Living a Simple Life: How to Stop Chasing and Start Living

Living a simple life means joyfully pursuing meaning over money, people over possessions, experiences over excess by decluttering the nonessential, focusing on gratitude and fulfillment, and aligning your lifestyle with your true values to discover abundance through simplicity.
chair on balcony

What's Ahead

How can we make living a simple life be both fulfilling and enjoyable?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt drawn to simplicity. Even as a child, I preferred playing outside to endless toys, and relished quiet moments reading over loud entertainment. Though it’s taken me years to figure out what living simply really means, it’s become clear this lifestyle aligns with my core values and brings me profound joy.

Of course, adopting a simpler lifestyle didn’t happen overnight. What began as small steps like donating unused clothes eventually became an intentional approach to living. Now simplicity permeates my days, from the way I spend time with loved ones to how I travel and live in my home. Its benefits continue motivating my journey.

While starting on this path is unique for everyone, I’m happy to share what has worked for me by answering some common questions around living a simple life. You’ll learn about

  • The profound benefits of living simply, from less stress to financial freedom
  • Actionable strategies to start simplifying, from decluttering to downsizing
  • How to align your lifestyle with your personal values and priorities
  • Tips for maintaining motivation and overcoming obstacles to simplicity
  • Adapting simplicity principles to real scenarios like small spaces, hosting guests, and lower incomes

My hope is that you’ll discover a few takeaways to enrich your own life, even if you adopt them in small ways. If simplicity resonates with you on any level, I encourage you to follow where it leads. The rewards can be profound.

1. What Does “Living a Simple Life” Really Mean?

For me, living a simple life is about identifying what’s most important and letting go of everything else. It’s about being content with less in order to focus on what matters most – things like family, friends, community, nature, and personal growth.

Living simply isn’t about deprivation or hardcore minimalism. It’s about purposefully choosing a lifestyle aligned with your values. I try to avoid consumerism and only buy things I really need. I try to be grateful for what I have instead of always wanting more. I spend time in nature, cook at home, and focus on relationships instead of stuff.

Simplifying life is an ongoing process of re-evaluating needs vs. wants. It requires getting rid of excess stuff as well as habits or obligations that no longer serve you. It’s incredibly freeing to clear the clutter, both physical and mental. I now have more time and energy for things that make me feel truly alive.

2. What Are the Main Benefits of Living Simply?

For me, the benefits of living simply include:

  • More free time: I have fewer possessions to clean and maintain. My schedule isn’t overbooked so I have time to relax.
  • Less stress: I don’t feel pressure to overwork, overspend, or keep up with the Joneses. Life feels more manageable.
  • Financial savings: With a simpler lifestyle, I need less money so I’m able to work and earn less. I have more money to save and share.
  • Appreciation for what I have: Focusing on needs makes me grateful for the basics. I find joy in simplicity.
  • Stronger relationships: More time and less distractions enables me to connect with loved ones.
  • Improved health: Less clutter and stimuli allows my mind and body to renew. I get outdoors more.
  • Lower environmental impact: Consuming less reduces my carbon footprint. I reuse and recycle as much as possible.
  • Personal growth: I’m constantly learning about what brings meaning and fulfillment. Living simply helps me focus on personal development.
  • Feeling aligned with my values: I’m able to live authentically by putting my ideals like simplicity, gratitude, and generosity into daily action.

3. What Are Some Simple Living Tips for Beginners?

Here are some of the simple living strategies I found most useful as a beginner:

  • Start small. Tackle minimalism one area at a time instead of getting overwhelmed.
  • Reduce clutter everywhere. Declutter not just main living spaces but also cars, bags, emails, etc.
  • Follow the “one in, one out” rule. Only add a new item after removing an old item.
  • Store items you use less frequently. Keep everyday essentials easily accessible.
  • List experiences instead of material gifts for birthdays and holidays.
  • Eat at home more often. Cook simple, healthy meals.
  • Turn hobbies into side income instead of expensive leisure activities.
  • Walk, bike and use public transportation to reduce driving.
  • Entertain at home instead of going out. Host potlucks with friends.
  • Have a “no spend challenge” each week. Avoid shopping for non-essentials.
  • Sit still and enjoy the simple pleasure of a cup of tea for 10 minutes.
  • Spend time outdoors. Hike, garden, or just sit in nature.

Starting with small steps helps form long-lasting simple living habits over time. The more you declutter and let go, the freer you’ll feel. Eventually simplicity starts to feel like second nature.

