As the world around us grows increasingly complex, we crave simplicity more than ever.
Decide what and who is most important in your life, and say yes to them. Say no to everything else. “Yes” is one of the most powerful words in any language, but “no” can be equally helpful when applied to extraneous clutter: physical stuff, calendar ﬁllers, and general infomania. Clothes you haven’t worn or toys your kids haven’t played with in over a year? Give ‘em away. (Hold on to the ball and the big box — those toys never get old.) Social obligations that drain more than they fuel your positive energy? Politely take a pass.
Aggressively cut down your media consumption, screen time, emails, and meetings with people who light up a room when they leave it. Pull back from the negative news cycle, choosing to get what you need in brief from a reliable source. Set speciﬁc limits for yourself on times and frequency of digital communication. Try to unplug a good hour or two before bedtime, since recent studies show digital screens, including smart phones, make falling asleep harder and lead to less restful slumber. Make some of these adjustments and you’ll instantly see the beneﬁts. You’ll ﬁnd you have more clarity – and more time for the people, projects, and hobbies you love.
Sexy ads and short-lived fads will always peddle nonsense as substance and keep some people on the hamster wheel chasing external status symbols. For most of us, the things that actually make us happy are the same things we loved as children: fresh air, laughter, and playing with family and friends. Get outside to breathe, clear your mind, and enjoy those simple pleasures. And while you’re not keeping up with the Joneses, they’ll be jonesing for what you have: a life of true depth, joy and meaning… time-tested and Socrates-approved.
This article is excerpted and adapted from the book Life is Good by Bert and John Jacobs, published by National Geographic on September 1, 2015. Copyright © 2015 The Life is Good Company.