How to Live a Simple Life
Once you read the following suggestions on how to live a simpler
life, you may decide you don't want to. Some people really want
the complexity and constant drama of their lives. It is something
we have to look at honestly. On the other hand, some of us really
want more simplicity, and some would want it if they knew what
it felt like to live more simply and at peace. Here, then, are
a few ways to get there.
Just Say No ... Or Yes
The first secret to how to live a simple life is to look honestly
at how life gets complicated. It is different for each of us,
but there are some common principles. The first one is about
taking on new responsibilities without fully acknowledging the
costs and complexities they add to our lives.
If you buy a new boat, for example, do you think about the
time you will spend maintaining it? Do you think about the trip
to the insurance office for insurance, the necessity to shop
for accessories like life-jackets and fire extinguishers? Do
you remind yourself that boats break down, and you'll have to
deal with hauling it someplace to have it repaired? Do you consider
the trailer-hitch you'll need, the tarp to cover the boat, the
tarp to replace that one when it tears, the bearings in the trailer
wheels that will someday fail. Finally, do you think about the
hours you will be committed to working to pay for all this fun?
There is nothing wrong with owning a boat, by the way. If
nothing else was going on in your life, all of the above could
easily be a part of "the simple life." The problem
is that by not recognizing the role of our own choices in adding
complexity to our lives, we take on more than we can possibly
handle. Thus, a million exercise machines sit unused in basements
while ten million hours are spent working to pay for them. Look
at all the costs, and make honest, well-informed choices - that
is the first secret of how to live a simple life.
Money Equals Simplicity
It is simple for a rich man to own a boat, because he can
pay someone to take care of it while he plays with his kids (or
does whatever else he considers important). Money can bring that
kind of simplicity to your life, but it is all in how you use
it. This is the second secret of how to live a simple life.
Most people use money in ways that overly complicate life,
as when they put a down payment on a hot tub that they really
don't need. They have to work to pay the interest now, and to
clean the tub, and to find or build or prepare a place for it,
and to have it repaired on occasion. Now, if you are wealthy
enough, someone will take care of these things for you. If, however,
you make $10 per hour, a hot tub will alost certainly overly
complicate your life.
Your choice, then, if you really want the simple life, is
to choose to make more money, or to live a life that is simply
supported by your current income. When I paid off the mortgage
loan on my first home, and got rid of the car, life was simpler
and more relaxing. As I make more money, I can easily do more,
and add more "things" back into my life, but I try
to maintain the balance, so life remains simple.
Drama Gets Complex
If you want a simpler life, have fewer friends. That may sound
harsh, but how many friends do you need? This isn't a recommendation
to get rid of friends, but a suggestion that you don't need to
add people to your life unless there is a real exchange of value
between you. We all have acquaintances that we call "friends"
and tolerate just to "be nice." If you think it is
selfish to say you don't owe anything to these people, how selfish
is it for them to say you do?
With those friends and family that you choose to have, don't
get involved in the drama more than you need to. If you watch
closely, you'll notice that until a person is ready to change,
you rarely can help them in any case, neither with words nor
with money. Save your efforts for those times when you truly
You were not born with an obligation to anyone, and it is
incredibly selfish for anyone to make claims on your life. The
drama will always swirl around you, but you can choose to not
get involved in it too much. This is a crucial lesson on how
to live a much simpler life.