How Simplifying Your Life Can Help You Refocus on What’s Important

SimplicityEarlier this week I ran across a study that demonstrated a “simple lifestyle” can decrease our contact with toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals. The researchers looked at lifestyle elements like transportation, personal care products, and homegrown versus purchased food in their participants. I was struck by the study’s suggestion itself but also by the larger metaphoric significance. A simpler code of life can spare us some of the inherent stress and damage of our modern lives. As this study showed, the principle certainly holds for physical health, and I easily venture it holds for mental well-being, too. Living simply offers a multi-layered protective benefit. That’s worth taking apart.

The heart of The Primal Blueprint, as broadly applicable as it is for many people, is pretty simple, but I wonder how and when it inspires simplicity itself. We simplify our food by choosing fresh options based on what our ancestors ate for tens of thousands of years. We simplify our fitness by letting go of the need to follow every “latest and greatest, end-all” fad and just adopt some easy Primal movement principles. We simplify our priorities by putting a premium on sleep, outdoor time, and social connections. In many ways, it’s kind of about getting back to basics – ancestral style.

We do all this, of course, while we live in a culture that loves to complicate. In fact, we moderns have an uncanny way of making life difficult for ourselves. We stay up late, eat crap, guzzle caffeine, and wonder why we crash and recover multiple times a day. We surround ourselves with so many “things,” the clutter impairs our own ability to focus.

We’re strivers, analyzers, and accumulators but wonder why we burn ourselves and our relationships out on stress, self-chatter, and anxiety. Most of us have so much – much more than the majority of the world at least (and more than our primal ancestors ever dreamed of), yet we live with a misplaced sense of deprivation. Too often, we neglect or undervalue what we need (e.g. time to foster close relationships, time in the sun, time to sleep) but elevate aspects of life that are tangential at best. We give our positions and possessions more power than they deserve in the grand scheme of life – let alone human history.

It’s true of how we experience our own lives and how we look at others’. In our culture, we tend to attach status, even maturity and identity to the elaborateness of a home, vehicle, or outfit. Some of us overwork ourselves for a nice house we barely get to enjoy. Others forgo a vacation but spend money on collections that could easily pay for time away. Too often, we accumulate instead of experience. How much sense would any of this make to our ancestors? We’re stuck circling in a cul-de-sac of our own making. This would be the time to abandon the car and just trample through the manicured yards to get out of dodge.

Of course, it’s all about coming back to yourself. The freedom comes, I think, in identifying your core interests and values and centering your life around them. Although I’m not one for austerity, I think there’s something to simplicity – the mental, logistical, and physical spareness that brings a few key priorities into focus. If you can avoid the literal and figurative toxins of modern life while you’re doing it, all the better.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s about formulas or absolutes or right answers. Everyone’s different. I think simplicity is about proportion – about aspects of our lives finding their “right” size in respect to everything else. In assessing these proportions, we recognize the influence each choice has on another as well as the impact of action on mentality. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire and Yale University, for example, found that those who felt less loved and accepted within relationships rated material possessions as more monetarily valuable. Underscoring this study, the researchers explain, is the source of our security and comfort. It’s worth asking, with what or whom do we situate our sense of personal security and comfort? Do our life choices and investments of time and energy appear to follow these priorities?

When I think about how I’ve changed over the last several years, I come back to that question. Although I’ve never been a complicated, high maintenance guy, I know I’ve changed as I’ve defined living Primally. These days I wear pretty much the same shoes – my Vibrams – wherever I go. I don’t think I’ve ever given much thought to clothes, and that’s certainly true now. I eat more or less the same thing for lunch each day. I like to work from home to avoid the hassle of traffic. Unless I have to be on the road for work, I pretty much follow the same schedule with some room for a spontaneous hike in the hills near my home or dinner with friends. I’ve never considered myself an accumulator of things or gadgets, and that remains true today. Maybe it’s in part the journey of later adulthood, but I know at this point what I like and what I need. I’ve decided what matters to me and what doesn’t. For example, I enjoy good food and a comfortable bed. I love to travel (sometimes) and then simply being home for long stretches where I can be with family and spend time in the ocean. When it comes to my personal life, these are the things in which I invest my time, resources, and attention.

