did you know that there are more self-storage facilities in North America than there are McDonald’s restaurants? We find it difficult to reduce the amount of stuff we own is due to our attachment to these things.

Is Less Really More?

The joy and art of having less while enjoying more of life can be summed up, as follows.

  • The Zen of Space – There is beauty in space, but we fail to recognize it because we can’t see through the stuff we own. When we open up physical space in our environment, a tremendous feeling of peace can dwell within us. This is the principle behind Japanese style homes. Beauty in small spaces is the appreciation of minimalism, where less truly is more. We need to understand that space is to be enjoyed, not filled.
  • Conserved Energy – Fewer belongings means we have fewer possessions to worry about. I once knew a wealthy young man, who had anything he dreamt of. He had so many expensive things, and he was so afraid of losing them. Much of his energy was devoted to protecting his possessions and trophies.
  • Free Your Space – When we are reminded of something we own but never use, we can impose self-inflicted guilt for leaving it unused. For example, my mother owns a several exercise machines which are rarely used. Each time she sees them, she forces herself to feel guilty. Her guilt eats away at her inner, mental space. Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. By cleaning out and simplifying our outer space, our inner space will open up like a flower.
  • Appreciation - The less we have, the more attention we can give those things we own and truly need on a regular basis. Appreciation is the seed for abundance; abundance of the mind and the soul. It’s pretty amazing how little we actually need. When we clear our homes and our lives down to the essentials, we are able to better enjoy that which we do have.

Nothing external to us can give us permanent and true happiness. We actually have all we need to be truly happy within us.

The art of having less but enjoying our lives more, involves a few simple changes in perspective. First, we must understand where our true values lie and focus on them. Then, we must take time to enjoy the simple things, and slow down and see what’s right in front of us.

 

How to Have More With Less?

The following are suggestions and tips for incorporating the having less mentality into your life:

Doing One Thing At A Time – Avoid multi-tasking. When our attention is divided between multiple thoughts at the same time, we cannot excel in any of them. It’s best to place all focus on one task before moving on to another. I’ve learned the hard way that despite feeling productive, with multi-tasking, I rarely am. Whenever possible, remind yourself to focus on the Now, and fully immerse yourself in the subtle joys of this moment.

Slow down – It’s easy to speed through your day and not notice the little things. Slowing down is a vital part of simplifying your life and enjoying what you have. With focus, you can get the same tasks done without rushing. The key to being effective and productive is to work strategically, not blindly, by understanding why you are doing what you’re doing.

Be The Important – The only time we are guaranteed to have is this moment. I know this may sound a little mystical, but just think about it for a second. Life is so precious, yet we spend our most valuable resource, time, on things that are not important to us. In my life, this means that I will include time in my schedule to do what I truly want to be doing. Since the only time we have is right now, make sure you’re using your right now the way you truly want.

Clear the clutterClearing the clutter from your home and from your life is easier said than done. We are often emotionally attached to our posessions. This attachment goes beyond our need and we find it difficult to let go of nostalgia. When we are free of physical clutter, it frees our minds as well.

Control Your Spending – You’ve heard the saying “The best things in life are free.” Do you believe it? Spending time with family and friends, laughing, enjoying the antics of a pet, seeing a child smile, experiencing intimate and heart-felt moments with a loved one – these times are precious, and free. Money brings comfort, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying that comfort. But it’s important to spend money on the things that matter to you and let go of spending that does not add value to your life. We spend on what we need, but we forget why we are doing what we’re doing, and the spending becomes a habit.

Enjoy What You Have – If you want to have more enjoyment in your life, enjoy what you have. It is said that in order to live the life you love, you have to love the life you have. We don’t have to seek beyond ourselves in order to find happiness. No one person has everything they want; but we all have some things worth enjoying. So focus on those things and enjoy them!

 

Be Gracious – Following the previous point. Take time to be grateful for what you already have, however much or little you own. Be content with all the small gifts in your life, things you might take for granted like your body, your home, your good health, the chair you’re sitting on, the computer you have, the respect of those you love most.

Think Simple – There are so many simple pleasures that we don’t always take time to enjoy. Have you taken time lately to be outdoors and watch the clouds? When was the last time you curled up on the couch with a good book? If you enjoy baths, when is the last time you took a bubble bath? Take some time to really focus on something simple – focus on your breathing, focus on drinking down a cold glass of water, focus on enjoying the simple things you do every day. We can find so much happiness in the small everything things. They are there if we seek them, and when we seek, we shall find.

What are some simple things that you enjoy? Share with it with us in the comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this and related topics.


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About the author

Tina Su is a mom, a wife, a lover of Apple products and a CHO (Chief Happiness Officer) for our motivational community: Think Simple Now. She is obsessed with encouraging and empowering people to lead conscious and happy lives. Subscribe to new inspiring stories each week. You can also subscribe to Tina on Facebook.

