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16 Simple Living Icons Share Tips on How To Embrace Simplicity

I’m not comfortable with the minimalist label but I am drawn to the idea of living more with less. I like to call myself a simple living enthusiast.

What’s the best way for a “non-minimalist” to begin the journey towards a simpler life?

I recently asked this question to some of my favorite bloggers who are minimalists and/or simple living experts.

Some suggest starting with the physical world whilst others feel that the process begins with a change in mind-set.

Their response to my question has provided me with invaluable insight as well as practical tips for my journey in simple living.

I hope it will do the same for you.


 

Joshua Becker… Becoming Minimalist

The most important first step is to find a quiet moment and ask yourself this question, “How would my life improve if I owned less stuff?” We never ask ourselves that question. Instead, we constantly think our life will get better if we just owned more… or better… or newer… or trendier… because that’s what society has told us since the day we were born. But when you sit down and ask yourself the other question – probably for the first time – you’ll be surprised how quickly the answers come. And when they do, you’ll find conviction to pursue a new and better path.

 

Courtney Carver… Be More With Less

The best way for a “non minimalist” to begin the journey towards a simpler life is to remove the labels and comparisons.

What you call it (simplicity or minimalism) is much less important than what you do with it. Your version of simplicity will look different than someone with a different approach or living situation. Once you give yourself permission to make this YOUR journey, you can take advice and move forward without fear or judgement.

 

Lorilee Lippincott… Loving Simple Living

I believe the best way for a ‘non-minimalist’ to begin a journey toward a simpler life is to dream and read about it.  When people talk about minimalism they often first think of things… and getting rid of things, but that isn’t what makes a simple life.What makes a simple life is change in the mind.

Once the mind decides it wants less and simple, it becomes (almost) second nature to purchase less and get rid of excess.  Grab a cup of tea and dream about what you want your life to be.  Read about it.  Then simplify as you see areas in your life that don’t line up with these new ideals.

 

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus… The Minimalists

Weather someone starts with all of their material possessions or just one room, they should carefully consider what’s truly adding value to their life.

 

Colin Wright… Exile Lifestyle

Take a step back and figure out what’s important to you. Not what you think is supposed to be important to you, but what’s really, REALLY important. The stuff that makes you happier than anything else. Then, start removing the stuff that doesn’t help you get/do more of that.

 

Markus Almond… Brooklyn To Mars

Anything that doesn’t have sentimental value and hasn’t been used in the past year should be discarded.  Whether it’s donated, recycled or thrown away, getting rid of things that don’t hold value is a great place to start.

 

Jill Gaupin… The Minimalistas

The best way to begin this liberating journey is to spend some time thinking about the changes you want to make to streamline, to simplify, your lifestyle.  Make a vision board.  Journal your thoughts.  Explore your feelings behind why you want to make a change.  Connect with others who embrace simple living.  And then start taking action.

 

Tammy Strobel… Rowdy Kittens

There are many small steps you can take today to start living more simply. First, clear off one surface in your home. For example, a reader recently sent me a photo of her uncluttered desk. She spent the evening organizing stacks of papers, mail, and other random belongings that were cluttering the surface of her work space. Now that it’s organized she’s able to sit down to pay her bills and she feels happier. Taking that one small step made her life feel a whole lot simpler.

Second, ditch the television (or watch a whole lot less). Television is a huge time suck and by watching less, you’ll have more time to do the stuff you love, like taking a long walk in the evening or reading a good book. And last but not least, let go of excess stuff. Start by giving away ten belongings each week to friends or to a charity of your choice.

 

Mohamed Tohami… Midway Simplicity

I would recommend that you start with a small experiment.

There is a very interesting experiment that I’ve done called The One Week Closet Experiment. I learned about the idea from Dave Bruno’s book The 100 Thing Challenge.

Here’s how to do this experiment:

  1. Open your closet and pick up enough clothes for one week.
  2. Store these one week clothes in a separate section in your closet.
  3. Over the next month or two, only wear from the items in this section.
  4. Evaluate the result.

I promise you’ll be hugely surprised!

 

Rachel Boreing… Intentionally Simple

When you’re beginning to simplify your life, a good place to start is your schedule. Stop over committing and learn that it’s okay to say no to some things. Once you have breathing room in your schedule,  life suddenly seems a little simpler.

 

Vappu Aneri… The Cat’s Meow

I think it’s a change in mindset that is needed first. One should really think about their life, priorities, and values, and then have that vision in mind always.

Sometimes it works well to start out with the physical realm, de-cluttering one’s possessions, perhaps right-sizing the living conditions, and then the mental change follows.

Anyway, all of the de-cluttering in the world is of no use (and can be harmful if you re-purchase and re-clutter again) if there is no shift at a deeper level.