At the end of the day, I think we embrace simplicity when we pare down our lives to a point at which we’re not overwhelmed or diverted by our inputs – our stuff, our choices, our responsibilities, or our aspirations. “More of everything!” seems to be a chant distinctive of our modern age. Although ambition and even a degree of materialistic interest might be part of human nature, gone are the traditional codes that kept those in check. People too often mistake this for inevitable progress and justification. When you take the original context away, however, natural impulses end up not making sense. Living Primally, I think, is about living conscious and respectful of that original context, however we choose to envision it at work in our personal health and life journey.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. Let me know your thoughts on living simply and how the Primal Blueprint illuminates or contributes to that motivation. Have a great end to the week.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

118 thoughts on “How Simplifying Your Life Can Help You Refocus on What’s Important”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I find my own OCD tendencies are my greatest enemy. There is always work too but there is only so much one can do when you haven’t won the lottery.

  2. Thanks Mark, I love it when you stop me in the middle of a busy day with something that makes me think about the bigger picture 🙂

    1. Exactly… hard to get back in the rat race after reading a great article like this… just want to go home…

  3. Great insights.

    I think this speaks to the power of producing instead of consuming.

    I read another blog post today, challenging readers to try ONLY producing for 30 days – absolutely no consuming. Imagine the possibilities capable if you were to take on a challenge like this.

    1. That is a GENIUS idea!

      What would the parameters be though?

      Do you just mean buying non-food items?

      Would raw materials for producing be OK, or would we be creating from what we already have?

      I’m taking this idea home for some serious thought…

    2. Paul, curious which blog you were reading that suggested the 30 day hiatus on consumption.


    3. Hey Paul,

      I run something called the “Continuous Creation Challenge” where I challenge people to eliminate consumption and focus exclusively on creating for a period of time. But I’ve never heard of a challenge where you only produce for 30 days. I mean, whoa!? What are the guidelines and commitments for that one?

      A link would be awesome!

        1. Um, yes. And if you “produce” but don’t consume for 30 days don’t you end up with a bunch of clutter? And if everyone else decides to produce without consuming? Seems like we’re all wallowing in clutter then.

          Production without consumption seems a little silly.

          A better 30 day challenge would be to pause for 2-5 minutes before consuming. Mindfulness is more important.

        2. Overproduction and underconsumption…that equals another Great Depression.

    4. Thats a great idea. I think even trying just a week would show a great result.

      However, there are some people who have a very difficult time “simplifying” there lives. I was wondering .. and hopefully this could become a blog post on MDA… what are some ways to simplify our lives beside: growing our own food, using home-made products, hollistic medicine, etc. ??

      I would love some input! Great post!

      1. Hey Max! You’re a student, right? Funnily enough, I just found this blog earlier today that’s pretty much about ‘simplifying’ life as a student. This is the first post I read (and it’s not just about double majors):

        I feel like his message is probably applicable for at least a few people who read MDA! I know I really needed to read it.

        Anyways, great post Mark! Perfect timing, as usual.

      2. I rarely shave. I grow what I’ll call a small beard, shave it, wait and not bother much about it. It’s the same with haircuts. Two buzzcuts a year can be good enough.

    5. Paul, this is EXACTLY what I was thinking too.

      Totally agree. A lot of people I talk to complain about not having a meaningful life – that it all feels totally pointless.

      The first thing I tell them is to “start producing, and stop consuming.”

      Another good thing is that there will be an increasing number of consumers (just look at kids on their phones).. so the producers that produce for financial reasons will be making a hell of a lot more.

