I was playing with words in my head earlier this year, as I often do, and the title of my book, Six Simple Rules for a Better Life, became “Six Better Rules for a Simple Life”. (I wrote about it in my monthly newsletter.)
Simple things of all types appeal to me, so my mind kept wandering down the path of a simple life.
Much has been written about simplifying on blogs about minimalism and about organizing, and blogs where the two intercept. (My favorite blog, Becoming Minimalist, has countless useful posts to help you have a simpler, better life.)
Here are six of my favorite rules for a simpler life:
- Be nice to everyone. I’m going to reference several of my “Six Simple Rules” in this post. “Be Nice” is one. Suggesting you be nice to everyone reminds me of the suggestion, “Always tell the truth, then you only have to remember one story.” If you are nice to everyone, you don’t have to remember who you were nice to and who you weren’t. Being nice also makes the world a better place.
- Be organized. “Be Organized” is another of my “Six Simple Rules”. The easiest way to emphasize the importance of being organized is by its opposite: being disorganized adds unneeded stress to life. Not all stress is bad. Some of it is energizing. The stress from being disorganized is definitely the bad kind of stress. And the good news is, whether you adopt measures yourself, or if you find others to help you (such as an organized friend or a professional organizer), you can create habits to help you become more organized.
- Spend your time and money on experiences not stuff. I, and many others, have written about this many times. In addition to other reasons to follow this suggestion, spending money on stuff means you have more stuff to manage. Less stuff is better, for a simpler life.
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. Drink water and other all-natural, non-caloric beverages. As I’ve written, healthy eating can be complicated. I explained the way I eat here. If you analyze the foods I talk about in that post, they almost all fall into one of the above simple categories: whole grain cereals, no-sugar-added almond milk, fat free plain Greek yogurt, walnuts, berries, fish, chicken, turkey, salad, veggies, apples, almonds, water, seltzer, and unsweetened, decaf iced-tea. (I also mention in that post my regular indulgence, dark chocolate.) I eat these foods at home for most breakfasts, most weeknight dinners, and for lunch on weekends; I eat these foods when I bring lunch to work, as I often do; and I eat these types of foods even when I eat out.
- Exercise in the morning. If you are exercising in the evening, that’s wonderful. But, if you are having trouble with the exercise habit, as many people do, you may be saying to yourself, “I would exercise if I had the time.” The fact of the matter is it’s not about not having the time. It’s about not making the time. You need to make the time. And the simplest way to do that is by waking up earlier. My job calls for me to go on appointments in various places in the New York area, most often in New York City, so I need to leave my house in New Jersey at different times each morning. I could roll out of bed, shower, dress, and eat in 15 minutes. But every night, before I go to sleep, I make the time to exercise by setting my alarm for 90 minutes (or more) before I have to leave my house. I find if I don’t exercise in the morning, life gets in the way.
- Make small changes. New Year’s resolutions fail because people make too many, or make resolutions that are too big. As I have written about countless times, making small changes, one at a time, is the way to make changes that stick. When you spend the 21 days it takes to make a new habit, you’ve made your life simpler. How? Because habits are automatic and routine; you don’t have to think about them, and that’s simple. Think about driving a car. There are countless steps involved in driving a car. With practice, nearly all of them become automatic, which is why we don’t spend our lives driving like new drivers.
What are some of your rules for a simpler life? Please join the conversation with your comments…