Welcome new readers!
A couple of days ago, since the launch of Midway Simplicity, we had over 1,191 new visitors who joined our community! Thanks to everyone who’s decided to join us and make Midway Simplicity on top of their reading list.
In the launch post, we heard from 27 Simplicity Legends about their most practical tips to simplify your life.
Their awesome insights will help you experience the true essence of simple living by applying very easy and quick tips.
Over the coming months, I’ll share with you more mainstream tips and ideas to help you simplify your life, so that you can find inner peace, joy and freedom.
For now let’s start with the rules of the game. If simple living is a game, in this post you’ll discover the rules to win it.
Look at this post as the guiding principles of this blog – an Operating Manifesto of sorts.
These principles make up the foundation of Midway Simplicity. They’re the beliefs that guide our pursuit of simplicity and every post you’ll find here.
Note: This post is intentionally long, because it is meant to be a reference piece going forward. I want you to fully understand the foundation for why I do what I do here.
What Is Simplicity?
In order to simplify your life the right way, you first need to understand what simplicity means!
The biggest origin of stress is not knowing where to start, simply because you can’t make any progress. Therefore, your attempt to simplify your life turns into a complicated process!
That’s why you need to define what simplicity means to you, so that you can understand what it is that you need to do in order to simplify your life.
So, let’s try to answer the question: “What Is Simplicity?”
You definitely heard of Aristotle, one of history’s most influential thinkers.
He is known as the Father of Science due to his extensive and careful observation of the physical world.
He believed that every individual thing has four main features:
- an origin,
- a purpose,
- a matter
- and defining characteristics.
For example, a laptop’s origin is the technology company that manufactured it; its purpose, let’s say, is to process information; its matter is whatever it is made of (plastic, metal, aluminum, etc); and its defining characteristics are things like memory capacity, processor speed, hard drives, graphics card, etc.
The significance of this way of thinking is that it gives you a simple logical approach to categorize and describe anything physical (i.e. known by senses).
However, we can use Aristotle’s method of describing things to define simplicity!
Here is how to define simplicity the Aristotle way:
1. The Origin of Simplicity
You’ll be surprised if I told you that the origin of simplicity is chaos or complexity!
As Werner Küstenmacher, author of How To Simplify Your Life says, “At the very pinnacle of complexity that the longing for simplicity reaches its peak…Simplicity is conceivable only against the background of complexity.”
The rising need, desire or hunger for simplicity originated from people’s inability to cope with the fast paced, stressful, and chaotic nature of today’s world.
The rising complexity made people wish for the good old days where everything was simple and peaceful.
2. The Purpose of Simplicity
Here you and me can have different purposes according to our needs, desires and environment.
I personally believe the purpose of simplicity is to enjoy more with less. That’s more inner peace, freedom and independence.
Of course, you can have your own purpose for simplifying your life. If you do, feel free to share it in the comments section below.
3. The Matter of Simplicity
What is simplicity made of?
Simplicity is an intangible thing. So, how can we define its matter?
I encourage you to give it some thought before you read any further.
I believe that simplicity is an Outside-In journey!
You’ll find other simplicity schools say that it is an inside out process. Well, that’s different schools and it is up to you to follow the one you feel more comfortable with.
At Midway Simplicity, we believe that simplifying your life should start by simplifying every thing in the outside (your outer or physical environment) and when you succeed to eliminate the unnecessary, the necessary (voice of the inside) can speak.
You’ll easily and quickly experience the impact of your outward simplifying activities on your mental and emotional well-being. It might show up in the form of clarity of thought, enjoying the moment, inner peace, more freedom or independence.
I believe that’s the most practical mainstream approach to simplifying your life.
Simplicity is one of those activities that you thoroughly enjoy and get addicted to, because you can see its immediate impact on your inner world (thoughts and emotions).
Just recall a time when you simplified a part of your home, decluttered your workspace or cleaned the work top of your kitchen. Do you remember the sense of relief and accomplishment that you had then?
You know that when you tidy up, you’ll feel much better. That’s outside-in.
