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8 Key Lessons for Living a Simple Life

Living a #simplelife is about paring back, so that you have space to breathe. It’s about doing with less, because you realize that doing more and having more does not lead to happiness. It’s about finding joy in the simple things, savoring the moment and being content with solitude and quiet contemplation.

Here are a few key lessons for living a simple life.

1. Be aware of self-created struggles. Too often avoidable stress, frustrations, disappointments, busyness and rushing occur because of attachments you may have to things and behaviors that do not really help you or make you happy. Let go of them, and you can relax and live more simply.

2. Be mindful of attachments that lead to clutter and complexity. For example, if you are attached to sentimental items, you won’t be able to let go of #clutter. If you are attached to a certain lifestyle, you may not be able to let go of things, income, activities, etc. If you are attached to technology, your life may be cluttered with texts, emails, social media posts, etc. Letting go of these attachments eliminates the physical, mental and emotional clutter that goes along with them.

3. Understand that distraction, busyness and constant switching are mental habits. You don’t need these habits, but you continue them because they offer temporary comfort. You can live more simply by letting go of these #mentalhabits.

4. Single-task by putting your life in full-screen mode. Imagine that everything you do is done in full-screen mode, meaning it is your entire focus -- you don’t look at, do, or think about anything else. You inhabit that task fully, and are fully present as you do it. Things get your full attention, and you do them much better. And you can even savor them.

5. Create space between things. Do half of what you imagine you can do and “pad” every task with some extra time. Many people tend to try to do too much, to cram as much as possible into their days. This adds stress, because they often underestimate how long things will take, or forget to allocate time for “maintenance” tasks (such as getting dressed, grooming, cleaning up, preparing meals, etc.). When you do less and pad your tasks with additional time, you have the space to actually do them well, with full attention. You can take a few minutes to pause between tasks, to savor the accomplishment of the last task, to enjoy some breathing room between things, to take a moment for yourself, for with someone else.

6. Find joy in a few, simple things. Identify things that bring you happiness and don’t cost anything or require any possessions. Here are a few examples: walking outside, spending time with loved ones, reading books from a library, singing, dancing, etc. To the extent that you #focus on simple things you love doing, your life becomes simpler.

7. Get clear about what you want, and say no to more things. Most people are not very clear on knowing what it is they really want. They get distracted by things other people have, say or do and veer off in a different direction towards the shiny new toy. If you are clear on what you want in life -- how you want to live, what you need to live that way – your life becomes simpler because you can identify and say “no” to the physical and #mentalclutter of distractions.

8. Practice doing nothing, exquisitely. How often do you actually do nothing? Just be in the moment. Learn to do this. It will take some effort at first. Take control of your focus and be curious about, and accepting of, the moment and what you experience. At first you will notice your brain’s habit of wanting to get something done — it will almost itch to do something. But with practice, you will learn to self-regulate your attention (a very useful skill in all facets of your life!). Be open to what you discover.

Of course, these are not the only lessons you’ll need for living a simple life. But the best ones are the ones you discover yourself. Try these and see what happens — chances are you’ll find out something beautiful about yourself, and about life.

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