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143 thoughts on The Simple Life

  1. Richard Eaton

    You pretend…
    You have found…
    A person who you think lives life…
    A life you now copy…

    You don’t realize it is pretend until now…
    You realize that you have found nothing…
    A life you are not living…
    A copy is a fake…

    You are worse off now…
    You are lost again…
    A person who has exchaged one lie for another..
    A life with no life…

  2. Kabir

    Very insightful article indeed. I agree with most of the contributions. I think the more we detach ourselves from earthly possessions and endeavour to transcend them, the happier we will be. Having less is indeed having more when we understand it’s true meaning.
    Happiness is a state of mind and keeping one’s life simple plays an important role in maintaining that state of happiness. As a muslim, when I limit myself to the basic needs sustaining life(food, shelter, clothing, relationships…) contentment feels my heart and soul and hence finding peace, security within me. Attachment needs to be continually maintained with the creator(Allah). Only Him can fill that emptiness within your soul when we believe.Possessions or accumulating wealth, however, give us the impressions we will be happier and more secure if we own this or own that. Reality we don’t even own ourselves. With faith and simplicity life become more enjoyable and less stressful. Spend your hard earned dollars on things that will impose meaning on your life and hence making you really happy. When that inner sincere happiness fills you, you’d better share it with your beloved ones. Simple people always love to share what they have. May your lives be eternal.KK

  3. Hey, I managed to find a link to this article via Zath and have found your post highly insightful. Great tips on how to live ;).

  4. Absolutely true! I have dedicated my entire thought processing on how to make my life simple and happy. I also write articles that many of you will find very useful. I believe that we should truly work hard to make our lives simple. Simplicity is the true road to salvation.

  5. Abdolaziz Yousefi

    Simple life will bring us and our associated people and our community a safe and secure environment and peace.

  6. Jam

    Greetings! Nice article, exactly the way to enjoy life.
    we ‘ve a tendency to complicate our lives, we may be breathing but are we living? oblivious to awarness of how we go on with what we call “Life”. Thanks for sharing the article.

  7. Ah, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I am currently doing deep research on off-grid, away from it all living, and came upon your post using the words “how to live simply.”

    I see people who shop for the sake of shopping, work for the sake of paying for things they never needed, and generally growing from the casket to the grave with little to show for any of it in depth of character.

    Character, meaning, depth, solitude, calm, peace, simplicity, and beauty is what I hunger for.

    There is a lot of real gold in this short article.

    Thank you.

    -daretoescape

  8. This was really intresting and well written! I ‘m gonna open up new spaces today!

    And of course link this page to my friends and see if it’s not their cup of tea too! :)

  9. Thank you so much for this article! Every morning I search for inspirational on Zen and Simply Living as I cannot afford to have any stress in my life. Today’s wisdom came from your blog post:

    “Nothing external to us can give us permanent and true happiness. We actually have all we need to be truly happy within us.”

    There is so much emphasis and pressure put on being like others in order to fit in and “be happy”. Just last week, I started to break free of this mentality and it has changed my life. I’ve begun to look at my life, the people in it and the things I surround myself with to gauge how much true value is being added. It is an amazing and heartwarming experience.

    Thank you again! Irish smiles!

  10. Raina

    Thank you for writing this. I know this, and keep telling this to myself often…but the reality is I seldom follow it. I had a beautiful, simple life that I have managed to complicate. I am always rushing myself and my kids and over booking our scheduled with a thousand things to do. My childrens’ childhood is nothing like the simple childhood I had and I feel bad for them. They need to spend time looking out of the window, looking at the sky, playing in the rain….just enjoying everything in nature. Instead I have them enrolled in a thousand different activities, work like crazy and drive them around everywhere after that. I can say, I don’t spend too much quality of time with them. But our entire society is that way…..I can’t simplify my life if everything in life is measured in terms of trophies, and paycheck, and what you possess. I almost have to cut myself off of society or not care about anyone else to do what I want to do.

  11. Can I simply say what a reduction to seek out someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know methods to convey a difficulty to light and make it important. Extra individuals must learn this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant imagine youre not more widespread since you definitely have the gift.

  12. Sonja

    I couldn’t agree with your blog more!
    Growing up my parents never bought me much stuff but everything I owed i loved. As soon as I started working I wanted more of everything. Everytime I got paid I would have to go out and spend it. Then I had to work more because I wanted more. Before I knew it I was working 7 days and had no time to enjoy anything. I ended up having a breakdown and everything changed. I have given a lot of possessions away, sold a few and I feel no urge to shop. This didn’t happen overnight – it’s taken me about 2 years to start living a simpler life and it started when I started going to my partners house and although his house was smaller there was more room and there was always a good vibe. I can honestly say I have never been happier. I have saved so much money and now when I walk into my room I have space and it makes me feel free, I also know where everything is and don’t have to spend hours searching. I was basically a hoarder never throwing everything out!

  13. Muerte

    I saw this and it made it much easier for me to explain to friends who need to see the light. I myself have halved my belongings maybe 10 times in the past 5 years, but only since the last 2 sessions have I actually prevented the accumulation of more. There is certainly no freedom comparable to when you eliminate life’s distractions.

