15 Ways to Simplify Your Life
by Pamela Lister
Sell the house. Chuck the job. Some of the advice in those less-is-more guides probably strikes you as extreme -- or extremely silly. What you really need are a few earthbound ideas for streamlining your life -- and truly enjoying it again.
I've been making pillows. Pink quilted pillows, with periwinkle-and-lime shantung trim, the materials for which I picked up at garage sales, cheap, cheap, cheap. What am I going to do with these pillows? Sell them, of course. You see, I've decided I want to live by my own hands, recycle everything, and maybe even grow my own food, sort of a pioneer woman for the millennium. Never mind that my pillows aren't very good, especially around the corners. Never mind that I'd have to make something like 5,000 of them just to pay for my daughter's nursery school. The point is, at 3am, I'm no longer fretting about my 401(k); I'm thinking about simplifying, cutting back, doing something -- anything -- to let some air into my crowded life.
How did I get here? The same way you did: by collecting all manner of things over the past decade or so, things like a career, a husband, a few kids, a house, a car or two, a computer or two, a Cuisinart, several automatic coffeemakers, clothes in every size from 6 to 14 -- need I go on? No, I don't think so, because I've got a good idea that at 3am, you're not thinking about your 401(k) either. You're thinking about what it would be like to live in Alaska, about what kind of market there might be in basket weaving, about moving the whole family to a dairy farm miles from even a minor city.
I'm not clairvoyant. I know this because at this very moment, a book about simplifying your life sits astride the USA Today bestseller list, and several more are hogging shelf space in bookstores around the country. Clearly, clutter -- psychic and real -- is the ailment of our generation, and unloading is the panacea. That said, I don't want to tell you the ridiculous suggestions I've read in some of these books: Get rid of your cars, your house, your lawn.
Oy. And yet, I have discovered a few cool nuggets scattered among the pages -- and plucked a few more from friends further along the simplification path than I am. Here are the best ones that allow us to keep what, in our hearts, we know we want: our careers, husbands, kids...and Cuisinarts.
1. Embrace your insignificance
Even if you're a CEO, you're still only one spoke in the big wheel. Quit thinking everything depends on you.
2. Let go
Something's got to give if you want to be serene. What's it gonna be? "Coming of age has a lot to do with letting go of what you were told were the right things and finding out what are the right things for you," says Judy, a first-grade teacher in Vermont who's also an accomplished artist.
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