In Search of Simplicity: How to Start Living a Simple Lifestyle

Adopting a simple lifestyle should be simple? Right?

The truth is, living simply is a process and as such, we’re always learning new ways to reduce the clutter, craziness and complications that seem to be the hallmarks of modern life.

For me, living simply is a journey. A journey I’m still on. And, one that teaches me new things every day.

If you’re interested in creating your own simple life, read on. See what you can do to reduce the stuff and the stress in your life and make the most of every, single day.

In this short TED talk, Graham Hill provides some valuable food for thought around the idea of a simple lifestyle through less stuff and living in less space.


1. Start now

If you’re serious about simplifying your life, start now.

You don’t have to do everything at once. That would be way too much for the average mortal to deal with. And, it would sort of defeat the ‘reduce stress’ idea.

So, start small, but start now.

You can set yourself a timetable if you wish, but I think it’s more important to work on your mindset and get clear about your motivations than it is to create a project plan.

Don’t try to rush the process.

Just take it slow and let yourself grow into the simple lifestyle. This is especially important if you’re taking your family along for the ride.

If you’re downsizing, you probably have a deadline – moving day.

If you do, work backwards from your deadline (moving day) and work out what you need to have done by that date, that is, what you’re taking with you and what you’re definitely not taking. There’ll probably be a grey area between these two lists that you’ll need to work through, too.

Sometimes working in reverse is easier. It gives you a clear starting point: your deadline and a clear goal, fitting your possessions into x square feet.

If you can determine what you need and want to take with you, you can then begin the process of getting rid of what you wont need.

2. Let go of your stuff

One of the toughest things to do when you choose to simplify your life is to get rid of your stuff. It’s tough because we’re used to defining ourselves to some extent by the objects we possess.

Sometimes, this is a conscious choice but sometimes it’s the result of feelings of insecurity.

You might choose to buy that car because it’s a status symbol. You recognise that choice and make peace with it. But, what if you’re dining out four times a week because deep down, you equate eating out with success. You might not make that connection on a conscious level but subconsciously, that belief is dictating your behaviour.

This is why learning to live simply is a process. You never know what you might discover along the way.

If you’re concerned about going cold turkey with your stuff, do a test run of living without it.

Create a limbo box and use it to remove items from your daily life to see if you really can live without them.

You’ll be surprised what you can pack away and never think about again. Set a date and if you haven’t needed to get it out of the box during that period; donate, sell or throw away everything in the box.

Think very carefully before bringing anything new into your home.

Always ask yourself, “Do I really need to own this?” Chances are you probably don’t. You might be able to borrow the item or already own something that can perform the same function.

If you’re not sure where to start, try this list of easy items to throw out or you could start by creating a minimalist ‘capsule’ wardrobe and either selling or donating the items you no longer need.

3. What’s your why?

One of the most clarifying aspects of living simply is knowing what matters, to you. The real challenge is discovering that little nugget of truth. As you peel away the layers of stuff in your life, physical and emotional, you’ll get closer to knowing what that means for you.

Once you’ve determined what matters and your motivation for achieving it, you’re much more likely to follow through with the process.

Too often we decide to jump on a popular movement because it sounds like a great idea. And, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to reduce the complications and craziness in their life? But, if you’re not clear on your own motivation, why you want to take on this lifestyle transformation, you’re more likely to give up when things start to get a little challenging.

So, take the time to identify what’s important to you. How do you define simple living? What will it mean to you?

What’s your WHY? Learn more with this TED talk.


4. What does enough look like for you?

Like discovering your ‘why’, knowing what enough is can be a challenge, too.

Sometimes you need to strip your belongings down to the bare minimum in order to see the bones of your wants and needs.

Once you’ve done that, you can begin to add things back that you either need or love.

Of course, that’s the extreme version. You can just work the process and continue to declutter and downsize your belongings over time until you get to the point where you’re content.

The most important thing to remember here is that it’s about what’s right for you.

For example: I have a lot of books.

I love books. I re-read favorites every year. I love the way they smell. I love the way they feel. To me, they are the perfect companion. I could never get rid of all my books. Some, yes. But all? Never. Having books is a big part of my enough. If, on the other hand, I was told to get rid of 90% of my clothing. That would be easy! For you, getting rid of books might be easy and clothing is a no go zone.

Always question your choices. Always ask yourself if you need it, and/or if you love it.

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5. You don’t need to explain your choices

Oftentimes, our friends and family can be our greatest nemesis when we decide to simplify our lifestyle.

Learning to let go of what others think of our choices isn’t always easy.

Sometimes, we need to learn to say no to the things, events and even people we don’t want in our lives so we can say yes to the things that we do.

Remind yourself that when you simplify your life you gain focus.

Too often multitasking is seen as a skill to which we should all aspire but in truth, the more you’re multitasking, the less focused you are. I don’t know about you, but when I’m multitasking too much or too often, the outcomes suffer.

When your friends and family are the center of your focus, rather than just another thing you’re trying to accomplish today, they’ll value the change.

Living a simple lifestyle

You can choose to take it slow or you can take the quick route to a simple lifestyle.

Whichever road you take, you’ll learn that there’s more to life than shopping and acquiring things.

You’ll learn that you don’t need to compare your life to anyone else’s and you’ll be more content as a result.

You’ll also discover that by adopting a simple lifestyle and, using and buying less, you can pay off your debt, save more and ultimately enjoy more freedom and choices. What could be better than that?

Are you ready to choose a simple lifestyle?

Images: Unsplash & Pixabay