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My definition of a simple and happy life is one that:
- Is intentional — meaning you do the things you want to do
- Is easily navigated — meaning major life decisions are few and far between, and the day-to-day decisions don’t require much serious thought
- Is uncluttered — meaning “less is more” and that there aren’t many things in life — material or otherwise — that weigh you down
I made a list of five ways to live by this definition. There are only five because I feel like a list of any more than thatwould make things too complicated.
Some of these are hard to do and might seem harsh or brash. Just because this list is about making things simpler, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to implement.
1. Do More Things You Enjoy
Life’s too short to do things that suck. When you think about it, there are only a few things that humans must do to survive: eat, have shelter, and sleep (and arguably companionship).
Do what you have to do to cover those bases and plan to enjoy the rest.
I bet if you looked at your calendar for any given week, there would be at least a handful of activities on there that you aren’t looking forward to. Ask yourself:
“Do I really need to do this?”
If after serious thought the answer is yes, then do it.
If no, then ask yourself:
“Is this something I enjoy doing?”
If yes, then do it.
If no, don’t do it.
Life doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. Sure, you might piss a few people off or make them disappointed. But at the end of the day, you’re doing what you want to do.
No body else’s opinion matters.
2. Seek Quality Over Quantity
More friends, more family, and more stuff don’t make you happy. People try to make this work but it doesn’t. At the end of the day, all you’re left with is more things to cause you headache.
Instead, seek quality over quantity.
If you choose to surround yourself with positive, uplifting people — whether family or friends — life becomes much simpler.
If you choose to buy only high-quality things you need, they will last and you won’t have to worry about buying more things. What you have will be enough.
This way of thinking works with just about everything.
Find your high quality things in life and dismiss the rest.
3. Get Out of Debt and Ruthlessly Cut Your Expenses
Financial problems plague America. According to, 57 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. Money issues are also still among the leading cause of divorce.
As you might already know, money can’t buy happiness…at least past a certain point. The problem is we’re manipulated by society into wantingthings that we don’t need, causing us to buy more things and forcing us into a work-slavery relationship with bills.
We weren’t meant to work, pay bills and keep working more to pay more bills.
So instead of living like the status quo, how about you open your eyes and stop buying more things you don’t need?
Make a plan to get out of debt and then ruthlessly cut your expenses. If it’s overhead you can drop, immediately give it the axe. Netflix, Sling, cable TV, and Hulu? Do you really need ALL of them monthly? No, probably not.
If it’s a one time thing — try using the stalling technique.
When you feel the urge to buy something, don’t. Wait a few days and see how you feel. If you still absolutely need it, go ahead and buy it. If not, let it go.
The less stuff you have the less money you’ll need to spend to maintain your life, so cut it all out.
4. Practice Mindfulness
We live in our heads most of the day — thinking about the past, regretting it, overanalyzing it, or wondering about the future, anxious and stressing over things yet to happen.
Mindfulness isn’t anything fancy or spiritual. Its only goal is to focus your attention on the present. This moment. Right here. Right now.
When you live more in the present you have less worry, stress, and anxiety. Past troubles and future problems don’t rob you of your joy today.
There isn’t any reason I can think of NOT to practice mindfulness. It makes your life better in every way — and also much simpler.
You can learn how to meditate. Or don’t, if that’s not your thing. After all, you don’t need to sit like a Buddhist monk to experience the benefits.
If you can’t stand meditation, try taking a few moments to breathe deep instead — in the shower, during your commute, or while on the toilet. It doesn’t matter where you do it, only that you focus on your breath and what’s going on in the present moment.
Life’s much simpler when your focus is on today and not everything else.
5. Define Your Moral Compass
Some time ago, I took a couple hours out of my morning to do something most never do in their entire lives: define their values.
I followed an online course that I have since forgotten, but you can Google “how to define your values” and find a plethora of guides and tools to help you.
If you do this work to define your core values, life becomes infinitely easier.
My main values turned out to be health, growth, and relationships. Knowing that, I am able to make decisions much easier.
For example, when on my way home and feeling hungry for fast food, do I stop at McDonald’s or wait until I get home and choose a healthier snack? The decision is easier with my values defined — I should do the thing that best helps my health.
When laying in bed, tired and not wanting to wake up, do I go back to bed? Or do I wake up and write an answer on Quora? If I don’t wake up, I probably won’t have time to do it later. Since growth is a core value, the decision is easy to wake up and get to work.
Not all decisions are going to be easy, and you will certainly have procrastination and other feelings acting against you. But, knowing which decisions to make will be simple, since you’ll know the right answer every time.
This article was culled from the contribution of Jason Gutierrez on Quora