10 Things to Add to a Simple Life

flowersI like to write about editing, subtracting, and removing things that don’t matter to make room for everything that does. It’s the first step towards a simpler life, but it’s not the only one.

When simplifying your life, the focus is often on decluttering and donating, but there is so much you can add to support a simple life, to build a good life.

10 Things to Add to a Simple Life

1. Value. Add richness and value to your own life by adding value to the lives around you. Look at the connections and interactions you have, and notice opportunities to add more to the relationship. Not more stuff, or more advice, but more goodness to elevate everyone around you.

2. Silence. Life is busy, but a few quiet moments every day can better prepare you to handle everything that comes your way. Declare daily quiet time an essential part of your life. Put it on your calendar and let your family know what you need. Even 5 quiet minutes can change the whole day. If you are ready for more quiet, try this simple experiment to change your view of words.

3. Laughter. Even while you are working hard to simplify your life and dealing with serious things like paying off debt, changing careers, and giving away your stuff, look for opportunities to laugh with your whole heart. Laughing offers great health benefits like lower blood pressure, and the release of endorphins, and makes you a better person to be around.

4. Art. Support artists. Make art. Give art. If you love to create and you aren’t creating, there is something missing. The world deserves your art and you so deserve to engage in activities you love. If you want your art to be your work, turn your creativity into a career with Designed to Sell, an awesome resource from Unconventional Guides.

5. Gratitude. Express your gratitude out loud. Be grateful for everything you have. When you turn your focus to being grateful for what you do have, there is very little time or energy to think about what you don’t have.

6. Patience. As you simplify your life, be patient with the people in your life who aren’t there yet. Be patient as you encourage simplicity.

7. Benevolence. Give, give, give and then give some more. Even when you think you’ve given all you have to give, just wait, there is more.

8. Joy. Find little things that bring you great joy. You can find joy in the simplest things like taking a walk. I took a walk earlier this week and found beautiful flower beds (shown above). Create joy, notice joy and celebrate joy.

9. Congruence. Always be moving closer to acting, living and working in a way that aligns with your core values. Be who you really are in thought, word, and deed. Danielle LaPorte says, “If you have to step outside of yourself, away from your values and soul to get your needs met, then you are not really going to get your needs met.” I know this to be true. It doesn’t mean I get it right every time, but I’ll continue to practice, because when I do get it right, the experience is sublime.

10. Love. I was doing a meditation from this series and learned that “love travels in all directions.” I’ve implemented this recommendation too: Anytime you notice love, say “this is love.”  Through this practice, I’ve noticed that love is everywhere and the more love you have and give, the more love you have and give.

When you add a few of these things to your simple life, you’ll quickly see that you don’t need all the stuff to have it all. The secret to having it all is recognizing that you already do.


  1. says

    This is an amazing list of things to add, similar to the one I posted earlier.

    I loved what you said about silence, art and laughter. Like our children’s laughter, nothing brings me more joy as a dad. I love the sound and want to add more of it to my life.

    This post reminds us that simplicity is not only about subtracting. The simple journey is also about the things we intentionally add to our lives.

    Thanks Courtney.

    PS…I TOTALLY LOVE the pics. The colors are amazing!

  2. says

    This is beautiful, Courtney, from the photos to the words. I’m a big fan of all these values so I’m right with you. They are far more important than material items in my eyes. So happy you can add in addition to subtract!

  3. says

    Love the idea of focusing on what to add as well as what to take away.
    I have a quick question for you about art, Courtney – how do you negotiate all the supplies / materials you need for making art with your quest for simplicity / owning less? I’m not sure what kind of art you do (other than writing, of course) and this would probably affect it quite a bit.
    But I have a lot of art supplies (I believe I have about 7 different kinds of tape at the moment 😛 ) and I find it difficult to pare it down because it seems wasteful to throw the rest out after a project and I really do often use them again in another project. But this is often months or years later.
    Would be interested to hear your thoughts (or anyone elses!) :)

    • Gail says

      I’m a crafter, too, and have the same problem you do. I find it hard to let go of anything that I might use in a future project (pieces of ribbon, buttons, scraps of this and that). If I come across something that I don’t want or use, I find myself thinking how I could repurpose it, or I think about any part of it that I could snip off and save for a future project. It is a problem, and is counterproductive to our shared goals of downsizing and decluttering. I’ve never met another crafter who didn’t have TONS of craft supplies. Most of my crafter friends have been crafting for decades, and do a number of different crafts. That means we have supplies for all different types of art – sewing, quilting, knitting, stamping, scrapbooking – remember macrame? Let’s hope someone has a solution for this problem.

  4. says

    Love this! It’s funny, but I had some of these revelations just on Sunday. I ran six miles with my new shoes and it was a beautiful day. I hired my friend to help me go through and declutter my closet and lots of stuff (we still have the rest of the apt to hit). First, we went out for an indulgent brunch where we (two other friends joined us) had a great time just people watching and eating. I was just sitting back thinking how great this day started. Then, we walked up and down this main road, which was closed for our city’s fitness festival. We stopped in some stores and then went shopping. I bought a beautiful dress and shirt. She bought two things. We spent like 2-3 hours in there, but we didn’t buy a whole bunch of stuff like we used to do. We thought about our purchases; we used to just buy buy buy. We commented on how we did so good in the store. But it was just fun doing that with my friend, because we haven’t done that in sooo long. Then, we cleaned and organized and went out for sushi with another friend. It was a new sushi place. So, this list really hot a lot of what I experienced that day and hope to continue.

  5. says

    I’m up there with you on all of those. After some very dark times in the past I have learned to love and live in the moment and be thankful for even the smallest things.

    As for craft items. Timely for me. I am just about to divest about 90% of my supplies. I have discovered that the more supplies I had the less I did. There was just too much choice. Working out of a small bag makes me focus on the art and not the tools.

  6. says

    Patience and laughter are the ones that I have to work. Very simples but very difficult also to put in practice. I am agree with all of the other values.

  7. me says

    I was rather sad to read the site Designed to Sell (mentioned here) and knew there was a catch at the bottom. Sure enough, quickly scrolled down and there it was – they were selling something. Plus social networking online was mentioned as a way to get ahead. Not interested having left facebook 3 years ago and definitely not going back. Ah well…

  8. Chris says

    Where do you guys get these beautiful insights? Yes, it’s easy to see how these things you add to a simple life can bring some joy. laughter is something I seem to no longer able to experience. I will begin to be aware of this and find cause for laughter at every chance I get.