In today’s world, we are bombarded with things from the minute we wake up until the minute we fall asleep. Our lives are far from simple. Notifications beeping the second we turn on our phones, news on the radio and tv, advertisements everywhere imaginable, from the petrol/gas pump at the service station to the packaging on our food.
There are hundreds of thousands of causes, companies and organisations out there screaming for our attention every day. And then there is social media: our friends and family sharing endless links, news and status updates. I don’t know what the statistics are, but I’m willing to bet that before you’ve even made it to lunch time, you’ve probably consumed hundreds if not thousands of little pieces of information without even realising it.
Life Is Far From Simple
How can we live a simple life when normal life is like this? It seems to me as though the whole of our society has been set up to make us sick, fat and miserable. The basics of a healthy life are pushed aside to make way for more entertaining food, screentime and gadgets, all designed to make us part with our money and “make life easier” or “more fun”.
Missing out feels like a crime.
Why is life like this?
For those of us that want a more simple life, is it really even possible? I often wonder how life would be if the kids and I lived out in the sticks, maybe even off the grid, and without all the modern conveniences we are used to. I wonder – would we be any happier?
Life would certainly be more simple, but it is viable to go backwards, in a sense, to get away from the never ending movement forwards?
I think perhaps not. Maybe what we need to do is work towards changing the way things are. Altering the status quo so that what real, healthy, happy people want for themselves and the planet, is what drives the way we live.
Focus On What You Want
The psychology of buying and the psychology of desire has been over-used to the point of the destruction of the place we live. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good idea or not. If you can convince people to buy something – anything – you can make money. And money is what drives everything, regardless of whether it is good for us, or not. And often it’s not.
Considering the extent of the very un-simple times we find ourselves in, here are some ways we can keep the worst at bay.
If you don’t see it, you can’t want it. Don’t buy magazines are full of adverts (some magazines are more adverts than editorial, which means you are essentially paying for a booklet of advertisements, with a few articles thrown in as a bonus). Don’t watch TV with advertisements. Record or watch a replay, or as a last resort, mute the TV when the adverts come on. Use social media mindfully. Don’t like/follow faceless companies. Do you really need Coke or Vogue in your feed?
A hard one, but really worth it. Have a screenfree day at the weekend. Eat dinner without a TV or phone at the meal. Spend less time watching goofy videos about nothing in particular. You cannot get that time back – what else could you be doing with it? Don’t turn screens on in the morning as the default.
Get out in nature
Getting out in the real world, in nature, is scientifically proven to be good for you. Go for a walk with your family, or explore a nature trail. These things are free, or almost free, and so much better than lazing around at home watching the world through an electronic window.
Reduce What You Own
Less clutter means less to look after. That means more time to do the things you want to do. Stuff ends up owning you, not the other way around. There are lots of articles on this site about decluttering and living with less. If you’d like some inspiration, check out the index of all my posts.
Make Small Changes
Help the planet by making small changes. There are so many small things you can do to make a difference, from conserving water to reducing your waste. These things also make life simpler because they give you the opportunity to value things that you were previously taken for granted (like water) and to understand that buying leads to clutter and rubbish.
Enjoy People Not Things
Arrange to do things with other people. Family outings, trips with friends, meet-ups and other social events form the tapestry of memories that you will treasure when you are old and your life is nearly over.
Simplify Your Goals
Have one or two goals at a time. Donate or pass on the things that don’t support the goals in your life. Ideally you would focus on one goal to completion. This builds confidence and utilises the power of focus to speed up results. If that’s not possible, or you have very long term projects, then try to keep it to two, at most three, goals at one time.
Put Your Past In Order
Don’t hoard tons of sentimental stuff. Get your photos into albums or photo books. Store only your most wonderful letters in a pretty box. Display your favourite item from late Aunt Dolly’s house and let go of the rest. Putting your past in order is very freeing. It can help you to accept what is gone is gone, and stop you ruminating on days that do not need to define you or who you are.
Have A Routine
Routine is under-rated. It’s perceived as boring (the very word is used to describe something that’s humdrum). However, a soothing routine to your days and weeks means that life admin ticks over without you having to worry about it. If you always shop on a Monday and do your accounts on a Friday, then you don’t ever have to deal with that panicky feeling of fitting in life admin because you haven’t done it for ages.
Routine is also great for children. Routine makes rules easier, because after consistent practice, routine becomes what is normal. We never have screens on after dinner in the evening, and that has always been the case. If we have a movie night, or a child is sick, then the routine might get adapted to accommodate that, but it makes it all the more special for being different. Routine creates a structure that you can build pleasure from, and relax into knowing that things are as they should be.
It may not always feel like you can live a simple life in the hectic nature of modern society. But your life is yours to fill as you see fit. No one else can tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing and you don’t have to conform to the pressure of being constantly online and buying endless stuff.
Don’t be afraid to be a little different, and to find your happiness in the spaces that other people think are just empty.
Emptiness is peace. And peace is good for the soul.