18 Ways to Live Simple Now

pebblebamboo.jpgWhat does it mean to Live Simple?

It doesn’t mean that you foresake all of your belongings and head to the woods to live deliberately. (Though you could do worse!)

It doesn’t mean that you adopt a self-righteous attitude about money (which is often a convenient way to ignore your own money issues).

To Live Simple is to be empowered and to be present. To Live Simple is to make authentic choices and to create a life you love – free from clutter of all kinds.

Here are 18 ways to Live Simple Now…

1 – eat simple

Get local organic produce at tailgate markets now that it’s summer. A tray of sliced raw vegetables dipped in hummus or vinaigrette is a great dinner. Or lightly steamed greens with rice. These are easy to prepare and easy to digest. The less kinds of food you combine in a single meal, the easier it is for your body to use the energy.

2 – shop simple

My favorite thing to carry with me when I shop for clothing or household items is Cheryl Richardson’s mantra: “If it’s not an Absolute Yes, it’s a No.”

3 – heal simple

The Western approach to medicine is often about adding more stuff to fix symptoms of imbalance. This typically involves more pills which cause more side effects, thereby making the issue even worse.

The Eastern approach is to allow the body to heal itself. This typically involves removing the excess – excess toxins, excess fats, excess sugar, excess meds. Healing – while it can be painful and challenging – can be a simple, loving process when we let our bodies express their inner wisdom.

4 – drive simple

Turn off the radio. Drive in silence. Be present. Make Just This your mantra.

Goofy thing to do: Smile like an idiot for at least 20 seconds every time you drive somewhere.

5 – revisit simple

News Flash: Clearing out clutter isn’t a one-time event. If you’re like me, then you need to revisit places in your home, car, or office that need a little re-de-clutter.

6 – carry simple

Do you hoist around one of those giant purses crammed full of stuff? Is your wallet like George Costanza’s?

Travel light. Bring only the basics. I often go out with just a Burt’s Bees Lipstick (the skinny kind that slips into the back pocket of your jeans) and a credit card. It’s a great feeling to ditch the purse!

Try this idea: A friend told me that she took all of her membership numbers (AAA, Priority Club, etc) and typed them onto a small piece of paper that she laminated. She took that with her instead of all the assorted cards. I followed her advice and cut my wallet-size in half.

7 – store simple

Just because you have storage space doesn’t mean you have to fill it. Commit to spending time on each storage area of your home or office. See it as a metaphor for your life and your body. Clear out the old stuff that you don’t use. Let go of any item that makes you say, “Oh! But I might need that one day!” Trust the universe to provide what you need when you need it.

8 – feel simple

Honor your emotions, and learn how to talk about them simply. Emotions aren’t as complicated as we make them. It’s the stories we attach to them that make them feel so complicated.

When emotions come up, sit down on the floor, and breathe. Then allow the emotion to be there. Notice all the stories that are hooked into that emotion. The stories are like heavy icicles weighing down the branches of a pine tree. Pull them off one at a time until you can just feel the emotion itself. When you let that happen, you might find that there’s actually freedom to the emotion. It moves. And it moves through. The stories keep it weighted down and immobile.

9 – nurture simple

In my e-Seminar, as the participants get more clear about what they want and what they love, they learn that they don’t really love sugar, junk food, or hours of television. It’s that they use these things as substitutes to compensate for the fact that they aren’t giving themselves what they really want and need for nurturing. The junk food and the television — these are fake comforts. The authentic comfort is usually laughter, sleep, or a great healthy meal. How can you deeply and simply nurture yourself?

10 – grab simple

Do you grab stuff just because it’s free? Never mind that you don’t need that free tube of “acne cleansing lavender toner” the mall employee is handing out. Or that the hotel shampoo is yet one more bottle in your suitcase. You just reach for it because, Hey, It’s free!

Start looking at your space and your energy as more valuable than the dollar. (A radical approach, I know.) You’ll realize that our culture has it all wrong when it sees money at the top of the value chain. Money doesn’t come close to the value of your time and your space. Free stuff isn’t free. Most likely, you don’t even want what’s being given out. Take your power back and don’t grab for it! (And reduce your zippy bag clutter!)

11 – drink simple

Drinks are a huge industry these days. Get a Sigg Bottle and make filtered water your drink of choice.

12 – primp simple

The cosmetic industry is just one confusing lot of colors and textures. Pick your favorites and revisit them occasionally to see if they’re still working.

13 – join simple

Remove yourself from membership programs, catalog subscription lists, churches, clubs and/or associations about which you don’t feel passionate.

14 – dress simple

I have less clothing than anyone I know. I love what I own and I wear it. And I have a simple enough life that I need very few clothes and accessories. Most people don’t choose to live like this. Nor do they want to. However, if you have racks of clothing you don’t wear because you always pull down your trusty favorite items, then you and I aren’t that much different. Find a style that works for you and go with it. Let go of those regrettable clothing items that never worked.

