Simple Living: How to Begin + What to Expect

Are you craving a slower, simpler life with more of what matters and less of everything else?

If so, I invite you to learn more about the art of simple living—an intentional way of life that balances purpose with ease. It’s about slowing down, setting your priorities, and letting go of the excess that weighs you down.

It’s not a magic pill and it won’t solve all your problems overnight but it can lead to meaningful change. Less stress and more space for joy are just some of the many benefits of living a simpler life.

Keep reading to learn more about how to begin with simple living and what to expect. You’ll also find tips, resources and inspiration to help you on your journey.

Title: "Simple Living: How to Begin + What to Expect" in a white box with a flower in a vase in the background.

What is Simple Living?

What comes to mind when you think about simple living? Is it someone living off the grid in a small cabin in the country? Or an extreme minimalist in a tiny home with limited possessions?

If this is what you envision then you’re not necessarily wrong … but these outward characteristics do not define simple living. Instead, they are merely examples of how a select few might choose to manifest simplicity in their lives.

What defines simple living is a way of thinking and outwardly, it looks different for different people. Some live in tiny homes and others live in the suburbs but ultimately, your home doesn’t define you.

Instead, ask yourself how you make decisions. Can you think intentionally about your life, sorting the excess from the essential? Are you living in alignment with your values? Do you know how to slow down, rest and enjoy life—without feeling guilty?

At the end of the day, these thoughts and beliefs matter more where you live or what you own.

The Difference Between Minimalism + Simple Living

At this stage, you might be wondering about the difference between minimalism and simple living.

Personally, I don’t think there is a huge difference between the two. I believe that both lifestyles are built on a foundation of intentional living—ultimately, it’s always about aligning your life with your values and priorities.

However, in the mainstream media, minimalism is often synonymous with decluttering. There is a real focus on owning less “stuff” and for some, creating a minimalist aesthetic.

With simple living, owning less stuff is often part of the journey but it’s not the main focus. Instead, it’s a byproduct of slowing down and simplifying. Also, not everyone who embraces simple living chooses to have fewer belongings.

So to recap, my personal beliefs about minimalism, simple living and intentional living are deeply intertwined—you could perhaps think of them as different sides of the same coin. However, I continue using both terms because it helps me to spread my message and connect with a wider audience.

How to Begin Simplifying Your Life

If you’re ready to get started with simple living, I recommend tackling your mindsets are beliefs first. Here are some resources to help you begin:

After that, you can start to experiment with practical strategies, including decluttering and self-reflection.

7 Simple Days (Online Course)

Alternatively, if you’re feeling truly inspired, then I invite you to consider 7 Simple Days, a short course designed to help you find clarity, define your priorities, and take small practical steps forward.

Here are what just a few of the more than 2,500 like-minded souls that have participated in 7 Simple Days have to say about the experience:

Wow I just think that anyone wanting to change how they manage their life should look into this course. It was a real eye opener. After the death of my husband last month I needed help to understand my new life and how to prepare going forward.” -Robin J, Maryland, USA

I’m on day four and already I feel a clarity in my life. My wife and I are doing 7 Simple Days together and we’ve found that it helps us get on the same page. It’s strengthening our marriage and making us happier.” -Jenna W

“Over the years I have done research, reading blog post, following workbooks etc etc. on personal development, minimalism and living intentionally. 7 Simple Days summarizes everything I found out and experienced in my life in such a clear and inspiring way, PLUS I learned more by asking a lot of questions. Thanks!”– Ellen F

Ready to get started? Click here to learn more about how you can join 7 Simple Days.

Ideas + Inspiration to Simplify Your Life

Looking for more simple living ideas and inspiration?

White vase with white flowers in a tray, on white bedding. An image of simple living.

3 Hard Truths About Simple Living

As you can hopefully tell, I’m clearly passionate about simple living—but at the same time, I want to make sure I’m offering a clear and balanced view of not just the wonders but also the limitations of simple living.

Here are a few “hard truths” that you should keep in mind on your journey.

OWNING LESS WON’T MAGICALLY SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS

“Minimalism sure does suck you in,” she said. “Life looks easier. It seems like your skin will be dewier and your hair shinier — a happier, healthier version of yourself.”

When I read the above quote in the New York Times, I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s a bit tongue in cheek but I understand the point. When I first started to experiment with minimalism and simple living, this is how I felt too. I really wanted to believe that simplifying and getting rid of my stuff was going to magically solve all my problems.

Of course, deep down I knew better, but I think it’s worth addressing because we want to believe it—or at least I did! After all, it was such a neat and tidy solution to my complicated problems.

Unfortunately, the hard truth I learned is you don’t declutter your problems the same way you declutter your old sweatshirts or high school yearbooks.

Simplifying and owning less feels good and it can spark real, meaningful change but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be open and willing to take what you learn about “stuff” and apply it to other areas of your life.

Decluttering taught me to think about my values and to make more intentional decisions about the things I owned, so when I was faced with big decisions (like ending a long-term relationship) I knew how to think mindfully about what I wanted in my life.

Simple living empowered me but I still had to do the hard work.

SIMPLE LIVING DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE NEVER STRESSED OR BUSY

Trust me—I wish simple living really did banish all stress and busyness from life, but unfortunately, it’s just not the case.

