25 Lessons When You’re Ready for a Simpler Life

25 Key Ideas When You’re Ready for a Simpler Life

Simplicity is ultimately a product of focusing on what matters.

For almost a decade now, Angel and I have been learning to live a simpler life.

Not simpler as in “meager.”  Simpler as in “meaningful.”

We’ve been working on eliminating many of life’s complexities so we’re able to spend more time with people we love and do more activities we love.  This means we’ve been gradually getting rid of mental and physical clutter, and eliminating all but the essential, so we’re left with only that which gives us value.

Our overarching goal is living a life uncluttered by most of the things people fill their lives with, leaving us with space for what truly matters.  A life that isn’t constant busyness, rushing and stress, but instead contemplation, creation and connection with people and projects we love.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we have zero clutter and complications.  We’re human and living in the real world with everyone else.  We have a home, possessions, computers, gadgets, distractions and occasional busyness.  But we have reduced it to make space.

Today, after finishing up a call with a new course student who’s working diligently to simplify various aspects of her life and business, I’ve been reflecting on this simpler life Angel and I have created for ourselves, and I thought I’d share some of these reflections with you.

Some lessons I’ve learned about living a simpler life:

  1. A simpler life is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.  Thus, you are wealthy in proportion to the number of unnecessary things you can afford to live without.
  2. Simplifying is not merely seeing how little you can get by with – that’s poverty – but how efficiently you can put first things first, and [Read more…]

7 Things You Gain When You Let Go of Control

7 Things You Gain When You Let Go of Control

When you try to control too much, you enjoy too little.  Sometimes you just need to let go, relax, take a deep breath and love what is.

This morning I met up with an old friend, someone whom I care about deeply but have internally struggled with for years because I’ve always been worried about her health.

I want to help her heal, because I feel I’m losing her.

I want to teach her the time-tested tools for living a happier, simpler, healthier life that I’ve helped so many other people with — so she can give up her addictions, take up exercise and mindfulness, nurture her needs, and suddenly be transformed into a healthy person again.

But that’s not reality.  I want to control something that frightens me, but I can’t do anything about it.  Because I’m not in control of anyone but myself.  I want to help my friend, but she’s not interested in being helped.  She’s actually told me so a dozen times in the past.

So today, I let go.

Not “let go” as in “let her go.”  I “let go” as in I stopped trying to control, stopped trying to change her, and instead took a deep breath and accepted her for exactly who she is.

And guess what?  Who she is — is a blessing.  Who she is — is something so ridiculously special and unique I have a hard time expressing it.  She’s hilarious and passionate and compassionate and wise and wild and thoughtful and loyal and did I mention wild?

I let go, and accepted her whole truth, and only then could I actually enjoy all of HER, instead of worrying about losing her or changing her ways.

And this, I’ve learned, is the best way to be in all walks of life…

You can stop trying to change people, and just let go and dissolve into their presence, just notice who they really are, just appreciate every idiosyncratic quirk.  You can stop complaining about your life circumstances, about your losses, about how the world is, and just let go and love what is.

Just be.  Just accept.  Just appreciate.

Here’s what you gain when you do…

1.  You fall in love with people for who they really are.

It’s OK to disagree with the thoughts or opinions expressed by those you love.  But that doesn’t give you [Read more…]

5 Things You Should Be Able to Smile About in 5 Years

40 Powerful Mantras to Help You Think Positive

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
―Mae West

Fifteen years ago, I was lucky enough to witness the humble, elegant, peaceful passing of my 89-year-old grandfather.  As I sat quietly in his hospice care room alongside other family members, his nurse smiled softly and said, “I can see he lived well.  Everyone dies the way they live.”

And as I drove home that evening, three questions began cycling through my mind…

“Am I living well?”

“Where do I have room for improvement?”

“What do I want to be able to smile about on the inside when I’m on my deathbed?”

These questions are tough, especially the last one.  In fact, I desperately struggled to envision myself on my deathbed – thinking about it stressed me out.  So I turned my back on these healthy questions and didn’t think about them any further.  I distracted myself for a couple years, until I found myself back in a hospice care room with my 90-year-old grandmother (who was the most amazing human being I’ve ever met, by the way).

The questions came roaring back into my thoughts.  But this time, as soon as I felt inner resistance, I rephrased the final question:

“What do I want to be able to smile about on the inside in 5 years from today?”

When rephrased in this way, I found it so much easier to digest.

And as crazy as it may sound to you, this small change in thinking changed my life.  From that day forward I started living differently.

So today, I challenge you to ask yourself these questions, and let them inspire you to make positive changes in your life.

If you do, I guarantee in 5 years from now you’ll catch yourself smiling about…

1.  The fact that you didn’t talk yourself out of doing your thing.

Walt Disney once said, “Around here, we don’t look backwards for very long.  We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious – and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

This is one of my favorite quotes.  It inspires me to [Read more…]

17 Ways to Conquer Soul-Crushing Negativity

17 Ways to Conquer Soul-Crushing Negativity
by Scott Sind

When we are aware of our weaknesses or negative tendencies, we open the opportunity to work on them.

Ever had one of those moments when all you wanted to do was crawl back in bed, put a pillow over your head and shut out the world for a few hours?  For a few days?

For the rest of the year?

I’m willing to bet that you have wanted to throw in the towel at some point.  And it’s okay if you have.  It’s a perfectly normal response, actually.

Human beings have an elaborate, built-in defense mechanism designed to keep us safe.  The only problem is that the system doesn’t do a very good job of threat assessment.  All dangers are equal, whether the threat is a hungry lion or the empty judgments of others.  Our minds and bodies react the same way to both—we retreat back into our cave, where the soft glow of the fire keeps us safe and warm.

You’ve said it before: “It just won’t work.” “Why am I even trying this?” “I don’t know what I’m doing.” “This is stupid.”  Deep down you know you’re trying to rationalize your way out of doing something that’s scary, whether it’s looking for a new job, starting a business, writing a book, or calling up your estranged sibling.  And every time you rationalize, you sink further into the depths where the pressure of negativity will ultimately crush you.

A few years ago I wrote a novel.  Sometimes it was easy, when the words flowed onto the page and I saw the story clearly in my head.  Other times it was as if my fingers were made of lead and the story disappeared behind layers of thick fog.  On those days I felt like giving up—like I was never going to finish, and even if I did, the book would be terrible.

So I quit writing.  My manuscript sat there, untouched, for over a year, and I agonized over it daily because I had sunk so deeply into the rationalization that I wasn’t cut out to be a writer.  Every day that I didn’t write I died a little bit inside.  I knew that I should be creating, giving the characters life and using words to paint the pictures I saw in my head onto the page.

A little over a year into my creative isolation, I had an epiphany.  I started thinking about my book, and my life as a writer, differently.  I discovered little tricks to coax the writer within me out long enough to put words on the page.  At first these were fleeting moments—maybe ten minutes here and there.  But soon, and without much effort, I was spending more and more time working on my novel, enjoying the process, and even laughing off those moments when I couldn’t produce any words.

The very things that had previously driven me into isolation—fear and insecurity—actually propelled me forward now.  I’d learned, through various techniques and mindset shifts, to prevent myself from sinking completely into the depths of negativity.  The result?  I’m now more focused and better able to climb over obstacles and wade through the challenges that come my way.  I’m happy to share these tips with you so you can accomplish more, and live an abundant, more confident life.

1.  Frame your questions in a positive light.

“What if I fail?”

“What will people think of me if I’m wrong?”

These kinds of questions bait us into negative thinking.  By framing our decision-making this way, we’ve [Read more…]

7 Little Habits that Stole Your Happiness Yesterday

7 Little Habits that Stole Your Happiness Yesterday

Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness and peace of mind.

Yesterday afternoon I met a friend at a local coffee shop.  She brought her laptop along so she could show me some of her latest digital art designs.  As we chatted and scrolled through her artwork, the laptop suddenly started making an unhealthy buzzing noise, then the screen flickered on and off and then cut off completely.  And as we both stared at one another in disbelief, the funky aroma of fried computer circuits filled our nostrils.

I quickly grabbed the laptop off the counter to inspect it and the problem instantly revealed itself.  The bottom of the laptop was soaking wet and an empty, spilt water cup rested against the side of her purse just behind where the laptop was sitting.  In the midst of us chatting and shifting the laptop’s 15-inch screen back and forth, we somehow spilt a cup of water the barista had inadvertently placed on the counter behind the screen, which was out of our view.

When life throws us nasty curveballs like this, it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs.  But how does this help our dilemma?  Obviously, it doesn’t.

My friend threw her hands up in the air and, to my surprise, cracked a half smile and said, “That’s exactly why I backed up my files this morning, and why I have insurance on my laptop!”

I was truly impressed by her sentiment.  Many people I know have had meltdowns over much smaller inconveniences.  And yet, this unfortunate situation didn’t steal her happiness in the least.

So let’s all take this as a lesson learned.  It’s time for us to let go of the needless stress weighing us down.

This is a new hour of our lives – a new beginning – and life will continue to surprise us with changes, one way or the other.  So we mine as well make positive transitions going forward.  Don’t you agree?

Aren’t you tired of dealing with the same type of headaches and heartaches over and over and over again?

Seriously, focus on purging some negative habits as you begin anew.  Focus on learning from your mistakes rather than be conquered by them, and letting your errors be of commission rather than omission.

Remember, you ultimately become what you repeatedly do.  If your daily habits aren’t helping you, they’re hurting you.  Here are seven common examples of the latter that have stolen happiness from thousands of our coaching/course students and readers over the years (and I’m betting you can relate):

1.  Letting every little problem get the best of you.

Inner peace begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions. [Read more…]