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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

67 Ideas to Simplify Your Life and Feel Better Today

67 Ideas to Simplify Your Life and Feel Better Today
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A simple life has a different meaning and a different value for every person. For me, it means eliminating all but the essential, eschewing chaos for peace, and spending your time doing what’s important to you. In order to simplify your life, you have to know where your priorities lie.

“Simplicity is the peak of civilization.” –Jessie Sampter

Simplicity means getting rid of many of the things you do so you can spend time with people you love and do the things you love. It means getting rid of the clutter so you are left with only that which gives you value.

However, getting to simplicity isn’t always a simple process. It’s a journey, not a destination, and it can often be a journey of two steps forward, and one backward.

If you’re interested in simplifying your life, this is a great starter’s guide.

The Short List

For the cynics who say that the list below is too long, there are really only two steps to simplifying:

  1. Identify what’s most important to you.
  2. Eliminate everything else.

Of course, that’s not terribly useful unless you can see how to apply that to different areas of your life, so I present to you the Long List.

The Long List

There can be no all-inclusive step-by-step guide to simplify your life, but I’ve compiled an incomplete list of ideas that should help anyone trying to find the simple life. Not every tip will work for you — choose the ones that appeal and apply to your life.

One important note: this list will be criticized for being too complicated, especially as it provides a bunch of links. Don’t stress out about all of that. Just choose one at a time, and focus on that. When you’re done with that, focus on the next thing.

1. Make a List of Your Top 4-5 Most Important Things

What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.

2. Evaluate Your Commitments

Look at everything you’ve got going on in your life: work, home, kids’ activities, hobbies, side businesses, personal projects, etc. Think about which of these really gives you value, which ones you love doing.

Which of these are in line with the 4-5 most important things you listed above? Drop those that aren’t in line with those things.

3. Evaluate Your Time

How do you spend your day? What things do you do, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep?

Make a list, and evaluate whether they’re in line with your priorities. If not, eliminate the things that aren’t, and focus on what’s important. Redesign your day.

4. Simplify Work Tasks

Our work day is made up of an endless list of work tasks. If you simply try to knock off all the tasks on your to-do list, you’ll never get everything done, and worse yet, you’ll never get the important stuff done. Focus on the essential tasks and eliminate the rest.

5. Simplify Home Tasks

In that vein, think about all the stuff you do at home. Sometimes our home task list is just as long as our work list, and we’ll never get that done either. Focus on the most important, and try to find ways to eliminate the other tasks (automate, eliminate, delegate, or hire help).

6. Learn to Say No

This is actually one of the key habits for those trying to simplify their lives. If you can’t say no, you will take on too much.

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You can learn how to say no with this article.

7. Limit Your Communications

Our lives these days are filled with a vast flow of communications: email, IM, cell phones, paper mail, Skype, Twitter, forums, and more. It can take up your whole day if you let it.

Instead, put a limit on your communications: only do email at certain times of the day, for a certain number of minutes. Limit phone calls to certain times, too. Set a schedule and stick to it.

8. Limit Media Consumption

The media in our lives — TV, radio, Internet, magazines, etc. — can come to dominate everything else. Don’t let it. Simplify your life and your information consumption by limiting it.

9. Purge Your Stuff

If you can devote a weekend to purging the stuff you don’t want, it feels seriously terrific. Get boxes and trash bags for the stuff you want to donate or toss.

10. Get Rid of the Big Items

There’s tons of little clutter in our lives, but if you start with the big items, you’ll simplify your life quickly and in a big way.

11. Edit Your Rooms

One room at a time, go around the room and eliminate the unnecessary. Act as a newspaper editor, trying to leave only the minimum, and deleting everything else.

12. Edit Closets and Drawers

Once you’ve gone through the main parts of your rooms, tackle the closets and drawers, one drawer or shelf at a time.

13. Simplify Your Wardrobe

Is your closet bursting full? Are your drawers so stuffed they can’t close. Simplify your wardrobe by getting rid of anything you don’t actually wear. Try creating a minimal wardrobe by focusing on simple styles and a few solid colors that all match each other.

14. Simplify Your Computing Life

If you have trouble with too many files and too much disorganization, consider online computing. It can simplify things greatly.

15. Declutter Your Digital Excess

If you are a digital packrat, and cannot seem to control your digital clutter, there is still hope for you.

16. Create a Simplicity Statement

What do you want your simple life to look like? Write it out. 

