What is simplicity? Can happiness be achieved through simplicity? Here is a long list of insights for applying that and the way to achieve it. It works.
I read a story from a friend the other day. He was in his car stuck in traffic. Near a trash can next to him, a person with a small carriage bike stopped. The driver went to the trash can, opened it and carefully selected all the cardboard boxes thrown there. With extreme care he folded them one by one like folding precious gifts. Then, he carefully placed them on the carriage of his bike and perfectly aligned them with the other ones he had there already. Then he strapped them carefully. The outcome was a perfect package of different cardboard folded boxes.
My friend described that as he was watching he became mesmerized with the elegant and careful movements of the person. The person was obviously a garbage collector who was collecting cardboard to sell them for some money to yards who buy such.
The garbage collector was looking extremely peaceful.
He was doing his task with such an extreme care, that my friend said “it was like he was folding fragile jewelry boxes”.
My friend thought that he felt sorry not to take a video of this and show it to his kids as an example on how you need to work, no matter what your work is.
Put yourself and heart to what you do and focus on whatever you do. In that way 2 things will happen: Your mind will become more calm and the result will be great.
Is simplicity a new trend?
Many say that our troubles began with the invention of the light bulb (blame it to Thomas Edison, or Tesla). After day was able to extend into night by conquering the lack of sun, a new way of ethics and life started to take shape.
We started to follow not the daily nature cycle, but that of electricity. Thus people were pushed to work more, longer and leave the fields for the “big city”.
Industrialization changed life as it was. Along such, our consuming needs were also increased or made look like they are.
We “found out” that we had to gather more “stuff”. We “had” to acquire and collect every single bit of “things”. We somehow “had” to. Of course, many of these were a real evolution in daily life.
In feudal era people were working far less during the day, while allocating time to rest, have fun and “a brew”. Yes, they didn’t have some of the comforts of modern life but such comforts came as a progress through science anyway.
That is fine but also irrelevant. Progress can’t mean complexity and troublesome, right?
So, after nearly 400 years, many are the discussions on how we are possessed by our possessions. Many find out they are not happy any more. But is it just about possessions?
Where Happiness lies inside Simplicity or vice versa?
The answer seems simple. Have less and you are happy. But is it so simple? Yes, and No. Others claim that you don’t need much money to live simple and encourage people to think alike. Some of them even “invite” people to donate their money to them. You know… so to “carry the burden”…
Some think that by simplifying things you are actually not moving forward but backwards. Yet, this too has a dual meaning. Forward to what, really? Who has a signed contract about a specific future? Or, backwards to what?
- Let things go
- leave work at work
- Have “No” as an option
- Always tell the truth
- Don’t look back
- Ask for help when needed
- Learn from others
- Appreciate what you have
- Learn the meaning of enough
- Don’t try to be perfect
- Prioritize important things and build your life around them
These are nice “commercial” buzz words and books were produced based on such buzz. Yet, what do we need? Many say that we need:
- More sleep
- More music
- More books
- More free time
- More creativity
- More long walks
- More laughter
- More hugs
- More dreaming time
- More road trips
- More fun and…
- More Love!
Confused? For many it seems rather confusing and they ask: What am I going to do all day long? Am I going to stop working and just “have fun?”. Even if this seems ridiculous as a concept, it embeds a hint of truth.
Could it be to “Desire Less”? And what could that mean?
Bottom line… Is there a specific way apart from all these quotes above? We found there is such. Here is what we found.
Insights for Happiness through Simplicity
Many think that to be happy by adopting simplicity, requires to “understand the theory”, before acting. That is wrong. You need to adopt a plan of action, which eventually gives you and teaches you about simplicity. It will also release more of your time, reduce the clutter in your mind and thus you see things with much more clear mind. That is the trick.
Here are the insights.
“Love” others and be happy. Yeah, right.
Whoever said that has no idea what they were talking about. You can force yourself to act “lovingly” for a few days. This means that you pretend to actually connect and understand others, while you actually don’t. Usually, you just adopt a way of speaking and animating, which doesn’t produce any real change towards caring and understanding others.
However, life becomes simpler when you do the things mentioned in the following sections. In that way you actually participate in life and see life for what it is.
