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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144 thoughts on The Simple Life

  1. very interesting article. I have subscribed to the feed. Internally I know the hectic schedule wont permit many things but then I have to try……

  2. Gyasiman

    Thanks so much.

    You are appreciated.

  3. Stephan

    Tina, i’ve just finish reading your article, and i must say, it is an eye opener to my life at this moment. I have accumulate so much that i have put myself in financial distress, i was just saying today to my girlfriend that i was ready to leave a more simple life, your article is my inspiration now to do so , thx

  4. Gaurav Patil

    this article is really helping me in my life thanks

  5. Joan Parker

    Thank you for the reminders of the serenity of a simple life.

  6. My husband and I sold the majority of our belongings last year, moved into an Airstream travel trailer (approx. 160 sq. ft) and hit the road. We thought seeing the country would be the big life changing event (and it has been unbelievable) but more powerful has been eliminating the clutter in our lives. We no longer feel owned by our stuff but instead enjoy the new freedom living a simpler life. Getting rid of one’s stuff responsibly is not easy but after a week of yard sales and dozens of trip to donation centers, it felt amazing to look around and not be surrounded by boxes and boxes of unused goods.

    Someday, when our Airstream journey comes to an end, we fully intend to continue the simple lifestyle.

  7. 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…

  8. 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

  9. 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 ;).

  10. 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.

  11. Abdolaziz Yousefi

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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! :)

  15. 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!

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