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The Practice of Living Simply

Simple food - apples from our tree, August 2013

I was recently on another Ideal Vacation - daily physical activity, ample social interaction with local dwellers and travelers alike, and limited connectivity to internet and phone. One day, I notice that my pants seemed to fit looser. I immediately thought, "It must be all those simple meals."

I've been contemplating the virtues of simplicity lately. It's one of my personal keys to stress management, but in the reality of professional life and work, Living Simply is somewhat elusive. Believe me, I am no spartan: I enjoy the comforts of modern life including my shopping trips, pedicures, and mindless magazine flipping. But pursuing the "practice" of simplicity in your own individual way could bring a welcome perspective to your life.

So what does it mean to simplify? It starts with knowing your core values and understanding your current goals, then finding ways to align those with the choices you have to make each day. And it goes without saying that it also involves streamlining choices to eliminate those that don't align with your current objectives. For an example of choices:
  • On this recent trip, I ate 2-3 ingredient meals all cooked on a gas stove.
  • My exercise was reduced to climbing and walking (no analysis paralysis at the gym wondering what routine to do each day!).
  • My entertainment consisted of reading and listening to some pre-recorded radio shows. I was on a news fast (Syria what?), and there were no TVs around.
  • I had three pairs of practical shoes with me, no more.
This represents a drastic reduction of choices as compared to my normal everyday life, and these are just examples of ways to simplify choices. This WebMD article, while a few years old, outlines some very good examples of how to simplify for busy professionals. This article also outlines some general bullet points when considering how to approach simplicity in your life. And Leo Babatua of ZenHabits writes his entire blog and a book around the concept.

Share your ideas for simplifying your life here; I'd love to hear them!


  1. I've had two simple life experiences that I often feel nostalgic for. The first was our 14 month trip around the world. I had 4 t-shirts, 1 long sleeved shirt, 2 pairs of shorts, a skirt, a pair of pants, a set of layers, sneakers, hiking boots, and sandals. I loved not having to decide what to wear every day. It was a tough transition when we got home (between choice and having to look professional). We spent the two months before we moved to Utah living in a Residence Inn (too efficient selling our house). Most of our stuff was in our new house in Salt Lake. We each had a limited selection of clothes and other stuff. Tempting just to not open the boxes once we moved in to our new house!

    It's hard to maintain that feeling in "real" life, but I do at least have professional clothes that are pretty mix and match.

    1. Thanks for your comment; I love that you took that long of a trip before you moved! I would love to do something of that length and simplicity someday. I agree, every time I return from a trip like the one I just had (even though it was relatively short), it's always weird to get used to all the technology, the big closet, the alarm clock, etc.


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