 

Joel Zaslofsky… Value of Simple

Some of my best friends are not minimalists, but have lives of simplicity that most people would be envious of. For instance, I have a friend who immerses herself (quite literally) in a float tank and teleports her mind to another place. She achieves a state of raw simplicity unlike anything else I’ve ever seen or heard. But spending money to get into a sensory deprivation tank isn’t the only way non-minimalists can achieve simplicity.

Another friend practices gratitude throughout the day and the calming effect creates this radiating wave of simplifying. Practically speaking, I think the easiest way for non-minimalists to achieve simplicity is reading blogs, articles, or stories about the topic. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca comes to mind as each person can pick out the ways they want to incorporate simplifying into their lives without the disruptive effects that minimalism can have.

 

Patrick Rhone… Minimal Mac

It may seem simple but…
Make sure to ask “Why?”

I think so many of us begin a journey to a particular destination (in this case, simplicity) without really asking this simple question. What is it about your current lifestyle that is not working for you? What it is that is causing friction? Why would simplicity and/or minimalism help?

How often do we find ourselves far down a path, a choice, a decision, without knowing  why? How often do we find ourselves with a new shiny device, and new piece of software, a new way of working, without knowing  why? I would argue that for most it is far too often.

In fact, I believe that, if we stopped to consider this question more often, and faced it with introspection and honesty, it would lead naturally to a life lived with purpose. Which, to me, is the whole point.

 

Brooke McAlary… Slow Your Home

In a word: Small.

Small is absolutely the best way to begin the journey towards a simpler life.

We are taught that we need to go big, go hardcore, go for it all, and that’s all well and good. But when you’re just beginning a journey like this – one that is life-long – to try and tackle everything right away is the best way to fail.

Instead of de-cluttering the entire garage, start with the kitchen drawers. Instead of the toy room, just clear out the car. Instead of your wardrobe, start with your handbag.

You are more likely to get these small tasks done in one sitting, rather than become overwhelmed with the bigger tasks and give up altogether. Once you have some victories, you will be far more likely to succeed when you do tackle the bigger jobs.

 

Rachel Jonat… The Minimalist Mom

Take note of what truly makes you happy. Write it down. Bring more of it into your life. That could be down time or hobby time or sleep or a long distance conversation with an old friend. When you focus on the stuff that really gives back to you, and that you can give yourself to, it becomes clear what stuff you can let go of in your life. A new food processor or sweater or the skis you’ve been hanging onto for seven years thinking you’ll start again, they seem much less important and valuable and they’re easier to let go of.

 

Nina Nelson… Shalom Mama

If you want to begin the journey towards a simpler life, but don’t want to be a full-fledged minimalist, don’t worry. Take note of the things that are causing clutter in your life. Are you over-committed to activities outside your home? Does your house feel like it’s stuffed to the brim? Do you just do too much laundry? Identify what needs to be simplified and write down what steps you can take to simplify them, like saying no to a committment (or four) or decluttering your house (be it one room or drawer at a time). Realize that it won’t happen overnight, but that’s ok. Just take action. Every. Day.


 

Thank You All for Your Awesome Contributions!

You inspire us to step out of the fast lane, SLOW DOWN and begin a life, uncomplicated.

I guess the “best way” to begin a simpler life is not defined by what you do, but by the fact that you choose to do, on purpose. And you guys have given us a ton of ideas to get started. Thank you!

Now it’s our turn to take action.

What will you DO to simplify your life? Share your goals in the comments below.

 

If you were inspired by anything said above, take a moment and share this post by clicking on the icons below. Thanks!

Your Comments

14 comments… add one

  • Alice June 2, 2015, 1:57 pm

    My husband and I have been working on living simpler for several years, ever since we spent a few months in Mexico and Panama. We realized we had much too much STUFF. We started going through our things, one room at a time, and had lots of yard sales, donated, etc. This week, our 3000 sq. ft. house finally sold, and we moved into an 875 sq. ft. rental. Our goal is to get down to basics. After all, how many mugs, dish towels, etc. do 2 people really need? Our time and energy is getting less as we get older, and we don’t want to have to spend it taking care of a house full of things. We want to do what we enjoy and feel is important. Just keep at it, a bit at a time, and you can comfortably live with less than you think.

  • Benjamin December 27, 2012, 6:50 am

    Many good ideas. I apply many of those things. Hope you guys don’t mind me sharing my experience. The way I have been able to simplify is by actively choosing not to do what is expected of me. I don’t meen not taking any responibility but always questioning why people do things and why I should do it.

    Living to me means much more than being born, school, work, retire, try to enjoy life but just be in pain and die. Living is to have time. Time is what we all want more of. But we spend too much time chasing money and stuff and we forget to live.

