13 steps to the simple life your Great-Grandparents knew but in today's day and age, we seem to have forgotten. Some people say that this is the best time in all of history to be alive. After all, we live in a time of more abundance than we’ve ever known. As a society, we want for nothing.
We have amazing technologies that have helped make our lives easier in so many ways. We can connect with loved ones on the other side of the world in mere seconds through social media and gain access to all of the information in the known universe through the power of the Internet.
We can have anything we want delivered right to our door simply by charging it to our credit cards. We can even voice command our smart homes to adjust the temperature, change the channel or play our favorite song without having to lift a finger!
And yet, there is growing dissatisfaction with this modern lifestyle of “convenience.” Because although it is easier in many ways, it’s also more complicated, stressful, expensive and unhealthy.
The Complicated Side of Convenience
- We’re working harder and incurring more debt just to pay for all of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.
- We’re spending less time with family and more time online.
- We’re eating fewer home-cooked meals and more processed foods.
- We’re getting less exercise and time outdoors and more time indoors sitting on our couches, in our cars and at our desks in front of screens and under artificial lighting.
While our modern lifestyle may be full of amazing gadgets and technologies that make life easier in some ways, it is taking its toll on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing as we run the rat race day in and day out trying to keep up with it all and neglecting the things in life that lead to true happiness.
More and more people are beginning to feel this way and there’s a growing movement of people who are looking for ways to turn back the clock to a simpler time:
- A time when we relied less on technology and more on our own two hands
- A time when we were grateful for the little things and happier with less
- A time when we had more time for family and less time scheduled and time-blocked on our calendars A time when real, face-to-face relationships were more common and more valued than online connectivity.
Simplify Life Today and Reap the Rewards Right Away
Despite all of the benefits of technology and the conveniences we enjoy today, the modern, western lifestyle has left many of us disillusioned, depressed and yearning for a simpler lifestyle.
The good news is, you can take steps right now -wherever you are- to reduce stress, save money and simplify your life. All you have to do is make a conscious effort to prioritize simpler, more meaningful and truly beneficial activities over time-sucking, money-draining, unhealthy things that add little or no real value to our lives.
So if you’re ready to make a change and start simplifying your own life, don’t wait! Start now with these 13 steps that anybody anywhere can take to live a simpler, more satisfying life today.
13 Ways to Live a Simpler, More Satisfying Life
Ah yes, you knew this one would top the list…
“Unplugging” has become such a common suggestion for increasing wellbeing nowadays that it’s practically a cliché. But it truly is one of the best things we can do for our bodies, minds and souls.
Some simple steps you can take are to limit your time online to an hour or so each day (or even just cut down your online time by that much if that’s where you’re at right now). You could also dedicate one day each week as a screen-free day where you don’t turn on the TV or log on to the computer (or any devices) at all.
According to many studies that have been done, you will also sleep better if you dedicate at least an hour before bedtime as screen-free time. Try reading a good ol’ fashioned paper book instead! Or use the time to meditate or practice a little self care.
If you can't go without television, computer, or e-reader device before bed then you may want to try a pair of blue light reducing glasses like this pair that can be worn alone or over your prescription glasses.
If you’re ready to take “unplugging” a step further, consider taking a social media break where you actually disconnect your accounts for a few days, weeks or months. Or cancel your cable subscription or even Netflix if you’re really brave! Not only will you save money, you’ll free up all sorts of time you never knew you had when you don’t have screens distracting you all the time.
We are so busy nowadays with work, appointments, extra-curricular activities, organized sports, playdates, meetings… The list goes on and on.
Our calendars are often jam-packed with all of the things we think we need to be doing in order to live a happy, fulfilling, successful life. But what we really need is more freedom in our schedules to simply let life happen.
By unscheduling you free up time for so many other good things to enter your life. Perhaps by cancelling your child’s dance classes you allow her the time to discover that her true passion is drawing. Or maybe saying no to a social invitation frees up time to spend reconnecting and rekindling some romance with your partner. And of course there is usually a financial benefit to unscheduling as well. And freeing up more of our finances is always a good idea.
