Life Advice: How can I make my life simpler?While I'd love to contribute yet another list of practical things you can do to make life simpler, I often find lists to be overwhelming. You don't know where to begin, how many tips to apply, and where you'll apply them in your life. Unfortunately, the perceived value of a list is often a lot higher than actual value (measured by how many tips you actually apply and the results they incur)
Having a basic understanding of what simplicity means (and what it looks like in YOUR life) is a lot more practical, because it helps you realize where the pieces of your life go, and what pieces are extras that you can safely get rid of.
I did include two lists of tips you can follow, but understanding simplicity and seeing how the tips connect to your life is a lot more important.
So let's being...
There are 2 types of clutter that make life not so simple:
- Mental clutter
- Physical clutter
Dealing With Mental Clutter
Mental clutter is made up of ideas for potential projects and activities you want to do and things you want to learn and skills you want to develop and goals you want to achieve and current commitments that you have and tasks you're mentally juggling and appointments on your calendar and deadlines that passed you by (and others looming ahead) and trying to make sense of past experiences and struggling to understand how the world works and why people are the way they are and who you are and what your purpose in life is, and on, and on, and on...
With that mental load it's hard to experience the simplicity of life.
You're juggling too many thoughts and you're bringing all these thoughts with you to any experience. Sitting with friends and chatting about movies, but your mind is thinking about poverty or why there's conflict in the world. Watching a movie and you're wondering: what have I done with my life?
This mental clutter generates white noise in your head that's constantly buzzing in the background, making each moment heavy and every step burdensome.
What you need to do is to expand your mental space and put ideas where they belong, so they don't end up tied together and creating mental clutter.
Goals to accomplish are different to activities to do, so separate them mentally. Want to lose fat or gain muscle mass? These are goals. You never "do" these goals in life. But you can go to the gym to accomplish these goals, or come up with an exercise routine to do at home. These are activities. The more clarity you have about what these activities look like, the less mental noise you'll create.
My tips for dealing with mental clutter are:
- Begin with a vision: There's a reason why a picture is worth a thousand words. You can see where things go and how they relate to one another without having to laboriously describe the details and explain the connections. What do you want your life to look like? What does simplicity mean to you? What do you find exciting? What do you find enjoyable? Who do you want to be surrounded by? What do you want to accomplish? Write a book? Climb a mountain? Travel the world? Decide what you want your life to look like
- Eat healthy food, exercise, sleep well: "A sound mind in a sound body." Taking care of your body will allow you to experience greater mental clarity, an improved mood, and greater self-confidence. Don't skip this or postpone it until you figure your life out.
- Meditate: A greater deal of mental noise is the result of constantly evaluating things in our lives. This is bad, this is good, this is bad, this is horrible, this is annoying, etc. Meditation gives your mind the space to observe, without judgment. You take out the emotional edge from the experience, allowing you to develop greater clarity and emotional calm. Give yourself five minutes to observe things without judging them and to focus your thoughts on the present without projecting to the past or the future. That's meditation (at least in my book)
- Do Things Gracefully (DTG): DTG is my productivity system (a play on the Getting Things Done (GTD) system, by David Allen). I deal with my commitments in 3 steps: 1) Collect. 2) Organize. 3) Schedule. Collect is a brain dump of everything on my mind, and it's where I write down what others suggest to me before I figure out how it relates to my life. Organize is where I put ideas/tasks in the life areas or projects to which they belong. Schedule is where I decide how I'll spend my time and what activities I'll be doing. It helps me see what my day looks like.
- Make time for "meta-work": Organizing your todo list or clearing out your desk don't seem like productive things to do. I call them "meta-work". They don't substitute for actual work (you want to do the tasks on your todo list), but they do help cultivate mental clarity and allow you to become more productive when you are working.
- Make sure your schedule has breathing space: If your commitments are scheduled back to back (or they sometimes overlap), then you're giving your mind an opportunity to tie commitments together, leading to clutter. Besides, meetings and activities rarely take up only the time you've scheduled for them, so make sure you have buffers in your schedule to maintain your peace of mind.
- Work on one thing at a time: Again, you don't want your mind oscillating between two (or more) different commitments because each task will become the background noise for the other. Imagine your current task is the only thing you have in the world to do. Everything else can wait.
