A Simple Life is a Better One

Jason Weiland

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Do you ever feel like your life is a five-alarm fire, and you don’t know if you can continue the way you’re going? Are you tired of the fast pace of life and the nonstop all-you-can-eat mentality that thrives around you? Are you sick of struggling and never getting anywhere?

Do you ever wish you could slow down and enjoy life?

If I asked myself these questions twelve years ago, I would have said yes to all of them! I don’t think I’m alone, thinking our lives are moving too fast in directions we don’t want to go.

Maybe it’s time we stepped off this crazy carnival ride and took a good look around?

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Our lives have morphed from a simple childhood to an exhausted adult mess of running from place to place and never feeling we will ever get a handle on anything.

If you people-watch, as I do, you can tell by the drawn expressions and glazed eyes that everyone’s lives have turned into a limbo of drear and boredom. We are all sick and tired.

Society bought into an idea some years ago — sometimes we call it the American Dream. Sadly, the time when we could hope to live that dream has come and gone. Many of us are still working and slaving, trying to buy the newest and greatest stuff. We fill our houses and apartments with things we don’t need and maybe never wanted in the first place.

We’ve lost the joy in life and plod through our days to survive another month of bills and commitments. We’ve forgotten the things that make us happy in our quest to get more junk than everyone else. Along the way, we’ve lost the thing we need the most.

Do we need a new smartphone every couple of years, and is that 70-inch flatscreen essential to your well-being? Is it necessary to pay those colossal car payments for the monstrous SUV in the driveway? Is the grass really greener over at the Joneses next door?

We’ve lost our marbles! Thanks, capitalism!

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For many, all the worry and baggage we carry around either worsens issues we already have or causes us to develop new anxieties. For some, it creates poor mental health. We have all accepted that the cause of our illnesses and disorders was a chemical imbalance when most times, our toxic situations and stress are the culprits.

It is no mistake that the dramatic increase in people on antidepressants and anxiety medication is relative to the rise of forced responsibilities, higher cost of living, and loss of personal freedom.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t offer a cure for poor mental health and illness — nobody can. I can only provide solutions that helped me to a place where my mental illness is no longer life-threatening.

Twelve years ago, I was mentally a very sick man. Even as soon as six years ago, I attempted to take my own life. I was in the care of psych doctors and mental wards. I’ve been on hundreds of different medications and exhausted countless hours in therapy.

But nothing changed until I decided to take matters into my own hands and do something for myself.

I’ve learned that my illness was so severe because of my environment and the people around me. Yes, there is a chemical component, but it got unbearable because I was under an extreme amount of stress and strain.

I’d bought into the idea that people would only love me for the things I could do for them. So I worked tirelessly to finance others’ lives while my own went in the toilet. While others thought of themselves, I pushed my broken mind to a place that was almost impossible to get out of.

It wasn’t until I embraced the philosophy of simplicity that I started to see my life change.

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Right before I shook up my life ten years ago and changed everything that made me, me, I gave it an enema. I knew I could only keep as much stuff as I could carry with me to my next destination, so I set about getting rid of everything that owned me.

I started to embrace simplicity and minimalism.

I love Leo Babauta’s description of minimalism on the website mnmlist.com. In his FAQ, he answers the question, “What is minimalist living?” by saying:

“It’s simply getting rid of things you do not use or need, leaving an uncluttered, simple environment and an uncluttered, simple life. It’s living without an obsession with material things or an obsession with doing everything and doing too much. It’s using simple tools, having a simple wardrobe, carrying little and living lightly.”

Too many possessions owned me, and I tried to do too much stuff each day.

I had to make changes.

I got rid of almost everything, though it was a complicated process.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you have to live like a hermit with nothing to your name. Many people think so when they hear the word minimalism. They picture some flannel-wearing hippie living in a 25-square-foot house with no electricity.

While some minimalists do choose to live that way, minimalism means different things to different people. Some have families, own houses and cars, and eat the occasional fast-food hamburger.

Minimalism is more of a state of mind. It is about gaining freedom from limiting material possessions and restrictive thoughts.

It’s about simplifying.

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The less stress and clutter you have, the more freedom you’ll feel. The more freedom you feel, the happier you’ll become. You don’t have to do as I did and throw away or sell everything. Taking simple steps each day to reduce both physical and emotional stress will improve your mood and outlook on life.

I’ve embraced minimalism for over ten years, and my mental health continues to improve. I won’t say I’ve cured my mental illness, but the symptoms have lessened, and I now live a happy and fulfilled life.

Many people try to tell you to do things that have never been proven to work on anyone, but I assure you I wouldn’t be telling you about my experience with simplicity if I wasn’t sure it was one of the reasons I’ve improved so much. Embracing simplicity and improving my environment was the key for me.

You can do the same. Anyone can if you want it enough.

The worst that could happen is that you will feel better!

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Writer and advocate interested in mental health, health, family, culture, creativity, and success.

Los Angeles, CA
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