Remember: By saying no to something you are actually saying yes to something else.
3. Slow Down
Life happens in the blink of an eye nowadays. Everything is hurried and rushed. Success is often measured by how productive you can be in the shortest amount of time possible. We are encouraged to work hard and play hard, but there is little emphasis placed on rest.
We talk about being busy and stressed out like it’s a badge of honour. If we’re stressed and busy then that must mean we’re being productive and productivity equals success, right? On the other hand, rest, relaxation and slowing down is associated with laziness, so we avoid it at all costs.
But the truth is, our mental, physical and emotional health benefits immensely from slowing down to rest and enjoy life more. Much like unscheduling, slowing down allows us the time and opportunity to be more present and mindful in our daily activities, to practice more gratitude, to enjoy the little things in life and to calm our anxieties by making time for slow, deep breaths. And the more we benefit from slowing down, the more productive we will be when we do get down to work.
Plus, our loved ones will benefit as well as we are more likely to simply enjoy spending time with them instead of hurrying all the time just to get to the next thing on our to-do list.
The less we have, the less we have to worry about. That’s the basic principle behind minimalism and downsizing to help us live less stressful, more fulfilling lives.
Perhaps for you, downsizing simply means going through your closets and getting rid of excess clutter that’s occupying space in your life. Or maybe you’re ready for a bigger change like downsizing your house or even selling everything to travel the country in an RV. Whatever stage of life you’re at, there’s almost certainly a way to downsize and add a little more breathing room to your life.
The more things we have, the more time we spend organizing them, cleaning them, servicing them, paying for them, figuring out how to use them and even being buried in the clutter of all of that stuff. Likewise, the bigger our house, the more rooms and spaces we have to keep clean and tidy.
Downsizing is just like unscheduling in that we say no to one thing (a bigger house, more stuff, etc.) and that allows us to say yes to something else (more free time, more money, more peace in a clutter-free home, etc.).
5. Tidy Up
While you might not be ready to downsize or even get rid of anything, you can always benefit from a little tidying up.
As mentioned before, clutter in our homes and lives can be a real source of anxiety. We tend to work better and stress less when our environment is clutter-free, clean and well organized. When everything has a home, we never have to worry about wasting time looking for something we need, and that in turn creates more peace and less stress in our lives.
Start by tidying up the spaces you use most. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, start there. Put everything on your countertops away and make a home for everything. Then work through your pantry, your cupboards and drawers. Then move onto the next space.
Choose one area per day to tidy up, but commit to keeping it tidy. Clean as you go and things will never get so out of hand that the task of tidying up seems overwhelming.
And wash your bedsheets. There’s nothing like fresh bedsheets to make you feel like a new man/woman when you wake up in the morning!
Be Happy With Less & Save Money While Doing It
Ever feel like your drowning in stuff and your home’s a constant mess?
We have so much to learn from those who went without or very little during the Great Depression Era.
- Frugal ways to stretch your groceries.
- Easy steps and tutorials to make your food last longer and to turn scraps or leftover into entire new meals.
- Discover simple way to reuse the items in your home instead of purchasing new and more.
- Reclaim your home with practical room by room simplifying guides.
- Declutter your schedule and heart.
Get these simple but proven tips from the Great-Depression on how to pare down to the true essentials, so you can create and enjoy your kitchen and home–> click here Hand Made: the Modern Guide to Made-from-Scratch Living.
6. Prioritize Time Over Money and Stuff
According to a recent study, money can buy happiness if it’s spent on freeing up time. Participants in the study reported more happiness when they spent their money on things like housecleaning and grocery delivery services than when they spent the same amount on material items like clothing and household items.
The theory behind this is that when we free up more time, we are less stressed and better able to enjoy life rather than spending our time on chores and tasks we hate.
Now, as homesteaders, we tend to be gluttons for punishment when it comes to handling chores and doing everything ourselves, from scratch whenever possible. But we also tend to be frugally minded and resourceful, meaning we use what we have on hand and don’t spend frivolously on unnecessary consumer goods, which means we don’t have to spend as much time working to afford all of these things.
