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The Secret to Living a Happier Life? Follow the Rule of Less Is More

The Secret to Living a Happier Life? Follow the Rule of Less Is More

There are a plethora of self-help books that will guide you towards leading a happier life. Maybe you’ve bought the majority of them and even applied a lot of what’s been said. But do we really need all this advice? If there could be one habit we could adopt to be generally more happy it would make our path to happiness and wellbeing much easier.

So what is it? Well, it’s the concept of ‘less is more’ or, in other words, taking a more minimalist approach to life.

What Minimalist Living Really Means

Minimalist living may conjure up images of a bare house or cutting down on the stuff we enjoy – in other words, we must sacrifice enjoyment to be happy. Our modern world offers us so much to choose from and surely living minimally means we’re not taking the full advantage of what we can have, right?

It doesn’t have to mean giving up on our favourite things or getting rid of all our home comforts. As a concept, what minimalist living really means is recognising your worth more than the worth of material things.

We can get very caught up in the things we want – those things that satisfy short-term – instead of focusing on what we need. Another way of looking at it is giving ourselves the sense of freedom – freedom from the external things and freedom from the need for possession.

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This doesn’t have to be a life-changing task but rather a shift in mindset and perspective towards what you consider is important to you.

How Living Minimally Will Benefit Your Life

There are so many benefits to creating a more minimalist life, not just for your physical living space but for your positivity of mind – it’s a process of decluttering and decluttering can do wonders for our general wellbeing.

It allows us to refocus on what’s important, creating more energy and time for ourselves. Buying and maintaining the stuff we have is a real money drainer so eliminating possessions also eliminates worry and stress, opening up a sense of breathing space.

But It Also Comes With Difficulties…

Many of us find this a hard concept to put into practice. As mentioned before, we live in a time when we’re bombarded with a never-ending selection of stuff at our fingertips. Society makes it so there’s a certain expectation – we can’t live without a mobile phone, we should keep up with the latest fashions, we need to continually upgrade to make sure we’re not falling behind.

All this can make it difficult to declutter our lives and take on a new way of approaching how we live. But once you start considering yourself, your self-worth and what’s important to you rather than what’s important to your society, it can be a truly freeing experience.

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Put It Into Action: Ways To Go Minimalist

Becoming minimalist doesn’t have to happen overnight. Making small shifts is a better way to sustain a long-term perspective on decluttering. Starting the process little by little will help you to feel a slow but sure difference in the way you approach life and ultimately make you feel lighter and happier.

1. Clear Out Your Wardrobe

The best way to start is with your clothes. How many of your clothes sit in the wardrobe or drawers only to be pulled out once or twice a year – or more than likely never? This process of throwing out items of clothing can be a very liberating experience. More often than not, they are taking up unnecessary space and you’ll be surprised at how much you won’t even notice they’re gone once you’ve thrown them out.

Give yourself a challenge of getting rid of any clothes you haven’t worn in the last 6 months. Watch as your stressful mornings of outfit dilemmas disappear.

2. Do The Food Challenge

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Eating well is a must but our shopping bills can be way more expensive than they need to be. Enjoying minimalist living doesn’t mean scrimping on good food and eating the same boring meals every day in the name of ‘less is more’. Being savvy with the types of food we buy and finding interesting recipes that use cheap and tasty ingredients, can slash our shopping bill by more than we think. It’s about training ourselves to shop smart and really be mindful of the choices we make.

3. Declutter Your Living Space

It’s very tempting to buy decorations that will look good in our home but over time it can add up. Once we’re used to stuff being around us we’re almost blind to it. Take time to really look around and see what needs to go. Keep the things that are meaningful or really suit the scheme of your home and consider giving away things that don’t have a place anymore. This can include furniture or the accumulation of kitchen utensils – remember duplicates are rarely necessary!

4. Travel Lightly

How often when travelling, do you pack way too much? We think of every possible scenario that could potentially happen that justifies taking much more than we need. Most of the time we don’t use half the stuff we take. So if you’re going for a week then pack for 3 or 4 days. Not only will you have less to carry, but you’ll realise you can live with a smaller choice.

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5. Declutter Your Mind From Social Media

It’s normal these days to be glued to our phone and check social media several times a day but is it really necessary? How many times do you scroll through your Facebook feed and think why am I looking at this again?!

This approach to minimalism is purely for your mind. Give your brain a rest and make a conscious effort to not check social media. Don’t beat yourself up when you do, but just note when you do it and question yourself. Over time you will notice you check it much less and you’ll feel happier for it.

So, adopt the ‘less is more’ philosophy and see how decluttering your life will work wonders for your mind and perspective on what really makes you happy.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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