  4. Very nice tie-in with yesterday’s post. Simplicity is why we tend to cut to the chase.

  5. This is a great reminder to keep the larger picture in focus–I have been fairly consistent with setting a bedtime this month, and that’s greatly pared down some of the less productive habits I sometimes lean on when I’m up too late. I’m also trying to remember that less is more when it comes to things that just clutter the house and mind.

  6. This is where I’m at right now. I’m selling off nearly everything, letting go of the things I don’t need, and shipping off to a simpler life. Instead of commuting to work every day, I’ll be walking. Eventually life will happen on my farm. My spirit is absolutely dying for this change, and it can’t come soon enough.

    Great post, Mark!

    1. Allow nothing in your life that you can’t walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner.

      1. ..and don’t spend too much time watching that television.

    2. Good for you! I’m guessing you have land. I remember when I was a hippie I thought that getting back to the land and setting the soul free was it. I was a teenager, and had no idea of the work involved. Years later, I worked a dairy farm, and still consider that low paying job one of my best experiences. Good luck to you, and soon!

    3. I’m selling off posessions that aren’t useful as well. I’ve been hocking DVDs.

  7. Simpleminded of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your posessions….

    Whoops, let’s try that again.

    Simpleminded of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your stress….

    Ahhh… much better

  8. I’m sitting here at my ‘puter, my soon to be tool for making a living, I’m on duty, yet my partner and I are making the transition to the Primal lifestyle. I was just thinking how I could create some bars, OUTSIDE, to use for pull up, and other exercises. So I’m hoping for more of the simplicity to catch on. Being a drummer, a firefighter/EMT, and student, means I’m inside and sitting a lot. Thanks for a good article.

    Where can I get a Grok avatar?

  9. Another great post by Mark- 2nd smartest man (next to my husband!)

  10. the phrase “those who felt less loved and accepted within relationships rated material possessions as more monetarily valuable” really resonated with me. I will probably be thinking about that all day…

  11. This was an interesting post. I have recently begun trying to reduce my personal possessions. At some point the stuff you own can start to get in the way of your life.

  12. I have moved many times. Doing so forced me to think about what I own and why. I was schlepping boxes of stuff across country a few times only for it to stay in the box. I did not want to let go. After some introspection, the mental addiction to possessions was broken. I learned to let go.

    Today I have far less and I derive pleasure from the unlcutteredness and open spaces in my house. I prefer to buy used than new in clothes and housewares. Now and then a few things creep back in the house that I do not need but I enjoy.

    1. We moved to our current farm 4 years ago, and still have an unpacked box in the garage! I am an artist, and a collector, so this post is a real challenge for me. My collections are mainly natural history, seed pods, stones etc, but also junk, textiles, they inform my art, but I have said to my kids; when I go, just back up a skip and load it all in!
      Clutter is confusing, and defocusing, but thoughtful accumulation is not all bad, if we were all minimalist what would happen to my favourite op shops?

      1. Heather, we sound so much alike! I’m an artist too & I collect old books & oddments from the flea market to use as collage materials, as well as seed pods, animal bones & other visual inspirations. They cost little or nothing, but they do take up space & require organizing & tending. It’s a challenge to decide what to keep & what to let go, because a particular painting might “need” pretty much anything. %}

        I’ve told my kids the same thing too– I know none of this is valuable to anyone but me!

    2. We’ve jettisoned many processions and quite often will buy used.

      However, it so happens that today we bought our first ever new car. (Really!) We replaced an 11 year old beater that was worth, drum roll please, $500 at trade in.

      In one sense the beater was “simpler”. We certainly didn’t worry about dings in the parking lot. 😉

      On the other hand, the beater was consuming car payments worth of repairs at this stage in it’s life. It was very stressful not knowing what was going to go next and if it was going to do it on the road. We have access to an excellent repair shop, but spending lots of quality time there was not in my master life plan.

      After long consideration, we bought new a base model domestic mini-van. The only “option” we added was to extend the bumper to bumper warranty to 5 years. The kids are *gasp* forced to use their own strength to open the doors, deal with bench seating, *and* have Mom and Dad control the A/C. (Somebody call the authorities.)

