We have so many modern conveniences, yet our lives have become more complicated and hectic than ever. Many people want to go back to the old ways of doing things. That’s because our fast-paced lives have taken a toll on our stress and happiness levels. We continuously work to achieve higher incomes, more benefits, and rewards. But at what cost?
Life doesn’t have to be so stressful and burdensome. However, we’ve just made it that way. In the U.S., we have more economic opportunities and innovations than almost any other country. Yet we don’t even rank in the top 10 happiest countries. Perhaps our obsession with materialism, money, and different sensory stimulations plays a large part in this unhappiness epidemic sweeping the nation. We often sacrifice our health and happiness just for the almighty dollar, but at some point, this comes back to bite us.
If you want to increase your happiness, simplifying your life should become a priority. The less you have to worry about, the more time you can spend connecting with loved ones, taking care of yourself, and enjoying the life you work so hard to maintain. Below, we’ll go over why a simple life makes people happier, and how you can attain it.
Scientists Reveal Why A Simple Life Increases Happiness
Here are the reasons why people are happy when they simplify their lives.
1 – You have more time to learn about yourself.
Going within yourself to seek answers becomes a lot easier when you give up all the distractions in your life. If you think about it, most of us spend the majority of the time just trying to fill up our lives with some kind of stimulation. But that habit only leads to burn out and boredom after a while.
Whether you spend your time surfing Netflix, watching YouTube videos, shopping online, or scrolling social media, your brain doesn’t get much time to rest. If you take time to reflect and meditate, you’ll find a lot more peace and fulfillment in your life.
If you shift your focus from gaining material objects and entertainment to a life of simplicity and peace, you’ll find that your happiness increases over time.
Many people who chase after the latest gadgets and toys seem to find disappointment after disappointment. That’s because they never feel truly fulfilled. However, silence and solitude help increase spirituality, which will foster inner peace and pure bliss.
Perhaps as a society, we need to start measuring happiness by how healthy and peaceful we feel instead of our earnings or employment rates. Inner happiness paves the way for a more balanced life, and as a collective, we need to learn that outer possessions will never bring a feeling of wholeness.
2 – A simple life will improve your relationships.
In his essay Voluntary Simplicity: Characterization, Select Psychological Implications, and Societal Consequences, Amitai Etzioli postulates that the less time we spend accumulating possessions, the more time we will spend on fostering healthy relationships. In the modern world, we often have very little time to spend bonding with each other. After work, chores, getting the kids fed, cleaning the house, and taking care of bills, we usually have a minimal amount of time left for connecting with each other. Our distractions such as social media and Netflix only add to the disconnection most of us feel in these times as well.
Plus, quality friendships can improve our health. In a time where many people feel lonely, it’s more important than ever to put material possessions and accumulation of money on the back burner in favor of supporting each other. A Harvard study found that keeping close friends can help brain health as we age, which shows why we should prioritize our relationships.
3 – You’ll have more money.
By living a more simple life, you’ll drastically cut down on your consumption, which will put more money in your wallet. Of course, you might ask what the point of having extra money is if you won’t spend it. However, you can always donate to charities, buy some land so you can live more simply, or invest in a new hobby that brings you fulfillment. You don’t always need to use your money to buy the latest iPhone or trending gadget that only offers temporary satisfaction anyway.
Simplifying your finances means you’ll have less debt, and therefore, less stress overall. According to a U.K. study from 2018, where 2,000 people answered questions about stressors in modern life, anxiety about money affects around 40% of the population.
You can have a simple life with more happiness by taking a good, hard look at your finances. How often do you drive through Starbucks each week? At $5 a cup on average, those visits can add up over time. Secondly, look at your monthly subscriptions. Some people don’t even remember how many things they’ve signed up for. And those $10 or $20 on Netflix or workout subscriptions can eat away at your budget.
Make sure to take a look at how much you dine out as well because it can save you thousands of dollars a year by just cooking more at home. It may seem difficult or downright unpleasant to avoid all the guilty pleasures in our world, but you’ll feel more organized and blissful over time. Saving money means you’ll have more in the bank to put towards other investments that create more long-term happiness in your life.
4 – You’ll enjoy better health.
Voluntary simplicity can also improve your health over time. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found a strong association between acquiring physical possessions and poor health. The team also found an even stronger link between material wealth and engaging in risky activities that could harm health. Some actions included smoking, drug use, and drinking alcohol. So, by making happiness and peace your goals, you can avoid all the pitfalls that come along with chasing after money.
After all, they say with more money comes more problems, because the more you own, the more you have to worry about it. Fewer material possessions mean you won’t have to stress so much about maintaining them.
One survey from the University of the Sciences in Pennsylvania found that 90 percent of people who shifted to a simpler lifestyle had improved health after taking a pay cut and prioritizing happiness instead. Most of the people who simplified their life also reported a positive change in their mental health.
When you don’t focus so much on material possessions, you have more time to spend on your health, family, friends, and other meaningful things. Many of us work so much just to maintain a particular lifestyle. But we forget that we only need a few things in life. The rest, we just chase after to keep up an image, for the most part.
5 – A simple life means you’ll have more focus.
If you cut down on distractions such as social media and screen time in general, you’ll notice more clarity and less mental chatter. By minimizing your life overall to include fewer material possessions, these benefits will only increase.
Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute studied how clutter affects cognitive function. They found that clearing clutter from your work and home environments boosts concentration and the ability to process information. They also discovered that people who worked and lived in a clutter-free environment felt less irritable, more productive, and less distracted.
Also, choosing to turn off social media at times can improve your mental health and concentration levels. On average, we check our mobile phones every 12 minutes, which only leads to lower productivity and more mental chatter. When you work or study, make sure to turn off your phone and solely focus on the task at hand. When you finish, try not to spend as much time on social media, as it can lead to higher levels of depression and anxiety.
6 – You will help the environment.
Did you know that if everyone on Earth consumed as much as the average U.S. citizen, we would need four Earths? By consuming less and owning fewer items, we can drastically cut down on waste and fossil fuels, which pollute and destroy our planet.
By living more simply and cutting down on possessions, you will increase your health and happiness and the planet’s.
You can make a difference in the fight against climate change by doing things such as buying fewer clothes. That’s because it takes an enormous amount of fuel and energy to produce them.
Humans buy 400 percent more clothes than they did just 20 years ago. The U.S. alone contributes 11 million tons of textile waste each year to the environment. Instead of purchasing new clothes, why not buy used instead? You can sometimes find items that are only one or two years old and are still in good condition. Also, make sure to recycle clothes when they no longer fit or interest you so that others can use them.
Helping the environment and saving money on clothing will increase your happiness and help you live a simpler life.
We don’t have to make life so complicated. We can start by cutting down on purchases, monitoring our time on social media, and living more consciously. Thus, we can all have a happier existence. We can enjoy better health and spend more time with friends and family. We will also increase our focus by just choosing to shift our attention away from material items. Instead, master the art of being rather than doing.