It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? There’s so much contradicting advice on the web about what it means to live a great life.
Are we really expected to do all of it?
We live busy lives. You’re already short on time as it is, yet all advice suggests doing more. Maybe the best way to lasting happiness isn’t about doing more, but less.
Pablo Picasso once said, "Art is the elimination of the unnecessary." Perhaps happiness and life in general follow the same idea.
In other words, by eliminating the unnecessary from our lives and emphasizing what’s essential, we create room for happiness to come flowing into our life.
To sum it up in a word, it’s about balance. And it’s much easier to balance a few things that really matter compared to a clutter of useless things that don’t add any value to your life.
The rest of this post is about those few things that matter. By separating the things that make a difference from the rest of the pack you create a system of simplicity allowing you to do more of the things that actually bring you joy.
It’s pretty obvious that if you want to live a long life, one where you’re still mobile and able to get around under your own power, then health is going to be a major factor.
The fact that it’s obvious doesn’t make it any less essential.
Basic health comes down to four categories:
Taking care of your health makes the rest of your life so much easier. By moving your body and being around people who make you happy, you can relieve stress from your life and age with grace.
Society has taught us we’re always one purchase away from happiness. Buy a new tv or outfit, and then you’ll be happy.
Here’s where eliminating the excess comes in. You don’t need more stuff to make you happy. Instant gratification wears off not long after material purchases.
Getting rid of the things you don’t need will help you appreciate the material goods that do make your life better
The point isn’t to get rid of everything, but having less meaningless stuff creates more freedom in your life to do the things that truly make you happy.
3. Little Wins
You’re probably not going to win the lottery. And you’re definitely not going to win the lottery everyday.
We need something to occupy us during the time between the big moments in life. Holidays, vacations, marriage, kids, promotions, things that don’t happen every day.
Finding joy and excitement in simple things, like hiking through the woods, a good book or movie, or a hot cup of coffee, those are the things that get us through the day.
It’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference, and by winning small and winning often you can keep happy moments trickling in while you wait for the big life changing moments to make their way.
4. Getting Outside
There’s something about nature that connects with us in a certain way that’s not easy to explain.
The best way to put it is that getting outside allows us to step back from our complicated lifestyles and grasp a look at the bigger picture.
Most things we fill our time with don’t really matter when you start thinking about the grand scales of our planet and Universe. It takes off a lot of pressure knowing the sun will keep shining whether we have a good paying job or not.
You don’t need to trek into the wilderness to find this connection, either. A walk in the park or hanging around a local water source will strike the same emotion for city dwellers who don’t have the same access to the outdoors.
This is about friends, family, and people in general. Humans are social creatures by extinct. Science has proven that we’re more likely to laugh or smile when we’re around other people.
Spending time in solitude and getting to know yourself is important, but not to the extent of driving yourself to insanity.
It’s the time we spend around others that makes the moments alone so joyful. Without a better way to put it I’ll leave it to Chris McCandles from Into The Wild who said, "Happiness is only real when shared."
The people we surround ourselves with ultimately bring us happiness and it’s essential we create time in our lives to spend around these people.
The miserable people in life are the one’s who seem not to care much about anything. They aren’t driven by a goal or passion or curiosity and it leads them to boredom.
Life is more exciting when you give a damn about something. Anything. A hobby, a cause, a way of existence.
The people who change the world are the one’s who care so deeply about something that it shifts the perspective of millions.
Humans have moved beyond means of survival and now live for significance. And by caring about, in terms of survival, meaningless things like surfing, playing music, or creating art, we satisfy our craving for meaning.
Life is fun when you take a stand and show compassion. It doesn’t matter so much as to what, but stand for something.
7. Trust Your System
More than reaching an ultimate goal, life is about cultivating the perfect system for a lifestyle that suits your needs.
Most things in the world work as a system - A collection of different parts performing various tasks working together for a larger goal.
You don’t fight your way through life to finally reach a point where happiness is constant in your life. It doesn’t work like that.
You have to keep doing things that make you happy everyday. It’s okay to be content with where you are right now while staying committed to bettering yourself everyday.
Try new things, and figure out what works and what doesn’t in terms of adding value to your life.
Your job is never finished.
Keep moving forward.
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One Last Thing.
In the end, it doesn’t matter much as to what I or anyone else says about what it means to live a great life. What matters is what you decide what it means to you and what happiness looks like in your life.
The truth is, you already knew what makes you happy. No article or piece of advice is going to have more of an impact than what you’re capable of doing yourself.
By doing less and simplifying your life you can remove the unnecessary from your life and emphasize the things that build a happy lifestyle. Because when it’s all said and done, the one ultimately responsible for your happiness is you.
George Mortimer travels the world living alternative lifestyles to prove an amazing life is easier than you think. He’s also the founder of GoodLifeConfidential, an online community where ordinary people create extraordinary lives. Start living yours now with the Free GLC Starter Pack.