The Art of Living a Simple Life

Have you ever felt like you should be living your best life ever, yet no matter what you do, it never seems to be enough? 

I surely have.  

I grew up in an American culture where there seems to be no limit on the amount of negative feedback we’re exposed to on a daily basis. For example, let’s take a peek at how our nation’s bureaucrats contribute to the emotional atmosphere:  

Without fail, every campaign season, political candidates take sport in pointing out everything wrong with our lives. They use buzzworthy rhetoric mixed with fearful undertones to hook people in with emotion.  

It makes sense for them to do this, because emotional investment is generally all that’s needed to secure the votes of the general public. And often the issues are not truly significant in the grand scheme of things.  

After a political office is won, the elected official’s attention shifts to the entities that funded their campaign, not to the voters who were drawn into the democratic process by trivial “issues”.  

From a different angle, the media sells millions of dollars in advertising space to companies desiring to gain attention, and a large percentage of their messages are designed to profit from our hopes and fears.  

The ads highlight a problem that we may or may not have, then position a product or service as the obvious solution to this problem. Of course, this solution always requires handing over a portion of income.  

Problem: Need a lean beach body physique before this weekend?  

Solution: Melt away those stubborn pounds with these super fat burners. No exercise required!  

Problem: Not getting the female attention you deserve?  

Solution: Lease an all-black 2019 BMW 3 series sedan.  

Problem: Want to ensure a huge salary and a successful career?  

Solution: Standout amongst your peers by enrolling in grad school today. 

Countless examples like these present themselves every day, and if we don’t recognize them for what they are, we may accept solutions which don’t aid us in living a vibrant life.  

Over the last 5 years, I’ve thought about what it means to wake up to inspiration every morning. To have a life where the days don’t merely pass by, and I’m left wondering where all my time had gone. 

Throughout this process, I discovered what I needed to do, and it was to simplify everything within my control. 

So, what was the end result?  

Well… it’s in an ongoing process that’s become easier over time.  

I’ve simplified my life to the point that I know what’s important to me right now, and if my situation changes, I can intuitively make the changes required to adapt.  

I experience fewer sleepless nights or unproductive days spent thinking about things other than the task at hand. Believe me, nothing beats waking up well rested and ready to conquer anything in my path.  

I could take the easy route by sharing a few life hacks, but I won’t do that, at least not today. We’ll discuss four concepts that will create the mindset needed to make a natural switch to simplicity.  

1. Happiness doesn’t come from imitating others 

There are people who’ve achieved incredible feats that translated into wealth and stardom. Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama are a few people who immediately come to mind.  

What I admire most are their distinct personalities.  

Sure, I’ve heard them pay respect to the trail blazers who came before them, but it was a combination of personality, motivation, and dedication to a craft that led to their success.  

They missed opportunities, like the rest of us, but persevered to take the chances that mattered.  

As for myself, I become inspired whenever I watch basketball highlights featuring Michael Jordan, but I have no desire to “Be Like Mike” because those experiences belong to him.   

You and I have a journey meant for us, and, in today’s world, staying true to ourselves is critical to exploring the depths of our potential; without this authenticity we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.  

2. Identify what’s important 

We need to know what makes us tick, and this process relies on consistent self-reflection over time.  

As life happens, expect to evolve in ways you never imagined. The time frame can be as short as a few weeks or require a lifetime. Change is a process.  

In the beginning, the most difficult part of my journey was that I was changing in ways that my friends and family didn’t understand. I always felt a need to explain to others, and it didn’t help that I lacked confidence in my abilities.  

I could barely do anything without gathering feedback from everyone I knew, because I didn’t want to make a mistake. Looking back, that was an unfair thing to do to my friends and my future.  

So eventually… I decided to be 100% responsible for everything that happens in my life. All the failures. All the Successes. Everything.  

Your mental blocks may differ from what I struggled with, but chipping away at them is key to uncovering desires that may be suppressed. Acknowledge everything that surfaces, then explore whether those desires are worth taking action. 

Don’t rush this step because it will fundamentally shape your reality. If you skip this step, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. There are people spending time and money to figure out what’s important to you, and this information will serve their objectives instead of yours.  

3. Eliminate Everything Else 

In this step, imagine a home garage packed with so much stuff that the door can barely close. Removing clutter is tougher than wrestling a chew toy from a pit bull.  

We hold on to stuff with the hope it might become useful someday, but that day doesn’t come as often as imagined.  

I have one iron-clad rule when eliminating stuff in my life – “Use it or lose it.”  

To keep things simple, assign every item to one of three categories: Keep, Remove, and Undecided  

Letting stuff go is difficult at first, especially if you’re not used to it. That’s fine. We’re in the process of establishing new habits, so we’ll use this to our advantage.  

Start by engaging in multiple rounds of purging spread over weeks, or however long it takes to be satisfied. Over time you’ll become less attached to the stuff you own which makes decluttering infinitely easier.  

The greatest benefit will become apparent in your spending habits, because you’ll consider not purchasing things and renting instead if it’s something needed only once in a while.  

4. Practice Gratitude 

What makes simple living a powerful choice is how it naturally opens us up to gratitude.  

  • We stop imitating others 
  • We identify what’s important
  • We eliminate everything else 

At this moment, I offer thanks for everything: my journey, my health, my family, a budding network, and countless opportunities to fail and overcome.  

We’re all truly blessed!  

No matter what you have right now, more will come. This, my friend, is wealth.

Freedom is a Choice,

Lee Miles

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