We are told as a society that we ought to want more, more, and more. And then yet some more. However, if you’re constantly racing to the top, or looking for the next material item that’ll bring you joy, or indeed just trying to keep up with everything that you’ve already got, then when will you have the time to enjoy life? There’s a strong movement of people advocating a ‘less is more’ philosophy, an idea that focuses on purposely downgrading your lifestyle to upgrade in other ways. Below, we take a look at how you can do just that.
First thing’s first: how often do you take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures that life can bring? They can be found all around you, yet most people are so busy or preoccupied with other thoughts or ideas that they barely notice them. There’s a feeling of FOMO – fear of missing out – that permeates large chunks of society. Your goal, this year, should be to try your best to ignore this sensation, instead opting to live in the here and now. You’ll soon discover that a lot of joy can be drawn from a simple stroll through nature, or by reading a book next to a roaring fire. You don’t always have to be chasing the next thing; the key has been inside you all along.
Our 100 mph life is often an extension of our professional sphere. In our own, we may choose to live a slow and deliberate life, but at work, we are asked to do one million things – and as such life is go, go, go. It’s little wonder that this overflows into our personal lives, too. If you’re working too many hours, then might it be down to cut back on those hours, and spend more time doing the things that you love? Of course, this won’t come without consequences – if it didn’t, then everyone would be doing it. You might, for instance, have to overlook a promotion, or even take a salary cut to weight your time in greater favour of ‘life’ rather ‘work.’
We’re all pretty good at accumulating material goods; only a seldom view are any good at getting right of items. However, though it may feel unnatural, there are real benefits to going through your home and having a decluttering session. By getting rid of the goods that you no longer need – or even necessarily want – you’ll be simplifying your life, making it all the more easy to have a simple mind. Of course, our natural impulse is to keep hold of everything we’ve spent our money on. After all, we worked hard to earn that money! But there’ll come the point when your possessions are more of a prison than anything else. If you’ve not used an item within the last six months, then get rid of it. You clearly won’t miss it!
Just like we think we should have as many possessions as possible, we also think that it’s better to have as big a home as we can afford. But there’s no real logic in this thinking: all we’re doing is putting less money in our back pockets, since we’ve used the cash we have to buy a house that’s bigger than we need! For most small families, a terrace house will do just fine. And in fact, some benefits stretch beyond the impact on your financial situation: smaller homes create closer bonds between families. You’ll also be spending less money on bills, and less time cleaning. It’s a win-win-win option!
It seems funny to think that twenty years ago, people were only just beginning to have mobile phones. Now, we don’t only just have these devices; we’re addicted to them! For sure, a smartphone can be a source of terrific entertainment, but at what cost? We’ve all been at dinner with a friend who won’t stop checking their phone. Where do they really exist? While we’re not suggesting that you give up all your devices (though best of luck if you are!), it’s worth reviewing how much time you’re spending looking at your screen. Your body and mind will be much happier if you put down your device from time to time and go for a walk outside instead of scrolling through Facebook.
You could argue that society has an unhealthy obsession with convenience. For every aspect of our lives, we want it to be as convenient as possible. But why should that be valued over, say, inconvenience? Take the car. If you have a family, then there’s every chance that you have two cars in the driveway each night. This might not necessarily be a good thing. You don’t need to drive everywhere; there are benefits to walking or taking public transport that a car just can’t compete with. Instead of always looking for the most convenient option, pick the right option. You might just find that you’ve lost nothing and gained a lot just by looking at your options in a new light.
Of course, how simple your life isn’t just up to you. It also depends on your work, friends, and family members, who have the power to contact you by multiple means, at any time of the year. You might be planning to have a relaxing day with your book, but you won’t be able to do this if you’re constantly getting messages from loved ones! OK, messages from loved ones are nice, we admit. Still, you might have to live without them for a day. One day a week, consider going ‘tech-free.’ That means no time with a device that can connect to the internet (an e-reader, for example, would be OK). People survived for tens of thousands of years without being connected to the web; you can surely make it through one day. You’ll feel good for it – we promise.
Of course, you’re unlikely to want to give up your smartphone for good. It’s a modern world we live in, and you need to be part of it a little! But really, you can get by with just a handful of apps; the rest can be considered filler, and only function to disrupt your life, not add to it. There should be two rules when it comes to deleting apps. The first is whether you’ve used it in the past three months. If no, it goes. The other is how beneficial it is to your life. The Facebook app, for instance, is unlikely to be of any use, but the Messenger app might be.
Simplifying your life doesn’t mean just making it easier. Fast food would not be a good idea for people trying to simplify their lives! It’s about living more deliberately, more considered. Regarding food, you might enjoy going out to eat, but how much is this costing you each month? And also, what are you losing by going for the easy – albeit high quality – option? You’re losing out on the joys of cooking! There’s a lot to be said for selecting a meal to make, finding the freshest ingredients, and then taking the time to make it to perfection.
Many people pride themselves on being busy. Each night of the week, they might have a different sport or hobby that they practice. Yet while this can be a good thing, it can also be the opposite; we can spend our whole lives being kind of good at many things, but the master of none. And because we go straight from work to our clubs and then to sleep, we don’t have the time to slow down and enjoy the finer things in life.
You don’t need to have a cellar full of supplies to be able to have fun. You have a whole playground just waiting for you to enjoy; it’s called the great outdoors! Nature offers bags and bags of benefits. It improves our mood, helps us to get perspective, and makes us healthier, too. Instead of spending your free time indoors, look at heading outdoors as often as possible.
Part of the reason most of us are so busy is that we have that collective FOMO – fear of missing out, as mentioned above – but there’s another reason, too: we don’t know how to say no. When we’re asked to do something or are invited to an event, most of us say yes out of some odd duty. If you can learn how to say no, then you’ll find that you have plenty of free time – and that you don’t have to spend your evenings at things you didn’t want to attend in the first place.
Ultimately, it’s about following the golden rule: think! Think about what you need, what you don’t, and you’ll be on your way to upgrading your lifestyle.