  14. Natalie

    When the time is right you know, the cluttering of your mind and abode overwhelms you to the point of the necessity of release, and then the journey begins. I’m there and ready I am letting go of what I though was expected from a human being deemed acceptable and successful in society. I no longer need to have the degrees, condo, husband, cars…right friends sigh sounds a bit tiring hey? Well it does and not only that, but it does not work, trying to keep afloat itself is just too much! I was born on the side of a river, eating apples, swinging on my swing pushed by my great grandfather, catching lightbugs in a jar, these were the simple things I use to just looove to do, one day I was told or felt ok..Enough of that you are an adult and MUST produce! Get with the program young lady..and I did , but I found throughout the years and experiences that whatever I did was never enough, more and more was demanded, but in all the attempts of becoming the right person I realised that I was all along, but was not aware of it, I was trying so hard to make it ..where? Well I no longer care and weeeeeeeeeeeeeee! what a revelation. Life is so short one day I will be gone and when I go I will make sure that I left behind a beautiful path of sun, joy, love and laughter. The twinkle is back in my eyes I hope you get yours back too.

  15. rohit

    What to say…except simply super artical.

  16. Annie

    Donald: I have to disagree with the no car and owning home to an extent. Owning a home is not bad if you can afford it on your own, and if you can afford it and desire to, in a way it’s better if a person can if they have babies or real young children. I’m not trying to judge anyone or point fingers, but it is stressful if you live in an apartment building, and you are constantly hearing lots of screaming, crying, and running around. Having your own home means, you are not hearing anyone’s kids except if you have your own. However, I understand many parents cannot afford to have their own home, so an apartment is all they can do. But when kids are no longer babies, then for the parents to teach the kids how not to disturb the neighbors.
    As for a car, if it works for you not to have one, who am I to say you should have one since no harm is done. But, I feel, a car is no harm done if one can afford it some how. Especially if you live in an area, especially rural, where there is no transportation, or if you live in my area, you are lucky if you can get daytime transportation, but for many people, it is not practical to do everything during the day. Sometimes, a person has to wait until night, when no transportation is available, and not everyone who has a car wants to be asked to be given rides and stuff. However, if a day comes I can have my own vehicle, I don’t have to have it brand new. It can be used condition as long as it works, because I will be grateful just to have something to get myself around. And one having their own car means having more control of when they come and when they go, and when going to spend time with extended family and friends, or parents, or siblings, they can stay as late as they want without the confinements in time that comes with no vehicle.
    I do agree about credit cards, however. You don’t want to have the worries of what will happen if you cannot pay them back on time! I also agree with the importance of spirituality in your life.

    Aaron Scott, you speak of your times in Africa. It is a blessing you enjoyed your time there, but I don’t think easy access to things is the issue. I mean, I have relatives who are not fortunate in the south enough to have a toilet, and out of the some who do have a toilet, a few of them have ones that doesn’t flush well if at all, so, you see what they did in the toilet. My late grandmother was not fortunate to have a bathtub or sink. I appreciate having a toilet, and regular shower and tub I can privately use. And a sink to easily sanitize my hands. But it is a true blessing you enjoyed your time there.

    I’m sure you, Donald and Aaron, have your reasons for your thoughts, and I will respect them.

  17. Terry

    This is really good advice. We get trapped in the world of materialism without realizing it!
    I wouldn’t have believed it except for a recent holiday we spent in a log cabin. It had the essentials and nothing more. I said to my wife that I could live here. Her reply was where would you put all your stuff? I said being here, living simply, has made me realize we don’t need all that ‘stuff’.
    It certainly made me re-think my ways!

  18. S. Doss

    I have recently turned 40 years old. I find myself wanting a simple life, I work full time in law enforcement and I train dog’s as a side job. I enjoy working with dogs more then working in criminal justice. I find myself wanting to go for walks and taking pictures and being with dog, family and friends. I have eliminated all of the clutter in my life, but I would like to get to the point were I can get out of Law Enforcement and live a stress free life. As I get older and lose more family to death, I am realizing that the only things on earth that matters are each other. I am on my way to living a simple life.
    God help me with my task
    Thank You for the gift of life.
    S. Doss

  19. Mary

    I was really excited to find your website on simplifying your life, until I saw all the adds for Coach purses, closet designing, diamond jewelry, etc…it was so in conflict with what I thought you were saying and so distracting. I think you will reach more people without the adds. I just needed to say this and now I’ll go back and take another look.
    Mary

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      We don’t control a lot of the ads that take place. And as much as we don’t like the ads, it’s how we monetize to keep the site alive. Servers and our contributing writers all cost money (thousands) and this is how we are able to keep the site alive. Hope you can look beyond the ads and see the messages behind our articles.

      But again, we appreciate your feedback and are constantly looking for less distracting ways to integrate ads into the site.

      Tina

  20. Jazz Gonzales

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m a 17 year old girl and I’ve always been influenced by media. By what is “beautiful” and “perfect”. As a result, I tried to copy everything I see. I tried to change myself. This article made me realize that life is simple. Simple things can bring the prettiest smiles. Simple things are genuine. I always wonder if hollywood stars are happy with their lives, and their mansions. But now I realize that having less is truly more.

  21. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about a simple life.
    Regards

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