Hello everyone! Welcome to Take 17: 10 Ways to Live Simply Better
Do you ever find yourself wishing that life could be simpler? That is the topic of this podcast episode and blog post!
Growing up, living simple was not something I ever envisioned desiring. You are supposed to go to college, find a job, buy a car, get married, buy a house, have kids… and keep working to afford it all.
I never thought that our “ordinary” lifestyles could get so complicated!
But there are only 24 hours in the day to split between work, kids, marriage and the many demands and distractions of life. Not enough!
Somehow we make it work. Before you know it, ten years have passed by and you find yourself wondering, what if things could be simply better?
The beauty of life is that things can be simple, and as simple as we want to make them. But it requires being aware and intentional.
If you wish your life could be a little less complicated, these 10 ways to live simply better can help you get there.
Let’s get started!
You can use the player at the top of the post to listen to my podcast episode or you can click here to listen on iTunes.
1. Stop the comparisons
When I was in elementary school I remember having this argument with a classmate:
-I have the Rainbow Brite unicorn and you don’t.
-So what, I have the Barbie convertible and you don’t.
-My mom bought me a Hello Kitty lunch bag.
– I have a thermos with a straw and you don’t (those were quite the novelty!).
You would expect grown ups to phase out of the comparison game, but it only get’s worse. We constantly compare what we have, do and how we live to other people’s seemingly perfect lives.
Social media has taken comparisons to a whole new level. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter… you name it, allow us instant access to people’s lives and give us the ability to share an abundance of information with the world.
I have to admit, I have a love and hate relationship with social media.
I love that it allows me to stay in touch with friends, family and even strangers, as scary as that may sound. However, I hate that it pushes me to play in my mind the comparisons game.
It is really hard to not contrast your life while browsing through other people’s social media updates. From life achievements, to vacations, meals and shopping sprees, everything is exposed on social media with a higher degree of glamour.
New York times best-selling author Rachel Cruze nailed the comparisons issue in her book “Love Your Life, Not Theirs”. She states:
Comparing ourselves to others is one of the most damaging money habits we have.
And one that is really hard to stop when there is an open window into people’s lifestyles, vacations, purchases, etc…
The huge problem with comparison is that it always results in discontent. You might have had a wonderful time vacationing in sunny Florida, but when you see those pictures of your friend’s cruise to the Mediterranean, suddenly your vacation seems kind of lame.
As hard as it is, to live simply better we need to stop playing the comparisons game! Keep in mind that you rarely see Facebook updates about people’s messy homes, bad hair days or maxed out credit card statements. The perfect timeline is only an illusion.
Stop trying to keep up with the Facebook Joneses, most likely, they are broke!
2. Be grateful
Be grateful for what you have. Gratefulness is the antidote for discontent.
I drive by a homeless camp every day on my way to work. I see people sleeping on the ground, unprotected. They hold on to a bundle containing their few possessions.
The moment you take the focus off what you have and put it on what you don’t have you open the door to discontent.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, take a look around and be grateful for what you do have.
If you are reading this post you probably have a whole lot more than you need. Most of us living in the United States have a lot more than we need.
When I am tempted to feel discontent I think about those folks sleeping on the ground.
Being grateful will bring a different perspective to your life.
3. Watch less news
Stop watching the news. Yes, this is coming from a journalist who has made a career working in news.
If you are living depressed and in a constant state of anxiety because of what you watch on the news, take the remote control and turn it off.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for people being informed. I truly believe that information can empower you to become a better citizen and make better decisions. But I think that we are consuming too much negative content without measure and balance.
If being up to date on the news is consuming your life, especially regarding the political climate in our country, you need to turn it off.
Why? Because as an individual, there is nothing you can really do to change our political situation.
Instead, curate the information that you allow in your mind. Which takes me to my next point…
4. Find inspirational content
When was the last time that your read a book? What was the last book that you read?
Instead of watching all the drama and absorbing the negativity from certain news reports or angry comments on social media, how about reading a book on the topic? This would allow you to stay informed while removing the emotion that television or social media bring to those topics.
Even better, explore new ways of getting information through blogs and podcasts.There is a whole world of audio shows offering a variety of topics with different perspectives.
I host a podcast called “One Take” to share interviews, testimony and information that will hopefully help you feel empowered and inspired to live simply better and happier.
5. Make personal connections
Because of social media we assume that we are connected to our friends and family.
