Path to Simplicity: 25 Simple Living Ideas. Simplicity…it sounds like such an easy breezy thing to do. Living a simple life sounds good on paper, but can sometimes be difficult to execute.
“Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye – it is very beautiful.” – Kailash Satyarthi
But…if you’ve lived a certain way for most of your life, it can feel like you’re climbing Mount Everest…alone…with no shoes…and one gigantic heavy backpack.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Just begin with a few simple living ideas and put one foot in front of the other…it’s not a mountain we’re climbing.
And while we’re at it, toss that heavy backpack and put on some shoes. It’s time to get started on a more simplified you.
The first thing you have to do when you decide to live a more simple life is to determine what that means to you. One person’s definition of simple living can be the polar opposite of what someone else thinks.
I have a friend that dreams of owning a 20-acre homestead, complete with cows, chickens, ducks, goats, and all sorts of other livestock. She wants to live off-the-grid and raise all her food herself.
And she also wants to find a farmhouse that needs a complete overhaul to restore to its glory days. That is her definition of living a simple life.
To me, her simple living dream sounds like a lot of work. I fantasized for a time about having my own farm. Then I bought a house with a 1/2 acre of land, and I know that 20 acres are way out of my range of abilities to handle.
The most land I want to manage is one acre. That’s it. It’s enough for me.
For you, simple living might be living in a condo where you don’t have to take care of any land. My mom doesn’t like gardening, so a yard is a chore for her.
We are all different. That’s why our simple living plan shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all definition.
The ideas listed below are to get you started on the journey. They will get you to start thinking about how you can begin making small incremental changes that, at the end of the day, will become transformational.
Cozy Living Group
Since you love hygge, I’m guessing you like all things cozy living. I created a Facebook group called Creating a Cozy Life with over 14,000 like-minded souls.
It’s a group where we share recipes, pictures of things that leave you in awe, and ideas on how to make your life just a little bit more snug. Join here to be part of the virtual cozy cabin.
Here’s the list of 25 Simple Living Ideas to get you going on your path:
1) Simple living style.
I think clothing is something that most of us seem to accumulate a lot of without being mindful of what we actually wear.
Decide to create a wardrobe you love. Keep only the comfortable items, and that you feel great in because everything else is just taking up room.
Sell or better yet…donate those unwanted items to someone else that needs them.
2) Simplifying your pantry.
My neighbor called me the other day to see if I had any condensed milk. I told her I would look and call her back.
She immediately called me back to tell me she found a can in the back of the cupboard and that she no longer needed one. I told her to look at the expiration date before using it.
It had expired three years ago. What made me ask her this question? Experience.
When I went through all my food a year ago, I filled up an entire trash can. All that food wasted and money down the drain.
It taught me a very valuable lesson. I now keep a running list of the supplies I have and their expiration dates.
When I make a grocery store list, instead of checking all my cupboards – I look on my computer and see if I already have it. If I do have it, I take it off the list immediately.
Now I try to have less food on hand and use things before they go bad.
Here are some reasons to simplify your pantry:
A) It makes planning your meals easier.
Once you know what’s in your pantry, you can save money and time by using up what you have and by not buying things you don’t need.
B) Once you organize this part of your life, you will feel better.
Keeping things neat and organized will give you a sense of accomplishment. Success begets success. When you have achievements in life, no matter how small they are – when they compound on top of each other – you can move mountains.
C) If simplifying your life includes eating more healthy, organizing the pantry will help that area of your life as well.
While you’re cleaning out your pantry staples, take a look at all the ingredients in each item and see if you want to include them in your family’s diet.
3) Simplified Expenses.
Watch your finances for a month and calculate how much you spend on each category.
Challenge yourself the next month to decrease the amount by 15% for non-fixed cost categories.
I’m going through all my expenses now because I want to pay for only the things I need. We all get busy, and then we allow our costs to increase because it’s easier.
The irony is we have to work harder to then pay for the increased expenses.
Instead of having money for things we want, we end up paying for stuff we paid extra for because of convenience.
4) Farm Fresh Food.
Buy your produce from farmer markets or co-ops. Your food will be fresher, and you will be supporting small businesses at the same time.
When you think about how long it takes for your food to be packed, transported, and stocked on your grocery stores – it makes trying to buy local something to strive for in life.