We also tend to enjoy our tasks and chores so things that seem like gruelling work to some (housecleaning, cooking meals from scratch, cleaning out chicken coops…) can be invigorating activities for us!
7. Get Out of Debt
One of the biggest sources of stress in the modern world is debt. Our culture is so used to instant gratification and spending before actually earning the money to pay for the things we want that debt has become a normal and accepted part of modern-day life.
But carrying debt is not an inevitable byproduct of life in the 21st Century. It is possible to get out of debt and live within your means without feeling like you are sacrificing too much.
Start eliminating debt in your life by tackling the debt with the highest interest rate first. Once that’s paid off, move onto the next source of debt, and the next one, etc. I highly recommend reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover if you are serious about attaining financial freedom.
Free up some of your hard-earned money by taking a hard look at your monthly bills and cutting ruthlessly wherever possible. Cancel subscriptions, cut your grocery bill and stick to a strict budget. It’s not easy at first if you are used to spending, but the rewards of having less debt, more money in your bank account and greater peace of mind are worth every penny you don’t spend.
8. Get Outside
Spending time outdoors does a world of good for us. Getting fresh air and connecting with nature on a regular basis does wonders for our mental health. And doing outdoor activities like hiking, running or even farming and gardening is also good for our physical bodies and helps us keep fit. It doesn't cost a dime. There are endless activities you can do for free in the great outdoors, whether that be in a public park or your own backyard.
Camping is also a great frugal alternative to expensive vacations and can double as a lesson in important life and homesteading skills for children, such as cooking off-grid, chopping wood, hunting and fishing and other survival skills. Plus there’s nothing like looking up at a sky full of stars at night to put life in perspective. Pure bliss.
9. Cook From Scratch
For the first time in history, Americans are dining out at restaurants more than they are cooking and eating at home.
What once was an essential lifeskill has become something that fewer and fewer people know how to do. Not only is this scary for many reasons -including but not limited to the fact that knowing how to prepare food is perhaps the number one survival skill that everyone should have- but it also means that we are becoming more and more disconnected from the food that we eat, which means we’re less aware of where our food comes from, what’s in it or how it was prepared, and this can have serious implications for our own health and the health of our planet.
Cooking from scratch is the first step on the road to greater self-sufficiency and simplicity. By cooking your own food you can use simpler, healthier ingredients, practice the ever-important skill of providing food for yourself and your family, be more conscious and mindful of what you’re eating and save a ton of money in the process. Winning across the board.
Need some help with putting together a full week of meals all made from scratch when you're busy? Click Here for Your 7 Day Menu & Prep Plan + Recipes
10. Grow Some Food
Have I mentioned how disconnected we are from our food? Ask many school-aged kids in the U.S. where their food comes from and many of them won’t be able to trace their meals back farther than the grocery store. Yup. That’s where we’re at.
While cooking from scratch is a great first step toward understanding where our food comes from, the next best step is to grow some of our own food at home.
There are so many benefits to growing your own food, not the least of which are greater control over how your food is raised, less chemicals, less money spent on groceries, more fruits and veggies in your diet and the added physical and mental health benefits of growing a garden.
Even if you are limited for space, consider growing an herb garden, a few tomato plants or even some potatoes in garbage cans. Growing food from seed is also extremely rewarding and a great learning experience for kids and adults alike! Click here for FREE Chart on How Much to Plant Per Person for a Year's Worth of Food
11. Make Time For Self Care
You don’t need to spend a ton of money on salons and pedicures and new clothes to show yourself a little love. Practice self care in simple ways for little to no money and reap the same benefits as a day at the spa.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Give yourself a pedicure.
- Get dressed up just because.
- Exchange massages with your partner.
- Or simply take time to sit in silence and meditate.
All of these things will make you feel like a new person and will do wonders for your self-esteem and overall well-being.
You can literally treat yourself to a spa day at home for less than the cost of a latte from a café. You can even make your own frugal and all-natural beauty products like this sugar scrub or these DIY lotion bars.
