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Simplicity definition and how to live a less complex life

Photo by Jovan Vasiljević on Unsplash

Do you crave simplicity but are unsure how to achieve it? Maybe you’re not even certain what it is.

The dictionary describes simplicity in a few ways:

1. Freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts.

The last bit intrigued me because it speaks to integrity. When you achieve simplicity, you’re no longer separated into parts but embody a cohesive whole.

You’re aligned with your authentic self, your values.

You’re no longer pulled in different directions, or doing things that aren’t you. You show up as yourself all the time, uncompromising and whole, not fragmented.

2. absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.

I love how this definition combines material and psychological elements of simplicity. Status objects and fancy things are conflated with a pretentious mindset.

When we’re not sure who we are, we rely on things to give us value. Of course, it never works.

It’s a cover up for a lack of fulfillment. Misalignment with values is the usual culprit.

3. freedom from deceit or guile; sincerity.

I love this one best of all. I want to print these words in lovely lettering and hang them on my wall. Simplicity equals sincerity.

And here we come back to the integrity piece. Knowing who you are, and letting the words of your mouth and meditation of your heart reflect that.

Setting healthy boundaries that let other people know where they end and you begin.

Healthy boundaries let other people know where they end and you begin. Click To Tweet

There are four ways to achieve this beautiful simplicity in your life. To build a life of integrity that keeps you whole rather than in pieces.

A life in which your value is not found in the things you own. Where you trust yourself and others trust you, too.

Because your decisions align with your true desires, not attempts to people please. Interestingly, they all involve saying no.

1. Simplicity means saying no to social pressure

Mom, resist the pressure to enroll your children in too many extracurricular activities. Two at a time is a good rule of thumb.

More than that and you’re running around, missing dinners together, and imposing unneeded stress on yourself and your family.

They don’t need to play the sports everyone else does. Why not find an activity unique to them?

My daughter, now grown, used to take horseback riding lessons. That was unusual in our suburban environment as the stables were a half hour away in the country.

She did something uncommon, an early alignment with her values. And time in nature with those magnificent animals had a profound impact on her.

Say no to the latest fashion trends and gadgets, both for yourself and your kids. This goes back to the second definition: refuse to derive your value from the things you own.

Teaching your kids how little those things matter is a wonderful gift. As a result, their character will grow as they embrace your value of people over things.

Rather than feel sorry for themselves or envious of others, they will feel called to something higher and more meaningful in their lives.

2. Simplicity means saying no to constant contact

Some people feel compelled to show up on every social media platform and run themselves ragged keeping up with them all.

Could you focus on one or two and delete the others? Simplicity means streamlining. Remember the first definition about wholeness and freedom from complexity.

You might feel obliged to answer every text or email as soon as it comes in. Guess what? You don’t have to. You can let that phone ring and answer that text later, even tomorrow.

Simplicity means being intentional with your time. Click To Tweet

Simplicity means being intentional with your time. Rather than reacting to every demand for your attention, set aside certain times in your day to sit down and mindfully reply.

This way, you remain in control of your life and teach people what to expect from you.

3. Simplicity means saying no to things that counter your values

Have you figured out your values? If not, now is the time. Say no to things that don’t align with them.

For instance, if you value solitude, say no to too many social events. Guard your time alone because your wholeness depends on you standing up for your needs.

Or maybe you value spontaneity. Say no to a rigid schedule marked in pen for the rest of the year.

Some people swear by a daily planner, but that feels confining and even depressing to you. Honor your need for surprise in your life.

When we say yes to things that don’t align with our values, we feel unfulfilled. That leads to self-soothing in unhealthy ways like overeating and drinking too much wine.

When we don't align with our values, we feel unfulfilled. Click To Tweet

When aligned with your values, you feel “full” and don’t need to turn to artificial helpers. In this way, simplicity keeps you both physically and mentally strong.

4. Simplicity means saying no to busyness

Busyness is different than productivity. Busy distracts you from what needs to change in your life.

Busy builds walls and keeps us from connecting with one another in meaningful ways. When you run into someone and ask how they’re doing, do they reply, “busy”? Do you?

What are you avoiding when you run down a litany of things you have done and have to do? You’re missing an opportunity to connect more deeply.

Do you have a feeling of pride over being busy? Be honest. Does it make you feel needed and important?

Are there other more authentic ways you could achieve that same need for significance?

Or maybe you feel inadequate because everyone seems busier than you. Refer to the dictionary definitions above. Your choice to embrace simplicity is a rejection of pretentiousness, deceit and guile.

You’re not deriving your worth from the things you do or own or plan. Your activities are driven by your values. That’s why you’re not overly busy.

You refuse to let life run you over anymore. Now, you live intentionally and that means doing less because you say no more often.

You experience the freedom and spontaneity of life without meaningless obligations. You know who you are and what you want and your life reflects that.

What have you decided to say no to?

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