      At any rate, I have no idea where I’m going with this other than a)the irony of this post on the day we bought our first ever shiny new car and b)sometimes used/aka “simpler” things aren’t always.

      1. Enjoy your new car Amy, don’t feel guilty. Just make sure to drive it for a long time and get every pennys worth out of it. My car is 12 and I’m hoping for 2 or 3 more years. I “simply” love it and don’t even want a new one.

      2. LOL, I just bought my first “new” car recently too. It’s 3 yrs old, but had very low miles. I still feel uneasy paying that much for a car (never had one before that cost more than $1500). Of course, the flip side of my old cars is that they constantly demanded parts, repair and my weekends spent repairing them, so yes, in this case, buying new or newer actually has simplified my life too. Doesn’t make me feel any less weird about my first ever car loan/payment though 🙂

      3. After a series of 15 year old beaters as a student, buying a 4 year old “new” and reliable car significantly simplified my life. The payments were absolutely worth the peace of mind!

      4. I have a special appreciation for your car choice. We’ve always lived simply so I could afford to stay home with the kids so we bought a three year old really basic (non-auto windows!) mini van in 2000, when our kids were young. Even though they didn’t want to be seen driving a mini van, at first, they learned how to drive in it, had their learner’s fender benders (never hurt our car one bit), carried all their friends to events and made such wonderful memories using it (some of which I don’t want to know about) that my daughter named it “Lafonda”. They’re well into college and post grad school now but we still use that van for a bicycle/bus backup. At the time we bought it we would have never guessed how living simply, with our top priorities in mind, could have worked out so well; and all represented through an old junker named Lafonda.

  13. I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it, but some guys did an exercise on simplicity and minimalism where thy packed up ALL their studf into boxes and put it on one side of the room and then only go out the stuff they needed when they needed it.
    Gotta brush your teeth? Take your tooth brush back outguess it makes the cut! Pretty cool way to get back to the basics and find out what you vs. do without

  14. Great post!!! After taking a serious look at my life lately, I realize I care about less things ( newest gizmo, being popular, going to bars, having a bigger house, fancier car) but the things I do care about ( my health and well being, family, close friends, being outside and moving around) I care about alot. Being passionate in a few aspects of life, instead of being consumed by all the things in life that don’t really matter has made me a better person.
    Thanks Mark for all you do

  15. Wonderful thoughts; I hope I can get them to rub off on the people around me.

    And kudos to that UNH study. UNH rules! (i work there)

  16. Money. Time. Things/Possessions

    Choose (at most) 2 of the 3.

  17. Another great article. It’s all about finding the “fit” and keeping everything in perspective. Perfect timing too, as I am leaving tomorrow for Florida, and a week of “ocean time”.

    1. I think of the ancient american indians sitting around and wondering where they want to go for a vacation…NOT!

  18. This is timely for me. Just recently I’ve really started to embrace the idea of “less stuff is more”. I’ve always been very driven by material possessions and having lots of fancy stuff. Part of my paleo journey has been realigning my values. And ironically, I’ve starting coming to this point of desiring simplicity as well through my own journey. Clutter creates stress! I’m all about eliminating that right now.

    1. Where I have issues is with my music and books. As for stress and drama, all about getting rid of that, as I am painfully discovering is worthwhile.

  19. Great post Mark. I have benefitted from the practice of identifying three or four core priorities and continually asking myself whether my actions support or distract from those priorities. If they distract, I eliminate.

    I think humans are happier when their homes (or cars, or jobs, etc.) support their lives, and not the other way around.

  20. De-cluttering must be one of the first things to do to ‘simplify’ your life. My enforced simplifying came about when my wardrobe collapsed this week – I got rid of 3 bin bags of clothes that I had been hanging on to in the hope of a) them fitting me (again) one day b) them coming back into fashion or c) because they are memories and I love them! I feel such a sense of relief and hubby is very happy too! Of course, the ban on consuming would mean I can’t go and replace them, so maybe I won’t adopt that challenge just yet.