15 – intend simple

There are thousands of intentions we can have. I sometimes catch myself obsessing because I’m not, say, doing yoga right now. I’m working with a trainer and going to the gym, but ohmigod, I’m not doing yoga! If I can let myself recognize that perhaps yoga is simply not one of my intentions or desires now, I can let it go.

When we have too many things tapping on the windows of our minds then we can become distracted. Honor your deepest intentions right now, and let the hundreds of other possibilities go. You can always revisit them later.

16 – work simple

When I left my first (and only) real job to begin my music career, I moved to a small town and began waitressing. During this time, friends and relatives constantly predicted my financial demise. So, I was stunned when I became more financially secure. In retrospect, I believe that this was because I was happier – so I didn’t require a lot of extra stuff to ease the burden of doing work I hated. My extra time was spent doing what I loved – playing and learning music. The paradigm of my life shifted.

I was willing (and frightened!) to take the leap and do something I loved doing. It made other things naturally fall into place. This is how I define working simple. It’s not to say you won’t have overwhelming days and challenges. It’s to say when you do what you love to do, you say yes to your passion and set “yes” in motion in your whole life.

17 – speak simple

Listen more. Talk less. Give up the complaining habit. Cease all gossip. Take a moment to breathe before you answer a question. Recognize that listening doesn’t mean waiting for your turn to talk.

18 – love simple

I’ve learned that how I love someone best is to really be with them when we’re together. To watch their facial expressions and to truly listen to them without trying to fix or critique their choices. In other words, to delight in them. For me, this is love at its most simple. It has nothing to do with greeting cards, gifts, or “proving my love.” Loving simple is the easiest of all of these things. That’s why I saved it for last.

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Comments

  1. says

    So simple! And yet I seem determined to avoid SIMPLY living it. Thank you for your inspiration, Christine. I’m especially moved by “feel simple,” “speak simple,” and “love simple.” And in order to keep it simple, I’ll focus on just those for a while. Thanks.

  2. says

    Christine,
    Great list you gave us there. I jumped when I read your friends suggestion of typing up all cards on a piece of paper. I just bought a new wallet and realised that, though it’s nicer, it’s also smaller than the one I had before and all my fidelity and membership cards don’t fit. So tonight I will take them all out and write down their references on a piece of paper. And I’ll feel lighter :-) yey!
    The one about complaining less is important to me right now. I noticed that I complain, moan, gossip etc a lot and my intention is to reduce it. I am not there yet. It’s a long process to get rid of a habit. But at least I notice everytime I am doing it :-)
    And I just read your Architecture of Delight post and will start writing a list of things you suggest tonight. Looks like I’m busy tonight.
    Oh and I painted again two days ago. With oils. And it looks great and I am happy. Delight delight!
    How was your show in Chattanooga? Was Samuel there?
    Have a great seminar.
    Mimi

  3. Peter says

    Superb!

    I’m loosing battle after battle with clutter… but the war is not over and the enemy is weaker and weaker… :D

    I must say I admire your courage! It is an inspiration for us all.

  4. says

    Christine, you nailed it. Rod and I are house hunting and straddling the “in town/rural” puzzle. I was telling a friend about this and she said, “Well, why don’t you buy two houses, one in town for day-to-day and one rural for weekends?” I said, you know, my goal is not to have more. My goal is to have less. She looked at me as though that was just plain un-American. Which, from a consumer perspective, maybe I am. But as you note, it really is as simple as that. Want less.

  5. says

    Another really nice tip for membership/card numbers is to put them all in your mobile phone with ‘A.Memb’ as the prefix and then the name of the card so ‘A.Memb.AA’. That way they come up at the top of your list of contacts and you always have them with you.

  6. says

    Love this! My husband and I are in the process of buying a house, and it’s been a great exercise in revisiting our priorities and intentions (financial and otherwise). What we discovered was that we’d been allowing ourselves to get cluttered again, in all sorts of areas (physical and energy-wise), and it’s been very freeing to simplify everything and get back to what’s really important to us.

    Now we just need to work on those “George” wallets of ours, especially noticeable at the end of each month with all the receipts in there!

  7. says

    Leslie – those are the big deep ones. If you get stuck, it’s always a good trick to turn to something more “practical.” I find that the practical ones (clearing out the storage areas) teach me about the big deep ones.

    mimi – congrats on painting! oh yea, samuel l. jackson was at the show in chattanooga. we all had a great time. (the wallet thing is a great trick – have fun carrying a lighter load!)

    peter – i found that seeing it not as a battle, but as a teacher, made it easier to face the clutter. still does, actually! it makes it more of a lesson in compassion.

    tammy – actually, i think that buying three houses would be a better solution. that way, your dog has a place too! :-) (we moved to a place with no basement and no storage except for two tiny crawl spaces. and it has taught me how very little i actually need in life!)

    ash – wow! great idea! i’m doing this today as i sit in airports waiting for connections!

    mags – there’s nothing like moving to help you let go of all the non-absolute-yesses in your world!

