Live a Simple and Peaceful Life

Life on the fast track will eventually take its toll on your health and your relationships with others. The pressure to perform and live up to unrealistic expectations leaves you yearning for a simpler more peaceful life. By adjusting your schedule, reprioritizing your life, and changing your physical environment you will attain the life you desire.


Adjusting Your Schedule

  1. Slow down. There are times when you are so used to doing everything in a hurry that you don’t notice how fast-paced your life has become. Simply reading the words, “Slow down,” will allow you to pause for a moment and notice. This step is mentioned first so you will carry the thought with you throughout this article and beyond.
    • Avoid multi-tasking. It has become popular, if not clichéd, to multi-task. Research indicates that there is a point where the quality of what you are doing declines when you try to focus on too many tasks at once.[1] Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you have to.
    • Find your threshold of diminishing return on the number of tasks you can work on. Your goal is to do things well so you can feel good about your accomplishments.
    • Do nothing as if it were something. There is an art to doing nothing. Many people struggle with taking time to pause and regroup. Even if you take a five minute break to do nothing, do it.
  2. Reduce your commitments. If you have current commitments to do something, then follow through until the tasks or events are complete. However, from this point forward take on fewer commitments. You may struggle at first, but focus your intent on simplifying your life, which will bring about peace. Allow the eventual goal to motivate you and quiet your feelings of guilt.
    • Limit the amount of times you say, “Yes” by keeping a tally on your calendar. First, determine your “comfort level” for how many events you can peacefully manage. Second, stick to that number. No one can always be the good guy who says, “Yes.”
    • When you are asked to participate in an event, do not quickly answer. Pause for a moment to discern if the event will enrich your life. If it won’t you can say, “Thank you for inviting me, but I need to pass.”
    • Develop an ability to say, “no” by communicating your intent. There are times when some people will not take “no” for an answer. This is your cue to share a bit more information with the person to set your boundary.[2] Consider saying something like, “You are so kind to think of me, but I’m making some changes in my life that are really important to me, my family and my health so I am going to have to decline.” The person will likely support your decision.
  3. Eliminate extras. The concept of conspicuous consumption may describe your life. It entails lavish or wasteful spending that attempts to show others your level of social prestige.[3] Simplifying your life will drastically cut into the amount of “extras” you have grown accustom to. The goal is to cut out the extra expenses so you won’t be tied down by financial obligations.
    • Question if you really need that third ipad or newest electronic gadget, or twice-a-day trip through the coffee retailer drive-thru. Just say “no” to yourself, and “yes” to your desire to live a simpler and more peaceful life. Each time you are faced with a decision, you can make a good decision.
    • Find fulfillment in the simple things in life by spending time with friends, in nature, or building something with your own two hands. Intrinsic rewards will improve your motivation and overall satisfaction with your life.[4]
  4. Declutter your living area. People create their world around them and fill it with items. If you want to simplify your life, survey your surroundings and get organized. A well-organized home is a healthy home. Eliminating surplus items that you no longer use will help declutter your home, your emotions and your thoughts.[5] When your exterior world is free of clutter, so is your interior world.
    • Take a minimum of 10 minutes a day to organize your surroundings.
    • Use the weekend or your days off to take on bigger projects like cleaning closets, drawers and garages.
    • Sort your items into three categories: Keep; donate; and throw away. Giving away lightly used items to charitable organizations gives others an opportunity to enjoy the items and provides jobs for the workers who process the donations. With each donation you make you are helping the community, which enhances your self-esteem.[6]