- Speak to someone... even if it's a rubber duck: I'll hazard a guess and say that nothing I mentioned so far is new to you and you probably could've figured it out on your own if it wasn't. Most people who see a therapist admit that the advice they've received isn't new to them, but it does bring them clarity. That's because we find it hard to juggle mental problems and solutions, so we need to talk to someone and hear the answers we already know come from them. Your mind can think of many things at the same time, but you can never utter more than one letter at a time, or one word, or one sentence. This sequencing helps bring about clarity because it forces you to focus on one idea to communicate. If there isn't someone who you trust that you can talk to, write down your thoughts, or speak to an inanimate object (More about that here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rub...)
Dealing With Physical Clutter
If you step into a jungle would you imagine yourself saying: "This place is such a mess, we better start organizing it."
Most likely you wouldn't. Because that "mess" is how the jungle is supposed to be, and you expect it to be that way. But in a home garden, leaves need to be raked and tall grass needs to be mowed, because we have certain expectations of what a good garden looks like, and there are associated actions (commitments) to change our environment to meet our expectations.
Physical clutter is "stuff" you haven't decided what you want to do about. Where does it go? What needs to be done? How will you do it? The things in your environment are left in different places without the associated actions explicitly defined. So your environment becomes an arena where tiny objects are constantly shouting at you to do something about them. A pen on the dinner table is shouting: "Hey! Get me out of here! This isn't where I'm meant to be!"
Your bookshelf is a choir of books singing: "Read me! Read me! READ me NOOOOW!" (And, unfortunately, most books don't know how to sing)
Since you haven't decided on any of these things (where that pen goes or what book you'll be reading next), your physical environment generates its own background noise that adds to your mental clutter, making life feel overwhelming and complicated.
You want to have an environment that serves your life and ambitions, and you, therefore, need to decide what goes into your physical space and how you'll use it.
My tips for dealing with physical clutter are:
- Begin with a vision: No, you're not experiencing déjà vu, but a vision of what you want your life to be like determines if the things that surround you fit into that life or not. If you've lost interest in a topic there's no use in keeping books you know you're no longer interested in reading.
- Begin with small sections: Tidy up your environment one small section at a time. A portion of your desk, then the next portion, then the next, and you'll be done with your desk. Next comes the bookshelf: first portion, second portion, third portion, and so on. You can't tidy up a room all at the same time, so focus on the actual steps you'll be doing to get it done.
- Decide what you'll be using each space for: What activities will you be doing in each room? How does the setup help you do these activities? Do you have the right tools set up where they should be?
- Don't keep junk you think you'll fix one day: It's a burdensome commitment that will most likely linger for eternity. Just apologize to the device and dump it in the trash (but gently).
- Have a place for everything: Clutter happens when we haven't decided where things go. Decide on a place and make sure everything sleeps where it's supposed to sleep at night.
- Don't let mess accumulate: If you have a place for everything, then you know where everything should go. Not putting things in their place is a sign of mental clutter (your mind is preoccupied with something else). Reminding yourself to put things in their place helps you maintain control of your mental clutter so it doesn't impact your physical space, which can spiral to more and more mental and physical clutter.
You don't have to follow any of the tips I mentioned, but knowing that you want to deal with both mental and physical clutter is a great starting point. You might have your own steps to follow (after all, you know best what's relevant for you).
What do you want your life to look like? What do you want your environment to look like?
Plan and act accordingly.
Before answering your question, allow me to hypnotize and take you to a happy place.
You are sitting naked, alone, in a vast, green field. There are soft white clouds in the sky and no sun. In the distance beyond the field, you can see a dense green forest. A cool breeze is caressing your face and body and gently ruffling your hair. There is no sound, except that of your own breathing, rhythmic, deep and peaceful. There' a single delicate, yellow flower in your lap. Its faint fragrance mixes with the scent of the fresh grass all around. There's nowhere else to be. No more races to run. No tasks to complete. No boxes to tick. Here, now, is life, and life is happy.
Now, can you spare five seconds? Close your eyes please and imagine the above scene.
Really, please do.
It took me thirty years to realize a really important lesson in life: Simple is good.
There are 3 key takeaways I've learned in living a simple life including:
*Less stuff is better. Stuff can weigh you down.
*Living a simple life gives you more time for the important things
*Eating simply can dramatically improve your health
Here are the top 12 ways I've been able to live a simple life:
1. Simplify your meals and buy a blender - I used to make a different breakfast every week. One week it would be breakfast burritos, the next week it would be egg muffins. It took a lot of prep work, cooking time and dish washing. So what did I do? I bought a nutribullet and now I drink a vegetable and fruit smoothie every morning. After 30 years, I'm finally in the best shape of my life and I save a ton of time and stress every morning.