  21. “We give our positions and possessions more power than they deserve in the grand scheme of life” and “those who felt less loved and accepted within relationships rated material possessions as more monetarily valuable.”

    W O W. Truely profound and powerful insights.

    Thank you.

  22. I continue to be struck with how similar the ideals of the primal life are so similar to the ideals of an authentic Christian life. Our family is a huge fan of both, and both lead us to the same conculsions.

    I know some folks cringe at the thought. Not trying to offend or debate, just sharing personal observation I had while reading above post.

    1. Many creeds promote the same basic concepts of a simple, community-oriented life. Follow the golden rule.

  23. It is really tough when you want to make major simplifications and your (otherwise perfect) spouse does not.

      1. Seems a bit harsh given that he’s ‘otherwise perfect’ – just needs more training!

  24. Mark you good thing you!

    My first post!

    I’m new at primal, but at 51 it seems my search for the answer is found and life begins.

    Simple is me and that suit wears well.

    When I’m a little further into my journey, I will share my good news to help inspire those who need and appreciate such things….as I have been and continue to be inspired.

    Bests to all,

  25. OK – my “LOL” showed up in the wrong place – sorry.

  26. You took the words right out of my brain. When people complain endlessly about their lives, I always think to myself – well you have chosen this life and you make things extra complicated for yourself. On the other hand, I strive to carry as little baggage, whether physical or emotional, and I can’t complain about my life. I feel free and enjoy myself and my family.

  27. My motto from this day forward:

    “Experience instead of Accumulation”

    Thanks, Mark!

  28. I’ve always remembered the saying “Things are the theives of time”. Now to get rid of everything I don’t need.

  29. I started this last year, cleaned out every cabinet and closet…but I still have to much stuff )clothes mostly in our house. This has inspired me to continue on so that I have only what I need it makes for much less stress. Less to clean and everything can have it’s place.

  30. Great post and replies. For me simplifying means that I still work hard but I come home to our veg garden and hens, make as much of our own food as possible, bacon sausages, cottage cheese etc. it keeps us so grounded, and work can pay the bills !

  31. This reminds me of Christmas time. I absolutely dread getting a bunch of gifts. Just give me sporting tickets, or take me to dinner – I would much rather have the experience than something else to keep and take care of (or return)!

  32. Excellent post! Quite inspiring. I’m starting down the primal path, and the thought of becoming more minimalist/zen is quite appealing. Time to ditch the shopaholic in me, and aim for some serious spring cleaning.

  33. Great post. Malcolm Gladwell discusses the concept of too many choices being problematic; causing indecision and stress. I’ve especially noticed that since I’ve gone primal, my life became even simpler. I’ve always been the type that never wanted for much, but now I could care less about ever owning a new car, new clothes, fancy house, etc. My Vibrams are always on unless I have to meet with a client, but the VivoBarefoot dress shoe fills in nicely. I am in the process of looking for an opportunity that allows me to work out of my home more often. Who needs the traffic and hassle? Heck, I’m even following your simplified recommendations for personal hygiene.

    1. Agreed on too many choices causing stress. When I was a kid there were about 4 shoe companies (Keds, Adidas,Chuck Taylor All-Stars and Puma). Now go try and buy a pair of shoes…it will give you sensory overload.

  34. I’ve taken up camping in the past couple of years. It has been an amazing journey in what I can live without. I still take too much stuff, but getting better all the time. Makes me look at the house and wonder why I have all this *stuff*.

  35. I am a huge creature of habit and I find that because of it, I can make my life a little less complicated. When my routine gets tinkered with, I tend to get a little stressed… But I just do all that I can to get back in sync and everything seems to be a little more simple: for instance, I might take a nap prior to going out for a late night… Or I might eat a big lunch if I know I am being forced to go to a restaurant that’s extremely unhealthy… There are always ways to make things a little less complicated – we just seem to over exaggerate to ourselves when things because a little overwhelming.