    When I go on holiday I don’t care about seeing the eiffel towers, the big bens or whatever everybody expects me to see. I AM NOT INTERESTED. As simple as that. If someone wants to see them, I don’t think they are mad. People are different but unfortunately we are all too affected by the attitudes in the society we live in. I really like the so called third world contries and the people who are at the bottom of the food chain. They are many times illiterate and many times isolated from the rest of the world. They are so much happier as people. They don’t have much and are happily unaware of what people in the wide world think is cool and important. Many people think they have empty and boring lives. After you have seen many things it might be a bit boring. But if you don’t know about it, you can live a very satisfying life even without it.

    I believe we can “unlearn” those attitudes of needing the latest and coolest. Get rid of the TV, and as many other gadgets as possible (believe me, they can be many). Associate with people who share your ideas and who will help you rather than make fun of you.

    • saida December 27, 2012, 8:47 am

      I moved to Tanzania from England when I was eleven and my first year I was SO depressed. There was no TV. There were no chocolates! I loved to read and even books were hard to come by. That first year, I cried every day. I did adjust however, and I can truly say that my years in Tanzania (aged 11- 18) were the best years of my life.

      As teens, my friends and I used to talk when we hung out. It seems that these days, kids need something to do when they get together. Talking simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Having said that, I think even I would struggle if I had to go back to that way of life. We are so used to modern day conveniences.

      I believe it’s important to limit what we let into our lives. Kids don’t need to have a PS3 and an Xbox and a NIntendo and their very own ipads. Even adults are over stimulated ALL the time. We never have enough time, yet we waste so much of it every day. Wouldn’t it be great if we all carved out time in our day to do nothing? I wonder what wonderful things would await us if we could sit still long enough.

  • Lena December 19, 2012, 8:28 pm

    I really liked the answrs of Patrick Rhone and Rachel Jonat, I think they will be my starters :)

    • Saida December 21, 2012, 11:51 am

      I’m glad you’ve been inspired! :)

  • Vappu December 15, 2012, 12:33 pm

    Thank you for asking me to contribute, Saida!
    I most definitely do not consider myself an icon of any sort ;) or even a very good blogger..
    It was nice to read what everyone said on the subject, and the most practical advice probably was to read some blogs and books on the subject for inspiration and encouragement. It can be hard to begin to simplify, not knowing where to start, and not necessarily getting any support from the people around us.

    • saida December 15, 2012, 3:02 pm

      I’v been reading a lot of blogs for inspiration. I’m also focusing on de-cluttering our home. My goal is to down-size our home. I’m hoping to be closer to winning that battle (with my family) if our house suddenly feels too big and empty for us ;)

  • Vanessa Hayes December 13, 2012, 8:09 am

    Wow! This is a fantastic round-up from so many very inspiring bloggers (yourself included Saida)! I think many people aspire to be more intentional and lead simpler lives but get a little bit intimidated by the “minimalist” goal. Every contributor on your list is a voice of encouragement to just get started… Thanks, Saida!

    • Anonymous December 13, 2012, 10:01 pm

      I think once you get past the minimalist label, you realize the point is to simplify, YOUR way. There are so many tips above that anyone can pick one and just get on with it.

  • Nina Nelson December 5, 2012, 9:21 pm

    Wow, I’m included with some amazing people. Thanks so much, Saida! I’ve learned so much from many of the people you mentioned – and now have some more to check out. :)
    Nina Nelson recently posted..15 Simple Christmas Gift Ideas

  • Gerard Sorme December 4, 2012, 6:02 pm

    Icons?!? I can’t believe there’s been no disavowal of this term from those you have included here. Some of these people have interesting blogs but……”icons”!?? This an inside-the-bubble absurdity.

    • saida December 4, 2012, 11:29 pm

      One of the definitions of an icon is “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something.” Those of us who aspire to embrace simplicity gain inspiration, motivation and invaluable knowledge from the people who contributed to this post.

      These people (and their blogs) represent simplicity and simple living. Within the realm of ‘simple living’ – these guys are, without a doubt, simple living icons.

  • Joel Zaslofsky December 4, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Thanks for including me along with all these wonderful people Saida! It was a treat to read through other people’s response to your question and there’s a ton of great stuff to take away from this post and put into action.
    Joel Zaslofsky recently posted..Invaluable 2nd Year Blogging Lessons (Recognize Any?)

    • saida December 4, 2012, 10:52 pm

      Thank you for contributing to the post, Joel. When you have a list of ideas like this, it just makes it that much easier to pick something and take positive action to move closer towards your goal. Often we procrastinate simply because we don’t know where to start!

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