“Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated” ~Confucious
As kids, we were full of excitement and eager to grow up. But now that we have really grown up, it seems for most of us that life was perhaps much better when we were kids. This ‘adulting’ is hard! So as we grow we wish we could go back to those simpler times when life was only fun and games and when we didn’t have a care in the world.
But is there no chance to bring back the lost simplicity in our life? Certainly, there is. And before we get to how we can simplify our life, the question is this,
Why is life no longer simple?
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Think of your life as a house. When you are born your life is like a brand new house. Just as you would fill a brand new house first of all with the essentials that are needed such as bed, mattress, table, chair and so on, when we got a brand new house (our life) for our self, as kids you first filled it up with the most essential things first- they were ample amount of play, laughter, good sleep, good food and good times with our parents, friends, and family. There were very few things we really needed more than these.
However, over time a house slowly starts filling up with more things. The owner of a new house may see what others have in their houses and may want to have the same things in her/his house as well.
Similarly, the house of your life too slowly gets filled up with more things and more people as you entered the various stages of your life. We too as we grow up see life happening around us. We see what other people do and have in their life, unconsciously wanting to do and have the same.
As the owner of a house, an owner must be aware of all things she has in her house so that she does not bring home unnecessary clutter.
She must be careful of her urges, otherwise, she might fill her house with things she will never use, just because she found it cheap, just because she had the money to buy it or just because she saw others having it in ‘their’ house.
This she might do with the intent of making her house look more beautiful and comfortable, but she is instead filling her new house with unessential things which are all adding up the clutter.
Thus as an owner of the house, one has to be careful about what one really needs in one’s house and also at the same time create time to cast off the nonessentials that are no longer needed in her house.
I have seen many people’s houses where every little space is occupied with something or the other until there is not even a space to walk upon.
They are too reluctant to let go of the old stuff that is actually filling their house with clutter. Being too attached to those belongings they feel they will need it someday in the future even though they know they won’t.
Also, they feel overwhelmed to clean and sort out the clutter. They don’t know from which corner of the house they should start, and hence they don’t even start.
But I have also seen houses where even though they might have fewer items, they have the best of everything. So depending on how we choose to keep our house, our home will be.
So is with our own life. Depending on how we choose to keep our days, our life will be.
The house of your life
The house of your life too is filled up with the things that you do every day, with the people whom you engage with, and the habits that you have cultivated so far.
If you feel that your life is too complicated then it is actually indicating you to look into what all things and habits you have filled up the house of your life with and what all kinds of people you have allowed entering in the house of your life.
We don’t realize that this house is our greatest treasure. Most of us are too negligent and lenient towards it allowing anyone to enter and leave.
We too are unaware of what we have in the house of our life and we forget to be grateful. We fill our house with whatever other people have filled it up with, not realizing that each and every house is unique in itself.
This may be buying clothes we already have, getting addicted to certain games because others are playing the same, or engaging in habits that the majority are engaged in- such as late-night habits, waking up late, skipping breakfasts, watching series after series in Netflix, waking up by checking phone first thing in the morning and all sorts of unhealthy habits.
We too are very reluctant to let go of our unhealthy habits that are taking up the peaceful space of our mind. The unessential seems too comfortable for us and we don’t want to let go. We feel it requires too much effort and hard work to de-clutter and simplify our life.
We don’t know from which corner of our life should we start. And hence we do not even start. This way the house of our life remains the same with no good changes in its interiors and it starts losing its beauty.
Hence we must be careful about what we add to the house of our life. As owners of ‘the house our life’ it is all our responsibility to look after our house. We might not be aware but it is these things that either simplify our life or create clutter in our life.
But we must know here that it is not our life itself that is clutter, junk, or waste as most of us might think our life has now become.
Our life is still beautiful just like the house is still beautiful. What we choose to fill our house with depends entirely on us.
The house itself has not become ugly, it is the junk and all the unnecessary heaps of items that have made the house lose its beauty.
Our life too is beautiful. We only have to remove the unnecessary clutter that have filled our day-to-day life.
How to simplify the house of your life
To simplify life is nothing much. First, it is about eliminating the unessential. It is about de-cluttering and editing your life. And second, it is about adding the right thing that will make your life simple.
