8 Key Lessons for Living a Simple Life - zen habits
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All the stress, all the frustrations and disappointments, all the busyness and rushing … we create these with attachments in our heads.
By letting go, we can relax and live more simply.
For example, if you are attached to sentimental items, you won’t be able to let go of clutter.
If you are attached to living a certain way, you will not be able to let go of a lot of stuff.
If you are attached to doing a lot of activities and messaging everyone, your life will be complex.
We don’t need any of these habits, but they build up over the years because they comfort us. We can live more simply by letting go of these mental habits.
What would life be like without constant switching, distraction and busyness?
Add padding to everything. Do half of what you imagine you can do.
We tend to cram as much as possible into our days. And this becomes stressful, because we always underestimate how long things will take, and we forget about maintenance tasks like putting on clothes and brushing teeth and preparing meals. .
What would it be like if we took a few minutes’ pause between tasks, to savor the accomplishment of the last task, to savor the space between things, to savor being alive?
Just sit there and do nothing.
What happens is you will start to notice your brain’s habit of wanting to get something done — it will almost itch to do something. This exposes our mental habits, which is a good thing.
However, keep doing nothing. Just sit for awhile, resisting the urge to do something. After some practice, you can get good at doing nothing. And this leads to the mental habit of contentment, gratitude without complaining.
We are rarely very clear on what we want. When we see someone post a photo of something cool, we might all of a sudden get fixed on doing that too, and suddenly the course of our lives veer off in a new direction.
What If we knew what we wanted to create, how we wanted to live … we could say yes to these things, and no to everything else. Saying no to more things would simplify our lives.
Imagine that everything you do — a work task, answering an email or message, washing a dish, reading an article — goes into full-screen mode, so that you don’t do or look at anything else. You just inhabit that task fully, and are fully present as you do it.
What would your life be like? In my experience, it’s much less stressful when you work and live this way. Things get your full attention, and you do them much better. And you can even savor them.
For me, those include writing, reading/learning, walking and doing other active things, eating simple food, meditating, spending quality time with people I care about.
Most of that doesn’t cost anything or require any possessions (especially if you use the library for books!). I’m not saying I have zero possessions, nor that I only do these few things. But to the extent that I remember the simple things I love doing, my life suddenly becomes simpler.
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You don’t have to do anything different to live life on this easy mode. That said, here are some things I’ve found to make life so much easier — there might be a lot here, but think of these as ideas you might try one at a time: