Who out there knows someone who is living a full, flourishing life that is characterized by its simplicity? You know, the stay-at-home mom who maintains a chaotic home with a couple children and a busy husband? Or that self-employed contractor that runs all over the county promoting and operating his business from dawn to dusk? And there are so many of those blissfully retired folks with nothing but time on their hands for whom simplicity is just about driving them up their sterile walls. Okay, okay, it’s not so easy to blend what might outwardly appear to be a formula for a simple life with the practical, healthy need for productivity.

It is my belief that every generation hearkens back at some point to an earlier time when life was simpler. The 1950’s seem simpler. To those in control of the world at that time, the turn of the century probably looked attractive and less complex. I suspect that the demands of society in humankind’s first villages were stressing out homo sapiens who preferred to go it alone or keep it down to family only. Day to day living tends to get convoluted and many-faceted on its own if we don’t keep it simple.

Henry David Thoreau

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.”

― Henry David ThoreauWalden

A simple life, uncomplicated by material entanglements, is what the man was talking about over 200 years ago. It reminds me of our minimalists of today. Tiny houses, tiny closets, tiny suitcases. These people are onto something. Turning their backs on the lurid lure of stuff, they are still producing. Most have jobs, which they sorely need if they’re going to afford one of those micro-abodes that cost as much as five times per square foot than the house I’m currently buying. And they don’t even get any land with them. I’m fascinated by the minimalists, though, because of their awareness that the simpler life is a better life in many ways.
 I’ve had a simple life occasionally as an adult…when I quit my job and traveled around the United States for a year, for instance. Or when we sold a business we had built and I took a job that paid me for every hour I worked, theoretically at least. There’s great relief and satisfaction when life is intentionally and purposefully simplified. Personally, I will inevitably set goals and fill the vacuum with projects that give me a sense of accomplishment. The key is to not foul it all up into some matted, twisted ball of string you need a team to sort out every day. I love getting things done. But I treasure sitting quietly, emptying my mind of those endless spontaneous chains of thoughts, times when I am just being, free of the worry and anxiety this world can bring us.
If you are one of those whose life is simple, but intolerably boring, I challenge you to find at least one activity of interest and immerse yourself in it. You’ll probably need more than one, but a single hobby is a start and can sometimes be enough. The simpler the better, right? Once you’ve found a hobby, you can branch out into other varied activities that will make your life productive. If you’re physically able, make yourself available for service to others. There are so many in this world that need your help, whether it’s through charitable groups, civic organizations or just individual projects if you aren’t a particularly social person. Picking up litter, planting trees or building things to donate are all ways to make the world around you a better place while enriching your straightforward life.

But how do we keep it simple without sacrificing productivity? Daniel Wallen wrote a helpful article for Lifehack that I would like to share in part with you. He incorporates 20 tips on simplification into the reality of our modern existence on this planet. Here are some of my favorites.

Eliminate distractions

Live in the moment

Spend less time behind the wheel

Cook in bulk

Wake up an hour early

Silence your phone


Slow down at the dinner table

Learn to say “no”

These are excellent basic ideas on which you can easily expand. For Daniel’s full explanations of each of these and more, please check out his article at, titled 20 Simple But Powerful Changes You Can Make To Simplify Your Life. These will save time in some cases and allow you to enjoy life in real time even when you’re busy. Live it to the fullest, but dial it back to experience all it has to give.