Just Live Simple (JLS) is a book by James Logan Carey. It gives simple, practical insights and tips into ways life can be simplified, and importantly, avoid complicating it in the first place.
It reminded me of the Little Book of Calm, except it is about simplicity. It’s a substantially bigger read than the Little Book of Calm, but the advice is just as digestible and if simplifying your life is something you want some pointers on, this is a great spot to start.
Enjoyable to read, its thirty chapters contain some great pointers towards the simpler life. The many nuggets of wisdom in the book highlight the very real fact that if you want to simplify your life, there are actually quite a few things to consider as life’s a complex beast.
1. Don’t Owe Money
This really goes to the heart of simple living. Simplifying is difficult if you are constantly being badgered for loan repayments and the fiscal consequences of your past decisions. I particularly like the idea of saving to buy whatever you want, and not taking loans out for things. If you can’t afford it now, don’t buy it. When you can, you mightn’t want it.
“Suddenly everyone wants us to sign a piece of paper and we can have everything we ever dreamed of……so we skip the earning part and go right to the owning. And then our troubles begin” – Just Live Simple
Of course when we buy things on credit, we don’t really own them until they are paid off in full. They own us. Clear those loans.
2. Eat Fresh for One Week
The aim of course being to progress to a full-time fresh foodie.
Eating fresh food obviously has many benefits on the health front. In fact it is probably the single most beneficial health measure anyone eating too much processed food can take. It also tends to support local economies, is more environmentally friendly, improves your cooking skills, tastes better, costs more or less the same, and puts you back in more control of your diet.
“If you’re telling yourself you’ve had your weekly dose of fruit because you opened a can of peaches,w hat you really had was a month’s supply of sugar” – Just Live Simple
Food corporations are almost uniformly devious and most of their products have very little to contribute to a simpler, environmentally sustainable, and logically sound food supply. They are tolerated and embraced because the food is cheap and convenient and most people are removed from the consequences of how much of the food supply is produced.
In particular, eating animals that suffer unnecessarily in the journey to our plate cannot be ‘good’, in the broadest sense of the meaning.
3. Give Experiences, Not Stuff
Important life events and calendar occasions have been hijacked by the gift-giving industry. The list is endless – birthdays, Christmas, christenings, housewarmings, weddings, grandson/daughter/godson/daughter events, even returning to work from a holiday abroad (airport chocolates that nobody wants?). The fact is most people don’t need and in many cases even want your crappy mass-produced presents.
“We all have plenty enough of pretty much everything these days but what we seem to lack is the ability to connect with the people close to us on a regular basis. If someone is worth keeping in your life then they are worth your time” – Just Live Simple
If you make your own presents or give time you may be in the small minority who give something worthwhile. Or buy something that involves doing, not consuming.
There are significant time and financial dimensions to this one. I am only subscribed to two services at the moment, one of which is my mobile phone, and that will be up in August after which I won’t renew. I also got rid of my TV this year and cut our Netflix subscription. The result – MORE FREE TIME.
Simplifying life is really about the pursuit of time and defining what spending it well actually means to you. There is no right or wrong answer here, simplifying is about the creation of life space that is valuable to you.
As mentioned in Just Live Simple, getting rid of unneeded subscriptions is an easy starting point and once you start on this path you’ll start to see the other things you once considered a necessary part of daily life that you now in fact see, are not.
“Most people subscribe to entertainment or services to distract themselves or repair the harm done to them from stressful jobs” – Just Live Simple
I agree, however – repair? I’d add that that is an unlikely positive consequence of Netflix marathons.
5. Leave Debate Alone
I love a good debate, but I know the sentiment here. Of course it depends if it is a debate you want or simply to enforce a boost of your ego off someone else’s. Just Live Simple stresses the avoidance of the latter for the most part, it only leads to drama and many, many complictions.
“We all barely have enough time in life to explore and discover our own point of view without having to worry about converting the rest of the world” – Just Live Simple
I think a sense of humour plays a mediating role in this one too. Excepting certain topics, Terence McKenna once said that the surest sign of a fanatic (and a boor I might add) is a lack of humour.
6. Turn It Off For An Hour
I share many of the sentiments expressed in Just Live Simple on this. Gadgets are great, but genuinely making space for time without them is not just desirable, it approaches necessity. We are so used to being turned on all the time through all of our gadgets, social media, and multi-source notifications, it can often happen that there is no off time from one end of the day to the other. This is not healthy or natural.
“If a flood came tomorrow you would still be you, you would still be alive and have a life worth living” – Just Live Simple
Not only would life be worth living but you might feel intenselyliberated. Of course it could be devastating too.
The thing is we don’t have to experience the flood to find out. Small conscious steps towards peeling back so much of the ‘busyness’, electronic or otherwise, can reveal a lot about where our true preferences lie and empower us to make choices.
Just Live Simple is a good starting point.