You can declutter, unsubscribe and say “no” all day every day but it doesn’t matter how much you simplify—the hard truth is you’ll still occasionally have busy, stressful days where you’d rather hide in bed than face the world.

There will always be dishes to wash, taxes to file, children to feed and hearts to mend; it’s an unavoidable part of the human experience and simple living doesn’t shield you from it.

Or as Susan David puts it in her amazing TED Talk on the power of emotional courage:

Only dead people never get stressed, never get broken hearts, never experience the disappointment that comes with failure. Tough emotions are part of our contract with life. You don’t get to have a meaningful career or raise a family or leave the world a better place without stress and discomfort. Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.

What simple living does mean is that busy and stressed is not my default mode.

Instead, I can recognise that there are seasons in my life. Sometimes I’m doing work that’s important to me and I’m willing to make sacrifices to get it done—but I’ve learned how to be mindful of “busy”.

I’m not afraid to press pause regularly or to audit how I spent my time, money and energy to make sure I’m investing in what’s most important to me. Simple living has taught me to step off the treadmill when I need to.

Quote: "I learned you don't declutter your problems the same way you declutter your old sweatshirts." on white background.

THERE IS NEVER A FINISH LINE WITH SIMPLE LIVING

Finally, I often hear people talk about simplifying their lives as if there’s a finish line to cross—an imaginary point in time where simplicity is achieved—but the hard truth is you’ll never be “done” simplifying your life.

Simple living is not a task you can check off of your to-do list. Instead, it’s a way of living where the things we own and do represent our values and priorities.

Because we’ll always be presented with new opportunities (and new demands to go with them) there will always be decisions to be made about what does or doesn’t belong in our lives.

This isn’t to say that your life won’t get simpler with time! It’s just a reminder that a simple, intentional life is a way of life and not a destination. It’s rarely easy but almost always worth it.

For more about. the realities of simple living, check out:

Simple Living Tips + Resources

If you’d like to learn more about simple living and minimalism, here are some additional resources and tips to help you.

What does simple living mean to you? What tips or resources have helped you the most? And what “hard truths” have you discovered on your journey? Let us know in the comments!

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18 thoughts on “Simple Living: How to Begin + What to Expect”

  1. This was a very insightful piece to read. I see the connection you have mad with living a simplier lifestyle and the urge to see as some sort of finish line accomplishment. I must confess that I too have viewed simplifying as some sort of TO DO list. With this tool read added to my perception, I am sure to accomplish a much more meaniful realistic approch to my journey. This has also brought light the levels of stress I was experiencing trying to check off the Simple Life achievment list. Thank You!!

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  2. Thank-you Jennifer, you are like a breath of fresh air. No preaching here just good solid advice from someone who has been through and still going through the process.

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  3. It’s definitely true that you never reach a finish line. It felt so good though to get rid of clothes that I honestly never wear and get more open clean spaces! Having a messy house stresses me out haha (not only because it means I haven’t cleaned 😉 ). Decluttering gave me space to think and be more mindful, and although it certainly didn’t solve all my problems I’m in a better mindset now to tackle them.

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  4. Beautiful, Jen! This is something that does need to be said – I notice many known voices in the simple living sphere are saying it (and so have I in my own little way) but people miss it, I guess, because they’re looking for a solution to all their problems. I often stress minimalism is a tool that might be right for you, but you can get to where you want to go in other ways too. Thank you for spreading the message, so to speak!

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    • Hi Daisy! Yes, I think it’s being said but probably not as much as we all champion simple living, so it’s understandably missed. Especially when people are introduced to minimalism/simple living via the mainstream media. It’s hard to find that balance sometimes, don’t you think? Anyway, we can only try our best! Thanks for reading 🙂 x

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  5. Great post! This is something I’ve been struggling with in the last year after I completed the “stuff” hurdle. It’s almost as if you’ve cleared out the tangible problems to make room from the things that are not tangible like emotions, relationships, stress, passions that need to be sorted out and organized as well. It’s a good thing to keep in mind moving forward in the Simply Living Journey. I appreciate your motivational words and honests truths during this process. Hope the family is doing well!

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  6. Fantastic post!!! Each of these points are VERY real in the pursuit of simple living. Thank you for succinctly describing the mindset behind the work, the choices, and the intentions required with this lifestyle.

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  7. Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES! All of this and then some!

    When I first became a minimalist, I was going through some very hefty emotional baggage. I read a book that talked about the soul-cleansing that happens in sync with the decluttering process, and I thought it would be the solution to my problems.

    Surprise! When my bedroom was almost empty of things – the heartache was still there. I still had to process and grieve and grow. If anything, getting rid of stuff just made it harder to avoid my emotional issues. It definitely didn’t absolve them.

    I’m still working my way through decluttering my soul/heart – every time I take a step forward, something else sucker punches me. I was just telling a friend on Monday that sometimes I can’t breathe, the ache is so bad. I still have to find my way through the mess of my emotional state. BUT! Thankfully, minimalism and decluttering has, over a very lengthy period of time, taught me how to do just that. Simple and intentional living is not an overnight miracle pill; it’s a supplemental vitamin: great for health, but unable to do all the work.

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