17. Limit Your Buying Habits

If you are a slave to materialism and consumerism, there are ways to escape it in order to simplify your life. If you can escape materialism, you can get into the habit of buying less. And that will mean less stuff, less spending, and less freneticism.

18. Free up Time

Find ways to free up time for the important stuff. That means eliminating the stuff you don’t like, cutting back on time wasters, and making room for what you want to do.

19. Do What You Love

Once you’ve freed up some time, be sure to spend that extra time doing things you love. Go back to your list of 4-5 important things. Do those, and nothing else.

20. Spend Time With People You Love

Again, the list of 4-5 important things probably contains some of the people you love (if not, you may want to re-evaluate). Whether those people are a spouse, a partner, children, parents, other family, best friends, or whoever, find time to do things with them, talk to them, or be intimate with them.

21. Spend Time Alone

Alone time is good for you, although some people aren’t comfortable with it. It could take practice getting used to the quiet, and making room for your inner voice. It sounds new-agey, but it’s extremely calming. And this quiet is necessary for finding out what’s important to you.

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22. Eat Slowly

If you cram your food down your throat, you are not only missing out on the great taste of the food, but you are not eating healthy. Slow down to lose weight, improve digestion, and enjoy life more.

23. Drive Slowly

Most people rush through traffic, honking and getting angry and frustrated and stressed out, and endangering themselves and others in the meantime. Driving slower is not only safer, but it is better on your fuel bill, and can be incredibly peaceful.

24. Be Present

These two words can make a huge difference when you want to simplify your life. Living here and now, in the moment, keeps you aware of life, of what is going on around you and within you. It does wonders for your sanity.

25. Streamline Your Life

Many times we live with unplanned, complex systems in our lives because we haven’t given them much thought. Instead, focus on one system at a time (your laundry system, your errands system, your paperwork system, your email system, etc.) and try to make it simplified, efficient, and written. Then, stick to it. 

26. Create a Simple Paperwork System

If you don’t have a system, this stuff will pile up. A simple organization system will keep everything in order and simplify your life.

27. Create a Simple System for Housework

Another example of a simple system is clean-as-you-go with a burst.

28. Clear Your Desk

If you have a cluttered desk, it can be distracting and stressful. A clear desk, however, is only a couple of simple habits away.

29. Establish Routines

The key to keeping your life simple is to create simple routines.

30. Keep Your Email Inbox Empty

Is your email inbox overflowing with new and read messages? Do the messages just keep piling up? If so, you’re normal — but you could be more efficient, and your email life could be simplified with a few simple steps.

31. Learn to Live Frugally

Living frugally means buying less, wanting less, and leaving less of a footprint on the earth. It’s directly related to simplicity.

32. Go Minimalist

A minimalist house has what is necessary, and not much else, so it’s a great place to start to simplify your life. It’s also extremely peaceful (not to mention easy to clean). You can find ways to be minimalist in other areas of your life, as well. 

33. Consider a Smaller Home

If you rid your home of stuff, you might find you don’t need so much space. If you can be comfortable in a smaller home, it will not only be less expensive, but easier to maintain, and it will greatly simplify your life.

34. Consider a Smaller Car

This is a big move, but if you have a large car or SUV, you may not really need something that big. It’s more expensive, uses more gas, is harder to maintain, and harder to park. Simplify your life with less car.

You don’t need to go tiny, especially if you have a family, but try to find as small a car as can fit you or your family comfortably.

35. Learn What “Enough” Is

Our materialistic society today is about getting more and more, with no end in sight. Sure, you can get the latest gadget, and more clothes and shoes, but when will you have enough? Most people don’t know, and thus they keep buying more. It’s a never-ending cycle.

Get off the cycle by figuring out how much is enough, and then stop when you get there.

36. Create a Weekly Dinner Menu

If figuring out what’s for dinner is a nightly stressor for you or your family, consider creating a weekly meal plan. Decide on a week’s worth of simple dinners, set a specific dinner for each night of the week, and go grocery shopping for the ingredients.

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Now you know what’s for dinner each night, and you have all the ingredients necessary. No need for difficult recipes — find ones that can be done in 10-15 minutes (or less).

37. Eat Healthy

It might not be obvious how eating healthy relates to simplicity, but think about the opposite: if you eat fatty, greasy, salty, sugary, fried foods all the time, you are sure to have higher medical needs over the long term.

We could be talking years from now, but imagine frequent doctor visits, hospitalization, going to the pharmacist, getting therapy, having surgery, taking insulin shots… you get the idea. Being unhealthy is complicated. Eating healthy simplifies all of that greatly over the long term.