Reprioritizing Your Life

  1. Identify your values.[7] Think about the things that are important to you that influence the way you act and ultimately the person you are. These are values. They are a guiding force in decision making. Identifying your values can be a challenge, but it is worth the effort.
    • To identify your values, think about the times in your life when you were the happiest, most proud, most fulfilled and satisfied. Make a list and determine what you valued about those situations. Perhaps you value the creativity, adventure, loyalty and hard work each of these situations provided. Maybe you realize that you value your family the most. These will be a driving force in everything you do.
    • If you want to live a simple peaceful life, then you might value serenity, resourcefulness, stability, and health.
  2. Align your activities with your values. Participate in activities that are congruent with your values and desire to simplify your life. You will know if your activities are in line with your values by the way you feel. You will feel satisfied and content. When it comes to activities that conflict with your values, the opposite is true. You will have a strong feeling that something is wrong and you are unhappy.
    • Decline offers to events that conflict with your intent to live peacefully.
    • Make a decision to live a value-driven life. It will take discipline and focus, which can be enhanced by things such as a yoga and physical exercise.[8]
  3. Formulate a plan and commit to it. Following a problem solving model will give you structure for creating change. You have identified your desire to live a simple and peaceful life and now you must determine clear objectives, implement them, make adjustments as needed and monitor your progress.[9]
    • Determine clear objectives. One objective may be that you set a schedule and keep a log of your decluttering efforts. Self-monitoring leads to real change.[10]
    • Pick a start date for your plan and start. Don’t delay the inevitable. Start as soon as possible.
    • Recognize your growth and reward yourself. If you successfully meet your daily, weekly or monthly objectives, celebrate your accomplishments. Perhaps you could go to a movie, attend a sporting event or plant a tree in honor of someone you admire. Positive reinforcement will motivate you to continue with your plan.
    • If a strategy isn’t working for you, then stop using it. Find an alternative and plug it into your plan. Don’t look at it as a failure; instead look at it as a correction in the course toward your goal.
    • Your new behaviors will build over time and become second nature to you. As your behavior becomes more natural, you can lessen your strict adherence to your plan and still maintain positive outcomes.[11]
  4. Practice living in the present moment. Don’t occupy your thoughts with too much about the past or too much about the future. A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.[12] Simplifying your thoughts involves quieting your mind, and staying focused on what you are doing at that moment.
    • Use visualization exercises to imagine yourself in a simple, peaceful stress-free environment. This will help quiet your mind.
    • Engage in conversation or exercise. These are two of the most effective ways to stay in the present moment.[12]
  5. Write in a gratitude journal. The benefits of keeping a gratitude journal include improved sleep, improved health and increased happiness – all factors that create peace in your life. There are things to consider to obtain the highest level of benefit:[13]
    • Start by deciding to become happier and more grateful.
    • Provide the details about the things you are grateful for rather than stating simple phrases.
    • Gear your gratitude toward people rather than things.
    • Consider how your life would be different by removing something you care about. This will inspire you to think of additional aspects of your gratitude.
    • Remember to include unexpected surprises.
    • Don’t lose your gumption to write by forcing yourself to write every day. Perhaps once or twice a week would be comfortable routine.
  6. Practice empathy and compassion to create peace.[14] The ability to appreciate someone else’s struggle is an important skill to develop. It comes easy to some people, and not to others. You know how you would like to be treated, so use that as a guide when trying to forgive someone.
    • If you want to practice empathy and compassion start by reaching out to a family member or friend and offer to help her in some way. Perhaps you could run an errand for her, or do something simple like unload groceries, or water her plants. The point of this exercise is to provide to others the feelings and actions you appreciate when someone does the same for you.
  7. Switch from resentful to grateful to improve relationships. Much of a person’s internal and external unrest stems from conflicts with others. As they say, holding resentment toward someone is like drinking poison expecting the other person to be harmed. Thoughts of gratitude will help improve your mood and thus, lessen feelings of resentment.[15] When you feel resentful stop yourself and ask the following questions:
    • Do I feel good when I think about this person?
    • Are my negative feelings helping me or hurting me?
    • Do my thoughts aimed at retribution toward this person have any actual impact on the other person?
    • The obvious answers to the questions are no, no and no. Next, respond with gratitude-filled statements: I feel good that I am letting go of my resentment for this person; My focus on moving forward is helping me feel better; I am focused on improving my life rather than destroying someone else’s.

Changing Your World

  1. Move your residence. If you are living in a high-density populated area it may be causing you undue stress. A change of scenery to a calm and peaceful location will enhance your efforts to live a simple life. Your home is your sanctuary.
    • If you must stay close to where you currently live, then research prospective properties to rent or buy. Using a property manager can be very helpful.
    • If you are interested in making a big leap, then research areas farther away that offer what you desire. You might feel better and more positive about living near the ocean, in the mountains, or on the top floor of a beautiful skyscraper.
  2. Consider buying a "tiny house." This small scale version of a house has everything you could want. Designed for the minimalist who enjoys all the comforts of home in an extremely small space. The house can be placed on a piece of property, hooked up to water and sewer and you call it home.
    • You can forego a large mortgage in exchange for a creatively designed little, peaceful, environmentally conscious home.[16]
  3. Simplify your transportation. There are plenty of people who own a high-line car with a payment that is equivalent to a house payment. This is another instance where the extra income it requires to pay for this item could be re-purposed to free yourself from financial obligations.
    • Small eco-friendly cars will get you where you want to go and decrease your carbon footprint. Less pollution means a simpler, cleaner existence.
    • Get a bike and ride it to work. It is great exercise and you will always have a great parking spot.
  4. Change careers. There is nothing worse than going to a job every day that you hate. If all your attempts to make it more enjoyable have been unsuccessful, you would benefit from changing jobs and/or careers. If you are spending 80 hours a week cranking out sales quotas that leave you depleted and stressed, it is time for a change toward the simpler life.
    • As you follow your plan you may find that you don’t have to make as much money to support your new lifestyle. This will allow you the freedom to explore options that may be more in line with your goals, values and interests.
    • Contact a career counselor at the local college, or in private practice to explore your options and discover what you would really like to do for work.
  5. Adopt a practice for well-being. Making yourself and your health a priority is essential to living a simple and peaceful life. Develop a lifestyle for yourself to follow. Use schedules and routines to maintain a healthy balance of work, play and rejuvenation.
    • This includes a healthy eating plan that will fuel your body and provide you with energy to maintain an exercise regime. You may need to change perspectives about exercise, but you will benefit immensely.[17]
    • Meditate and rejuvenate and you will enjoy life that much more.[8]
  6. Be responsible for your own happiness. Be self-reliant. Happiness is an inside job and you are responsible to create it. You know what makes you happy, so participate in activities that will build a reservoir of positive feelings. It is easier to face difficult situations if you are filled with good vibes. A happier you will always make any situation and relationship better.


  • It is never too late if you are willing to seek professional help for your issues.
  • Change is not easy, but it is possible if you are willing to put in the effort and find ways of coping with your issues.
  • Be patient with yourself and the process.
  • Friends and family can be extremely helpful and inspiring when you are trying to improve your life. Accept the help.


  • If you are suffering from stress, depression or anxiety related to your hectic lifestyle, consider seeking help from a therapist.

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Sources and Citations