I read a book about a woman that had her husband that she was married to for decades ask her for divorce and lose her high-paying job in the same week.
After splitting up the assets and paying off all the bills, the woman ended up with their vacation cottage next to a lake to live. The house was small, about 400-500 feet, and the area where it was a seasonal place. Seasonal is code for hard winters, and no one wanting to live there during that time because of all the snow and ice.
Her food budget was small. She decided to commit to eating locally as possible, and it was a fascinating journey about how she was able to eat well on a low budget. The book is called The Feast Nearby, and you can find the book here on Amazon.
To say I loved that book is an understatement. It takes a little more work to source your food, but think of how much you’ll get in return.
Plus, knowing where your food comes from makes meals just a little bit tastier.
5) Combine Your Errands.
This idea is a life changer. When you combine all your errands in one trip, you end up saving so much time.
Yesterday was my errand day. One of the easiest ways to never forget anything is to make a list of where you need to go and to make sure you have everything you need in your car.
I keep a cooler in my car for when I go grocery shopping, so my frozen items stay frozen. I also have a tote in the back where I put things that need to be dropped off. Some of the things I put in the tote are library books and items for donation.
6) Making your own cleaning supplies.
When I first decided to start making my own cleaning supplies, I thought it was going to be inconvenient. Now, I really can’t imagine why everyone doesn’t make their own.
I buy the supplies to make my own cleaners in bulk, and I always have them on hand. You know every ingredient that goes into your cleaning supplies.
The bonus is by adding essential oils they make your home smell so great. I love making new scents with a combination of my favorite oils.
Making your own cleaners is such a simple way to save money and help your health at the same time.
7) Learn to say no.
Say no to overcommitments and doing things that no longer serve you. Most of us get into routines without ever pausing to see if how we spend our time is giving us the life we want.
I’m sure you have things that you’ve meant to learn or explore, yet somehow they never get done because your time is filled with other activities.
It’s time to look at how you spend your free time and realize that you want your life to bring you joy, not something to “get through.”
Say “no” to more tasks and say “yes” to more experiences that leave you in awe.
Simple living ideas take discipline, but you will love the end results.
8) Less is More.
I’m planning for a cross-country move, which means getting rid of lots of things. Some of the things I donate, some get donated, and others are given away.
I used to be an antique dealer many years ago, and everything ended up in my garage when I quit selling antiques.
One of the things I listed for sale locally was a stone plate that had Mary and Jesus on it. The plate was beautiful, and was made in Italy – but it wasn’t worth much.
I sold it to a man that drove over an hour to pick up a $15 item. He took that plate from my hands like it was a long-lost work of art.
He held up the plate to the sky and marveled at its beauty. To me, it was a plate that took up room in my garage. To him, it was something to treasure.
Late that night, he sent me a picture of that plate that he put on a plate stand. Surround the plate were candles, and he took the photo with the lights off. To say it was stunning would be an understatement.
Think about how many things you have in your home or garage that someone else will love.
Donate or sell one item per day. If you’re a dip-your-toe in the pool type of person – then this is the one for you.
Finding one item a day is easy. It can be a card or a paper or even a bookmark.
I promise you as you let go of things, you will feel lighter and happier…and it gets easier.
At the end of the year, you will have 365 fewer items to dust, organize, and fix.
9) Avoid conflict.
Sometimes we can’t help ourselves, and we get involved with things that add stress and worry to our world. Most of the time, the best course of action is to walk away.
I used to work in an environment that you had to juggle quite a few balls in the air, and if there were mistakes from anyone on any team – it would lead to problems. It was a stressful line of work, to say the least.
One of my biggest regrets in life was staying in a career that was so hard on the soul. If you’re in a similar profession, I will urge you to find a way to transition into less stressful work.
For others, family gatherings are a source of heartache. Instead of pushing through things that cause you angst, is there a way you can spend time with the people you love one-on-one instead?
Maybe your circle of friends has a couple of members that always seem to bicker or want you to pick sides when they argue. There’s no law that says you have to invite everyone to every gathering if that occurs.
Look at the areas in your life that you experience conflict, and find ways to change the dynamics.
10) Time for Bliss.
Make the time to do what you love at least once a week. Isn’t it crazy that this isn’t a priority for most people?