38. Exercise

This goes along the same lines as eating healthy, as it works to simplify your life in the long run, but it goes even further: exercise helps burn off stress and makes you feel better.

39. Declutter Before Organizing

Many people make the mistake of taking a cluttered desk, filing cabinet or closet, and trying to organize it. Unfortunately, that’s not only hard to do, but it keeps things complicated. Simplify the process by getting rid of as much of the junk as possible, and then organizing. If you declutter enough, you won’t need to organize at all.

40. Have a Place for Everything

Age-old advice, but it’s the best advice on keeping things organized after you declutter.

41. Find Inner Simplicity

This could be time praying or communing with God, or time spent meditating or journaling or getting to know yourself, or time spent in nature. However you do it, working on your inner self is worth the time.

42. Decompress From Stress

Every life is filled with stress — no matter how much you simplify your life, you’ll still have stress. After you go through stress, find ways to decompress and relax.

43. Try Living Without a Car

OK, this isn’t something I’ve done, but many others have. It’s something I would do if I didn’t have kids. Walk, bike, or take public transportation. It reduces expenses and gives you time to think.

A car is also very complicating, needing not only car payments, but insurance, registration, safety inspections, maintenance, repairs, gas, and more.

44. Find a Creative Outlet for Self-Expression

Whether that’s writing, poetry, painting, drawing, creating movies, designing websites, dancing, or skateboarding, we have a need for self-expression, and finding a way to do that makes your life much more fulfilling. Allow this to replace much of the busy-work you’re eliminating from your life.

45. Simplify Your Goals

Instead of having half a dozen goals or more, simplify it to one goal. Not only will this make you less stressed, it will make you more successful. You’ll be able to focus on that One Goal, and give it all of your energy. That gives you much better chances for success.

46. Single-Task

Multi-tasking is more complicated, more stressful, and generally less productive. Instead, do one task at a time in order to simplify your life.

47. Simplify Your Filing System

Stacking a bunch of papers just doesn’t work. But a filing system doesn’t have to be complicated to be useful.

48. Develop Equanimity

If every little thing that happens to you sends you into anger or stress, your life might never be simple. Learn to detach yourself, and be more at peace.

49. Reduce Your Consumption of Advertising

Advertising makes us want things. That’s what it’s designed to do, and it works. Find ways to reduce your exposure to advertising. You’ll want much less.

50. Live Life More Deliberately

Do every task slowly, with ease, paying full attention to what you’re doing.

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51. Make a Most Important Tasks (MITs) List Each Day

Set just 3 very important things you want to accomplish each day. Don’t start with a long list of things you probably won’t get done by the end of the day. Use a simple list of 3 things, ones that would make you feel like you accomplished something.

52. Create Morning and Evening Routines

A great way to simplify your life is to create routines at the start and end of your day.

53. Create a Morning Writing Ritual

If you enjoy writing, like I do, make it a peaceful, productive ritual.

54. Learn to Do Nothing

Doing nothing can be an art form, and it should be a part of every day if you want to simplify your life and eliminate negative thoughts.

55. Read Walden

This book by Henry David Thoreau is the quintessential text on simplifying and can motivate you toward the same.

56. Go for Quality, Not Quantity

Try not to have a ton of stuff in your life. Instead, have just a few possessions, but ones that you really love and that will last for a long time.

57. Read Simplify Your Life

This book by Elaine St. James is another great text on simplicity.

58. Fill Your Day With Simple Pleasures

Make a list of your favorite simple pleasures, and sprinkle them throughout your day.

59. Simplify Your RSS Feeds

If you’ve got dozens of feeds, or more than a hundred (as I once did), you probably have a lot of stress in trying to keep up with them all. Simplify your feed reading.

60. Create an Easy-to-Maintain Yard

Plant clover instead of grass, for example, to cut out the need to mow.

61. Carry Less Stuff

Are your pockets bulging? Consider carrying only the essentials.

62. Strive to Automate Your Income

This isn’t the easiest task, but it can (and has) been done. I’ve been working towards it myself.

63. Simplify Your Budget

Many people skip budgeting because it’s too hard or too complicated, but it can ultimately simplify your life by helping you know exactly how much you have to spend and when.

64. Simplify Your Financial Life

Get your debt under control, set up automatic bill paying, and cut it down to one credit card.