4. How Can I Make My Small Space Feel Bigger?

As a small space dweller, I’ve discovered some useful tips for making a small home feel more spacious:

  • Edit ruthlessly. Only keep items you use and love. Everything else is just clutter competing for precious space.
  • Store off-season items elsewhere like under beds, in closets or with friends/family to open up main living areas.
  • Go vertical. Use wall space for shelves, cabinets, art, mirrors. Hang pots and utensils from ceiling.
  • Convert furniture into multi-functional pieces. Murphy bed, sofa table, ottoman storage, etc.
  • Choose furniture that’s slim, compact, low profile and fits your space. Avoid bulky pieces.
  • Use glass, mesh or acrylic organizational items to keep necessities accessible but out of the way.
  • Ensure lighting is sufficient. Well-lit rooms appear larger.
  • Paint walls light colors and use reflective surfaces. They make spaces look bigger than dark colors.
  • Keep floor space open. Limit furnishings to only essentials.
  • Use multifunctional spaces when possible. Make living room do double duty as guest bedroom.

With some creativity and decluttering, small spaces can feel airy and open. The freedom of living in a small space outweighs having extra unused square footage.

5. How Can I Spend Less Time Cleaning and Organizing?

As a busy person aiming for more freedom and simplicity, reducing my cleaning and organizing time really helps. Here are my best tips:

  • Declutter ruthlessly so there are fewer things to clean and organize. Toss first, donate second.
  • Assign everything a designated spot so items can be put away quickly. Use bins, baskets, shelves.
  • Do maintenance cleaning daily like washing dishes, wiping counters. That way cleaning days are just occasional deep cleaning.
  • Clean as you go. Wipe up spills right after they happen. Put items back in their spot.
  • Work top to bottom and left to right to avoid re-cleaning areas.
  • Create routine zones on different days to avoid cleaning the whole house at once.
  • Make a master cleaning checklist with essential tasks organized by room and frequency.
  • Set a timer for each cleaning or organizing task to work efficiently.
  • Play energizing music to stay motivated.
  • Use cleaning time to declutter. Clean out a drawer while dusting it.
  • Enlist other household members. Assign tasks based on ability.

With less stuff and an efficient system, cleaning takes very little time. I’d rather be doing something more meaningful than endlessly organizing and scrubbing. A tidy home creates space to think and breathe.

6. How Can I Stick to a Simple Lifestyle Long-Term?

After many years practicing simple living, these habits help keep me on track:

  • Review my values and priorities regularly. I ask, “Is my current lifestyle aligned with what matters most?” This motivates me to let go of anything not serving my values.
  • Reread inspirational books about simplicity. They remind me of its profound benefits.
  • Continue setting small, manageable goals each month/year to simplify further. I see how even small steps add up.
  • Say no to added obligations that introduce complexity, even if they seem fun or status-enhancing. Fun comparisons online tempt me but bring hollow rewards.
  • Ignore marketing and ads since they breed discontent with what I have. Mute notifications on apps and unsubscribe from catalogs.
  • Discuss simple living with like-minded friends who share this lifestyle. They encourage me to persist.
  • Cut back my hours working for pay to prevent burning out. Extra income isn’t worth the stress. Time is precious.

Staying focused on my deeper motivations keeps me committed long-term. Simplicity forces me to become the person I aim to be – focused, generous, intentional, and purpose-driven. The benefits exponentially outweigh any sacrifices. I’m grateful every day for living simply.

7. How Do I Talk to Loved Ones About Wanting to Simplify?

Since making major lifestyle changes impacts others, I’ve learned the importance of communicating openly when I want to simplify further. Here are some tips that have worked well for me:

  • Explain my motivations and the personal benefits I experience when simplifying. I focus discussions on my own needs and feelings rather than demanding or critiquing how others live.
  • Ask questions about any concerns or hesitation they have about simplifying and validate their feelings. Change can be unnerving.
  • When wanting to declutter shared spaces, get input about items they want to keep. Compromise instead of purging items they cherish.
  • Clarify how I envisions our relationships thriving with a simpler lifestyle. For example, spending more quality time together deepening our connection.
  • Share examples of other couples/families thriving with less. This reassures them a simpler lifestyle is sustainable.
  • Propose small changes first and give them time to adjust before making additional changes. Gradual modification is easier to adapt to.
  • Frame simplification as an experiment or trial run. This lowers pressure and resistance to change.

With patient communication, loved ones can get on board with simplification. While getting rid of excess stuff is freeing for some, it can feel like loss to others. Taking it slowly while addressing concerns and offering reassurance helps make simplicity principles stick over the long haul. Our relationships end up richer.

