“Simplify your Life.” These three little words can make a huge difference. Just saying them out loud can whisper a sense of calm into a life cluttered with doing, being and way too much stuff.
Sometimes called “the happiest man in the world”, Buddhist monk and renowned author Matthieu Ricard says, “A simple life is a happy life.” And while swopping Killarney for Kathmandu may not be on the cards for you just yet, there is great merit in simplifying how you live your life.
Simple but Good
A simple life means less time spent chasing material stuff but one just has to be brave enough to take the first step.
James Wallman, author of Stuffocation: Living More with Less (Penguin), explains the term. “Stuffocation is the story of one of today’s most acute, till now unnamed, afflictions. It is about how you, me, and society in general, instead of feeling enriched by the things we own, are feeling stifled by them instead.”
Less is more
Dr Thomas Gilovich, a professor at Cornell University who has been studying human behaviour for over 20 years, says “the problem” with us being human beings is that we adapt to every situation. In an article on the Entrepreneur website, he says: “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a while. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”
Underlining what we have been hearing in the media for many years now (with the millennials getting the full credit for waving their noses at the materialism that has come before), he says real value lies in experiences and not stuff!
According to Gilovich, our experiences are a more significant part of ourselves than our earthly goods. “You can really like your material stuff,” he says. “You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”
So investing in life, family and quality time with loved ones has much more value in the long run and sometimes taking stock of what really matters and making the necessary changes is a big decision we all need to take. And while not everything is about money, finances certainly play a big role in making choices that make a real difference in our lives.
10 ways to simplify your life…
- Take stock: Make a list of the areas of your life you could simplify. Have you overextended on your home, on your car? Are you spending too much on entertainment? Is the gym membership really necessary? Do you have to say yes to every social invitation? Take a good honest look at your answers and see where it is possible to make changes.
- Baby steps – start to make little adjustments: Those drinks after work every Friday that steal your energy and make you a bit useless on Saturday morning? Try saying no once or twice and look out for the benefits. That two for the price of one deal that always has you reaching for your credit card – perhaps say no this once? Try taking baby steps in your weekly and daily routines – watch space open up and sanity come sidling in.
- Consider your home: Is your bond stretching your finances too much so that all you do is work, work, work and have no time for life itself. A lot of people are downsizing so that their homes are a more manageable expense. While this is not a decision taken easily, it certainly is worth considering in these harsh economic times. If you do take this decision, Leadhome is ready and willing to assist you on your journey. [In fact, our company came about as an answer to de-clutter the dated and pricey model offered previously by estate agents.]
- Too many credit cards, too many accounts: How is the paperwork in your life looking? Do you have bills coming to you from all corners and are not only battling to keep up with how much you owe whom but keeping track of the paperwork is a nightmare (not to mention not very good for the environment). Take a long hard look at consolidating debt and simplifying your own personal monthly paper trail.
- Car-savvy: Do you really need that petrol guzzler with high monthly payments? Are there more economical ways of getting around? Are you a two-car family that operates quite efficiently with one vehicle? Consider some of these questions and make some meaningful adjustments to your car quota.
- Time is the real currency: While having stuff is one thing, having time – quality time – to do the things you love is the real gift. Take a look at your personal time and see where you can trim time-sapping activities and behaviours and replace these with the gift of time to do the things that you love.
- Simplify your headspace: Too much noise going on in your head? In these times of over-stimulation, look at ways to give yourself a mental breather – switch off social media, take a digital detox, switch off the telly and go out and look at the stars. Learn to meditate, even if it’s just for five minutes every day.
- Scrutinise your people connections: Are you aware of energy-sappers, and time-wasters; people who do nothing to enhance your life and those who do? Sometimes it’s a good idea to take stock of the drama and chaos certain people bring into your space and make active moves to limit time spent with them. The same goes for people who do much to add to your sense of wellbeing in the world.
- Practise being a frugalista: Shop around, look for bargains – hold off on purchases until you are sure you have the best price. Or hold off on that luxury purchase altogether – do you really need it, or could you put that cash to better use? Could you invest in an experience rather than in more stuff is the question you could be asking yourself.
- Spend time in nature: While the material offer does have its attributes, nothing is more fulfilling than the simple act of being out in nature. Make time to go for a walk in the outdoors, sit under a tree and contemplate the simplicity of it all and that maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get back to basics.
- Perhaps Matthieu Ricard was right in saying “a simple life is a happy life”. Certainly, Plato would agree, having once said, “ The greatest wealth in life is to live content, with little.” Or perhaps we have got it wrong all along in our relentless pursuit of more and more and more. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
This article was provided by Leadhome