65. Learn to Pack Light

Who wants to lug a bunch of luggage around on a trip?

66. Leave Space Around Things in Your Day

Whether they’re appointments, or things you need to do, don’t stack them back-to-back. Leave a little space between things you need to do, so you will have room for contingencies, and you’ll go through your day much more relaxed.

67. Live Closer to Work

This might mean getting a job closer to your home, or moving to a home closer to your work. Either will do a great deal to simplify your life.

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The Bottom Line

If you want to learn to simplify your life, just pick a few of the above to get started. Simple living can mean very different things for different people, so find what works for you. Ultimately, a simplified life will mean less stress, more time, and more fulfillment in the end.

More on Simplifying Your Life

Featured photo credit: Bench Accounting via unsplash.com

More by this author

Leo Babauta

Founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life The Gentle Art of Saying No for a Less Stressful Life 67 Ideas to Simplify Your Life and Feel Better Today What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials

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Published on June 11, 2021

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It
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Well-being is a term often utilized in psychology literature to describe healthy individuals. It is often associated with contentment, happiness, or fulfillment. However, there is debate about what well-being really is and even how to spell it.[1] With so much confusion around the definition, individuals are often left to wonder what well-being is and how to achieve it.

This article will unlock the answers to three questions:

  • What is well-being?
  • How is it measured?
  • How is it improved?

What Is Well-Being?

Well-being includes a combination of feeling states and lifestyle factors. Feeling states associated with it may include happiness and contentment. Lifestyle factors may include feelings of fulfillment, achieving one’s potential, having some control in life, and engaging in meaningful relationships. Well-being is also associated with positive mental health.[2] In simpler terms, It is a construct used to describe many facets of life including psychological, physical, and social health. Synonyms for it include happiness, health, positive feelings, welfare, and wellness.[3]

It may also be defined as a state of balance or homeostasis. This balance is achieved by having enough resources to cope with life’s challenges.[4] Both challenges and resources may be prevalent in three areas: physical, psychological, and social.

When there is an abundance of challenges and inadequate resources, well-being is lost. However, humans are designed to work towards achieving a state of balance. Well-being is linked to interpersonal, professional, and personal success. It often results in greater productivity at work, increased learning and creativity, prosocial behavior, and fulfilling relationships.[5]

Why is well-being difficult to define? Likely because it encompasses a variety of life experiences and feeling states that may vary among individuals. To help individuals assess themselves, several measures have been created.

How Is Well-Being Measured?

Researchers need to agree on a standardized definition of well-being to accurately measure it. An adequate measure must therefore encompass every facet of well-being, including as a feeling state as well as a lifestyle. In other words, an effective measurement takes both life satisfaction and functioning into account.

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Well-being can be broken down further into two categories: objective and subjective.

Objective Well-Being

Objective well-being looks at standards of living. This is useful for research looking at cultures, countries, or groups of people. It includes measuring education, income, safety, and life expectancy.[6]

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United National Development Programme, and the Italian Statistics Bureau have identified six areas for study related to objective well-being:

  1. Health
  2. Job opportunities
  3. Socioeconomic development
  4. Politics
  5. Safety
  6. Environment

Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being includes an emotional and mental assessment of an individual’s life. Two prominent subjective measures are life satisfaction and happiness. Measuring subjective well-being is useful for predicting mental health patterns.[7] It is determined intrinsically by the individual. Regardless of how their life might be perceived by others on the outside, this measures how individuals feel on the inside.

Subjective well-being can be broken down further into two categories: hedonic and contentment. The hedonic component relates to feelings, emotions, and moods. The contentment component relates to thoughts and whether an individual feels their life has been fulfilling. Individuals often measure their thoughts and life fulfillment against social and cultural backgrounds.

In other words, it is important to consider the context in which an individual lives. Individuals may perceive their lives differently based on social and cultural expectations. Furthermore, individuals cannot be measured without taking their environment into consideration.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development determined subjective well-being to be an important factor in assessing well-being. Because it is perceived by the individual, it is often assessed by self-report measures. In other words, individuals rate their own level of well-being through psychological tests.[8]

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There are five areas associated with subjective well-being:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Basic and psychological needs
  3. Social environment
  4. Economics and income
  5. Political environment

How to Improve Well-Being

There are many ways that individuals can improve their sense of well-being. It is a complex construct with a variety of factors at play. Therefore, there is no one, perfect solution for it. Instead, the goal should be to engage in a holistic approach the incorporates a variety of factors.