  36. Awesome post Mark! My wife and I have been purposefully moving towards simplicity of lifestyle for a few years now. We’re not minimalists by any stretch of the imagination. But, we have certainly lightened our load by donating things that we do not need. We downsized our home. We plant much of our own food. We eat raw, or cook raw food instead of prepackaged overprocessed food-like stuff from big box stores. This has dramtically changed our lives and we’re much better for it. Keep up the good work!

  37. “those who felt less loved and accepted within relationships rated material possessions as more monetarily valuable.”

    interesting…. sometimes I do run into people who think I’m strange for trying so hard not to buy much, and thinking about the most recent encounter with someone who really thought I might be a bit crazy for liking simplicity, this quote rings true. They were a lonely, image-conscious person.

    For me, every time I try to change ANY habit I keep in mind that “nature abhors a vacuum,” so I don’t *just* get rid of or stop doing something. I do it so that I can do something I like *more* than what I am discarding. Like with clothes, I got rid of a bunch of things and now I spend a more time finding and even sewing clothes that feel luxurious to me. It’s kind of cool, the more “simple” I get my life, the richer I feel.

  38. I am trying so hard to focus on important issues and let unimportant issues go!
    My daughter said to me that there is so much in life that is beyond your control that if there is something you dont like and can control, the do it!
    Thank you for your article it made sense to me.

  39. For many years now I only buy things that I really love or that I really need. If it doesn’t fall into one of those categories then I don’t buy it. I also stopped coloring my hair. I’m 45, gray, and very happy not to go to the salon every 3 weeks and spend $80 on hair dye. We also clear out clothes and clutter pretty constantly but at least every spring and fall. I also keep my schedule pretty empty. I hate to be “busy”. Simple living is the best living.

  40. Whatever we want to achieve, first it must be summarized and fixed in our head. Weight loss is a very psychological process, not only a diet and sport.

  41. I would love to be be able to afford a lifestyle like this. The reality of life is that everything is extra. Not using grains and bread means cooking a lot more to feed the family. Including daily movement for all members of the family means more hours in a day, prompts and scheduling. Keeping our minds occupied means coming up with craft and other ideas. Growing your own food means making time for the garden. Supplying good quality meat means research, forms, correspondence, etc. Shopping is not simple either. You take time to explain to your child why we do not eat bread….

    SAD lifestyle is simple. You don’t spend time on any chores, and do nothing. Primal lifestyle is not simple.

    I chose this complexity over feeding my child cookies with pasta and letting her spend her days in front of the TV or with a video game.

    And I chose having family over solitude any day as well.

  42. And, oh, yes, most of the things I have purchased over the past two years were due to Primal lifestyle. Dehydrator, mandolin, 5-fingers, juicer, pull-up bar, etc… Before that I had everything I needed in the kitchen and a closet full of second-hand clothes….

  43. I read a wonderful book years ago “Your Money or Your Life.” Mark’s post could almost have been lifted from it. The auther covers his own journey ti simplicity, and I believe he actually toured and gave lectures for a number of years. He uses examples like avoiding the stock market (or using low cost index funds, worrying about individual stocks drives stress), living in a smaller house that ideally you pay off as quickly as possible and similar financial advice. Similar advice in other aspects of life. One of his seminar attendees, a Dr from NYC, realized that matbe he did not need 18 pairs of brown shoes. Perhaps one would do? (True story!)

    1. Loved that book! Read it over a decade ago and that’s what started me on The Simple Living path! Thanks for the reminder.

  44. A paraphrase from the American poet Charles Bukowski:

    “When everything you own fits in a suitcase, only then can your mind be free.”

  45. The best things in life are not things….love the sentiment of this post, and couldn’t agree more!

    Since I started eating primally almost two years ago, I found that it made me want to challenge conventional wisdom even more.

