If you’ve been indoctrinated into modern society, you’re conditioned to believe that accumulation equates to happiness.
You go through life accumulating – money, gadgets, relationships, cars, houses, degrees…etc. – thinking that these additions will make you happy (And how’s that working out for everyone?). But actually it’s removal that begets happiness. Once you clear all of the bullshit, there’s nothing left but peace, joy and positive emotions.
Happiness comes from removal, not accumulation. Remove fear, remove doubt, remove expectation and you’ll find that you’re left with happiness. Joy is your natural, essential state. You’ve just piled so much on top that you’ve forgotten the bliss that lies beneath it all.
Meditation is the perfect example of this. Meditation is a “non-doing” in which you slip into the silent space between thoughts. It’s a transcendence of the neurotic thought loops of the mind, bringing you to a state of no-thought. It’s the ultimate removal. And guess what? Everyone feels positive emotions when they meditate (peace, bliss, joy, happiness, serenity…etc).
“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”
– Bruce Lee
And living a life of simplicity doesn’t mean being a simple-minded simpleton. It’s really about being intelligent enough to let go of what doesn’t truly serve your best interest.
“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day; how singular an affair he thinks he must omit. When the mathematician would solve a difficult problem, he first frees the equation of all incumbrances, and reduces it to its simplest terms. So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”
― Henry David Thoreau
Simplicity & Lying
In the phenomenal book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, the first agreement is “Be impeccable with your word.” Speak with integrity, say only what you mean, avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or gossip about others and use the power of the Word in the direction of truth and love.
Being straightforward and truthful with your word harmonizes your emotions, thoughts, words and actions. That’s why it feels good. Because everything is in alignment.
Morality aside, lying just makes things too complicated and tedious. For me, having to build and maintain a complex web of lies is much more difficult and emotionally taxing than being brutally honest (even when it’s not politically correct).
Think about the relationships you have where you’re the most honest. Though your ego may take a few slaps to the face, those relationships are far more fulfilling than those which you wear a mask. Life is far simpler, genuine and enjoyable when honesty prevails.
“Truth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
― Isaac Newton
Simplicity & “Stuff”
The accumulation of “stuff” is a huge problem plaguing so many people. Buying things to make you happy is a quick fix that quickly fades. And soon enough, you’ll need another hit of it. Buying things can really be like a drug addiction.
This also leads to the accumulation of stuff, which can bog you down and hinder your freedom on multiple levels. With less stuff, there’s less to clean, less to upkeep and less to distract you from your natural state of happiness.
One of the first posts I’ve ever written here is on this topic: Possessions vs Experiences: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth
Simplicity & Desires
The vast majority of the desires you have are the result of societal programming. If you strip all of the conditioning away, all we really desire are simple things like love, happiness and personal growth. When you simplify your desires, you remove the self-created walls between yourself and happiness.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
Simplicity & Busyness
Work smarter, not harder. Focus only on what you really need (or want) to get done, instead of dozens of asinine tasks. This will allow you to prioritize and accomplish the most important tasks while being less stressed throughout the process.
“Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness—lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.”
– Tim Ferriss
Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”
– Peter Drucker
Read my post on busyness here: 15 Ways to Cure the “Busy Syndrome”
Simplicity & Your Body
Create lasting health and happiness by simplifying diet and exercise. You’ll enjoy it more and it’ll become a natural part of your lifestyle.
With diet, it might look something like this: Just eat real food (JERF), eat when you’re hungry and have fun splurging every once in a while.
Regarding exercise, I’ve personally made the most progress using simple, basic routines. Just consistently improving at the most fundamental exercises has worked wonders for me.
Simplicity & Your Mind
Think of the mind like a computer. If you have too many programs running at once, the computer will slow down or even crash.
Focus only on what’s really important, and focus on one thing at a time.
Having a regular meditation practice will greatly help you in clearing all of the unnecessary programs running in your mind.
Simplicity & Presence
Simplicity brings you more into the here and now (all that really exists). The simpler life is, the more conducive it is to cultivating a state of present moment awareness.
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and
not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms
of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
– Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now)
Read more: There Are No Problems in the Present Moment
Simplicity & Minimalism
Minimalism is a form of simplicity. Once you clear all of your baggage (physical, mental, emotional…etc.), you have less burdens, less weighing you down and less obstructions to your happiness.
“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.”
– Linda Breen Pierce
Simplicity & Quality Over Quantity
Quality over quantity is a common phrase, but how many people really put it into practice? It applies to everything, especially relationships. If you build a few good quality relationships, instead of just trying to please everyone, it’s far more fulfilling and rewarding.
Simplicity & Money
Prioritize your happiness, instead of making decisions solely based on money. Budgeting and worrying about every penny you spend is a miserable existence. Feel abundant, and abundance will permeate your life. If you have an abundance mentality, you will, by the laws of the universe, attract more abundance.
Here’s a personal example: I was just in Goa, India and the town I was in (Arambol) only had one working ATM. It was a long walk away, always had a long line and had a limit to how many rupees you could withdraw. Basically, going to the ATM was about as fun as being the wicked witch of the west and caught in a tsunami. So what I did was I would go to money exchange places, which were closer and much, much easier. They charged a 3% exchange fee, but the convenience was so worth it.
Another aspect of this is simplifying the bills you pay. Evaluate what you’re paying on a monthly basis and figure out what you really need (or want). Get rid of the unnecessary. Also, automate your bill payments, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to pay them (less programs running on the mind-computer).
Simplicity & Distilling Information
The skill of distilling information is being able to simplify and concisely assimilate information. This allows for more clarity on whatever you’re learning about, prevents you from succumbing to information overload and puts you in a position to effectively implement the information.
If you can’t simply explain a subject to a young child, you don’t truly understand it.
You can build this skill of distilling information by succinctly summarizing things on a regular basis. This could be through writing, verbal explanations or even giving presentations on certain topics.
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Find bliss in simplicity.
– Stevie P!