When in doubt, simplify.
This is one of my daily mantras – an ever-present guide to my decision making. I’m not naïve enough to believe that the simple solution is always optimal; yet, I’m sensible enough to know that the sophisticated solution, while it may be superior if executed flawlessly, often yields less desirable results.
Life is not easy. But it ought to be simple. We all ought to live by a set of principles that will lead to a life of happiness and purpose:
- Be kind to others
- Contribute to a greater good
- Love yourself and whatever you’ve brought into this world
- Drink good coffee
These concepts are not always easy to adopt in our lives, but they are fundamentally simple in nature. I guess drinking good coffee isn’t a prerequisite to happiness but it sure as hell helps.
Incredible advancements or needless distractions?
I don’t know what the ultimate purpose for our existence is, but there seems to be organic ways in which we can enjoy the time we spend on Earth. I feel that people are wired to be happy when we experience a few basic things: sufficient amounts of healthy food and clean water, pleasant interaction with others, and a sense of community or belonging.
But we humans had to be all curious, ambitious, and brilliant – disgusting qualities if you ask me – and bring complexity into society. So while life may be far easier, it’s gotten disproportionately less simple. This easy-to-simple ratio has been thrown so far out of whack that one could argue that we’re enjoying a lesser quality of life than generations past.
I can’t sit here and listen to someone claim that all of the advancements we’ve made in the last half-century have lowered our quality of life. We’ve made unreal strides in communication, healthcare, transportation, and food production. We’ve created Pokémon Go for fuck’s sake. How can we possibly be experiencing a lower quality of life when catching Charizard is imminent? What about Instagram and Tinder?! Our forefathers could only dream of this shit.
All nonsense aside, I do believe there is some merit to those who claim that we’d be better off without all the complexities that have come along with these advancements. Sure, we can do amazing things, but are we happier for it? Are we living more meaningful lives because of them?
I say that you can have your cake and eat it too. That is, we can take advantage of the wonderful resources that surround us while living a life founded on simplicity.
Be deliberate with what you bring into your life
We live in the age of accessibility. The amount of information at our fingertips is incredible. It’s empowering. But it can be crippling if abused. Many of us know the intimate details of JoJo’s love life far better than we know our own. (The fact that you know exactly who I’m taking about is humiliating…. for me and you.) Many of us know the quarterly trends of oil futures yet we don’t know how much we spent on gas last month. Many of us know which players are going in the first round in fantasy football this season, yet we can’t recall the last time we’ve actually played a sport in real life. And no, Madden doesn’t count, dammit.
This is an introduction to a series of posts focused on simpler living. I’m going to dive into a variety of areas that commonly bring stress into our lives and what we can do to reduce or eliminate that stress. My goal isn’t to shit all over whatever your guilty pleasure might be, but rather to shed light on where your physical, mental, and emotional energy is going and more importantly, where it isn’t.
I want my readers to realize that there is a cost to everything we bring into our lives. Everything we bring in either replaces or dilutes something else. Our world is comprised of finite entities – be it the size of our home, our mental bandwidth, or our emotional capacity. We need to be ruthless with what we let enter our corner of existence! Furthermore, different things require a different amount of space. This is easy to imagine in the physical sense – most homes can accommodate a coffee table but a sectional couch requires a particularly large area. The same rules apply to our mental and emotional faculties – we can all make room for a new fictional book or healthy relationship with a neighbor, but a five-season long Netflix series or drama-obsessed coworker is going to require a bit more. I’m not suggesting that we don’t allow the things or people that are going to require more space/energy to ever enter our lives; we just need to be deliberate in making such a decision.
Simpler things often require less and return more. Smaller houses cost less and are easier to make feel like home. Friends that share a common interest require less energy to make plans with, and are more fun to be around. A balanced diet and strong sleep habits don’t require a medical professional and often provide better results than what a bottle of prescription pills can.
What to expect with The Simplicity Series
While I’m not going to write an individual piece for all of the following, I do plan on covering each in varying amounts of detail:
- Structured time and commitments
- Diet and nutrition
- Physical clutter
I hope to make each of articles concise and actionable; which I’m sure every writer in history has aimed to do. There’s something about long-winded, inapplicable content that isn’t very appealing to readers. Entitled sons of bitches…
The goal of this series is to demonstrate to my readers that optimizing one’s life for happiness and purpose does not require complex strategies or radical overhauls – it can be achieved by continually choosing simplicity.