12. Practice Gratitude Every Day
Practicing gratitude regularly leads to greater happiness and more abundance in our lives. By being thankful for what we have, we realize how good we have it and this in turn leads to greater feelings of joy and fulfillment.
Practicing gratitude also attracts more abundance into our lives. The more we give thanks for what we have already, the more abundance flows into our lives. This is often referred to as The Law of Attraction, which states that our thoughts have the power to attract anything into our lives. This means negative thoughts attract negative things, positive thoughts attract positive things and expressions of gratitude attract more things to be grateful for.
Choose your thoughts consciously and wisely to maximize happiness and attract positivity and abundance into your life!
13. Connect with Your Spirituality
Even though this is Anna's post, I wanted to jump in and share a note. Not all of you who read this are Christians and the word spiritual can bring to mind many things for many people. I understand some of you may not care about this aspect, but many of my readers and fellow homesteaders can attest to feeling the closest to God when tending to their gardens, crops, and livestock.
I've found the still small voice of the Lord to be the loudest and the guidance given to us in scripture prove to give practical guidance to live a more rewarding life through:
- devotions and/or Bible ready (nothing soothes my spirit like the Psalms)
- daily gratitude
Regardless of your religion or beliefs, most of us can agree that there are forces at work in our lives (and as a Christian I firmly believe that it's Jesus) that are much greater than ourselves and that these forces work in mysterious ways to benefit us, to teach us important lessons and to give us hope and a sense of purpose as we move through this life.
Practice letting go of that which you cannot change and giving your problems, worries and anxieties over to God. Have faith that everything happens for a reason and you are exactly where you are meant to be in this moment.
There’s literally nothing as satisfying as uncovering your true purpose, and you don’t need any money, technologies or material goods to make this discovery. In fact, the less interference by any of the aforementioned things, the better equipped you’ll be to discover who you truly are and why you’re here.
Get Started Simplifying Your Life Today
While this is a pretty extensive list of ways to simplify and start living a more satisfying, fulfilling life, it certainly is not the end-all and be-all. There are endless ways to bring more simplicity into your life, but I hope that this will at least inspire you to get started today. There’s no point in waiting for a better time to begin, after all we are already living in the best time in history… Or so they say.
Some of the best memories about being a little girl was the items at my grandparents
place. They had worked hard all their lives. Farming, doing for themselves and
living a peaceful and simple life with faith at the center.
They were not well off, but the lovely meals on that big black wood burning stove that seemed to take over the kitchen! I will always remember how wonderful breakfast smelled cooking; the coffee, the bacon and eggs and the wood of the stove…what a fine memory. The times I went out to help grandma to bake fresh bread and she would have me churn the butter in a jar with paddles. Oh how good it was to sit with her and have warm bread with fresh butter and homemade jam with a cup of tea!!
She made the most lovely meals on that big stove that I got to stoke with wood, there was no water faucet but a pump at the sink in the early years but one Christmas all the men folk put in running water! It had to be heated on the stove however, so the big kettle was alway there at the ready. She baked oatmeal cookies that stayed in a big tin on top the hutch for enjoying when we came to visit. They both made homemade candles and soap, and there was a big garden and fruit trees on most of the land, with flowers on the rest. Her hydrangeas were my favorites! Grandma washed in a tub for years, then they got a washer that she had to roll the cloths through a mangle. Grandpa had a shop where he sharpened the knives and axes for the chopping of the wood and working about the place. He would ask me to ‘go to the woodshed’…but it did not mean what it used to when he did as he knew I loved that time with him to stack the wood as he cut it for the wood stoves. The smell of the fresh chopped wood was another one that I will never forget- as is the memory of his pipe as he smoked it!! He put in potatoes one year and strawberries the next on the half acre in the back of the property. He would always let us help with that and to eat our fill of berries. He passed when I was 7, which was my first experience with such and a funeral..very sad time. Grandma worked the farm herself after he died for along time. I remember the peddle sewing machine where gram made quilts, aprons and other things. All the canning she did that tasted so good when we came to see her. We were a military family so we moved a lot but got to Oregon to see them as much as we could. What a beautiful state! Memories like these are so priceless to me as they were a different and special time..so unlike modern times. They chose to keep the older ways instead of all the new things; no TV-just radio, reading books and going to church on Sundays.
