I love the idea of living a more simple life. To me, it conjures up thoughts of free time, fewer bills, and less junk. Doesn’t that sound nice?
However many people shy away from the idea, thinking it means selling everything they own and living on the fringes of society. But living a simple life doesn’t mean spending your days meditating in a yurt in the woods (that is, unless you want to). It is possible to be a regular old member of society, while still keeping it minimalist.
All you have to do is live with a bit less, and I'm not talking about depriving yourself. You can still have a cell phone, watch TV, buy clothes, and have fun. But the thing is, once you start living more simply, you'll realize you don't need half those things anyway.
Think of the feeling you get after cleaning out your closet, or pairing down your phone bill, or unfollowing that annoying celebrity on Twitter. You don't feel like you're missing out. In fact, you breathe a sigh of relief for the lack of "junk" in your life (both physical and metaphorical).
If living a less hectic, connected, and expensive life sounds intriguing, then here are some ways to simplify your life.
1. Don't Shop As A Hobby
Sure, shopping is fun. It's also expensive, and a good way to add lots of clutter to your life. As Leo Barbauta bluntly notes on his lifestyle website, ZenHabits.net, "Shopping isn’t therapy. It’s a waste of time and money." But if you really love spending a day walking the mall with your friends, go ahead and do it — just don't buy anything. Instead, stick to window shopping, think about your purchases, and save up for the things you really, truly want.
2. Live Below Your Means
I love this quote by Ellen DeGeneres: "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it." That really hits me as the perfect description of living to work. If everyone lived below their means, this wouldn't be the case, and we'd all have much simpler lives.
3. Clean Up Your Apartment Before Bed
This one is easy, but can really affect how you feel. Before bed, go around your apartment and put away the dishes, pick clothes up off the floor, and arrange your pillows on the couch. That way, when you wake up in the morning, you'll be walking into a neat and tidy space. It'll do wonders for your peace of mind.
4. Have A Basic Cellphone
I know, this can be a terrifying prospect. But for those truly committed to living a simpler life, think how great it would be to free yourself from 24/7 emails and majorly expensive data plans. As noted by Brian Gardner on BecomingMinimalist.com, "It would be nice to say that a cell phone was not necessary at all, but pay phones have disappeared and if you need to call someone in an emergency, you will need a cell phone. Instead of getting a smartphone with data and texting, opt for a basic cell phone that only makes or receives calls. There are plans that allow you to get a phone for less than $50 and offer free minutes to talk with every month." If you're still not convinced, let me tell you that one of my friends just reverted back to an old flip phone and she said it's the best thing ever.
5. Get Rid Of Things You Don't Use
There's nothing simple about an overflowing closet, a table covered in junk, and a car full of wrappers and plastic bottles. Throw it all out, and enjoy the lack of visual clutter. This goes for garbage but also for things you no longer use, such as old clothes that don't fit. Donate your extra purses, shoes, and outfits to a charity and bask in the glory of your simplified, clean closet.
6. Ditch Your Credit Card, And Only Buy Things You Can Actually Afford
It's easier said than done, but everyone should be striving for a life with no credit card debt. And of course the best way to do this is to not have one in the first place. As Gardner notes, "Credit cards are nice. They allow people to buy things they otherwise could not afford and pay for it over time. They also become a burden that drags many people down each month. Instead of using credit cards, only buy what you can afford. Stick to that plan and the fear of not being able to pay the bills will quickly disappear."
7. Don't Get Caught Up In Drama
Living a simpler life means living with less junk, which can be both physically or metaphorically. So if you want to be all Zenned out and minimalist, you'll want to get rid of any drama in your life, too. This means letting go of toxic friends, unfollowing annoying social media accounts, and avoiding any gossip. You'll feel so much better without the constant influx of angst, I promise.
A simple life can mean giving up a lot of things, such as shopping sprees, expensive phone packages, and fancy credit cards. It also means getting rid of complicated ways of thinking, like believing you need more "stuff" to be happy. But for all the things you have to give up and let go of, simplicity offers so much more in the form of a happier and more peaceful life.
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