2. Every year, clean out your house - Are you using it? If not, toss it out. The less clutter you have, the better.
3. Be present in the moment - When you do something, really focus on the task at hand and be present. For example, when someone is talking to you, don't work on your computer at the same time. Look at them, really listen and engage with them. Try it - you'll see how awesome of an experience that is.
4. Use your calendar on your smartphone - You're going to have a million things to do. If you put it into your mental checklist, chances are you'll forget it. So put it on your calendar!
5. Learn to say no - You can't do everything. Find out what's really important to you and prioritize those activities.
6. Arrive for your flight 2 hours ahead of time - Trust me on this one. After flying to 50 cities in one year, this will reduce your stress a ton!
7. Do more of what makes you happy - Life's short. Don't spend it living someone else's life. For example, every week, I dedicate two hours of time to write for my blog. Someone once asked me, why do you bother to write about motivation? How are you going to make money on that? I said I didn't know but that I did it because it made me happy.
8. Slow down - When you take your time, you're more likely to enjoy the moment.
9. Take an hour to unsubscribe to all the junk mail in your email - Having to delete junk email every day is a colossal waste of time.
10. Create an exercise routine - P90X, Insanity, Running, SoulCycle, Swimming, Walking to work - whatever it might be, make sure you keep exercising to stay healthy!
11. Use the 10 year test - Feeling stressed about something that just happened. Use the 10 year test. Ask yourself, will this matter in 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years? If it won't, you need to stop stressing out about it. Move forward.
12. Learn to let go and to move on - You can't change the past. It's time to move on.
Remember - Simple is good!
I made my life simpler by following these 5 simple steps:-
- Turn "Dreams" into "Reality"
- It was my childhood dream to learn flying kites. I accomplished it on 15th August, 2016.
- I always wanted to deliver an "Extempore Speech". I fulfilled the dream on this Teacher's Day.
- I always wanted to learn "Marketing". Despite being a Zoology student, I pursued an online course from University of Pennsylvania.
- I was mesmerized by the idea of "Kawaalis" when I saw the movie "Delhi 6". I personally went to Nizaamuddin Dargah to witness one on Thursdays.
- I always wanted to help people in need and that's how firstname.lastname@example.org was conceived.
- I was planning to meet my roommate at Vizag for the past 4 years. I booked the tickets yesterday for a trip to Chattisgarh in March.
- I missed out on Durga Puja, for the past 5 years. I went home, for a change, this time and had the "Time of my Life".
- Every Diwali since 2014 have passed in darkness and isolation. I made a difference this time by burning crackers, witnessing Kali Puja at CR Park and relishing on Bengali Thali.
- I am going to launch my Youtube Channel in the month of January, despite vehement opposition from people around.Every experience in life is either a blessing or a lesson.
- Evict Negative People & Pseudo well-wishers from Life:-
- I, recently, evicted my roommate out of house for bad mouthing and vilifying my personality.Get rid of one, if you know any!
- I cut contacts with many alleged "friends" who couldn't stand by me at the time of need.
- I blocked many hate commenters and abusers on Quora without getting into altercations and arguments.
- I chose not to keep any form of contact with my ex. That helped me in restoring peace of mind.
- I recently stopped contacting a female friend because our friendship became complicated. Learning to let go, when complexity sets in for the very first time, is the most crucial step towards maintaining mental stability in the long run!
- Spend Time "Alone" & yet not feel "Lonely":-
- I sit alone every single day at the Old Gupta Chowk in Vijay Nagar and sip 4–5 cups of tea while writing abstract things about life.
- I go to the "Hakkikat Park" every evening to see children play.
- I read inspirational books and listen to heart-warming music in my spare time.
- I spend 1 hour every day on my terrace for self-introspection and self talk therapy. (My secret to stay upbeat, confident and motivated at all times.)
- I write on Quora and feel the warmth of the beautiful messages that I receive.
- Avert "Guilt" & "Regret":-
- If I happen to sound rude, I apologize as soon as I realize it.
- If I pass a non-productive day, I ensure that I do something useful and productive at night.
- If I happen to wake up late, I ensure that I wake up early, the very next day. Doing so averts the slightest tinge of regret and guilt from my heart.
- Accept "Failures" as the Stepping Stones to "Success":-
- Recently, a Nanotale submitted by me to The Anonymous Writer page on Facebook, got rejected. I am working on the content and hope to get it published, the next time.
- I had to drop out of my "CAT Coaching". I initially felt disappointed. But, I wouldn't have applied for the fellowship program of "Teach For India" and sat for the "Placement Cell", if the afore-mentioned thing didn't happen.
