Simple Sunday: Life

by Frank Martin

[Simple Sunday is a new feature on the Mind wherein I will be sharing 5 ways to simplify some part of life, and simple pleasures. Not sure how often this’ll be. In a perfect world I’d make it a weekly thing, but could well become a “whenever I come up with something good” type thing. Feedback and ideas are welcome in comments.]

Reading about Simple Living and Minimalism can be intimidating for people. I get it. I really do. We’ve gotten so used to consumerism and “more is better” that we’ve forgotten how good life can be without spending money, and delicious credit card debt. We’re not all ready to ditch our stuff and take on the 100 Thing Challenge ( me either to be honest) so today I thought I’d share a few ways we can all make life simpler and more enjoyable without stuffing a few changes of clothes in a backpack and wandering the countryside.

1. Get off the screens: Seriously. Now. Not forever. No one is asking you to ditch technology for the rest of your life (I’d be kind of a flaming hypocrite if I did). Tech has a nasty way of messing with how we perceive the passage of time and the world around us. Days will start to feel longer, stress levels will drop, and things will start to feel less threatening. Its a great feeling.

2. Shut the tech off early and go to bed: Related to number one. A lot of us have come to believe we’re night owls. Not arguing such a thing doesn’t exist, but I can’t help wondering if there are way fewer of them around than we think. Are you really a night owl, or is TV or FaceBook just holding you in its clutches? Try turning off the TV and computer one evening and see what happens.

3 Do One Thing: If you’re reading an article on the internet, close all the other tabs, go full screen, and use an aplet like Instapaper to clear everything but the text. If you’re eating breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack, sit at the kitchen table, away from the TV/computer, and just eat. Focus on the taste/texture/etc of whats in your mouth. You just might find yourself eating less and feeling more satisfied. This works for every area of life. One and only exception: Have family meals at least once a week, ban cell phones, and TALK. Not guaranteeing a miracle, but you just might surprise yourself at how enjoyable it can be.

4 Go to the Library: Borrow a book and read it. Might I suggest Walden, or the Dao De Jing? Or how about the Power of Now? If you haven’t read fiction in a while, I’d also suggest picking up a Dan Brown, John Green, or Scott Westerfeld novel. Something light and fun.

5 Volunteer: I spend an hour a week reading to preschoolers at a local Montessori school and its one of the highlights of my week. For you it could be working at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or salvation army. The idea is to get out there and give of yourself without expecting anything back. You will most assuredly get something wonderful in return.

So…what would you add to the list of very simple behaviors you could change today to simplify your life? Please let us all know in the comments!