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How to Live a Simple Life & 17 Steps to Find Joy in Slowing Down

It’s easy to feel like every day is groundhog day, but learning how to live a simple life could make you much happier and far more content.

how to live a simple life

Do you often wonder if there is more to life, or how to live a simple life without feeling so stressed all the time? Many people do occasionally.

It’s a result of living a materialistic existence.

We’re always switched on and connected, looking for the latest technology or the latest fast fashion. And over time, it becomes exhausting and can lead to burnout.

But, did you know that learning how to live a simple life could overcome all of this and help you to feel happier and healthier?

Is living a simple life a cheap excuse of laziness and mediocrity?

It’s a false idea that living frugally makes you cheap. Living frugally does not make you a cheapskate. Nor does it mean you are not valuing the luxuries afforded to you.

On the contrary, living simply and frugally signals a new age of being more aware of your surroundings, the earth, your health, and your overall happiness. There is no need to overspend or waste anything when you don’t have to. [Read: 17 happy things you need for a perfectly happy life]

We’re not saying that you have to practice an extremist mindset by moving to a hippie commune and living out the rest of your days in a tree. All we’re saying is that you should change some things in your daily life to reflect the fact that you are aware of the unhappiness and perils you and the earth are faced with.

It is not just the environment that you should worry about; it is the disparity faced by the 7 billion people on this planet.

Refugees are starving while you spend hundreds of thousands on a one-day wedding party. Where is the sense in that? Materialism, individualism, extravagance for the sake of social media, and the need to show off are cancers eating away at first-world societies. [Read: How to be happy in life – 12 hacks to find real happiness instantly]

Why we all need to slow down and switch off

You want to learn how to live a simple life and be happier, which means you need to slow down and shut off occasionally.

Living in a rat race of constantly needing to seek approval can be exhausting. It’s no wonder that stress is a worldwide problem. Learning how to live a simple life doesn’t just improve the state of the planet, it also helps to boost your health and makes you happier. Yes, it’s true – all you need to do is learn how to live a simple life and you’ll be a lot, lot happier.

Why? Because you’re not constantly rushing from one place to another and trying to do better than someone else. You can be calm and happy in the moment.

You don’t need the latest iPhone to be happy. It’s not necessary to buy the newest sneakers to “prove” that you’re better than everyone else. [Read: How to calm down – 15 instant hacks to put the crazy away]

It’s about the small things. So, think about saving money, recycling, cutting down on waste, and perhaps considering minimalism over consumerism. You’ll have more cash in your pocket and you’ll find that your mind is much less cluttered as a result.

All of this helps you to slow down, switch off, and enjoy the moment that you’re in.

You’ll notice the wonder of nature, the joy in a child’s laugh, and how amazing it feels when your pet dog comes running toward you at the end of a long day. Learning to switch off is never a bad thing when we’re all so used to being constantly connected and envious of everyone else in the world *or social media*. [Read: How to be present – The guide to find your zone of calm perfection]

What is minimalism?

We mentioned the word ‘minimalism’ and you might have balked at the suggestion. That’s because many people misunderstand what minimalism actually is.

It’s not about having nothing and it’s not about living in a white-washed room with no furniture. It’s about cutting back on waste and only having what you really need.

There is something very refreshing about living a minimalist life. It can certainly help you to learn how to live a simple life and once you try it, you’ll refuse to allow your mind to become cluttered ever again. Not only will you be able to find everything you need easily, but you won’t be struggling with concentration and productivity either. Physical clutter easily turns into mental clutter and when you’re in that situation, it’s impossible to focus.

All you need to do is have a really good clear-out and only keep what you really need. Then, you can say that you’re living a minimalist lifestyle, as long as you stick to it and do your best to cut down on waste. That means recycling and only buying what you really need. [Read: How to improve yourself – 16 powerful secrets of self-improvement]

Is minimalism necessary for happiness?

No, it’s not necessary. But it can play an exceptionally big part in finding peace and happiness.

Just to give you an example, consider any single room in your house right now. Look around right now, and chances are, you’ll find several things you don’t use, some things that don’t work, some trash, and many things that just add to the clutter.

When you step into your bathroom and come across multiple hair conditioners, tens of skin moisturizers, lotions, and expired or almost-empty bottles lying around everywhere, how do you feel?

Every time you see them, you’re forcing your mind to deal with the unnecessary clutter. And you push the thought away and get on with your day. Now imagine doing this with every room you step into. Your mind can’t help but constantly push unnecessary thoughts and clutter aside, because you don’t want to confront them.

On the other hand, imagine a very neat room with just the things you need, no clutter, no mess, and no wastage. Your mind would be calm, you don’t have to push any subconscious thoughts aside because you don’t want to confront them, and your brain has a lot more space and energy for the positive things in your life. [Read: How to make life easier – 20 tips to go from exhausted to effortlessly happy]

How to live a simple life and be happy

Although you can’t stop it all even if you tried, you can make a small difference in the way you live your life because the saying, “a little goes a long way” makes complete sense here.

Hopefully, when others observe you making a positive change, they will take it upon themselves to do so as well.

In turn, you’re influencing others to do the same. Here are some straightforward ways to live simply, be more frugal, and find more satisfaction in life.

1. Don’t waste anything

The average person generates around 1570 pounds of waste per year. Head online and scour life hack sites for home recycling ideas. The possibilities are endless!

From transforming that scratched-up old wok into a planter to turning recyclables into green crafts for your kids. This goes for food as well. Don’t throw out bruised fruit—make some homemade jam or fritters instead. [Read: How to plan a romantic evening without splurging on things]

2. Make your own products

You will be shocked at the number of chemicals used to make everyday products like deodorant, shampoo, lotion, and household cleaners. Making your own stuff sans chemicals is not only cheaper, but it is also healthier.

