To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life
— John Burroughs
People ask me all time how I got to this point of simple living. Truth is, I didn’t work at it. It’s just who I am. Aside from growing up in the 60s and eschewing anything Big Brother- and government-ish, I have always chosen the least complicated and pleasing way to live.
I finally decided to examine what my life is like and write it down. Herewith, my personal experiences:
1. Pay off your credit cards. Save one for emergencies, and cancel the others.
2. Cut back your expenses. Don’t buy anything you don’t need. Make a list when you go shopping to avoid impulse spending.
3. De-clutter. It’s always time for spring cleaning. If you haven’t used something in a year, sell it, recycle it or give it away. Keep only the things you use all the time.
4. Conserve energy at home, work and in the car. Turn down the thermostat, turn up the air conditioner, and drive the speed limit.
5. Recycle everything. If anything has a second use, don’t throw it away.
6. Sit alone in the quiet every day. No phone, no computer, no book or magazine, just the beauty and silence around you.
7. Work at something you love. Turn a passion into a job, career or business. Remember to balance work and play.
8. Reduce stress. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and consciously breathe for a minute or two. Do this several times a day when you feel overwhelmed.
9. Find release. Laughing, crying, and making love release you emotionally, physically and spiritually.
10. Spend time outside every day. Go for a walk, watch a sunrise or sunset, breathe in fresh air, and enjoy the natural world you are a part of.
11. Unplug. Connect with people in real time.
12. Be a good person, and take care of yourself. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz comes to mind:
•Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
•Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
•Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
•Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
If you are striving to live simply, try these ideas one at a time. If you have accomplished some of them already, great! Keep chugging on. Here’s to simple and natural living!