8. How Can I Entertain Guests With a Simple Home and Lifestyle?

Living simply doesn’t have to mean becoming a hermit. Hospitality and connection are still important. Here are some of my tips for hosting guests with simplicity:

  • Focus on shared experiences vs material things when offering hospitality. Cook a simple but delicious meal together. Have memorable conversations. Go for a hike or bike ride. Play games. Engage in a creative activity like art or music.
  • If providing overnight accommodation, optimize their comfort. Offer plush towels, blackout curtains, comfy bedding and space to unpack their bags. A sofa bed or blow-up mattress works for short visits.
  • Create a welcoming atmosphere with small touches like flowers, scented candles or essential oils, warm lighting, soft background music, and snacks.
  • Keep the focus on enjoying each other’s company, not impressing guests with an elaborate spread. Make expectations clear: “I’m providing a simple meal but promise great conversation!”
  • If hosting multiple guests, embrace potlucks and buffets. Have everyone contribute a dish. It lightens the burden for you, gives guests ownership, and builds community.
  • Borrow, rent or source items secondhand if needing more seating, dinnerware, etc. Look for free activities in your community to entertain guests.
  • Thank guests afterwards for embracing your way of living. Their adaptability and presence matter more than posh surroundings.

With creativity and intentionality, simple living and hospitality can thrive together. The richest experiences come from meaningful shared moments with others, not material excess.

9. How Can I Stay Motivated When Life Gets Stressful?

During especially stressful times, I’ve struggled to maintain simplification habits. When overwhelmed, it’s tempting to let things slide into chaos. Here are some strategies that have helped re-center me:

  • Pinpoint where simplification fell off track and start there. Just tackling one small area like papers on my desk or dishes in the sink gives a sense of control.
  • Remind myself that taking advantage of simplicity’s benefits – reduced stress, better health, financial savings, etc. – is needed now more than ever. Times of transition demonstrate how a simple foundation provides stability when everything feels chaotic.
  • Scale back other obligations for a short period and postpone less critical tasks. Trying to do it all with maximal efficiency backfires. I protect essentials like rest, healthy food, human connection.
  • Try a “30 day minimalism challenge” to recommit through small daily actions like decluttering one area, listing five thankful moments, unsubscribing from a newsletter. Momentum builds.
  • Read back through past journal entries about the joys simple living has brought me. This re-sparks my underlying motivation.
  • Talk with a simplicity mentor or minimalist friend to reinforce that occasional backsliding is normal. Their empathy gets me back on track.
  • Remind myself the stress is temporary but the benefits of simplifying endure. A few steps each day toward simplicity helps ride out challenges.

Staying focused on how living simply enhances wellbeing, even amidst temporary chaos, keeps me motivated to continue simplifying. Small steps forward compound over time into lasting rewards.

10. How Do I Respond When Others Criticize My Simple Lifestyle?

Making major lifestyle changes like pursuing simplicity can draw criticism from some who don’t understand it. I’ve been judged for downsizing, spending less, and rejecting the consumerist script. Here are some tips that have helped me:

  • Listen openly to their perspective. Sometimes they voice valid concerns about my welfare I should consider.
  • Explain sincerely how simplifying has actually improved my quality of life. For example, I have less debt, anxiety and clutter but more meaningful relationships, rest, and connection to what matters.
  • Suggest they read a book or blog about why people choose simplicity. The depth of intentionality often resonates with skeptics.
  • Share how my lifestyle aligns with my personal values like gratitude, generosity, and conscious living. Their values may differ but it’s my life to live.
  • Remind myself that anyone on a counter-cultural path faces naysayers. I focus on those who respect, support and are inspired by my journey.
  • Offer examples of how I still pursue fun and beauty through simple means like hiking, enjoying public parks, having picnic dinners with friends. It’s a joyful life!
  • When criticism seems motivated by jealousy or resentment, I try to disengage quickly without reacting defensively. Their motives often say more about them than me.
  • Trust my direct experience with simplicity’s tangible benefits instead of outsiders’ uninformed opinions. Their criticism has no real power over my journey.

Staying confident in my motivations and mindful of the positive impacts keeps criticism from derailing my simplicity path. Living authentically inevitably draws some objections but the fulfillment is worth it. I’m grateful to those who see and support my lifestyle’s purposeful joys.

11. What Does the Bible Say About Living a Simple Life?

The Bible encourages living simply and avoiding loving money or possessions. Jesus instructed his disciples to travel lightly without gold or extra supplies (Luke 9:3). He taught that material wealth can prevent people from focusing on God and spiritual life (Matthew 19:16-26).

Several verses advise being content with basic provisions instead of desiring riches (1 Timothy 6:6-8, Hebrews 13:5). The Bible praises generosity over accumulating wealth (Acts 20:35, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7). It warns against the temptation of luxury and living for pleasure (Luke 12:15, James 5:5).

