Real Real Simple

I’ve always been fascinated by magazines. Something about the editorials alongside brilliantly colorful ads and the smell of the perfume samples really gets to me.

But of course, the temptation to buy is there, and it’s strong. And a few years I realized the ultimate irony: Real Simple is filled with tempting products that claim to offer a more simple life. But there’s so rarely a case for more when it comes to our quest for less.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the magazine, but take a moment to flip through the pages or webpages and you’ll see ads and product recommendations – quite the opposite of what it takes to really live a simplified life.

So I’ve been brainstorming what that might actually look like.

Real Real Simple: Tips for living a truly simplified life

My tips for a real, real simple life

  • Work. If you love it, stay. If you don’t, get out of there. I’ve seen too many Millennials (and older) hang on to jobs with excuses about money and the job search is hard…if you really want to make a change, then change. If you’re miserable and unwilling to try to make a change, then that lies on you. Complaining will get you nowhere, but some research and effort might take you further than you’d ever think.
  • Food. Forget learning how to read labels. Learn how to shop for (and cook!) meals made from things without packaging: fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. A diet like that isn’t terribly expensive or time consuming – in fact, the extra love you put in now will save you health care costs in the future. The closer you get to the natural state of the food, the better. (Also, I don’t really subscribe to one particular diet, but I’ve found that veggie-heavy and very few animal products works well for me).
  • Relationships. Put your people into three buckets based on the energy they bring to your life: positive, neutral, and negative. Start spending more time with the positives and spend less with the negative and neutral people. Being aware of how they impact your life is a strong first step in curating your relationships – and more meaningful relationships will benefit everyone, not just you.
  • Stuff. Declutter before organizing every time. If you’re overwhelmed with your stuff, getting new storage bins is just a temporary solution to a larger, more permanent problem. You don’t have to get rid of it all at once, but edit when you can. Keep your stuff only if it’s useful or beautiful to you.
  • Exercise. You don’t need a plan – just get outside and take a walk. Switch out coffee dates for walking dates. Bike to work. Do pushups or situps while you’re watching Netflix. I think, for me especially, it’s easy to get in our heads about doing something good for our bodies. We can’t expect to run a marathon on our first day, and we can’t even expect to feel like working out everyday. But what is most important is making the time to do one thing for your body every day. I love this advice: make it a goal to get your shoes on and get out the door. What comes next is up to you, but at least you’ve accomplished that first step.
  • Finances. Track your spending, then make a budget. Awareness is the first step! This ties in with almost every other point I’ve mentioned. Stick with whole, healthy bulk foods, find free ways to get fit and socialize, and don’t buy it if you don’t need it. If you really love something and want to get it – give it some time, research it, and think about where it fits in to your life. I usually give myself at least a month to really know that it’s something important to me before taking the plunge.

My golden rule of simplicity

The most simple, real thing I believe we can do that has a lasting impact is this: be kind to yourself.

I know this sounds a little cliche and/or silly, but I really believe that finding the right balance of motivation and self-care has profound effects on our lives and the lives of those around us. Are you any good when you’ve neglected your most basic needs (like a good night’s sleep or a healthy meal)?

In the real simple world of managing time, clutter, relationships and more, that’s the big factor that we’re missing. If we’re not meeting our basic needs, everything else gets a lot more complicated.

What’s your golden rule for simplicity?


20 thoughts on “Real Real Simple

  1. What a great list. I started a new job September 1 of this year and I now make it a point too get 8 hours sleep a night ( huge improvement over my 5 hours a night), I walk to and from work and take Sundays as my rest and be kind to myself day. I cannot believe how much better I feel. Next step is to focus on real foods and to quit smoking (gross I know but being honest).
    Thanks for your words. You are encouraging and inspiring.

    • Thanks! Wow, that’s so important – taking the time to care for yourself properly can be so hard sometimes but it’s totally worth it. You sound like you are making some great positive changes and I think that takes a lot of courage. I need to make some changes myself (especially in the exercise department) so it’s so good to hear from others. Keep it up!!!

  2. I love all the points you bring up! I need to save your list as a reminder of what I want life to be. If I were to think of a golden rule it would be to slow down. For me, rushing brings stress and makes me forget all the simple things I strive for. Slowing down can provide time for all of it.

  3. I totally agree with you! It was a big step to finally make a move and go back to school to get into a job I can love, but I truly felt like my potential happiness was in my hands.
    I’d say my golden rule is “does this make me happy?” If I’m happy every things else falls into place

  4. This is a cool list. I enjoyed the Frankness. The notes on work are great. Change it if you are unhappy, don’t put up with it and just complain. I think there are too many people that feel stuck in their job. The unhappiness that stems from this ebbs into every corner of their life. I wish more people had the courage to get out of corporate drudgery and choose meaning over money.

    Thanks for the post. It was a good read.

    Mr Simple

  5. I love your reminder about food – keeping it simple by choosing to eat REAL food. Learning how to use the magic of real food in your life is easier than we think!

  6. I like what you’ve written about relationships. I never thought to put people into categories like that but it seems like a good way to sort things out. I feel like as we get older, we sort of naturally do this. I’m seeing a lot of people unhappy because they are wasting their time and effort on obligations to negative people. Being sort of organized this way might help people wake up to that reality. Thank you!

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