These are my top 10 simple living ideas that have had an impact on my life in a huge way.
One of the most common simple living ideas is to de-clutter our home, office, desk, closets, and any other physical area of your life. This results in room to breathe, feeling happier, and easier spaces to clean. I find that since I have done this, I have way more time on my hands and I enjoy the physical spaces in which I live a lot more.
2. Spend time outside.
The more time I spend outside (and, in particular, in nature) the better. If I am not outside I am near a window. I also sleep with my window slightly cracked so I can hear the early morning birds sing.
I find that when I commute via my electric scooter, or bike or by walking (my least favourite of the 3), I am in greater touch with everything around me. I actually experience my days rather than have them just blow by me. Although I have to admit I live on the west coast of Canada and this means the weather is fairly temperate (even on rainy days being outside is doable and for me, enjoyable and refreshing), even in the chillier climates I have lived in has a great benefit to being outside. This is one of my simple living ideas that has a huge impact and makes me feel alive.
3. Simplify your finances.
Another one of my simple living ideas? Don’t use consumer credit ever. Accomplishing this will have a profound effect on your life and well-being. It is also like swimming upstream for a salmon. Very challenging. Also, take a look at your bank accounts and investments. Keep it simple. Reduce the number of bank accounts you have and the number of institutions you deal with. You will have less to concentrate on and less banking fees, less mail to open, and less to think about.
4. Alone-time bliss.
Even though I am probably the most extroverted and social person I know, I still wake up each day with an early morning hour of quiet, contemplation, writing and relaxation. I call this my power hour. It is time I use to meditate, write in my journal, or write an article like this one. It makes me feel like I am experiencing the life in which I live. Maybe your time to spend alone and in contemplation is in the evening. The point is to have the quiet contemplation time. Another one of those simple living ideas.
5. Really think about it before you buy.
Only buy it if you really love it, or will use it a lot. I have, in the past, bought cars, original art, computer equipment, furniture, and other items without giving it all much thought. This was before I incorporated simple living ideas into my life. I have had to live with those items and pay for them. This has been at huge cost to my well-being and that of my family’s. Now, if I really want something, I must really really want it. I first wait until I actually have the money. I then wait 30 days (I do with my daughter too) and then decide if I really want it then. I also decide and think about what it will be like to live with that item in my home or office. I also imagine it as an old item and think about whether or not it will have the same appeal. These methods all cause me to hesitate before buying. This saves me money and it saves me having to worry about clutter adding up in my home.
6. Give up television (and particularly commercials).
People often ask me how I get so much done in a day. Before, I used to get a lot done because I madly rushed from one thing to another. Now, I don’t. The real thing is that I don’t watch television at all. Although I have gotten into the odd Netflix series, I have not watched television itself for many years. I think that even if a person watches an hour or two a day that they spend so much of their waking time on nothing. Commercials are for the brain dead. This is one of the simple living ideas that saves oodles of time for real living.
7. Remember that it all becomes second-hand.
Remember that the new sweater you buy today will only be an old sweater in a few months. Buy used or don’t buy at all. Okay, okay. If anyone who is reading this really knows me they will call “bogus” on that one at least as far as I am concerned. I don’t spend time shopping for used stuff. I just like to go in and grab what I want or need and get out of there. Shopping is not something that I enjoy. This is one of the simple living ideas that I am just in the process of learning myself.
8. Simplify your eating.
Don’t eat packaged food or fast food or eat out for the sake of feeding your belly. I used to eat lunch out every day. It used to take up an enormous amount of my time (and money) and a lot of the time it was not to socialize or have fun, but only to “feed” me.
Now I have lunch at work. It is healthier, and I don’t waste a huge amount of time going to a restaurant. At the same time, if I want to enjoy lunch with a friend or with a great book I do that. The thing is that if I go out for lunch now it is on purpose and for a reason of enjoyment or connection rather than just filling up.
Eating simply and cleanly has also had a huge effect on my weight, energy and health. I have given up wheat products and wowza what a difference in a few months. Eating whole clean food is doing it for me. Eating pre-packaged or fast food is a killer, makes me fat, grumpy, and depressed.
Each day, unless I am going to go out and enjoy a meal with someone, I continually recycle a few simple, healthy meals. This way I don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about what I am eating, going to eat, or want to eat. Then, when I really want to enjoy a meal with a friend or family, I do so.
9. Spend your money on experience rather than things.
When I first became a lawyer (before I got swept up in the consumer culture and keeping up with the Joneses) I always took a couple of holidays per year to warm and sunny places during the time it was not so warm and sunny where I lived. I always found these holidays rejuvenating, fun, and that they had the effect of reducing my experience of the doldrums of the dark winter days. A number of the senior lawyers I worked with could not figure out how I could afford to take such luxuries. The thing is, that I had no car, lived with roommates, and purchased almost no consumer items. I had no car payments, lease payments or other ongoing obligations. The holidays I paid for were well within my budget. I earned a fraction of the income then that I earn now and yet holidays like this are farther from me and experienced by me way less often.
10. And about that privately owned vehicle.
Consider not owning a car or if you do buy one, buy it used. Stay away from leased vehicles or cars bought on credit. They are killers on the finances which results in it being a killer to your spirit.
I am now working on undoing the payments I created, making my life simpler, and remembering not to use consumer credit again ever. The thing is that the $400+ per month I pay for my firm’s smart car, would do a lot over the course of the year to contribute to a relaxing vacation. Or, put another way, how many hours do I spend at the office to spend for that hunk of metal?
Written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional