The Art of Simplification

Simplifying our lives is not easy. I have a friend in real estate and he is constantly looking for ways to simplify his life.

What is simplicity or a simple life? Historian, David Shi says:

The precise meaning of the simple life has never been fixed. Rather, it has always represented a shifting cluster of ideas, sentiments, and activities.

Dr. Richard Swenson says:
The simple life is-

  • Voluntary
  • Free
  • Uncluttered
  • Natural
  • Creative
  • Authentic
  • Focused
  • Margined
  • Disciplined
  • Diligent
  • Healthful

Simplicity can easily be misunderstood so we can explain it not only by what it is as well as what it is not. Simplicity is not easy, impoverished, ignorant, or escapist. As stated above it takes discipline to live simply. The following lists are suggested ideas, by Dr. Swenson, for learning to live simply in many areas of our lives:


  • Cultivate contentment
  • Resist consumerism
  • Give things away
  • De-accumulate
  • Exchange things
  • Avoid impulse buying
  • Avoid debt at all costs
  • Reject fads
  • Simplify your clothes
  • Make due with the income you have


  • Slow down
  • Say “no”
  • Enjoy slow peaceful music
  • Control TV watching (i.e. try TiVO)
  • Drive the speed limit


  • Have dates with your spouse
  • Plan family trips
  • Encourage others
  • Help others
  • Practice hospitality
  • Do not judge
  • Enjoy alone time/solitude
  • Show appreciation

Spiritual Life

  • Meditate
  • Pray
  • Simple worship


  • Do not overwork
  • Make commitments simple
  • Elevate reading
  • Simplify Christmas
  • Nutrition & Exercise
  • Bike or walk
  • Make recreation active
  • Healthy sleep habits
  • Avoid overeating
  • Take up gardening

Simplicity and a simple life do not come easy. Yet with discipline and inspiration it can be achieved and maintained. Yes, it’s easy to over-commit, it’s easy to eat junk-food, it’s easy to sit in front of the TV for long periods but life catches up to you and it is no longer easy. Begin applying some of the ideas listed above today — do not make them rules — and as they become habits, you’ll look back and be amazed at how simple your life has become.


2 thoughts on “The Art of Simplification

  1. Great post Eric. I see some characteristics I’ve attained in life, but even more I desire to reach. Specifically discipline and margin, which are obviously related.

    I love your blog. Great food for thought and I see we share a lot in common based on your selection of books.

    I’ll be back for more. Viva la weird!


    Dustin, Thank you for the kind comments. Never stop reading or learning! -eb

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