We spend our time taking care of everyone else, and somehow we always get the short end of the stick. Your friends and family want to see you happy, so take the time to give yourself the soul vitamins you crave.
What self-care looks like is different for everyone. For one of my friends, a massage every two weeks is her must-do for herself. She doesn’t spend much money on other things, so she feels that the expensive is well-worth the way it makes her feel.
Someone else I know takes one hour before bedtime to read. She never made the time for it before, but once she started, she couldn’t believe how much it changed things. She found that she was able to fall asleep more easily at night because she gave her mind a chance to wind down.
11) Less bad, more good.
Have you noticed how violent movies and television has become? Just turning on the news shows us horrific things happening around the globe in an instant.
Is it any wonder that we have become a stressed-out society? I will never watch the news anymore. You’re not able to control what comes across your screen.
Instead, I read the news online. I can pick and choose what articles I want to read, which is way less damaging than seeing a video of the news item.
Look at the type of movies and television that you watch. No one knows how damaging it is to ourselves to watch violence on an ongoing basis. I’m betting our subconscious minds tucks those scenes away in our thoughts, and we relive them in our dreams.
Make a conscious effort only to add uplifting entertainment to your day. I think your mind, spirit, and body will thank you.
One woman in our cozy living group decided to eliminate the extra “noise” in her life. She turned off the news, limited social media, and muting commercials. She said their was so much noise in her life telling her what the good life looks like, how to look, and what items she needed to buy for her home.
When we take a pause, we realized we don’t want to live a life designed for us from a person that works at an advertising company. Instead, it’s time to figure out what the perfect life means to each of us ourselves.
Yep, it’s time to cut the entertainment umbilical cord because you have stuff to do.
12) Learn to garden.
There are so many different reasons to start your garden. Whether you want a garden filled with beauty, grow your food, or create an outdoor living space – gardening is good for the soul.
When I finally got a house with a yard, the first thing I did was put in a massive flower garden in the front yard. I always wanted walking paths to my front door, with raised garden beds filled with a variety of florals.
It was hard work the first couple of years creating that vision. Now, I get to enjoy the fruits of my work years later, without all the labor.
My flowers have been gathered for every neighborhood event you can imagine. Everyone knows my flowers will be blooming from early spring to late fall, and they are welcome to take some for themselves.
I’ll be moving soon, and I’m going to do the same at my next house. I want a flower garden in the front yard and a vegetable and herb garden in the backyard.
Even if you have a balcony or windowsill, you can still have a beautiful garden.
13) Simple living vision board.
If we don’t have a vision for our lives, they end up sometimes going in a zigzag direction and ending up looking like nothing we wanted.
Starting today, create a vision board for what you want your life to be about. You can either have a board at home that you use, or you can create a personal board on Pinterest.
I think having the vision board in your home is more effective because it’s right there staring at you all the time. I don’t know about you, but I need a little nudge to stay the course.
If you’re not living in the house you want, find a picture of your dream cottage and put it up. Find photos for every room in your new home.
Do you want to start another career? What does that career look like? Find pictures that will inspire your to work you way to create a life you love.
Other things to add are: how you will be spending your free time, hobbies you want to learn, places you want to visit, how you envision your family life, and ideas on how to help the world be a better place to live.
14) Master Learner.
I read a book about a couple who lived in New York City and had pretty big careers. They decided to live a more simple life, and gave up their jobs, apartment, and cashed in their 401’s.
They ended up moving to a tiny town in Arizona, buying a broken down mobile home on an acre of land, and creating new careers.
Instead of just hiring someone to fix their mobile home, they hired someone to show them how to fix it themselves. They worked side-by-side with their trainer and transformed their home into something livable.
Next, they tackled creating a garden to grow their food and they even built a wall around the property. What astonished the couple the most about their new lives was how much they LEARNED by doing everything themselves.
They both derived a lot of satisfaction from learning new skills. You can read about their story in this book on Amazon.
What is something you would like to learn?
Teaching yourself to make cheese, unclog your drain, or grooming your dog are just some ways to expand your talents.
15) Add more fruits and vegetables to your plate.
We all know we should eat more fruits and vegetables for optimal health, so why don’t we?
I’m making eating more fruits and vegetables a priority for my health, for the planet, and because they taste so good.