For example, instead of buying a small bottle of chemical-laden deodorant, make your own by mixing 5 tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 tablespoons of baking soda, and 4 tablespoons of cornstarch.

3. Pick a new mode of transport

Gas prices may fluctuate, but in the long run, it’s not doing the environment or your wallet any favors. Why leave such a huge carbon footprint behind, just so you can commute to your daily job?

Instead of driving, choose to take public transport, get a scooter or bicycle, or walk. If you really can’t give up the comforts of a car, then carpool instead. [Read: 15 reasons why you should travel at least once a year]

4. Brew your own coffee

Paying $4 daily for crappy coffee is not worth it. You may as well throw the money away. Start brewing your own coffee at home and putting it in a flask.

It will take a few extra minutes, but you will enjoy it more, especially if you opt for special brews. They may cost a little more than the instant stuff, but overall, a lot less than what that chain store is charging you.

5. Grow your own herbs

Herbs are outrageously priced and the lower-priced dried ones just don’t taste great. If you’re blessed with yard space, take it upon yourself to start an herb garden.

Live in an apartment? That’s no excuse, as even apartment living allows you to grow potted herbs. [Read: 17 brilliant yet simple ways to save money as a couple]

6. Switch off central healing and air conditioning

Central heating and air conditioning may make your house more comfortable but they just waste, waste, and waste.

Turn off the centralized system and set it for individual rooms. If your system doesn’t allow for individual usage, switch to portable heating or cooling devices. [Read: 16 things you need to give up to have a much happier life]

7. Learn how to live a simple life by eating out less

You may love eating out, but it costs a small fortune over time. Eating at home not only saves money, but also lets you control what goes into your food.

When you prepare your own meals, you don’t have to worry about an artery-clogging butter overload or infusion of cancer-causing artificial flavoring. Search online for healthy 30-minute and one-dish meals.

8. Don’t plan your meals

Do not plan your meals in advance, because then you’re bound to a grocery list that’s set in stone. When you’re at the supermarket, check out what’s on sale and mentally prepare a menu.

Produce on sale is not a bad thing. It simply means that supply outnumbers demand and the retailer is trying to get rid of it at a lower price before it goes bad. [Read: 10 ideas to make cooking with your partner more fun]

9. Avoid malls

Malls are fashioned in such a way that no matter how focused you are when you walk in, you will end up buying plenty of things you don’t need.

Also, you’re not a 14-year-old, so don’t treat the mall like a hangout zone. Only go when you know exactly what you want—or better yet, just shop online to avoid it altogether.

10. Learn how to live a simple life by decluttering your space

One of the best ways to live simply is to get rid of unnecessary things. Organize a garage sale and make a buck or two selling off stuff that you haven’t used in eons.

Understand that less is more and that you should live your life in a minimalistic manner. You’ll be surprised at how addictive it becomes.

11. Cut up your credit cards

Trust us when we say that credit cards are the devil. Cut them all up and switch to debit cards, instead.

When you can only spend what you have, you will be more frugal and thoughtful about what you spend your money on. This will also stop you from falling into debt and ending up struggling money-wise.

12. Plan your travels in advance

Living frugally does not mean you have to stop traveling. You just have to learn how to do so on a budget. For example, buy your plane tickets in advance during promotional periods.

Opt for Airbnb accommodation options instead of hotels. Better yet, plan an adventure holiday that requires you to walk, camp, and not depend on spending a load of cash to have a good time. [Read: 8 tips to have a great time when you travel as a couple]

13. Cut down on meat

You might be a bonafide carnivore, but financial restraints could lead you towards consuming more legumes, vegetables, and tofu. But, when prepped and cooked right, they are absolutely divine and very filling.

Go vegetarian several times a week to save yourself hundreds every month.

14. Cancel the gym membership

Get the workout that you need outdoors or from the comfort of your own home. Why bother with the treadmill, when you have parks and sidewalks open to you for free?

Don’t use “I need weights” as an excuse, because there are plenty of exercises that utilize your own body weight – also known as the best free tool that you have to get fit. [Read: 30 inspirational tips on how to get motivated to exercise]

15. Don’t buy presents when learning how to live a simple and happy life

There’s nothing wrong with buying something nice for your loved ones, but don’t buy stuff for people who are not going to appreciate what you got them. Make meaningful presents for a fraction of the cost instead.

Pick up a skill like candle or soap-making. You will save a huge chunk of cash, especially during commercialized holidays when you’re expected to exchange gifts with every random person at work, the PTA, your hiking club, and so on. [Read: 13 easy ways to be a less materialistic person]

16. Don’t spend money on entertainment when learning how to live a simple life

As much as you may love the movies, there is no denying that it can get very expensive.

Stream or download the so-so movies and save the cinema outings for blockbusters with super effects. You should also opt for free, yet fun activities, like hiking, picnicking, exploring downtown on foot, and so on.

17. Get rid of vices

There is nothing wrong with having a drink every so often, but consuming an entire bottle of wine a day will be sure to make a dent in your budget. Also, smoking is a big no-no. Not only will they kill you, but they make you pay for them to do so. Literally.

Learn how to live a simple life and be happier by cutting down on the things that do nothing but zap your cash and ruin your health.

[Read: 17 brilliant and yet simple ways to save money as a couple]

Some of these tips may seem like common sense to many of you. But sometimes, all you need is a little reminder to actually do them. You will be surprised at how straightforward it is to live simply and be more frugal. In turn, this change will treat you to more satisfaction in life. Not only will you and your loved ones be healthier, fitter, and happier, your bank account will be, too!

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Lianne_Choo
Lianne Choo
Born in Singapore and raised in Malaysia to multi-racial parents, Lianne is a self-proclaimed travel and food junkie. Having traveled extensively around the wor...
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