- I failed to submit my "Developmental Biology" assignment on time. I lost out on 10 marks. But, I am looking forward to compensate for it in my Theory Papers.
- Recently, an answer on "Friendship" with 370k views and 17k up-votes was collapsed by Quora. I appealed to uncollapse it. Even, if it stays collapsed, I would still continue to write and inspire and get equivalent number of views and up-votes in some other answer.
"I look for positivity, even in the darkest of moments."
"I don't lament over the things that I don't have. I believe it was my Destiny."
"I rejoice over every little thing that I have in my possession."
That's my secret to a simple and happy life.
Life is a one time offer. Do you want to complicate it or make it simple? Comparisons, expectations, attachments can make it complicated. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. Making mistakes means that you are trying something. No one is perfect. You can follow these to make your life simple and cool!
Here are some tips for a simple and peaceful life:
1. We need to have a Ceiling on our desires to make our life simple and beautiful.
2. Learn to say 'No' without any explanations.
3. Keep smiling, and spread happiness.
4. Try to reduce the use of gadgets and technology if possible.
5. Don't care about what others will think about you.
6. Don't compare with anyone,instead compare with yourself. Try to be better than how you were yesterday.
7. Avoid expectations to keep your life simple and peaceful.
8. Do what you like, and like what you do.
9. Anger, ego are your biggest enemies. Try your best to give them up.
10. Let go off things which weakens you.
11. Never overestimate your problems or underestimate your ability to solve them.
12. Don't be afraid of failures, fight them with courage. Failure is the best teacher in life. Learn from them.
13. Never waste your feelings on people who don't value them.
14. Stop blaming people .
15. Don't have attachments in life.
16. Don't trust everything you see, even salt appears like sugar.
17. Life is unpredictable. You don't know what will happen the next minute. Nothing is permanent.
18. Try to enjoy small things in life, because when you look back after years, they seem to be big things.
Just adding on to Varsha's answer.
The biggest problem introverts face is that we have to find our own way, which leads to awesome things but its still harder for us.
Being an introvert, I somehow cannot go along the general notion. I was usually told that my style of being an introvert is not the right way to go. I need to present myself as an extrovert. But deep down it felt wrong.
Now, the most important thing to understand is that Introversion is different from shyness. Shyness is about fear of social indulgence. Introversion is more about how to respond to stimuli, including social stimulation. Extroverts crave for social stimulation whereas Introverts feel most alive and switched on when they are in a quieter place, usually alone. Not always but a lot of the time. So, in order to maximize our potential we need put ourselves in a mode of stimulation that is right for us.
No one is exactly introvert or extrovert or as Karl Jung said, " Such a man would be in an asylum." Some people fall in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum, usually known as ambiverts, who get the best of our worlds. But many of us do recognize ourselves as one type or the other.
Now, when it comes to creativity and productivity, it is people who are good at developing and advancing ideas along with a streak of introversion that excel the best. Solitude matters. Solitude is the modern day wilderness. Just like Jesus or Rama or countless others who find themselves in wilderness.
Its a well known fact that while being in a group of people, we subconsciously mimic others. Even in the aspects of who we are attracted to. We start aping the beliefs of the people around without knowing. We even tend to agree with the best orator in the room even though there's no correlation between being the best talker and being the one with the best ideas. You might want to follow the one with best ideas but you're not able to. Much better to go out of ourselves, give some room to think and then come back and discuss more as a team and then take it from there. But that doesn't happen. Introverts are made to feel guilty for being alone.
The largely extrovert community will admire people of action over people of contemplation. People of character are lost in the crowd. The world has more of a culture of personality. People move from small towns to big cities just to prove themselves among a group of strangers. And then people come up with books like " How to win friends and influence people" (Even i bought a copy of it when I was lost). That is the world we live in.
All this is not to say that social skills are unimportant or team work is not good. The point is that introverts are the key to solving the vast number of problems that we face. Introverts are best at thinking out of the box. They would come up with bizarre ideas which at once would be rejected by the extroverted society.
Try out new things. Find what keeps you involved. Read. Most importantly, give yourself time.
Now, its up to the world to stop this group madness but its up to us to make the most of our lives. Stop to think what you're doing and why. Go to your own wilderness to find your revelations. And then spread your revelations. Talk to people about what you found out and what you think about it. I've known that when we talk about what we found, we get lost in it. That shields us from the group pressure. Moreover, choose your audience carefully.