I often answer questions via email and social media from people who are struggling, and dealing with frustrating situations. The questions might be about health, relationships, money or other things, but my answer is always the same.
The Answer is Less
The questions come from wonderfully unique people, but the struggles are similar and so is the answer. I can only answer based on what I believe and what I’ve experienced.
Both the questions/concerns and answers below are much shorter and to the point than a conversation I might really have, because I don’t want my directness to come off as callous. I care deeply about you and want to help, and don’t want anything to get in the way of that.
- I am in debt and sick of never having money after I pay my bills. Spend less.
- I don’t know what my personal style is or what looks good on me. Wear less.
- My house is too big, too expensive, too much to take care of. Live in less space.
- I want to feel rested instead of anxious and overworked. Do less.
- I have health problems and feel sick and tired. Consume fewer animal products and less processed food.
- No one thinks I should (insert major life change here). Care less about what they think and trust yourself.
- I want to enjoy traveling. Pack less.
- I can’t convince my husband/wife/children/partner/parent to live more simply. Convince less.
- I hate cleaning and organizing. Live with less.
- I worry about my everything and I can’t sleep. Worry less.
- I don’t want to be so busy. Commit to less.
- I can’t keep up with social media and other digital distractions. Spend less time online.
- I want to feel more productive. Put less on your to-do list.
- I don’t have time to start a blog, exercise, be creative, or simplify my life. Watch less TV.
- I want to do better work. Do less busy work.
- I feel bad because everyone else is doing everything I want to do. Compare less.
- I want to be a minimalist. Own less.
- I want people to listen to me. Say less.
- I don’t know how to be happy. Complain less.
Perhaps easier said than done, but that doesn’t change the answer. When I offer a solution, I don’t take the responsibility lightly. I explain that I can only answer from my experience and what I would do in a similar situation. I also understand that a 5 sentence email might not fully explain the gravity of the situation and so my answer might not be a perfect solution.
None of the changes I’ve made when simplifying my life have been easy, but they have made everything easier. Sometimes the changes involve more than just “less” but they all start there.
Less is not an overnight solution, but it is transformative, meaningful, and the answer to your question.