There Is much to be said for the simpler ways and quieter times where people actually talked to each other, enjoyed having company, worked hard and slept well enjoying the fruits of the labor to keep a place going. I learned a lot from them.
Ruth, what beautiful memories! It’s so true: The simple things are often the most precious and memorable. I’m a teacher (as well as a writer), and I was trying to explain to my students this year how they will remember the traditions and time spent with family above the presents and “stuff” that comes along with Christmas. They laughed and didn’t believe me at first, but when they returned after the break and I had hem write about their favourite parts of Christmas, they all said things like “the smell of grandma’s cooking” and “sledding with family” or “singing hymns at midnight on Christmas Eve.”
It’s the simple things in life that tend to give us the most joy. But people who want to profit off of us do a very good job of convincing us otherwise. It’s their job after all. So we tend to think we need more than we do to be happy.
You’re very fortunate to have these memories with your grandparents. I spent a lot of time with mine as well and gardening with my grandpa before and after school is one of my fondest memories. He’s passed now too but his legacy lives on in all that he taught me, and that has bee a huge catalyst in my decision to pursue this homesteading lifestyle.
Thank you again for your comment. It was a pleasure to read!
Reading this took me back to the days when my Maw was living and I grew up pretty much under her skirt-tail, as the ol’ saying goes. She, and my Momma, would work the garden, with some help from the men folk, and then as the bounty came in, the canning and preserving would begin! I remember Daddy raising hogs, and chickens, and beef. I remember the wonderful aroma on late fall and winter morning’s when Momma was in the kitchen with fresh pork frying, buttermilk biscuits baking, fried taters and apples on the stove…and the gravy, oh my…it would sure drag ya out of bed as it wafted throughout the house! I remember spending summer days playing in the creek, catching crawdads and minnows, skipping flat rocks, and playing in the sand at the creek’s edge. Somehow, the days seemed so much longer then, than they do now. Family. It was all about family back then. Everyone did things together. The canning was done together, then they would divide it up equally at the end of the day. The gardens were tended together, everyone doing their part and laughing and talking as they worked. Quilts were made. Memories were made. But most importantly, we SHARED…our time, our love, our lives. We had a party line system for our phones, which meant that we had to share the line with three other homes, so sitting and gabbing for hours was not something you could do. Common courtesy was the norm, not something that you had to tell kids to have…it was something they saw being practiced by their elders, so it was second nature to them. After all, children really do learn what they live!
I miss so many things about my youth, and I’m sure everyone feels the same, but the thing I miss the most is the simplicity of life in general. It was a treat to set in front of the tv at night with the family watching Hee Haw or something that was good and wholesome family entertainment. These days, it’s a hard matter to pry kids or adults away from the television or their laptops or phones. Why, my husband can literally sit for hour after hour skimming through the program guide and just getting up to visit the bathroom or the kitchen. It’s truly such a loss for folks anymore because there is so very little that is decent and moral to be found on tv, and we actually do tend to mimic what we find the most interest in. Watch a show with bad language being repeated over and over and see if you don’t find yourself more apt to use that same talk…even though you never really planned to! If we are what we eat, then we also must be what we devote our lives and our time to as well. Folks don’t sit and read the bible in quiet anymore. There’s no front porch sittin’, just listenin’ to the crickets and whippoorwills, telling stories or sharing dreams. Seems as if people have lost all interest in “people”, and have gained more interest in the devil’s play pretties….and then we wonder why each generation seems to wax worse and worse.
If I could have one wish, I would honestly wish that my grandbabies would be able to experience life as I knew it growing up. That would mean that life would revert back to a simpler time…a more wholesome and family oriented time…a better life, with happier homes, and deeper roots where family is concerned.
I try to live a simpler life and as I get older it gets easier.Spending time with my grandchildren sewing ,baking and gardening.Embracing simple ways to get us through these trying times.thanks.🧘♀️Karen.
Beautiful article. Very inspiring. Thank you!!!!!