    That led me down the path of thinking differently about fitness, lifestyle, ‘things’, and ultimately helped me arrive at a point where I think being primal goes hand in hand with a simple, minimalist life.

  46. I agree 100% on simplicity! I am not quite to the point of 100 things but I have certainly paired life down. Great post!

  47. Last time I moved, I basically had to get rid of a lot of stuff because I am naturally a pack rat. Probably was one of the best things I ever did. It is amazing how our stuff controls us, tying us down from a more mobile lifestyle, rather than the other way around. Simpler definitely can be better.

  48. Well said. I’m a minimalist, so I’m rather familiar with these notions. The rest of the “modernized” world could stand to pare down and simplify a bit more. Many of the world’s problems would be solved, if so – but the modern world, as it is, would fall into chaos.

  49. This is so true mark. My husband and i spent the last year trveling in a van living a very simplelife. Eating paleo, not working, enjoying being outside and finally having time to stop and smell tthe roses.

    We unfortunately had to jump back into the rat race (where we are constantly stressed, bombarded with media and ads) but we are hoping to get out soon to our much simpler, stress free life! It was almost like a mini retirement. Looking to make the simple lifestyle a permanent change!

  50. I read this book once written by an former inmate of a correctional institution. He wrote about how the life lessons he learned while in prison ended up being quite simple. His words were “live simply, be honest, and cherish relationships”. I will never forget reading those words and live by that motto myself.

  51. Great post. Definitely trying to simplify my life lately. Agree with an earlier comment…tough to head back into the rat race after reading this post

  52. We as a society certainly do like to complicate stuff. Between gadgets, taken on too much, and just not treating our bodies the way they deserve. I recently found that living simple was something suited me and have been journeying towards that goal ever since.

  53. Thanks for such an aspiring article with an emphasis on making “simplify” a DIY project… there is no set formula… the common ground we all seek is the outcome of greater valued living.

  54. I find it interesting and revealing that the main thrust of the Antiaging Movement appears to be towards, not only dangerous caloric restriction, but also a massive increase in the intake of lab synthesized chemical compounds, almost the precise inverse of the philosophy of simplification espoused in this article.

    It is for this reason that I believe that the entire approach of that movement is based on a flawed premise – the idea that you can somehow prescribe youth and longevity pharmacologically. Obviously, I have my own views on this issue, but I’d be fascinated to hear yours, Mark. Perhaps even an entire article charting the points of contrast between Paleo and Antiaging philosophy.

    If you don’t write it, I might have to, and no-one wants that.

  55. My husband, who currently works 12-hr rotating shifts (switching from days to nights and back), is looking into a job switch that would give him straight Mon-Fri 8-hr days. It will be a pay cut for 2-3 years, though. For us, the benefits of a steady schedule, more family time, and a regular sleep schedule for him, are really worth it. It will also be a more physical job that will use the schooling he got years ago (welding, instead of monitoring the system via computer). I’m looking forward to it, despite the tightening of the family budget. I can give up a lot for more time and healthier spouse.

  56. Each year I set a goal. This years goal was (and is) “this is the year I give up productivity and exhaustion as badges of honour” (Canadian spelling)thanks Mark, your post fits right in there.

  57. It’s so true that we are addicted to making our lives complicated. I think we believe if its not complicated it won’t work.

    Yesterday I took all the clothes that where choking up my wardrobe and give to charity. There was a ton of this stuff that I never wore, but just couldn’t let it go.

    But once I did it was such a wonderful feeling of freedom and lightness. Its amazing how much of us go thru life just collecting stuff.

  58. “Some of us overwork ourselves for a nice house we barely get to enjoy.”
    I see this happen so much. Are we insane as a society?

  59. Hi Mark lovely article. Also i feel we are so lucky that we live this moment who know what will be next minute show us in our life so fight for what we believe, fight for the people we love take risks; take time to laugh, cry, and do something crazy which will give you happiness.