Ten Commandments for a Simpler Way of Life
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
– Henry David Thoreau
You’ve probably heard it a hundred times or more – if you want to reduce the stress in your life you need to simplify. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Simplify, Simplify.” But this is much easier said than done, of course, and there is no shortage of experts who are happy to tell you exactly how to do it.
All of that advice and guidance can quickly become confusing and even overwhelming – so much for simplifying your life! So I’ve sifted through this huge onslaught of information and picked out the ten best tips I could find to help you simplify your life. These tips are my ten commandments for a simpler way of life:
I. You shall find work that is fun.
Nothing complicates your life more than forcing yourself to go to work every morning when your heart tells you that you should be doing something else. To live is to grow and change, and nowhere is that more evident these days than in the world of work. So find work that is fun and uses your natural gifts. Wise people spend their days on pursuits that engage the fullness of their natural strengths. In doing so, they always meet with success.
II. You shall laugh on a daily basis.
Laughter is very powerful medicine. It can lower stress, dissolve anger and unite families in their resolve to overcome troubled times. It will renew your perspective and rekindle the childlike enthusiasm that you may have lost. Most of us are too busy to laugh and too serious to smile. We have become caught up in our own sense of importance. We have forgotten to nourish the child within all of us who is just waiting to get out and have some fun. Never forget that children come to us more highly evolved than adults to teach us the lessons we need to learn. Study children. Learn from their natural wisdom. They will remind you that if you haven’t laughed today, you haven’t lived today.
III. You shall sell the box sitting in your living room.
Although it has the power to do good, television is eating up your free time. And do you really have anything to show for all that time you have given to the box sitting in your living room? When you deeply reflect on all the hours, days, weeks and months you have given to your television, has it done anything to raise the quality of your life? While TV has some excellent programs, don’t be a slave to it. The average American watches 3-4 hours of TV per day. Don’t lose the best years of your life spending every evening on the couch.
IV. You shall break your addiction to the news and go on a “news fast.”
News is predominantly negative. And one of the universal laws of the mind says that “as you sow, so shall you reap.” What goes into your mind determines what comes out. So break your addiction to the news. All those killings, all that violence and the calamity do nothing to add to your inner peace. If you want a simpler way of life, spend the next seven days away from the news. Read some great books or listen to some good music instead.
V. You shall get in the habit of taking daily “silence breaks.”
Slow down. Silence is golden. In this crazy age we live in, the average person doesn’t spend even an hour a month in silence. Yet silence renews us, it relaxes us, and it allows us to reflect on how we are living and make necessary corrections before it is too late. Try spending 30 minutes a day in silence and solitude. It will help your mind to relax, so you can shift from the work-and-spend treadmill and focus on what’s most important to you.
VI. You shall clean up your act.
We all collect “stuff” along the way – it is inevitable. So try spending some of your time going through a closet, a shelf, a drawer, and getting rid of anything you don’t need or cherish. What’s exciting is that once you start on these surface areas, weeding that out, the skills and mindset carry over to more complex areas like your work and relationships.
VII. You shall turn off your technology.
Are you feeling the stresses and strains of modern life? Turn off your cell phone in the evening, answer email once a day instead of constantly throughout the day, or put down your laptop computer for an afternoon. Let yourself be unconnected to the rest of the world for a little while and relish in the freedom that creates.
VIII. You shall be spontaneous.
Routine is good to a certain extent, but sometimes you just need to break free and do something different. Let yourself be spontaneous, choosing what to do and how to do it based on your own wishes rather than someone else’s wishes. You’ll feel more in control, have more energy, and lift your spirits immediately.
IX. You shall set a bedtime and stick to it.
Chronic lack of rest affects every aspect of life, from the amount of energy you have to your performance at work or in school. Simplify your life by setting a bedtime and sticking to it. Get in the habit of going to bed early and you will transform your life.
X. You shall learn what is “enough.”
Many of us are turned off by ideas like simplifying or frugalizing our lives, but it’s really about transforming your life in a conscious and deliberate manner. It is about determining what is enough in your life, so you can do more with less. Keep that in mind.
Remember what separates the peak performers from the weak performers: the first group says “no” to anything that is not important while the second group says “yes” to everything. Live a simpler way of life.
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