One Month to Better, Simpler Living: 30 Small Changes to Make


We're told not to "sweat the small stuff," but sometimes the small stuff adds up and prevents us from being happy. You can drastically — and simply — improve your life by cutting out the small, unnecessary stuff, and making simple changes to your routine and behavior. Call it "living sustainably happy." Ready to give it a go? Take a look at these 30 ways to get back to basics and enjoy life a little bit more.

1. Create a Simple-Living Mission Statement

Before you start eliminating things from your life and begin making changes, start with a mission statement. Think about why you want to make these changes, the actual changes you'd like to make, and what you'd like the result of these changes to be. When you've figured that out, write a statement that covers these questions and answers so you have a solid foundation on which to build and motivation to keep you going when the going gets tough.

2. Devise a Simpler System for Housework

Very few people actually enjoy housework, but it can become less of a chore if you simplify the process. One way to do this is to create a checklist of areas you want to concentrate on so all you have to do is run down the list and check things off when you're finished. Be sure to include on the list all the cleaning supplies you'll need during the clean, too. By having everything mapped out from the beginning, you're less likely to waste time running back and forth to rooms because you forgot this or that. (See also: 25 Tricks for Quick and Easy Cleaning)

3. Eliminate One Electronic Device

Identify a device in your life that you can live without — mine is the iPad, I've recently discovered — and turn it off for good. Since you won't be using it anymore, why not sell it to the highest bidder on Craigslist or eBay and pocket a few bucks?

4. Turn on the Radio Instead of the TV

Radio and TV have very different effects on people. Have you noticed? We tend to plop down on the couch and stuff our faces while we're watching TV, but when the radio is on we tend to move around, sing, dance, and otherwise do something productive to the beat in the background. Given how these two mediums tend to affect how we operate, which do you think is better for you?

5. Plan Your Meals and Make a Shopping List

Your evenings at home will be much simpler and more enjoyable if you start planning your meals in advance and creating a shopping list of ingredients based on what you plan to make. You'll have everything you'll need for delicious dinners and lunches in the fridge at the beginning of the week, and you won't have to think about what's for dinner after a hard day of work. (See also: Stop Wasting Food)

6. Cut Off Your Cable

There are lots of alternatives to cable these days that cost much less than your pricey monthly subscription. Another benefit to cutting the cable is that you might be motivated to find more productive things to do besides watching TV since the temptation is greatly reduced. (See also: Cut Cable and Still Watch What You Like)

7. Impose a Social Media Blackout

Sometimes you need to disconnect to concentrate on more important things — like your work and your relationships. I recently went off Facebook for about a month, and it was quite liberating. Even though I'm back on now, I'm checking and using it much less than I was before.

8. Spend More Time Talking to a Human Being

Everywhere I look, people are buried in their phones. Make a conscious effort to spend more face-to-face time with the people you like and love. It'll make their day, and it might just make yours too.

9. Evaluate Your Commitments

Take a look at your calendar. Are there events on there that you don't want or need to attend? You shouldn't do anything you don't want to do; it'll only stress you out more. Cancel these events, and find something better to do with your time.

10. Enjoy Meal Time by Eating Slower

I always hate when a good meal comes to an end. Enjoy your meals more by eating slower and savoring the food, the ambiance, and the company of the moment.

11. Go to Bed Earlier

Why are you staying up so late? To watch TV? To answer e-mails? To play video games? And what do you have to show for it? Nothing but grogginess and a bad attitude the next day. Try going to bed earlier and see how you feel in the morning. I bet it's an improvement over how you feel when you've gone to bed too late.

12. Learn to Accept That Tomorrow Is Another Day

Don't be so hard on yourself if today didn't go so well. You'll get another crack at it tomorrow — and you'll go into it wiser than before.

13. Say "No" More Often

We often burden ourselves by doing things that we don't want to do. Learn how to say no more often if you want to be happier more often. (See also: Fix Your Time Management Problem)

14. Worry Less About Going to the Gym and More About Staying Active

Stop worrying about how much time you're spending in the gym (although, you should probably reevaluate your membership if you're not going that often), and concentrate more on staying active outside of it. Walk, bike, run, hike, and dance while you clean, even. There are lots of ways you can keep moving and burn calories even if you can't make it to the gym.

15. Edit Your Rooms, and Cut the Clutter

Take a look around your rooms. Are there things for which you have no use? Are there things you can sell and make extra cash? If so, gather those things and get rid of them. You don't need "stuff" in your life that serves no purpose. (See also: Do This One Thing a Day to Defeat Clutter Forever)

16. Rely on Your Car Less to Get Around

Park the car and walk and bike more often. You'll get more exercise, your body and mind will feel better, and you'll save money on gas.

17. Read More Meaningful Material

Put down the gossip magazine and pick up a book. The latter will make you much smarter than the former.

18. Delete Time-Sucking Apps From Your Phone

Find yourself spending hours playing nonsensical games on your phone? Take your time back by deleting the most notorious among them so you can concentrate on more important things.

19. Do Something Nice For Yourself Every Day

How can anyone love you the way you want to be loved if you don't love yourself? Treat yourself better by doing something good for yourself everyday. That doesn't always mean pampering yourself but rather something that will positively affect an aspect of your life, whether it be your work, your relationship, or another important part of your overall well-being.

20. Unsubscribe to Unwanted Email

Instead of blindly deleting all those email newsletters you don't want to receive, take the time to unsubscribe so you're not burdened with them in the future. You'll save a lot of time, and you'll get to what matters faster.

21. Carry Less With You

Do you need or use everything that you keep in your purse or backpack? Clean it out for a lighter load and greater peace of mind.

22. Remember That Things Don't Define You

The things you have don't make you better or worse than the next person. Keep that in mind when evaluating what you already have in your life and when contemplating buying something new. You don't need these things to validate you; you're just fine the way you are. (See also: Do You "Want" to Be Happy?)

23. Create a Daily To-Do List

I work quicker and feel more accomplished with my daily to-do list in front of me. It's very satisfying when I cross off items one by one. Consider creating your own, and see what happens.

24. Organize Your Workspace

Chaos breeds more chaos, which means that if one part of your life is out of sorts, other parts are susceptible to failure as well. Start putting your life back in order at work. You spend most of your time there so it only makes sense to start there.

25. Spend More Time With People Who Make You Happy

Who needs negative people in their life or people you just don't like to be around? Cut those downers off and instead spend more time with people who make you happy. Life's too short.

26. Establish a Morning and Evening Routine

Establishing a routine makes me feel whole. I can't explain why, but I prefer to have routines in place so I can ensure that I'm doing what I need to do for myself every single day. Once you get in the groove, your routine will likely prove to be a timesaver over the carefree way you went about things before. (See also: 15 Ways to Save Time in the Morning)

27. Pare Down Your Cabinets

This goes for all your cabinets. Eat what you have in your pantry before buying new food; use what you have in your medicine cabinet before restocking. Also take a look at what's expired and what you no longer want, and toss them out.

28. Think Before You Spend

Before you give into temptation, ask yourself: "Do I reeeeeeally need this?" Nine times out of 10, that answer is no.

29. Use What You Already Have

Already have a tube of lip balm that's only half used? What do you need another one for? You don't, in fact. And this goes for everything else in your life that you already have. You don't need two of something when one works just fine.

30. Give More Than You Take

Even if you don't always get the same treatment in return, you'll feel better by giving more than you take on a consistent basis.

Do you have more ways to simply improve the quality of your life? Let me know in the comments below.

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