However, the people that we used to call on the phone to wish happy birthday, now just get a text message with a cake emoji and a lame “Happy Bday”.
For many of us texting has replaced personal communication. Why have we allowed this to be acceptable? Is that really the way we show how MUCH we care?
I know that a text or Facebook message is better than no call, but we are missing the personal connection. I confess, I am totally guilty of doing this. However, I truly believe that taking the time to pick up the phone and call someone you care for is totally worth it!
6. Be spontaneous
In the busyness of life there is no time to be spontaneous. However, there is so much joy to be found in making responsible impulsive decisions.
One day after work I picked the kids up from daycare and pulled into Sonic to get ice cream. They were thrilled at the idea of enjoying dessert before dinner! It costed me less than $10 and was the highlight of our day.
Little spontaneous actions will bring you joy, as long as you are being responsible.
Try to do unplanned stuff more often. Call a friend last minute to see if you can grab lunch. The excitement of breaking the routine will complement well the joy you will get out of spending face-to-face time with somebody you care about.
7. Try to align your personal and career goals
To live simply better it is necessary to align your career goals with your personal goals and values. This has been hard for me to do.
In retrospect, I realize that I got started in my career unaware of the idea of work-life alignment.
Like I said at the beginning, I thought life was about going to college, finding a job, having a family, etc. I learned the hard way about the need to aligning my personal goals and values with my career’s to be content.
Before I started working on TV, I didn’t realize that people in this industry don’t really take time off during the holidays. We worked on Christmas, Thanksgiving and every other holiday that I thought I would be spending with my family.
Getting those “most wanted” days off wasn’t easy. As a result, I found myself battling between work and family. Tough spot!
It is easy to get resentful about working on holidays when you can’t spend such special days among your loved ones.
Maybe your job requires that you work late, and you are unable to see your kids other than on Saturday or Sundays. Maybe you travel a lot and you are never home. Turns out that the job that you wanted to build a career and provide for your family, is also keeping you away from them!
I am not saying people should go ahead and quit their jobs. Instead, define what your priorities are and try to look for job opportunities that better align with the lifestyle that you want to live.
8. Sleep more
Other than babies, I don’t know anybody that gets enough sleep.
Research shows that lack of sleep affects your satisfaction levels, your happiness, your health, even your weight. And as simple as it may be to say, sleep at least eight hours a day, it is really hard to do!
For starters, there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. There is work, family responsibilities, dogs, laundry, groceries, cooking… the list goes on and on.
We sacrifice sleep to get everything else done, but sooner or later the effects of sleep deprivation catch up with us.
Everyone’s routine is different, but we all need to make an effort to make room for more sleep.
9. Get rid of stuff
We like stuff so much that we collect more than enough. Most of the stuff we have we don’t even need or use.
Having too many things clutters our lives. Consider simplifying your life by getting rid of stuff you haven’t used in the last year. From clothes, to blankets to dishware, I bet you have more than you need.
Yoga instructor and YouTube personality Sara Beth constantly reminds her students of this issue during her video practices.
“Get rid of what is unwanted to make room for what is needed”.
We need space, peace, and freedom in our lives. Don’t live tied up by your things. Let go of what you don’t need or use any more.
10. Get out of debt
I love to shop. It feels good to buy pretty things, shoes and clothes that you love! Using cash when you go shopping is one thing. But getting in debt to buy something you can’t afford is honestly a mistake.
You can swipe your credit card to pay for that new purse and experience that feeling of instant gratification. You can get a $30,000 loan to buy a new car you can’t really afford, that is not a problem, banks love to lend you money.
But living in debt will make you a slave to your stuff and to the banks.
Buying stuff you can’t afford with credit becomes like an addiction. Suddenly you find yourself swiping your credit card at the McDonald’s drive through because your bank account is empty. Your money tied up in too many loans and credit cards payments.
I don’t like debt. Better said, I can’t stand debt. I don’t have a credit card or any consumer debt. I have a mortgage loan and my goal is to pay it off early. Not having any consumer debt makes me feel liberated.
Having money gives you options, being in debt limits your options. How can you plan your future when all your money is tied up in payments? How can you move forward?
It is hard to live debt free, but this is how we come full circle in this article!
Getting out of debt or living debt free is much easier when you stop playing the comparisons game and find contentment with what you have. Throw in the mix a little more sleep, spontaneity and time around loved ones and you will find yourself living a much simpler and better life.
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