It’s 2015. I’m wearing my “typical corporate uniform”, nervously twirling around my finger the lone Tiffany’s ring I wear, waiting for my boss to arrive. It’s time for my monthly one on one – corporate speak for “are you meeting your numbers and increasing our profits.” As I fidget and try to finish some emails, I’m all nerves. Life has become too busy, too chaotic, too stressful. You see, my last one on one left me a weepy, teary mess.
This meeting was no different. As what had become the norm, my boss raised her voice at least once and left me with the impression that I wasn’t doing enough. It was always the same message: we need you to do more. More, more, more.
So I left in tears and more stressed out than ever.
The first thought that crossed my brain: I’m tired of this. There has to be more to life than running around like a madwoman, and being demeaned to the point of tears.
The second thought? Life should be waaayyyyy simpler than this.
It will come as no surprise to you, my dear reader, to know that my health was no longer stellar. I had no time to exercise. I had meltdowns regularly. And I wasn’t sleeping.
Why? Maybe because I was working like a mad hatter so I could buy crap I didn’t need to impress the exact same people that made my life hell. What’s the definition of madness again? Yep, exactly.
I had lost track of all the meaningful things in life.
Since then, I’ve dramatically changed the way I live, the way I think, who is a part of my life, and how I spend my money. I’ve simplified everything. And guess what? I am so much happier. Doesn’t that sound so appealing? To be happier. I know it does. So…let’s look at how you can get started living a simple life and put you on the path to being infinitely more happy.
9 ways to simplify your life and be happier
Change your thinking, change your life. The mind is a powerful thing. It can help you achieve the most challenging goals, and it can beat you down into a broken mess. It’s your choice what you choose to think about. To simplify your life and be a happier person, try this experiment: be mindful of your thoughts for a day. What kind of negative thoughts do you have? What limiting beliefs do you have? Watch your thoughts, your reactions, and how it affects your day.
Feel a negative thought coming on? Look at it, understand it, and let it pass. Let it leave your mind without impacting you. Instead, turn it around and smile. What you think about regularly will shape your life.
Focus on the abundance in your life. You’re alive right? And I’m pretty sure you have a roof over your head? And you have money to buy food to put in your belly? Yep, thought so. Once you start focusing on the essentials in life, you gain clarity. You begin to understand what you need to survive and thrive. And trust me, you don’t need much. You don’t need twelve lipsticks, you don’t need ten t-shirts in varying shades of grey, you don’t need eight kitchen appliances to create simple, healthy dishes. Once you understand the abundance you do have, it becomes crystal clear what and who you need to purge from your life.
Forget about what other people think. No, this is not a ticket to be rude and disrespectful. Instead, it’s a ticket to stop worrying about what others think. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “I give zero effs”? When you stop taking to heart every single thing that others say to you, you’ll lighten the load of mental clutter exponentially. Most of the time, what people say is a reflection of how they feel about themselves, not you. So if someone says something negative to you, ask yourself – is this constructive criticism? If not, brush it off and let it go.
Eliminate stress. Too much stress can leave you confused, scattered, and eventually, drooling like a helpless puppy. Create morning and evening routines that will influence your day and help you unwind at the end of the day. I write Morning Pages in a journal and do 20 minutes of light exercise first thing. In the evenings, I mentally go over my day and say what I’m grateful for. I also turn off all electronics several hours before bed and fall asleep to a sunset with my Philips Wake up Light (If there’s one possession that brings me joy, it’s this genius alarm clock. You wake up to a sunrise and fall asleep to a sunset. I feel so relaxed when I wake up in the morning).
Stop relying on convenience. The sad side effect of convenience is more crap. It’s a false dichotomy. By having more things to seemingly make life easier, in essence what you’re doing, is making life more complicated by owning more stuff. More stuff to clean, more stuff to organize, more stuff to find a place in your home for.
Ever have so much stuff on the kitchen counter that you keep procrastinating cleaning said countertop? Yep, been there. It’s not worth it for two reasons: 1. You are always looking at a completely full and cluttered counter and 2. You forget how to do stuff. Honestly, I’d prefer a simple plastic manual juicer to juice oranges than to have to lug out a 5 pound electric device. Which by the way, takes way too long to clean.
Cut out all the negativity in your day. Life is already difficult without piling more negativity on top of it. The best thing you can do is cut out all negativity. Stop complaining, stop worrying about what you can’t control, and my personal favorite, stop consuming the news in all forms. Since cutting out news media from my life, I feel so much lighter and less anxiety. If you have to stay up to date with news, limit your dose, or ask others what’s new in the world.
Switch off the TV. There’s no doubt about it, TV is a major time suck. The average person spends 5 hours of their day watching TV. Get rid of TV and that’s 5 extra hours to declutter, spend time on a hobby, or get outside. Not to mention the fact that we’re exposed to countless ads making us want more, and that some shows (I’m looking at you Real Housewives) can be more stress inducing than entertaining.
Spend less time online. Are you spending too much money? Finding there’s no time in your day? Or maybe, you’re a creative type like me that can get stuck in social media comparisonville. Cutting back on smartphone and online time will not only work wonders for your self-esteem, it’ll keep your money in your wallet.
Want less. We’re bombarded every day with advertising. Billboards, commercials, even people walking by us are advertising for clothing brands. The simple truth is that as soon as you become grateful for what you already have, you’ll begin to want less. Combine this with not caring what others think and you’ve got a recipe for success.
We all want to have happy, joy filled lives doing fun things. It’s easy to achieve when you let go of what doesn’t benefit you and replace it with what fills you with joy.
Ready to get started? Let’s do a fun exercise. Start out with Zig Ziglar’s wheel of life. Next, take each category on the wheel and list things that are stressing you out in that life area. Once you have your list of stressors, write down ideas to combat that stressor. What could you do each day, week or month to simplify that area of your life?