Seeing that, shows you how and why others act, by recognizing yourself in them. This is not done by simply “wanting” or “praying” to have such.
It happens while acting.
Accepting life as it happens
This is very important. To accept things at their current situation is not a passive stance in life. It is a rather active one.
First of all it comes through contrary action. Action can mean anything that shows you what you can’t do. As you keep not being able to do it, it shows you the actual problem. Usually, any physical exercise shows that: weight lifting, windsurfing, rock climbing, yoga, tennis, trekking, anything.
To accept things happening in life, means not to “obey” or to be “submissive”. It means to recognize and realize and accept your current status and state.
When you recognize and accept something, there is a turning point which leads to changing it if you want to and simply accept it if it is a permanent condition.
Accepting and recognizing things for what they are and nothing more, is a key element in simplifying your life.
In life things just happen, whether you understand and accept it or not.
Fix, don’t throw
This applies to relations and things too. Recently I read for a European country (of the ones that are financially good standing) that actually finances citizens to fix things that can be fixed, instead of throwing them and buy new.
This is a major shift in mentality as it focuses the mind to find a solution and to care. It teaches recycling in the most active dual way of not polluting and not consuming earth resources at the same time.
Not to mention the huge savings in money. Yes, some businesses may not like that but it is something worth doing. Don’t worry. These “businesses” will find their way to make money.
Fixing, teaches you about the elements of things in life and this gradually changes you to seek more simple solutions.
Things in life don’t last forever
Make your life simpler by observing that things don’t last forever. Many times even if you fix them they eventually break again, or permanently.
So, don’t worry. If they break, they break. All things in life decay after some point.
Life is simpler when you just accept that and let it go.
Release yourself from debt
Better enough do not get into debt. That is one very important factor these days. Once you are in debt you are not living simple, you are not happy and you are a slave of both the things you bought, along with the money you owe. Sit down, see your income, see what you really need and use from all the things you bought and sell everything else in ebay. Yes, it is that simple.
Get the money from ebay, lighten your debt and keep on going. For whatever you can’t afford to buy, don’t get in debt. Buy it only when you have the money. At that point -trust us- you will check twice with yourself on if you really need it.
So, if you gathered all that clutter, release it and free yourself. Do the same for all tangible things.
Put down your phone
If he or she sends a message, be sure that time will still flow and sun will still rise if you don’t check your freaking phone every 30 seconds.
If the President of your country wants to ask you about something they will call. No worries for that. Unless of course of the-know-who. He may tweet you. Probably it would be some fake news, so don’t worry.
Close ALL social media alerts and push notifications, unless it is something that has to do with your kids, immediate family or such. Especially during non-working hours. Set a reminder to check every 2 hours or even further. That is more than enough.
If you check every 30 seconds, ask yourself why. Make a note on the reason. Really make a note and at the end of the day see the notes.
Have a break for lunch
Do not eat in front of your laptop, smartphone, tablet. Stop doing that. Focus on your food and do that and only that. A zillion thoughts will go through your mind anyway as you eat, so why to add more noise on top of that?
I was in Minsk (Belarus) for a business trip. Through being 15 days there I noticed 2 things:
- Very few were walking looking at a screen at streets. Could be 1 out of 300 persons.
- Almost none was walking and eating or sipping coffee at the same time. Instead, people were taking a break to have a snack or some coffee and then moved on. At small coffee shops strangers were sitting at the same tables just chit chatting, enjoying their tea.
It is disturbing how people in West countries have been driven to eat, sip coffee & work at the same time, while also checking their smartphones.
Install some simple software that blocks all Facebook or other Social Media noise, or email alerts for X minutes. Then check. Then do the same. It is amazing how much people do when they focus. I caught myself getting work done of (what use to be) 3 days in 4 hours when I started doing that.
Strictly set time for: Work, food, breaks, fun and… nothing. Set time for free time to just stare outside of the window if you like.
Now, about nothing… There is not such thing as nothing but in Italy they have the “dolce far niente” concept. It means: sweet doing nothing, sweet idleness. In Paris was the movement of “Flaneurs”. The translation means “a man who saunters around observing society”, but this goes deeper. Flaneurs were taking long walks contemplating on the things they wanted to solve or generate ideas about. You could say they were practicing walking meditation sort of.
