What makes you happier, having more stuff or having more peace? If you chose peace, perhaps it’s time to take steps to simplify your life and reduce both stuff and stress. Can simple living make you happier?
My first few years as a young adult, I bought into the myth that money could buy happiness.
This may have had something to do with having to choose each month between buying groceries and paying the electric bill. I thought that if only I had the money for both…plus car repairs, a social life, and those cute shoes in the shop window…well, then I’d be happy.
As I grew older, and had more money, I mostly ended up with more stuff. Sure, some of the things I spent money on made me very happy…but those expenses were for people and experiences. Once I had my basic “stuff” for life, having even more did not make me happier.
Money wasn’t the key to happiness, and neither was the stuff I used that money to buy.
In fact, too much clutter became really stressful for me. Whether it was unworn clothes in my closet or kitchen cabinets bursting open, I felt like the “stuff” was out of control and dominating my life.
So, I began to let it go. Too-small jeans? Gone. Mismatched storage containers? See ya. Pizza oven, electric wok, panini maker? Donated.
And each time I lightened my home of unused things, my shoulders felt lightened too. Stuff gone, stress reduced, overwhelm avoided.
And happiness dramatically increased.
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5 Ways Simple Living Can Make You Happier
Choosing a simple life might be the best decision you could make.
Here are five ways a simpler life can increase your happiness:
1. You Will Be Healthier
When you are healthy, you tend to feel happier. You have the energy and desire to engage in activities you enjoy and spend time with people you care about.
Poor health can force you to miss out on people and activities that bring you happiness.
The stress of being overly busy, owning too many things, and working constantly just to make ends meet can cause you to lose sleep, have digestive issues, stop exercising and eat poorly.
You may worry about losing your belongings that you worked so hard to accumulate, which can increase feelings of anxiety.
Living a simpler life gives you the ability to relax, reconnect, and appreciate what you have, instead of being overwhelmed by having too much.
And you will be more conscious of how you care for your body and mind, leading to better health outcomes.
2. You Have Time to Enjoy The Little Things Life Offers
Complicated lives produce harried people, not happy ones.
When is the last time you thought about how good it feels to have sunshine on your face?
Or watched a butterfly float around a garden collecting nectar from the flowers?
Or enjoyed a long, slow meal, savoring each bite, the candlelight, the company?
When you simplify your life, you have more time to appreciate the little things that make life special.
3. You Become More Appreciative and Grateful for What You Have
When you have too much of anything, you cease to appreciate the individual things you have because you are overwhelmed by the excess.
Imagine having ten pairs of jeans, none of which fit quite right or look amazing on your body, and trying to choose which ones to wear on a fun night out. You will probably try on, and rip off, several pairs before you settle for something that’s ok but not great. Ten pairs of jeans, and you’re not happy or appreciative.
Now imagine having just two pairs, but they both fit and flatter. You have one pair to wear with heels and one to wear with flats. Getting dressed for your evening is so much simpler now – the only decision to make is what kind of shoes you want to wear. Now, don’t you appreciate having two perfect pairs of jeans?
Having just what you need makes life simpler, and it’s easy to feel grateful for easy decisions that get you on your way to fun experiences.
4. Your Relationships Will Be Stronger
As social beings, we need relationships with other people.
And nurturing relationships takes time.
Catching up with an old friend over coffee in a 45-minute block barely gives you time to scratch the surface of your relationship.
But spending a leisurely morning to really connect with one another? Your relationship will be so much stronger when you create room for it to grow.
Simplifying your life paves the way to spend more time with those you love.
Deeper relationships leave you feeling satisfied, fulfilled, and happier.
5. You Can Do Activities That Are Meaningful To You
Simpler living is a slower, more thoughtful lifestyle. You are not plowing through a rigid schedule trying to squeeze in just one more activity. Instead, you choose to fill your time with activities that are meaningful to you.
You can spend an afternoon reading a good book.
You can take up knitting, or swimming, or volunteering at the dog shelter, or whatever interest you wish to pursue.
Or spend a day wandering the park with your grandchild, going wherever you choose, no destination or timeline in mind.
Create the space to do what you love, and that will in turn bring you happiness.
- Finding Happiness in Simplicity: 101 Ideas to Make You Smile
- 10 Action Steps to Keep You on the Sunny Side of Life
- 5 Simple Steps to Simple Living
- 30 Holiday Simplicity Journal Prompts
Final Thoughts on 5 Ways Simple Living Can Make You Happier
Happiness doesn’t have to be elusive.
You can chase happiness by accumulating more things than you need, being overly busy, and constantly overstimulating your senses. You might gain a bit of short-term happiness, but are unlikely to find long-term life satisfaction this way.
By choosing a simple life, in a way that works best for you, you give yourself the best opportunity to be happy and live life to the fullest.
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Lori, I’m right there with you on this topic. I feel better every time I discover a few more things I can “live without”. I relate 100% to that “lightening” feeling you describe. Now, if I could just get my husband to see the light…..
Thanks for a great post!
In Pursuit of Happiness
Ha! Joan, I have the SAME problem with my husband – he clings to every little thing! Thank goodness we no longer have a house with a basement – less room to store stuff! But isn’t it great when you do “let go”? Love that feeling!