“Life is like art. You have to work hard to keep it simple and still have meaning.” – Charles de Lint
Living a meaningful life is enriching, rewarding and incredibly empowering. But best of all, living a meaningful life doesn’t have to be complex.
Keeping life simple is about relying on the basics. Basics like honesty, respect, trust, happiness and friendship go a long way to clearing out the clutter and staying focused on what’s important.
For me, healthy relationships, a fulfilling career and my spiritual growth all contribute to a meaningful life. And my path to these wonderful things is made simpler when I keep the basics in mind.
The following 12 ways to keep life simple (but still have meaning) is by no means a comprehensive list. It’s a cheat-sheet to help me remember a few of the more important basics along the way.
1. Savor every moment
To be in the moment is to live in the moment. Too often we are thinking ahead or looking ahead to the next event or circumstance, not appreciating the “here and now.” When you savor every moment, you are savoring the happiness in your life.
Take the time to unwind, decompress, or to put it simply, just “to chill.” Life comes at you hard and fast. Fatigue, stress and exhaustion may begin to settle in on you faster than you may think, or notice. The best remedy for this is rest.
3. Find your calling
Some find meaning in religion or spirituality while others find purpose in their work or relationships. Finding your calling may be much more than accomplishing one simple strategy for increasing your happiness, but having a sense of purpose – of feeling like you are here for a reason – can bring the greatest happiness of all.
4. Get into the flow
Flow is the form of joy, excitement and happiness that occurs when you are so absorbed in an activity you love that you can lose yourself and time seems to stand still. What creates flow is unique to you.
5. Play to your strengths
One way to achieve flow is by understanding and identifying your strengths and core values, and then begin to use these every day. Once you are aware of your strengths and you begin to play to our strengths, you can better incorporate them in all aspects of your life.
6. Forget regret
Leave your mistakes and regret in the past. They don’t define your value, then or now. When you stay in the past you become stuck and unable to move forward. To begin learning how to put these experiences behind you – by letting them go, you can begin to live in the here and now.
7. Learn from failure
Learning from failure and having regret are two separate things. Regret is an emotion; a feeling of disappointment along with a modest amount of shame or guilt. But to look back at a circumstance and figure out what went wrong gives important information.
There seems to be a higher sense of accountability when things are shared. Tell your partner or best friend what you want accomplish and by when. Sharing also gives you a safer venue to discuss your dreams and goals.
9. Perform one act of random kindness daily
Hold the elevator door open for someone who is a few steps behind you or lift the bag and place it in the overhead bind on the airplane for someone who can’t manage this task. Kindness breeds more kindness. The concept of paying it forward is alive and well.
10. Listen, really listen, when someone is speaking to you
Listen without judgments or criticism. Try to avoid any self-referencing and be fully present for whoever needs it.
11. Say “I Love You…”
Tell the people who you truly love and cherish this every day. Do so with heart-felt sincerity. Love them as if this were their, and your, last day on earth. Don’t wait; tell them today
12. Give yourself grace and mercy
We all make mistakes – always have and always will. Perhaps no one is harder on you than you. Give yourself grace for your sins and mistakes. These don’t define your value or purpose in life. Focus on what you can today, right now, to begin feeling more comfortable in your own skin. You are worthy to receive the good fortunes of life and you are more than enough.