Guest Contributor: Ruth Seebeck

The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go. ~ Steve Maraboli


What does the word mean to you? The dictionary defines it as ‘freedom from complexity, or the absence of luxury, pretentiousness or ornament’.

What image does it evoke? A log cabin and a wood fire? A house with minimal furnishings? Perhaps a schedule with nothing scheduled?

A simple life is just that: uncomplicated, uncluttered and content. Peaceful. Living a simple life means getting rid of whatever does not give you value.

The next question becomes, “What is valuable to you?” The answers are as individual as you are, but you need to spend some time really thinking about this one. Often, we think that ‘stuff’ has value because of its cost to our lives. Not true. Price tag does not equal value or benefit. Often, the very things we strive to get become burdensome after we get them.

  • A bigger house requires more time and energy to maintain.
  • Collections need dusted and shuffled from shelf to shelf.
  • Adult ‘toys’ such as boats, RV’s, or motorcycles consume huge quantities of money and time. Fun? Surely. Simple? NOT!

If you truly seek to live a simple life, you will have to face the truth about your current lifestyle. You will have to answer some tough questions. Then you will have to be motivated to make changes consistent with your new ‘truths’. Are you ready?

First, face the easiest challenge: possessions. How much of what you have do you really need? Walk through each room and look critically at everything in it. Is it a blessing or a burden? How much of the clutter do you not even ‘see’ anymore? What can you eliminate? If an item is not functional or beautiful to you, get rid of it. Sell it. Give it away. Trash it.

This is a particularly good exercise for all of us Boomers – we have 30-40 years of cumulative accumulation. Our kids do not want to sort through all of our ‘stuff’. It is up to us to simplify while we have the energy and will to do it! The benefit is less to take care of, move, dust, repair or replace. Ahh. Simplicity!

Next, consider your commitments. How valuable are the things you give your time to? We each have the same non-refundable, non-renewable, non-returnable 1440 minutes in each day. What value are you receiving from your investment of time, money and resources?

Ask yourself,

  • How important is this activity?
  • Do I find value or blessing when I do this?
  • Is it a priority for my life?
  • Does it contribute to my personal growth and development?”

If not, extricate yourself from the commitment. Rethink your schedule and redesign your calendar. Learn to say NO without guilt or excuse.

Third, give up the media binge. I think you’ll agree that we all spend too much time watching TV, answering emails and surfing the web. One of the easiest ways to simplify your life is to stop the glut of information that floods your brain, particularly negative input like the news. Truly, haven’t you noticed that ‘news’ really isn’t? It’s old ‘news’ by the time you hear it – nothing you can do to change it – depressing to your mental and emotional health.

The same is true of all those drama series on nightly TV. Why not use that time to do something you enjoy, something uplifting and positive? If you’re going to put your brain on auto-pilot, at least give it something happy to watch, something that makes you laugh!

Fourth, move into slow motion. Busy is the new ‘buzzword’ in our society. It doesn’t have to be yours. Slowing down is emotionally comforting, mentally calming and spiritually relaxing. Warp speed is for spaceships, not people.

  • Spend quiet time alone.
  • Play calming music.
  • Eat slower.
  • Take time to connect with people you love.

Last, value money more than things. We all want to enjoy a long and active lifestyle. That requires a commitment to saving, not accumulating. Give yourself at least a 24-hour wait-time before buying that thing you ‘just can’t live without’. You will find that your new simple life doesn’t need or support all those cravings for stuff. Ignore the bombardment of advertising and take pleasure in watching your savings and investments grow.

Learning to live a simple life is actually simple, uncomplicated. It merely requires a simple change in your thinking. Begin now to simplify your surroundings, your schedule, your commitments, your activities and your money habits. You will soon reap the pleasures and freedom that a simple life provides. What are you waiting for?

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Ruth Seebeck has built a reputation over the last three decades as a life-skills coach, mentor, Christian counselor and friend. She is a business owner, author, community volunteer and event coordinator whose passion is helping others overcome life’s challenges.