Living simply has been proven by science to make us happier, more focused and more at ease. I'm not talking a full minimalist lifestyle (though that is awesome), but I am talking distillation - refinement. I'm talking choosing what really matters.
Who doesn't want that?
Read on for 19 of my favorite, non-cliché tips for simple living.
19 Tips for Simple Living
1. Make a list of the top 5 most important things to you.
Forgot what you value? Honestly, writing this blog prompted me to remember mine. Sometimes we don't even know what our values are because we are too busy doing what we think we should be doing or blurring our reality with those of others. Make a list and keep it somewhere you can easily refer back to it.
Here's my list as an example:
1) Health/wellbeing (meditation, journaling, self-study, teaching, food movement, etc.)
2) My relationship
3) The wellbeing of the planet (sustainability + nature)
4) Travel as education
What do you value? Make that list.
2. Marie Kondo your stuff.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was a book that truly did change my life. You don't have to read it to know the premise though: if it doesn't spark joy, let it go - get rid of it. We hold onto so much that we don't need and that doesn't spark joy anymore. All that clutter weighs on us physically, mentally and emotionally. After purging all my crap, I literally lost weight. I'm also a much more conscious consumer because I know I have what I need, I feel good, and in truth, I really don't want to have to go through everything I own again.
Also, learn what “enough” is.
Meditation is the ultimate tool for simplicity. It's the "act" of being.
Set a timer for five minutes, tune into all five of your senses, and breathe. Simplification activated.
4. Sift through your social life.
Maybe there are relationships that no longer serve you, or worse: feel toxic. A lot of energy can go into our social lives. Boil it down to time. Who do you love spending time with? Choose those people.
You know what they say: find your tribe and love them hard.
5. Declutter your digital life.
We used to clear paper clutter, but now with most things digital (thank goodness for the environment), we are finding our phones and computer files jam-packed with excess. Go through your desktop, camera roll and old folders to let some stuff go. We need so much less than we think.
This goes for social media too: unfollow any accounts that don't "spark joy." Anything that feels empty or toxic can be unfollowed, muted, removed or blocked. Get clear. Keep your digital boundaries healthy.
6. Spend less time in front of screens.
We work on our phones and computers so much. If there's no way to limit work time here, really consider how much arbitrary/entertainment time you spend here. Read a book, go on a walk, stare out a window, call a loved one, cook, make art, do a handstand, dance, listen consciously to music, spend quality time with a child or a pet. Just spend less time in front of a screen.
7. Drink water.
Every single health and wellness blog will tell you the same. Trust them. Water is life. It keeps everything running optimally and as an added bonus: you'll find that with your eight glasses of water a day, you'll have more energy, better skin and you'll stop mindlessly eating so much. We're usually thirsty when we start grazing.
I'm convinced that half of the health issues on the planet are as a result of not drinking enough plain water. It's magic. Drink so much water.
8. Eat healthy and slowly.
Connect with your food. Consume more and mostly plants. Chew slowly. Eat un-distractedly. Enjoy and savor every bite. Food is a gift. It is your nourishment, your fuel and ultimately you.
9. Prioritize in the morning.
Start your day with a list of your top priorities. Make the day yours. Extra simplicity credit if you schedule it out.
10. Move in a way that feels good.
I spent the first part of my life trying to run because I thought that was the thing to do. I despised it. It didn't feel right in my body. I thought I was a helpless case. I tried yoga and I fell in love. I practice every single day. I hike, I dance, I flow. As my favorite yoga teacher, Adriene Mishler says, "find what feels good."
11. Make nature your entertainment.
Stare out a window, go outside, watch the sunset, take a dip in a stream, a lake, a river or the ocean, hike in the desert, climb a tree, stargaze, gather wildflowers, watch a bird - there's so much to see. If we truly tune in, you'll never get bored. Replace aimless scrolling or series bingeing with time with nature and you will heal.
12. Check-in with yourself.
We spend hours, days, and sometimes years before we actively check in with how we're feeling, driving us further from our desires, needs and self-trust. Just as you would ask anyone else, make asking yourself, "how am I doing right now?" a habit. Tuning in to yourself soothes emotions and helps you make better, more conscious decisions. What does that lead to? A simpler, happier life.
13. Learn to breathe, truly.
We take anywhere from 17,000 - 30,000 breaths per day and maybe focus on 2-3 of them. If you're a meditator, breathing mindfully should come naturally, but to many of us, it's foreign land.
Inhale fully... exhale fully... bringing your awareness to your breath traveling in and out through your nose or creating the rise and fall of the belly. Just notice. Truly use this tool (conscious breathing) whenever you feel you need to reset, take a step back, or anchor in.
14. Leave space around things in your day.
We tend to pack things in and bite off more than we can chew. Okay, maybe we can chew it, but it's messy and exhausting and we can barely even breathe through our nose trying to do so. Why torture ourselves? When you schedule your day, try to make it a rule of thumb to leave at least 15 - 20 minutes between events and activities. This doesn't include commute time. Use it to breathe, to walk, to chat or simply, do nothing.
15. Do one thing at a time.
The pressure of efficiency, productivity and success can weigh heavy on the true enjoyment of life. As mentioned in the last point, we take on a lot - and a lot at once. Neuroscience has proven that we can't functionally multitask, but if that hasn't stopped you from trying, maybe advocating for quality of life will. Doing one thing at a time makes even the most mundane, dreadful activities more enjoyable. You can also get more done as the brain doesn't have to shift gears so often. Try it. Focus. Simplify.
16. Live sustainably.
Making conscious choices to purchase reusable and eco-friendly products doesn't just feel good on the psyche, but it also saves a lot of time and money. Just one great example of a product that demonstrates how living sustainably helps you simplify is the reusable napkin. A pack of reusable napkins are not only nice on the eyes, but they never need to be purchased again. You'll need to wash them, sure, but you have other things to wash anyway. A one time purchase can save up to hundreds of dollars per year - along with added environmental benefits (as you know, those are my values). It also helps you declutter. So long, stacks of single-use items.
We have so much clutter in our minds (which is why #3 and #13 are also so important), wouldn't it help to have an outlet? As someone who reflects by outward communication, journaling has saved both myself and my relationships. My poor mom and boyfriend had to hear all of my half-thoughts and realizations before I was even sure of them. When I picked my journal back up again, everyone was at peace. Let your thoughts flow. Manifest, let go, find clarity, organize, create - whatever you want. A journal will work wonders for you.
18. Learn acceptance.
I can't stress this enough. Why? We reject and resist so much in life and pain x resistance = suffering. What's the opposite of resistance? Acceptance.
Recognize your emotions and challenging situations and greet them with unconditional friendliness. We usually make them the enemy and that causes pain.
Acceptance doesn’t mean weakness. It doesn’t mean we can advocate, make change, grow or manifest something new – it just means that we accept what is now and the lessons/reasons it exists. We take this emotion/situation by the hand and guide it lovingly to the next step like you would a child. I used to feel acceptance and change couldn’t walk hand in hand, but though seemingly paradoxical, they are entirely complimentary of one another. Set yourself free. This can be a hefty subject for some. I'm here for you. Chat with me more about this in a 1:1.
19. Tell people you love them.
There's a song by Hozier called, "Shrike" that gives me chills every time I hear it. It's about losing someone he didn't share his love enough for. I think so many of us live waiting for "the moment" to do so. Do it whenever. Do it always. Just do it now, unapologetically. Feel the light.