Many famous politicians, businessman and inventors followed this practice to replenish energy and get motivated. Many also allocated time to sleep a lot. For example Thomas Edison.
This makes you think, right?
For some junk food is a choice. It really is. Others eat bad food because it is cheap, so it is a matter of income. This is a symptom of our society and for many it is inevitable. However, this is a disaster and a certain path to illness and early death.
Try to at least reduce that by… cooking at home. In many Western countries (especially USA, but not only) people dine outside, and they don’t cook. Home cooking is usually less costly and way more nutritional.
Not cooking has also to do with tiredness (due to a heavy daily schedule) or boredom. Do as you can do best, but eating unhealthy will enslave your body and will enslave your mind. Thus, your life will be more complex (less simple) and less happy.
Don’t take my word for it. Try to eat healthy for a month. You will see how your mind reacts to that.
Yes, I know that you’ve heard that Eastern “thing” again. But, meditation works. Even for 10 minutes, it really works. It doesn’t provide “instant” happiness but gradually it shows you and reveals you happiness.
There is no surprise that in these troubled times, such practices gain ground fast. When done right they have results.
To meditate, you just need… yourself. No fancy equipment at all. Just sit quietly for 10 minutes. If you do many of these 10 minutes sessions, worry not. You will start looking to have 15 minutes sessions by your own.
How to meditate? Just sit with your spine in a vertical position on a chair for starters in a quite room. That is all. No music needed. No darkness or strong lights.
Do not go for “instant” gratification. No need for that as you.. don’t really know what that is, right? But if you practice, you will find out.
There is this “fitness craziness” around and we are not talking about this. Workout to feel good. If you can, attend some yoga classes, but with a trainer who cares and doesn’t simply provide “yogarobics”. Actually any activity that sets you to see yourself as you are, will do the job.
Workout will help you understand your body and how you think. Through such a process, whatever you don’t like, you can change it if you like. If you like it then you can learn to simply accept it as it is.
Not to mention of the physical benefits, of course.
Do some backpacking if you can
Backpacking trips, along with camping, are an excellent way to see with how little you can live for long periods of time. For example you see that dining can comfortably happen with just a fork, a knife and a spoon and not with all the multiple fancy cutlery and different glasses.
Yes, we know, different kinds of wine breath differently through their appropriate glasses.
This is not the point. The point is to see that you can enjoy things for their actual use when it is needed, but not engage in desperately needing them.
Is money bad?
Money, these days and with the overall political, economical and social situation are necessary. We need money as long as we cannot replace them with their equivalent in goods. For example, if you can’t grow vegetables in your back yard then you have to have money to buy them. Thinking otherwise is simply stupid.
If you can’t (or not permitted to) be energy independent, then you need money for electricity bills and gas.
When someone has a serious illness, they need treatment. Unfortunately, such still is something people purchase and in many countries is not free for all. So, you need money for that too until things change.
So, money is not bad in their base since money is another “translation” for exchanging something for something.
The problem starts when you relate to money as a reason to exist.
There, money controls you. Being controlled you are a slave in mind (and literally).
Being a slave in mind you don’t live happy. You live a complex life and thus not a simpler one.
Two words, so many contradictions. Can you really “have” fun. They usage of “have” is a command. How can you command yourself or receive a command, so to have fun?
No, you can’t. As with “love” you don’t decide to love. You enter a state of having fun when you simply enjoy life and all in it.
To do that, observe how funny and unpredictable life is every single day. Even with all its troubles. Sometimes things are so unpredictable that it becomes hilariously crazy.
Have you caught yourself sometimes laughing on how things turned upside down in a rapid way? There is fun too.
Now, when things are happily unpredictable, fun is bigger isn’t it?
Somehow, if you understand all these things, life is -mostly- enjoyable because it is unpredictable.
Conclusion on Happiness
We fail to live a simpler and happier life, because we don’t act and we try to do that by reading books or articles like this one here and do nothing.
Yet, articles and books are merely ideas providers. They motivate us but they don’t apply any change or “make us” happier.
Simplicity will happen in mind after action takes place for a period of time. This too has levels. When simplicity is somewhat established, happiness in most things of life starts to happen.
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