Simple Living

The Ruleset #

When I’m questioning whether an object, practice, or even space, contributes something to my life, I use the following ruleset to simplify the process of simplifying. (heh.)

1: Each item should do one thing well #

If you browse every day carry posts on the r/dumbphones subreddit, you’ll frequently see posts where people are carrying more things then they probably would have to if they were using a smartphone. In my own life, this is true as well - I carry multiple things that one iPhone could easily do. A brief list of the things that I usually carry include:

  • My Flip Phone
  • Portable Console
  • a Camera
  • an eReader
  • an iPod
  • a Digital Dictaphone

How is that minimal? Surely its counter intuitive that many people simplifying their life end up carrying more things then they did before? Perhaps, for many people this would be true.

However, the secret of having many items that only do one thing well is that I get to choose every morning what matters to me, and therefore, what I’ll need to be prepared for the day.

  • If I’m going to the park, I’ll take my Camera, iPod, and eReader.
  • If I’m out with friends, I’ll take my phone & camera.
  • If I’m taking the bus, I’ll take my iPod, and portable console.

Somedays my bag has lots of things. Somedays, I have nearly nothing at all. Each morning, I choose what matters. That’s the power of seperating your concerns and ensuring that each of your items do only one thing well.

2: Does this make me happy right now, in this moment? #

In a culture that incentivizes the constant pursuit of more, it’s easy to overlook the question: Does this make me happy right now, in this moment?

Often, we accumulate possessions without even realizing, unable to take the time to consider its impact on our own well-being. Frequently I am drawn to the latest gadgets and pursuits in technology - It can be easy to believe one more item will make our life easier, and bring us happiness. More often than not, the satisfaction gained from these possessions is fleeting, before being relegated to the back of closet or drawer.

The philosophy of simple living encourages moving slow and fixing things. Take the time to pause, and reflect on the things we surround ourselves with. Which items consistently contribute to your overall happiness and sense of fulfillment.

When I’m deciding what to remove, or minimize, in my own life, I ask the question. Does this make me happy right now? In this moment?. If it does, its worth keeping. If I can only imagine it bringing me joy in the future (however near), or if it was only useful to me in the past, then it’s ready to excise from my life. 1

3: Quality over Quantity #

In the pursuit of simplicity, the key is prioritizing quality in all aspects of life. Applied simply, this emphasizes the importance in discovering, researching, and investing in well-made, durable items that stand the test of time, rather than succumbing to cheap, easy-fixes and disposable goods. Applied broadly, it means taking this practice beyond the physical plane and applied more as a philsophical priciple.

Consider the following examples:

  1. Wardrobe Essentials

    Instead of filling your closet with fast-fashion items that wear out or go out of style, focus on building a capsule wardrobe comprised of high-quality, timeless pieces. By investing in well-crafted garments, you’ll not only look good and have clothes that fit better, but they’ll last for many more years to come.

  2. Kitchen Utensils

    Rather than cluttering your kitchen with gadgets and cheap utensils, opt for a few select high-quality tools that are versatile, built to last, and - of course - each do one thing well. Durable cookware, sharp knives, and quality appliances with good warantees will make cooking a pleasure, and withstand the heavy use that kitchen work often requires.

  3. Personal Relationships

    Prioritizing quality of quantity would perhaps inspire you to nurture meaningful connections with a select few individuals that uplift and support you, rather then spreading yourself thing maintaining superficial relationships with a large number of acquintances.

  4. Digital Habits

    Finally, and perhaps the trickiest, since algorithmic content is specifically designed to entice and distract - avoide social media feeds or binge-watching low-quality content. Instead take the time to curate your online experiences, seek out media that educates and inspires you, or entertains you on a deeper, more meaningful level. Limit your screen time, and focus on content that adds value to your life.

Applying this rule consistently is easy once you get the hang of thinking this way. These rules as a whole are my key to simplifying my own existence, and cultivating a more fulfilling, meaningful lifestyle.

Do you have your own rules, or apply these ones in unique ways? Email me.

  1. This is essentially the MariKondo method extrapolated outwards beyond tidying up. I don’t follow her philosphies to the letter, but figured credit was due. ↩︎