4 Ways to Reclaim the Simple Life Right Where You Are

girl sky

A friend of mine is about to begin a long-term program in which, among other things, she’ll learn how to farm, bake bread, make cheese, dip candles and more. It’s hard to imagine that such a life is still possible in our modern world, isn’t it? To me, the notion of living off the land and cultivating routines around the seasons tends to conjure up images of the past and inspire a sense of almost wistful nostalgia for a life most of us have never lived.

In essence, it sounds like an actualization of that elusive “simple life” that we all dream of — free from the stress of nonstop emails, meetings, workouts, social events, etc.

Yet, as fulfilling as such an existence sounds, I also wonder if and how the so-called simple life manifests itself outside the farm and in our own lives. Is the simple life something we just relegate to our imaginations, as a thing of the past? Or is it possible to live a full, successful and simple life without giving up our careers or home responsibilities?

I’ll admit that I struggle with over-scheduling and running on overdrive as much as the next gal, but I’ve learned there are indeed several practical tips we can all adapt to live simpler, more connected lives no matter what we’re juggling.

Here are four basic practices to get started:

1. Reconnect with your food.

We’ve all got to eat, right? But how often do we forsake nutritious home-cooked meals for a quick protein bar or snack on the go? Food is meant to feed and sustain our bodies, but it should be a source of deeper nourishment and connection, too.

It would be great if we all had time to cook our meals from scratch, but even if we could just forgo processed foods in favor of fresh, wholesome fare when possible, take time to appreciate where the foods we consume came from, or be more conscious of the individual ingredients of our meals, we would be better able to slow down and savor our food, while also being more present in this area of our lives.

2. Walk whenever possible.

Regardless of whether we live in a bustling metropolis or a rural suburb, most of us spend a lot of time in the car. It might not be possible to walk to work or the market depending on the commute, but if we can park a little further from the store entrance, take a sunset stroll around the neighborhood each evening, or go for a brisk morning walk to the nearest coffee shop, the extra steps are worth it.

Aside from boosting mood and improving heart health, walking allows our senses to wander and frees the mind to revel in the magic of slow, thoughtful musings on life — which keep us grounded in our purpose and true to our passions.

silence

3. Create space for silence.

Even in the rare moments when we find ourselves in a quiet setting, most of our minds refuse to silence themselves because we’re so used to doing, working and planning all the time. But spending time in solitude from time to time, once the kids are in bed or while we sip our coffee, provides a needed chance to rest and engage in self-reflection, allowing us to hear our inner voice and strengthen our intentions.

4. Start single-tasking.

We’re able to pack more into our lives than ever before with all the tech at our disposal; there’s an almost collective obsession with being as productive as possible. But at what cost? There’s a zen proverb that goes, “When eating, eat. When walking, walk.” It sounds simplistic and obvious, but sometimes we need that reminder to bring mindful awareness to whatever we’re doing — whether that be catching up with a friend, throwing a load in the wash or washing the dishes.

In short, living a simple life doesn’t have to mean sacrificing internet access, downsizing our houses or cutting out all forms of clutter. Instead, it entails finding freedom from the needless noise and distractions that so often keep us operating in “survival mode.” It’s what allows us to focus on what matters — to connect to the people and practices that bring meaning and value to our lives.

What are your favorite ways to live a simpler life?

Images via Michael Stark

Amy is a writer and marketing professional based in Los Angeles. She is passionate about creating meaningful dialogue and empowering women through her writing, which has been featured on The Huffington Post, Grit & Virtue, and Milk & Honey Magazine, among other blogs and websites.

11 COMMENTS
  • Amy Grace May 7, 2017

    I love spending a day and minimizing my life. Pouring a little rosé after lunch and wondering my home, picking out the clutter and items that have no purpose anymore. Taking out my ever running lists and crossing things off that don’t align with my values, looking at my feeds and unfollowing unnecessary accounts, and reflecting in my journal what I am letting go of.
    I try to do this once a season. Letting go allows simplicity back at the table of my life.

  • Christa May 4, 2017

    YES! I love this article because I am constantly thinking about how I can transform life to be more simple in this way!

    I intentionally do a couple things the “long way”. I grind my coffee by hand. I will buy whole carrots and chop them myself instead of baby carrots. I am learning how to make bread!

    I hope to encorporate more elements but I’m just working on one thing at a time 🙂

    • Amy Cummins May 5, 2017

      Thanks, Christa! Love the idea of intentionally doing things the “long way.” Glad you enjoyed the article.

  • Hannah May 2, 2017

    Such a meaningful article! I especially love your first two suggestions of reconnecting with your food, and walking when you can. I’ve found it to be helpful to once a week take a day to make a few items from scratch that will last a few days. I’ve found bread, almond milk, and kombucha too be very easy! I’m hoping too tackle yogurt and canning eventually. We keep chickens which is super fun though I realize it’s not doable for everyone. But almost anybody can garden and grow things! whether its a garden bed or a window sill, or large pot. I think a simple life is all about slowing down and doing things with intentions. and focusing on one thing at a time. Farmers markets and community supported/urban farms are a great way to embrace a simple life as well. It’s all about interaction and community. I am super curious what the program is called that you mentioned, I would love to do something like that!

    Hannah // @theblessedlittlelife

    • Amy Cummins May 3, 2017

      Love that you make your own bread and kombucha, Hannah! And I couldn’t agree more about doing things with intention. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  • Tina May 1, 2017

    Are you able to share the name of the program? I’ve been looking to do something just like this. Thanks for the tips in the meantime!

  • Rebie May 1, 2017

    The idea of single-tasking is something I’ve been intentionally trying to work on throughout my day. Multi-tasking is overrated and, turns out, I’m not that good at it. haha This post was encouraging and helpful. Thank you!

  • Eva May 1, 2017

    Great color.

  • Lynette April 30, 2017

    Love what you suggest here. There is a balance. Music helps me a lot to stay more in the moment and is good for the soul!

  • I love all of these suggestions! I’ve been cooking a lot of my meals lately – only going out for lunch or dinner once a week – and I feel much healthier and happier. I still have to work on walking whenever possible, though. I always take the easy way out and hail a cab!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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