Here are some thoughts on simple living:
Buy less and give more. Malcolm Forbes said, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but he was wrong. Consumption and accumulation create clutter but not happiness. Decide what you don’t use anymore and give it away. That other phrase, “One person’s junk is another’s treasure” is more apropos. I frequently give things away via freecycling.
Eat healthy. The next time you reach for a soda or a bag of chips, ask yourself if you can be equally satisfied with a bottle of water or a bag of nuts. I joined the paleo lifestyle last summer and, allowing 20% of my dietary choices to be sugared, I strive for more non-sugared foods than with it. During the first three months, I lost 20 pounds and 4 inches off my waist. I’ve maintained that level, preferring foods rich in fat to satiate me.
Declutter. Do you know about the reverse hangar test? Turn your hanging clothes and whatever you don’t use in six months you should remove. Or, how about the box test? Put loose papers, office supplies, notecards, whatever, into a box. Whatever remains in the box after so many months you should toss or give away. I did the bookshelf test by recognizing that hundreds of my book titles I wasn’t reading anymore, so I got rid of them. I have less than 20 books now and I thumb through them all.
Drink water after awaking. I can’t stress this enough. The best way to awake your body is by replenishing nutrients lost during sleep. Water is the best drink for you, and drink as much as you can. Read a book while drinking.
Stop watching TV. I don’t mean you should get rid of the television, though some people have done that. I like watching TV — but I stick to streamed movies and television shows via Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other storage services. I don’t watch live TV unless it’s the Olympics or a milestone event. And, I only pay $10 a month for basic cable. (Due to a Comcast loophole, if I didn’t pay that cost, they’d tack it onto my internet bill.)
Take digital sabbaticals. Whether you unplug for a day, a weekend, or a month, the goal is you will learn to re-enjoy life without a glowing screen. An easy way of doing this is by leaving your phone home when you go out for a walk or to the gym or even for the day. Messages and notifications will be there when you next turn it on.
Make time for people. The person without a social life is the person who dies a hermit. I don’t want to be secluded from life. Do you? Keep up appearances doing activities that matter to you.
Create a schedule. And, stick to it. For instance, I ensure I go to sleep with an empty email inbox. I either reply to messages or archive them for future action. I do this every night; and I awake in the morning knowing any messages are new. Here’s my 4-year-old process.
Say no. We live in a culture of yes, feeling bad if we say no. But it’s important to say no so we’re not distracted by things that don’t add value to our lives.
Accept you’re not perfect. It’s OK to deviate from your simple life. You can return to it when you’re ready.