Simple Living: How to Live Simply in a Modern World

Amber Murphy
Amber Murphy

Stress, anxiety, depression – these are but a few of the many gifts an overly-complicated modern life has to give us. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Most of us live running around, worrying about money, work, social life. We regularly do things and stress out, and that leaves no time to wonder if it truly has to be this way. But many people crave and desire simple living.

You can live a better, more relaxed life if you want to. It takes nothing but a little effort to get there – but you’ll get a big, life-changing reward at the end.

If you wish to lead a simple, stress-free life, all you have to do is follow this 9-step plan. Read down below to find out what this is all about.

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9 Tips to Start Simple Living

1. Don’t go overboard

Before you begin making changes in your life, you have to realize that little steps are what’ll get you to the finish line. If you decide to make one big jump ahead, you’ll probably fall on your head before you know it.

What does this mean? Well, it’s not that complicated. Follow this guide one step at the time and think things through. Don’t make extreme changes in your life you’ll regret – and don’t try to do all tips in a week. Ease your way into simple living.

You should also know the key to a simple lifestyle is not quitting society and going to live in a cabin in the woods. You should have every tool modern life makes available at your disposal – but don’t use it unless it’s necessary.

Let’s take credit cards, for example. You don’t need to cut them out to live a simple life. You have to avoid using them unless it’s necessary. If you decide to cut them, you might face a time when you need them – and that’s when you turn your simple living ways into an unnecessarily-complicated life.

These are just some of the habits of a happy person, as well. You may have our own habits or things you want to implement that you may find helps you lead a simple life.

2. Clean house

Woman sweeping her porch with a broom.

Now that you know to not go overboard, it’s time to make the first of many changes. The very first thing you need to do is clean your house. Remove anything you deem unnecessary from it.

Get rid of anything that might be more trouble than it is worth.

You need to think about anything that you haven’t used in three to six months. Clothes, gym equipment, TV, videogames, your car (yes, even your car!). You can and should sell most of it – anything else, you can donate. Try not to throw anything to the trash.

You might even change your house if that’s what you need to do. Moving to a smaller house can (and will) make your life simpler. Before you do, though, make sure that’s what you truly want.

Remember, simple living isn’t about removing yourself from modern life, but making the changes to live simply in a modern environment.

3. Cut the cord

If you thought wasting time on social media was crazy, wait until you hear about TV. On average, it’s close to 4 hours per day.

Add both up, and you are wasting close to one-quarter of your day on nothing – that’s why you can’t lead a simpler life, you are spending hours on end and then running around trying to make ends meet.

Cutting the cord (canceling your TV subscription) will free you from mindless time-wasting. It will allow you to do what you genuinely want to do – that’s simple living right there, one easy decision away from you.

You will also stop throwing money away every month. You might not realize it, but a cable subscription makes a dent on your monthly income. The more money you spend, the less chance you have to embark on a simple living journey.

4. Go retro with your phone

Stylus marking out the word "Facebook" from phone.

Did you know most people spend 2 hours on social media every day? That’s 60 hours – or close to 3 days – every month. It’s insane. And it’s also bringing you no pleasure whatsoever, it’s an addiction.

Your phone plays a massive role in complicating your life. It’s also a necessary tool – you can’t disconnect yourself from the world. You can make yourself less available to it instead.

Start by deleting social media. Use your phone to organize social meetings, but don’t socialize through it. You should make a phone call if one-on-one meetings are not possible, but you shouldn’t replace human contact with it.

If you can, go retro and buy an old-school phone. Or treat your current one like it. Studies show anxiety skyrocketed because of smartphones.

Removing yourself from social media will drastically simplify your life to a point you won’t believe – and it’ll also relieve you from stress and anxiety.

5. Adopt a chess mindset

This one is crucial. You need to start viewing your life as a chess match. You have to make moves thinking three or four steps ahead.

You might think this complicates your life unnecessarily and the complete opposite of simple living – but you can make your life simpler by planning ahead.

If you decide to act based on impulse, you might end up trapped in a poorly-decision-made cage. Dig yourself into a hole you cannot climb out of – it happens. You should think about how far you should dig before you start, and that’s how you can always climb out of it.

Let’s take number 4 as an example. You decide to go retro with your phone. You delete all social media, only to realize you need it for work-related reasons. If you start thinking a couple of moves ahead, you’ll see that you shouldn’t delete all social media but only your personal profiles.

Crisis averted before it began.

If you start planning ahead, you’ll prevent a lot of crises. And that’s the right way to live a simple life. One of the most common life tips is to plan and prepare. Think ahead, write down what you want to accomplish, and the habit you want to adopt.

6. Cure your credit addiction

Piggy bank against pink background.

Do you think most people live paycheck to paycheck? Well, not really. They live neck-deep in debt. It’s an unfortunate reality in America, and often, it isn’t entirely people’s fault. But for the fault that is under their control, taking control of their money habits can help them find peace of mind. Living in debt will keep you chained to a job that you hate, stressed out beyond belief. That does not sound like simple living. Constantly worrying about money doesn’t allow you to live a good life.

Then again, you shouldn’t see this as a black-and-white thing. You should aim to pay all your debts – but you shouldn’t throw your credit card away. Remember not to go overboard. You should use credit for things you need and can afford in the long run – always plan ahead.

This isn’t a call to never use credit, but only to do so when necessary. You probably can’t buy a house with cash, you’ll need a mortgage for that. You also need good credit to get a mortgage.

If you plan accordingly, you can buy a house with no trouble and no stress. Laying roots in a good town is also a part of simple living.

7. Remove yourself from useless discussions

Do you remember the last time a heated discussion lead to a good thing? Or do they always end up complicating your life one way or the other?

It doesn’t matter who you were arguing with, whether it was family or friends. And it doesn’t matter what it was about either – religion, politics, you name it.

You need to stop going on a Quixote-like charge against problems that aren’t yours to begin with. Let’s take politics, for example. Unless it’s a local thing (add a stop sign here, help the district school there), don’t get involved – unless you want to overly complicate your life. It’s one of the easiest ways to achieve inner peace.

You can apply this almost anywhere. Remove yourself from useless discussions at work, it’ll only pile on you later on. Religious arguments at the family reunion? That’s not simple living either.

8. Shape your mind and body together

Woman on mat on floor, doing a sit up.

Sometimes, you won’t be able to live simply. Modern life will catch up one way or the other – but don’t worry. You have different tools at your disposal to help you cope with that problem.

First, train your mind. Let it become quiet. You can try meditation or mindfulness exercises to achieve this. There are other ways to do so, though. You can paint, play an instrument, anything that brings your mind into a halt and away from modern life issues.

Second, train your body. You need to stay in shape. Otherwise, health problems will drag you away from simple living into a living hell – and that’s no good. Going to the gym is always a great option. You can also go for a walk, swim, or anything that keeps your heart rate up.

A healthy mind and body will protect your sanity when life doesn’t want to remain simple.

9. Keep it simple

You could add countless things to this list, but that would be overly-complicating things.

This list could also be simpler – way simpler. Just a one-item list. And this is that one item: just keep it simple.

Life is filled with distractions and issues that will complicate your life. If you address them quickly and don’t let them pile up on you, there’s nothing to worry about. When life starts to complicate, take two steps back, and plan three steps ahead.

Keep on simple living

How do you keep your life simple? Leave a comment below. We’d love to add to this list.

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