4. The Defining Characteristics of Simplicity
I believe simplicity is formed of three things:
- Decluttering: It is the process of eliminating, letting go or getting rid of the non-essential. As Hans Hoffman says, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak”
- Organizing: organize what is left after the decluttering process. So, that everything has its well defined place in your environment.
- Maintaining: According to Murphy’s Law: any disorder that could possibly occur will occur. That’s why you need to regularly maintain the organized, decluttered environment and be highly selective for what comes in and what comes out.This phase a preventive phase. It’s been said that, “prevention is always better that the cure”. If at any time, the inflow (what is coming into your life) is more than the outflow (what you let go of or eliminate), then expect complexity and chaos will occur.That’s why you need to be very careful, maintain balance and guard the achievement you have done in the first two steps. Make it a consistent habit to eliminate the unnecessary from your life and environment.
When you think of simplifying any aspect of your life, think of following this 3-step process: declutter, organize, and maintain.
“Order is not a natural phenomenon. Chaos is the norm and we have to fight it every day.”
- Werner Küstenmacher, author of How To Simplify Your Life
So to sum up this long philosophical talk, here is what simplicity is all about:
- Simplicity originates from complexity and chaos.
- Its purpose is to help you enjoy more with less.
- It is a journey from the outside to the inside.
- It is formed of decluttering, organizing and maintaining.
I hope through this explanation, you can understand simplicity in a better way, and have an easy systematic approach and view of how to simplify your life. It is not a big deal as you might have thought.
Now, we need to answer the question about “where to start”.
Here are the top 5 areas you need to simplify in your life:
- Simplify your Time: so that you don’t say, “There is not enough time in the day.”
- Simplify your Health: so that you don’t say, “I feel old or I’m too stressed”
- Simplify your Things: so that you don’t say, “I wish I had this and that”
- Simplify you Finances: so that you don’t say, “I don’t have enough money or I’m in debt”
- Simplify your Relationships: so that you don’t say, “I miss spending quality time with my wife/husband/kids”
Do you remember “How” you are going to simplify these areas?
You simply choose one area and start implementing the 3-step process we talked about earlier. Do it one small tiny action at a time. You don’t have to complete the 3 steps all at once. Follow the pace that you find easy and enjoyable for you.
For example, let’s take time.
So, to simplify your time you will:
- Declutter: eliminate all the unnecessary activities from your to do list. Don’t work on more than 3 goals at a time.
- Organize: Give yourself a room to breathe in your daily schedule. Use a simple and easy organizer (digital or physical). Identify what is really important and must be done today, what could be done later and what could be delegated.
- Maintain: Be selective and aware of the activities that occupy your time. Before you start any activity, always ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time right now?”. Don’t allow trivial things to distract you, fill your schedule and make you end up your day with everything done except what really matters.
That’s not an all inclusive list of tips of course. But, I hope you got the idea.
There is something very interesting about simplicity which is:
When you start simplifying, the positive energy extends to other areas of your life and you get addicted to the process.
Always remember this golden principle of simplification: Do small, immediate steps.
Just start with the minimal task you can do. As the momentum is built, you’ll find the process highly enjoyable and you will be able to complete big chunks of tasks at one time.
“The secret of simplification: clear a path; you don’t have to chop down the whole forest.”
- Werner Küstenmacher
The decluttering step is the most difficult one. Because, we are not used to let go. We are more familiar with storing. That’s why you need to be easy on yourself when you begin.
You need to know that storage won’t help your mental well-being. You’ll always hold the thought in your subconscious mind that, “I will have to get down to that one day”
So, keep in mind that anything you store will occupy a space in your mind and your attention. It will increase the weight of your baggage.
“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
- Charles Dudley Warner
To wrap up, simplicity is an outside-in journey that starts with decluttering, then organizing and ends with maintaining. Embrace this definition and follow this simple process through the top 5 areas of your life: Time, Health, Things, Finances, and Relationships. As a result, you’ll live your life with more joy, freedom, independence and inner peace.
And you’ll ENJOY MORE with less!
* Post title inspired by Cherie Carter-Scott author of If Life Is a Game These Are The Rules
** Featured Photos Credits: suvodeb, image editor, mikebaird, seier+seier
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