For many Americans, stressful, over-scheduled lives seem normal. We’re also a culture that tends to accumulate more than we may actually need, from food and clothing to appliances and cars. And yet, even though consumer activity has increased substantially since the 1950s, happiness levels have actually flat-lined. If you like the idea of simplifying life while enjoying it more, these ideas may be appealing:
Buy fewer items
What if you could spend less money and be even happier? Sometimes it’s as simple as refraining from making a purchase by asking if you really need it. By gathering less stuff to distract you, it’s easier to focus on simple joys, like taking a hike, reading to your child, or having coffee with a friend. Like a craving for sugar, the impulse to buy passes if we stand our ground a bit.
Be where you are
As the famous saying goes, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” it reckons the idea that by cultivating a greater awareness of our lives in the moment, we’re likely to experience more fulfillment than by constantly looking ahead. By not over-scheduling ourselves, we can better relax into the gift of the present.
Choose quality over quantity
You might agree that it’s easier to be satisfied with less when the quality is high. Fresh, whole food instead of cheap, processed fare is a great example. Or good Fair Trade chocolate over waxy commercial versions. Whether it’s fresh organic produce, natural personal care products, or hand-crafted tea, get the best and purest you can afford and be mindful as you consume it.
Emulate the French
In France, people eat very well, but are seldom overweight. That’s partly because they typically enjoy relaxed, freshly prepared meals with loved ones rather than grabbing at junk food. They also tend to walk a lot. These habits are conducive to less stress, better health and more enjoyment on a daily basis. We can learn from them!
As you may know, the Slow Food Movement is the opposite of fast food in every way. It’s also about being a locavore and appreciating what’s in season. This approach can improve our health and happiness, while also preserving traditional and regional cuisine and encouraging the farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.
Give things away
Many people have garages full of stuff they don’t use that could be hugely beneficial to others. So why not donate that stroller, desk, or set of books to someone in need? It’s a very uplifting exercise. You may also find that clearing excess clutter from your life gives you renewed peace of mind too.
While the concept of “less being more” may seem counterintuitive at first, you may find that this approach can open you up to a richer, happier quality of life each day.