While society has a tendency to make life more complicated (Internet, work, shopping, television, family, debt, etc.), as humans we can only do so much. We start to fill ourselves to capacity which can stretch us to our limits and stress our breaking points.
Simplify. This might sound hard, but with practice, it becomes easier and leads to a more content, quiet life full of space for only the things that really matter to you.
Here are a few ways you can work on simplifying your life:
1. Block off some disconnected time. With the Internet and iPhones always near us, it’s hard to focus on what’s happening in front of you. Schedule time every day for disconnection, so you can connect with what’s right there in front of you, like others or nature or being active.
2. Start eliminating commitments. Make a list of all of your commitments, and choose one that you’d like to eliminate. Simply call or email saying you cannot do the commitment right now. They will find a way to live without you, and you’ll have more time for what’s important to you.
3. Start purging possessions. Find five things to donate or give away to friends every day. Or clear away an entire shelf or countertop. If you haven’t used it in a year, you probably don’t need it. You’ll slowly simplify to just your essential possessions.
4. Ban shopping for 30 days. Buy only essentials (food, toiletries, basic supplies). If something comes up that you really need, put it on a list to evaluate after the 30 days.
5. Wash your bowl. When you finish eating, mindfully wash your bowl. Get in the habit of pausing before you move to the next thing. Clean up after yourself. Put your clothes away. Always put your keys in the same spot. The simple habit of mindfulness will save you time later.
6. Schedule time for what’s important. Is it your spouse or kids? Gardening, cooking, or carpentry? Make time for it.
7. Get outdoors once a day. Get outside, take a walk, enjoy the sunshine. Play tag with your kids. Being more active will change your life.
8. Eat some plants. Learn some simple recipes that incorporate healthy foods that you might not eat: kale, quinoa, berries, flaxseeds, lentils, avocadoes, raw nuts, turmeric, cayenne.
9. Drink tea. Green tea brewed from fresh tea leaves will help bring calm and healthiness to your life. A daily tea ritual will help keep you grounded and mindful.
Try choosing one or two to practice today. Simplifying your life will slowly become easier and more… simple.
Zenhabits.net, Leo Babauta 2012