Overall the Bible promotes a simple lifestyle with few possessions and focus on eternal spiritual pursuits over temporary material ones. It endorses living by faith and generosity rather than succumbing to greed and overindulgence. Simplicity helps keep God at the center of life.

12. How Can I Learn to Enjoy Living a Simple Life?

Here are some tips that have helped me enjoy simple living:

  • Discover inexpensive passions like reading, hiking, gardening, playing music. Pursue hobbies for the joy rather than status or results.
  • Spend time outdoors appreciating nature’s simple wonders – sunrises, landscapes, night skies. It reconnects you to what matters.
  • Cook and eat real, fresh, seasonal ingredients. Prepare family recipes. Enjoy meals as a time to unplug and connect.
  • Cherish free activities like walking, playing board games, having long talks. Focus on people, not stuff, for fulfillment.
  • Declutter to reduce cleaning/maintenance. Then relax in peaceful uncluttered spaces.
  • Establish simple, nourishing routines around sleep, healthy food, exercise, meditation. Don’t overschedule.
  • Buy used goods and repair items instead of replacing them. Work with your hands.
  • Volunteer with organizations addressing needs you care about. Give back.
  • Document meaningful moments in a gratitude journal. Reflect on the day’s simple joys.

Fulfillment comes from simple acts of self-care, family bonding, purposeful work, and community service. Life gets richer when you stop chasing more stuff.

13. How Do I Live a Simple Life With Little Money?

It’s possible to embrace simplicity on almost any income. Here are some tips:

  • Lower housing costs by getting a smaller space, roommate, less expensive area. Consider downsizing.
  • Avoid debt by using cash, saving up beforehand, borrowing only for essential long-term purchases.
  • Cut transportation costs via biking, public transit, carpooling. Walk locally.
  • Learn to cook economical healthy meals like beans, eggs, pasta. Eat less meat. Meal plan to reduce food waste.
  • Mend, repair and properly care for items so they last. DIY and improvise solutions.
  • Use public parks/libraries for entertainment instead of paid options. Look for free events and activities.
  • Pursue free hobbies like hiking, reading, board games. Swap skills and services with others.
  • Buy secondhand when possible – clothes, furniture, household items. Scour thrift stores.
  • Use labor-saving devices judiciously – dishwasher, electric tools. Optimize their benefits.
  • Work part-time or freelance to cover expenses. Avoid overwork and long commutes.
  • Share resources like streaming services and ride shares with trusted friends. Split costs.

With creativity and smart resource use, those with lower incomes can still craft a meaningful, non-consumerist lifestyle. Generosity of time and spirit matters more than possessions.

Living a Simple Life – Summary

The simple life path has profoundly shaped my priorities and enriched my days with meaning. While adopting a new lifestyle presents challenges, each small step towards simplification compounds into lasting rewards. Decluttering the nonessential enables appreciation for the essential – things that can’t be purchased like inner peace, close relationships and natural wonders. With this foundation firmly beneath my feet, I feel prepared to weather life’s inevitable storms and savour each calm, lovely moment in between. The freedom of simplicity allows space to pursue my highest self.

For those of you who just want to learn the key insights on living a simple life, I’ve summarized them as follows:

  • Simplicity is about focusing on what’s most important by minimizing excess possessions, obligations and distractions. It’s purposefully aligning your lifestyle with your values.
  • Benefits include more time, less stress, financial savings, better health, stronger relationships, lower environmental impact, personal growth and fulfillment.
  • Tips for beginners include decluttering ruthlessly, storing items used less often, following the “one in one out” rule, limiting driving and shopping, and spending more time in nature.
  • Small spaces can feel bigger through editing possessions, utilizing vertical storage, multi-functional furniture, open floor plans, light colors and sufficient lighting.
  • Cleaning time can be reduced by decluttering, assigning items a designated spot, doing maintenance cleaning daily, and creating efficient routines.
  • Long-term motivation comes from reviewing values and priorities regularly, re-reading inspirational books, setting small goals, protecting time for non-work activities.
  • Communicate openly when making changes, take loved ones feelings into account, make compromises, take gradual steps.
  • Entertain guests by focusing on shared experiences, comfortable overnight accommodations, welcoming atmosphere, potlucks. Hospitality and simplicity can thrive.
  • Stay motivated in stressful times by starting small, remembering benefits, scaling back other demands, trying a 30 day challenge.
  • Respond to criticism by listening openly, explaining benefits you experience, suggesting critics learn more, being confident in your motivations.