Here are things you can do to simplify your life
1. Start valuing your time:
If someone were to ask me what is the most valued thing for me, earlier I would have said it’s my phone, my relationship, etc, but now I say it is my ‘time’.
One reason why we complicate our life so much is that we don’t realize how precious our time really is. And because we don’t realize its preciousness, we go on wasting our time on unnecessary things. We just want to fill up our time. We don’t care about whether it is meaningful or not.
But isn’t it a pity to live our lives in such a way? We have been given this life and we don’t know what to do with our time!
But once you start valuing your time, you will naturally want to do things that add to your learning, that add to your growth.
Valuing your time, you start to eliminate the unessential from your life because you can’t afford to waste your time doing unnecessary things. You will stop doing things that are just for the sake of pleasure. You will want to do only meaningful things. And it is meaning that simplifies our life significantly.
2. Edit your habits:
What if we edited our habits just as we edited our pictures? Habits are the strongest building blocks for the house of our life. You cannot simplify your life as long as your habits are full of clutter. Depending on what your habits are, they can make you or break you, so isn’t it more essential that you edit your habits?
How do we edit our habits?
Make a list of everything that you do every day. Everything from what time you wake up in the morning, to your food habits, how you pass your time, to what time you sleep at night. Make a list of it all.
Everything that you constantly do forms your habit. Good habits simplify your life and bad habits complicate.
From your list, answer the following questions-
- What are the things you do that truly satisfy you? Those are the habits you must keep it.
- What are the things that you know that will not serve you at all in the future? Those are the habits you must eliminate. Simple as that.
- One way to create good habits is by doing something every day that your future self will thank you for. Do that something even if it is just one thing.
3. Edit your relationships:
Relationships are what fills up the house of our life with either happiness or a mess. But most of us are too negligent towards our relationships, allowing anyone to enter and leave into the house of our life.
Your relationships must be a source of true enjoyment, genuine friendship and laughter. Think of everyone whom you know and are close with. Try to answer these questions-
- who do you really love spending time with?
- with whom can you not do without? why?
- whom do you truly care for and who truly cares for you?
- who do you meet or talk with just because you can’t say ‘no’?
- What do the people whom you know bring to you? Do they bring to you happiness or do they bring to you gossip?
- With whom do you feel forced?
- who tries to bring you down?
Anyone who causes you more stress than happiness must be edited out of your life, if you want to simplify your life. True relationships brings simplicty and happiness. Bad relationships brings unnecesary drama.
4. Stop complaining:
Complains are clutter that comes out from the mouth, but it has the capacity to enter every aspect of your life if you are not cautious with the words you speak.
If you really want to simplify your life, stop complaining. Take this as a challenge.
Every time you find yourself complaining (which is certain that you will) about any little thing, whether about the traffic, the weather, or about someone else, immediately stop and think to yourself ‘was it necessary?
And istead of complaining, what should you do?
Start being grateful about the minutest things. Count your blessings. Thank for your good sleep, thank that you woke up to another day, thank the water, thank your body, thank your food, thank everything. It is the simplest and surest way to simplify your life.
5. Get out of your comfort zone:
Lastly get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be overwhelmed with the mess. Remember the house is still beautiful.
It is the things that has made the house seem messy. You don’t have to clear it out all at once. Start with any corner of your life. It will bring satisfaction and satisfaction is the key to simplicity.
But for this, you must learn to get out of your comfort zone and embrace change. Start with one corner or one room and slowly when you find out what satisfaction the changed room brought to you.
You will slowly find yourself wanting to change another. Change the interiors of the house of your life. Change the colour of the house of your life. Turn it to something bright and make it simple.
And as Paulo Coelho says, ‘It is the simple things in life that are extraordinary.’
It is indeed extraordinary to start waking up early, to start building good habits, to start valuing your limited time on earth, to start being grateful and to simplify our life in a world that is distracted with clutter and complexity.
It is indeed extraordinary to find meaning, satisfaction and simplicity.
- P.S 20 ways I simplified my life
- 27 Years of my Life so far
- A New Ritual~ not hurrying with my body
- How to actually start simplifying life: 50 ideas to inspire
- How to Slow down: 8 Practices to Try
- Why Slowing down is essential to reach your Goals
- Guide to a simple daily Routine that Sticks