I was a little late to the avocado toast club, but now I’m a big fan. I even asked in the Cozy Living group how they liked to eat their avocado toast, and the answers were overwhelming. It inspired me to write a post devoted to the topic. Eating avocado toast is one way to get some good fats into your diet.
How about finding the perfect recipe for a healthy dip for fresh vegetables? Finding one is next on my to-do list. Baby carrots, cucumber slices, celery sticks, and red bell peppers all make great snack ideas when paired with a dip.
You can do the same with fresh fruit. Apples, berries, pineapple, banana slices, and fresh figs are all perfect choices to snack on.
16) Nature Girl.
Humans were meant to be in nature. I think we come alive when we’re able to spend time in the outdoors, intermingling with the plants, animals, and sunshine.
I know I feel a lot better when I’m able to get outside. I’m just as guilty as the next person of not making this a priority.
Hiking, walking, are just a few ways to get around. Set up a challenge for yourself for the year to devout a set number of hours per week being outside.
Your family can partake in this challenge and get the benefits as well.
17) Borrow, not buy.
Start a tool exchange with your neighbors. Our garages are filled with tools and supplies we seldom use. Why not get together with your neighbors and share tools.
I borrow one of my neighbor’s hedge trimmer, and he uses my paint sprayer whenever he has a project.
We’re conditioned to think we need to own every new tool out there when we really don’t. If you feel uncomfortable doing a tool exchange with your neighbors, how about starting one with your friends?
18) Week of Nourishment.
Create a weekly simple rotating dinner menu. Plan your easiest, family favorite meals for the weekdays and try fun, new recipes on the weekends.
Who said we have to go away for vacation every year? Why not plan a family vacation around staying in your hometown and exploring all the sites in the area?
I lived near Seattle for years before I went to the top of the Space Needle. Isn’t that how it always is? You never have the time to see what’s in your backyard?
You don’t even have to visit the local sites, you set a fun itinerary at your home that everyone will enjoy. Plan a day to watch movies in your pajamas, camp in the backyard, or have a culinary competition. The possibilities are endless.
20) Project Party.
Got a huge task you’ve been putting off? Make it a party.
Invite your friends to help paint, garden or clean out that garage and return the favor by volunteering helping them with their projects.
Does anyone want to come to my floor sanding party? Pretty please…
21) Vintage treasures.
Buy used whenever possible. This is a simple way to save money on most things you purchase.
Most of the things I have in my home are from vintage stores, flea markets, thrift stores, or garage sales. There’s a few things I buy new – my couch and bed for instance.
It’s so easy to paint a vintage dresser and transform it into an showpiece. Not only does this way of decorating save you money, but your home is one-of-a-kind.
22) Book lover.
I love the look of books in bookcases. But how many of us have gone overboard in this department and have more books than we have shelves and then end up piled up all over the place?
Read those books that have been lying around and donate them once they’ve been read if it’s not a keeper.
I found a book I bought 20 YEARS AGO that I hadn’t read. It took me one night to finish it and the next morning it was in my donation box.
23) Dinner unplugged.
Set the table for every meal. Have a rule in place that the cell phones are left in the bedroom and the television stays off.
I know one family that dines by candlelight every night. Their grown children carried this tradition into their own lives when they left home because they loved it so much.
For more ideas regarding this topic, I wrote a post about more dinner traditions to start. Hygge Family Dinner Traditions to Start Tonight.
24) Create morning and evening rituals.
I’m a big believer in starting and ending your day on the right note. Develop routines that help give you the best outcome for your life.
If we go to bed stressed from the day’s activities without being able to take the time to unwind, we probably won’t have a restful sleep.
On the other hand if we wake up, with nothing ready to go and frantically trying to get everyone out the door – it sets our day off in the wrong direction.
Here are two posts I wrote that will help you create a morning and evening routine you’ll love:
25) Consider a smaller life.
One of our cozy living members purposely decided to downsize her life. Her family sold their large home and moved into one that was less than 1,000 square feet.
They only have one car, one television, and no fancy gadgets. Every family member has a minimal wardrobe, and they always buy used.
She decided she didn’t want to work her life away, so instead she gave up the trappings of modern life to gain experiences instead.
Once you start seeing positive results in your life, you’ll become addicted to how lighter you feel!
We’ve reached the end of Path to Simplicity: 25 Simple Living Ideas. I hope you enjoyed it.
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