The following methods are not comprehensive. What works well for one individual may not be the right approach for others. Instead, these approaches should be considered suggestions for improving well-being.

Individuals looking for a truly comprehensive assessment of well-being should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor. These individuals may also provide resources, prescribe medication, or share tips for making lifestyle changes to assist in overall improvement.

1. Spend Time in Nature

There is evidence to support the claim that interactions with nature increase well-being. This includes an increase in positive emotions, happiness, and subjective well-being. Time spent in nature is also linked with an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as the ability to manage challenges in life.[9]

One study found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week was associated with greater health. In the study, it did not matter if that time was spent all at once or stretched out over the course of a week. Peak gains in well-being occurred between 200 and 300 minutes of nature time, weekly.[10]

2. Practice Gratitude

Individuals who experience gratitude as a trait experience increased well-being. Trait gratitude refers to the willingness to see the unearned value in one’s experience. State gratitude is a feeling that occurs after individuals experience an act of kindness and, therefore, feel motivated to reciprocate.

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One study assessed state gratitude, during Covid-19 in China. Individuals were instructed to journal while practicing gratitude for 14-days, which included a one-month follow-up. The study found that gratitude practiced in a natural setting during times of increased stress and anxiety resulted in increased positive feelings and increased life satisfaction. However, increased life satisfaction was not sustained after one month.[11]

As a result of the aforementioned study, there is evidence to support a daily practice of journaling and gratitude for increased well-being. Individuals should practice both trait and state gratitude, whenever possible. Over time, these practices will become a habit and lead to lasting improvement.

3. Develop Increased Awareness

Increased awareness is associated with improvements in positive subjective experience, increased self-regulation and goal-directed behavior, and successful interactions with others.

Increased awareness can be attained through meta-awareness. Meta-awareness is the ability to consciously notice an emotion, thought, or sensory experience. It is a skill that can be taught. Mindfulness-based meditation and psychotherapy are two ways in which meta-awareness is learned. Kindness and compassion meditations are both linked with improved well-being. Both Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may help increase awareness.[12]

4. Achieve Work-Life Balance

An individual’s workplace has the potential to either help or harm them. Workplace factors that negatively impact well-being include:

  • Work-related pressure or demands
  • Lack of autonomy or flexibility
  • Poor coworker and supervisor relationships
  • Shift work
  • Longer workday length

Employers can directly improve their workers’ well-being by providing paid leave, opportunities for salary growth, support for individuals with disabilities or those returning after injury, and access to health care. Improvements in the work environment and job structure may also be helpful.[13]

Worker well-being is beneficial both for workers and their employers. It is associated with improvements in:

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  • Performance at work
  • Coping with stress and self-regulation
  • Satisfying relationships, prosocial communication, and cooperation
  • Immune system functioning
  • And physical and psychological health

Workplace well-being is also associated with a decrease in burnout, stress, and sleep-related issues.[14]

5. Seek Out Positive Relationships

Individuals with caring and positive connections often rank higher in well-being. On the flip side, poor social relationships can be more damaging than excessive drinking and smoking. Positive social relationships also help to protect against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Prosocial behaviors are important for forming social connections that lead to increased well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are both pro-social traits. For example, focusing on the positive qualities and actions of others. Empathy for others also contributes to higher levels of well-being. Lastly, generosity is also a strong predictor of life satisfaction.[15]

6. Stay Hopeful

Hope is a concept often related to spiritual and religious traditions. However, it entered the world of psychology around the 20th century. It is now an important construct in positive psychology. Hope can be defined broadly as the belief that things can get better, and that goals are achievable.

Hope is associated with an increase in:

  • Emotional adjustment
  • Positive feelings
  • Life satisfaction and quality of life
  • Social support
  • A sense of purpose

Takeaways

Well-being is a construct that is hard to define, yet widely cited in psychological literature. It is linked with feelings of happiness and contentment. It might also be described as a sense of purpose or satisfaction with life.

To accurately measure it, there needs to be an agreed-upon definition. In general, it has been separated into objective and subjective categories. Objective well-being considers social and cultural constructs. Subjective well-being refers to the individual’s felt sense and internal assessment of their own.

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There are several things that individuals can do to improve their well-being. However, no one thing will improve everything. Rather, this requires a holistic practice of mental and physical health. Nevertheless, individuals who spend time in nature, develop positive connections, practice gratitude, stay hopeful, and develop awareness have a greater chance of experiencing better well-being.

More Tips For Your Well-Being

Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

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