Several months ago I had the pleasure of doing my first live interview around the subject of simple living. A website named Midway Simplicity.com made it a regular practice to talk with a number of simplicity and minimal living bloggers about his or her version of minimalism or simplicity. I was honored to be included.
For a while now I’ve been writing articles about minimalism and the simple living approach from a SMART perspective, and those articles have attracted more attention than many others here on the website. Appearing on the Midway Simplicity Show provided me with a great opportunity to get clear about where SMART Living and Simplicity converge. It also helped me think of a number of specific tips I can offer for those seeking a more SMART and simple lifestyle of their own.
In case you’re wondering, I consider simplicity to be an integral part of living SMART 365. Of course that’s using a definition where simplicity is a lifestyle that includes peace, happiness and harmony. While a life filled with struggle, clutter and chaos might qualify upon occasion, SMART Living suggests that sustainability, meaning, awareness, responsibility and thanksgiving flow more naturally from a graceful and simple life. Plus, the simple, but moderate lifestyle approach offered by SMART living is much more holistic and connected than a mere design choice, or current Internet fad. The goal as I see it for a show like Midway Simplicity is to provide ways and ideas that every single person can use and benefit from in their lives. I was happy to be a part of it.
Every Midway Simplicity show asks the same set of questions. Can you offer your personal simple living tips in each of the following five categories? Here are my answers.
#1 Time: My first tip for the best way to simplify my time is to make an effort to decide what is most important to me in my life. While that seems rather vague and broad, it is really a critical step in living a simple life. If any one of us decides that living on a farm and raising our own food is extremely important, then everything else we do changes and affects how we spend my time. If we decide we want to be a doctor, then the steps to become the best doctor dictate how to best spend our time. I think too many of us rush around doing things that aren’t really that important to us in the scheme of our lives.
So once we know what is important to us, the second tip would be: do that! Again, if our day is filled with things that we think we are supposed to do, or what others tell us we should do, we are missing the joy in life. Make sure you spend at least a majority of your day doing things that you love—and figure out a way to leave everything else behind.
#2 Things: My tip for how to simplify your life in the area of your possessions is to only keep/buy/own things that increase the quality of your life. It’s that simple—but not easy. I think most of us, and I sure did it when I was younger, went after things that I thought would make me happy because I saw other people getting them. Things like a big house, a nice car, and trendy stuff seemed important at the time. But what I gradually learned over the long haul is that everything you own, really owns YOU! Everything we buy demands our attention, our care, our money, our time, and our energy. Even the stuff you cram in your closets that you haven’t seen in months, holds a little corner of your mind. Even those things that bring you joy take time, money and energy, so make sure they are really things that are worth the trade. Constantly remember the Will Rogers quote: “Most people go to jobs they hate, to buy stuff they don’t need, to impress people they don’t really like.” Don’t be like that!
#3 Health: My simple living tip for good health is to take care of yourself in a moderate way when you’re young, and keep it up when you get older. Moderation is the key. Lots of people live life when they are young like there is no tomorrow. Then when problems develop they panic and suddenly become obsessed with exercise, food and supplements. When you take a moderate approach to health during your entire live by enjoying the things you like to do with moderation, chances are you’ll be happy as long as you live.
I also encourage people to spend their resources (time, energy and money) working on their mind and soul as much as on their physical health during their entire lives. Most people think health is just what everyone can see on the outside. It is actually much, much more!
#4 Finances: My number one tip for simplifying finances is to get rid of all debt as quickly as possible. I confess that when I was younger it didn’t seem that important—or achievable. But in all honesty, becoming debt free has altered and enhanced our lives more than anything we have done since going SMART. Not sure how to do it? Start by learning to budget. If you don’t budget, chances are you will never know what you are spending and where. The only way to do that is to budget and be very honest about where your money is going.
The other tip I would offer is to seek out a job that you love as quickly as possible. Make that a priority. When you work at a job you love then you won’t see it as drudgery and you will look forward to what it asks of you. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
#5 Relationships: If you want a loving and simple relationship with a partner, take the time to find someone who shares the same values and concerns as you do. Thom (my husband) and I are both curious and adventurous life-long learners. Those shared qualities have helped us to weather all sorts of unimaginable hardships and challenges—and still optimistically look to the future. If your partner shares the same dreams as you, it will definitely simplify your life.
Next I would suggest letting go of people and/or family that don’t support you. Life is too precious, and time too short, to spend it with people who hold you down. And lastly, create a good relationship with yourself. Once you learn to love and appreciate yourself, it will be much simpler to find others to do it as well.
So that’s it! Those are my five tips for simple living that I offered on the Midway Simplicity show. If you want to see it “live” rather than read about it, the link is— http://bit.ly/1dR9Ho9
But more important than my answers, what about your own? After all, the SMART path to simple living is discovering and then walking the path that brings you the most happiness, peace and harmony every single day of your life. In that case, what works for you is the best midway simplicity available.
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness.” ~Henry David Thoreau
“And I learned what is obvious to a child. That life is simply a collection of little lives, each lived one day at a time. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered. But most of all, I learned that life is about sitting on benches next to ancient creeks with my hand on her knee and sometimes, on good days, for falling in love.” ~Nicholas Sparks