  8. Elaine says

    No 6… travel light… I really wish I had for this trip! My case is so heavy. I’m currently thinking of ideas on how I could lose some stuff to make it lighter!

    P.s. I love this post!

  9. says

    I love this list Christine – it’s so “simple”! Well, “simple” if we really do live it. So many times, we (I) can get caught up in material wants (not needs), or gossip, or junk food, or … the list can go on and on. But this list really and simply covers it. Simplify your life and find the happiness you desire. Sometimes I think it gets buried in the complexity we make our lives to be. My favorite on your list in the last one – this really is a key to the relationships we have, and for loving those we care about.

  10. says

    Eat simple. A couple weeks ago I had wisdom teeth removed, and the doc put me on a “soft foods only” diet for 3 weeks! I’ve been amazed how little food I need to consume to stay full; a cup of yogurt, a smoothie, tuna, couple soft boiled eggs…(and that’s just breakfast! :) ) Kidding. Just one of those at a time and that’s all you need to tide you over.

  11. says

    I sooooo needed this right now. It’s okay to be simple. In fact its preferable. So many of these points, 1, 5, 8, 11, 13, seem like just what I need to focus on (all of them of course, but these especially,) I will copy and print out, tape them on my bulletin board. Breathe them in and smile.

    Today is my daughter’s last day of the school year, what better day than tomorrow to immerse us in getting simpler. And less cluttered around the house.

    My husband seems to like lots of things, both material and “busy”-ness wise going on at all times. But I’ve got to surrender to that and realize I can’t change him, I can only work on me.

    But first I’m off to my guitar lesson and will try many spurts of that goofy 20-second smiling while on the road, music-free!

    Thanks!

    Jannie

  12. Irene says

    Great simple life. I have been practicing number 4. Works good for the soul. My next step is number 7. It is time for me to simply clear it.
    Great post. Thanks!

  13. Tanya Brown says

    “The less kinds of food you combine in a single meal, the easier it is for your body to use the energy.”

    That’s an interesting theory. I’ve never heard it before. Did someone do a study on that? If so, could you please cite the source?

  14. says

    Christine, this is a wonderful post! It really resonates with me. I’ve been trying to accomplish very similar things within my own life. one thing I might add is to simplify our thoughts. Our minds are talking all the time. If we can stop the voice in our heads even for a moment. we can begin to see the world with our eyes instead of our ego’s eyes. It’s like taking off your sunglasses when you go inside. I try to just sit still for ten minutes in the morning and let the voice in my mind just go on until it sputters out and is replaced by silence.

  15. says

    Excellent list, Christine. I have drastically downscaled my wallet, but I have that needling feeling that I may just need one of those cards that I no longer have in there, so the idea of the typed out list is so SIMPLE yet awesome.

    And the Absolute Yes is changing my life.
    I got rid of so many clothes lately and I feel so wonderful. I don’t have a lot of clothes because I don’t need a lot of clothes and like you, I wear the ones I have. What a concept!

    Thanks for the lovely reminders!

  16. says

    I am so with you on the clothes and the clutter. I have pared down my wardrobe considerably. I am in the process of figuring out how to rid my work space of clutter. It seems that I have to do this every few months.

  17. LuAnn says

    I keep coming back to this post…it’s truly fantastic. I have forwarded it on to many important people in my life… My husband and I enjoyed our conversation after I sent it to him. It will truly produce positive change in all aspects of our lives. Simply put, you couldn’t have said it any better than you did! You’ve grasped the ‘I get it’ in 18 wonderful steps!!

  18. andrew says

    “..let the hundreds of other possibilities go.” Wow ive always thought about making all those possibilities possible.
    “.. to delight in them.” ive tried hard to avoid love because it was to complicated. Even telling my self love isnt for me but this, this just shows how simple it really is. simply amazing.

  19. Terry says

    FFS… ‘Simple’ is an adjective, not an adverb! What you appear to mean is ‘simply’. Many (like me) will not even read the content here, when it’s littered with such basic language mistakes. It rather leads you to question what other mistakes the writer might have made…

    • says

      Terry – you’ll have to write to Apple too and tell them that “think different” is a slogan that will ruin their sales! They might need to know this!

      (this is a copywriting tool that makes life more fun. It’s okay if you don’t want to read it. But you have to admit that you DID engage – which is what blogs are all about! :) )

  20. Shari Ma says

    Christine

    Thank you for the encouraging words I plan to implement each simple step in my life, one simple day at a time!
    Shari

  21. Linda says

    Christine:

    Very nice list. #8 is great. People should stop with the free stuff…not only does it clutter up their world….if they don’t need it, leave it for someone who does. However, in all due respect, I don’t think #13 should include church. Being part of a church is not the same as being on a catalog list. Congratulations on your list.

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