Keep It Simple Stupid.

And other tips to a happy life.

The other day, with toes sunk in sea sand made of shells and lips sipping on a swirl of lemon ice tea and ocean breeze, I found the motto to my life. Etched on a lopsided blackboard within a sun weathered frame was the code to my existence:

“Keep It Simple Stupid”.

My initial sheepishness that everyone in my immediate vicinity, that being my best friend and boyfriend (two opinions I hold in highest regard to matters of life, soul purpose, and how much sunscreen I should apply) had heard this supposedly well-known phrase before, slowly turned to zeal.

I’d found the answer to sleepless nights of the past, overreactions to underwhelming situations, uncalled for anxiety and tears, more cups of comforting tea that any respectable human being should be allowed, and the dissolution of perfectly functioning relationships.

I had a tendency to overcomplicate things. And by things, what I really mean to say is — everything.

This new motto of keeping things simple would be my saviour. Here’s how I am applying it to my life right now and how it could unlock your happiness too.

Declutter your space

When you walk into a messy room do you feel your toes curl and your temper shorten? For me, messiness = chaos, it’s a sign that my life isn’t as much in my control as I want it to be. Since the age of 9 I’ve had only one morning routine which has stuck — always make my bed once I’ve got up. If my bed lays unmade it’s as if my day never actually starts.

I can’t get anything done if I have papers, wrappers and dead plants anywhere in my line of vision (side note, always water your plants). So, nowadays, I go all Monica from Friends on the crowd and tidy my space before I sit to tackle the day. Clear the blocked energy from your home, sprinkle a bit of feng shui and get ready for your day.

Throw that sh*t out

Dude I promise you, you don’t need half the material objects that are cluttering up your life right now. A backlog of one year’s full edition of Seventeen Magazine that you were keeping for your future daughter to swoon over one day (true story) — throw that sh*t out. Ten shoeboxes full of overly colourful and catty hand scrawled notes from various friends and friends-turned-foe spanning your entire school and varsity career (again, true story) — throw that sh*t out. Clothes on hangers kept “just in case” but truthfully never to be worn (yep, guilty again) — for the sake of yourself and your respectable fashion sense, there is a reason they have never been worn — throw that sh*t out.

One of the truest paths to internal happiness is non-attachment. To objects, to people, to experiences; just let go of everything and be. The only entity you have any control over is yourself, so never tether your happiness to anything other than you.

Don’t overcomplicate matters

I saw a quote the other day that said:

“99% of problems exist only in your head”

That one hit me right between the eyes, and it hit me hard. As a deep thinker, I spend a lot of time loping around in the lush landscape of my mind. This is great for creativity and my chosen career of flinging words onto paper, but when it comes to over thinking things, my lush landscape quickly turns to a stinking swap of misconceptions and nonexistent problems.

Don’t create problems for yourself that aren’t even there. Lord knows we have enough admin to deal with in day-to-day life without making things even harder for ourselves. Quit the imaginary conversations and scenarios of “what could happen if this happens?”, silence the “but what did he realllly mean by this?” and shut out the “I don’t know whaaaat the fffff**ck I am doing with my life.”

Let loose and live.

Sift the net; don’t surf it

Oh man the internet is a life-saver and a sinful cesspit stemming unnecessarily high levels of procrastination and feelings of self mediocrity all rolled into one. It’s amazing what you can learn and achieve by using it. But be careful of winding your way down wormholes, losing track of your tasks or becoming so overwhelmed by the flashing smiles and even flashier words of those “I sold my blog for $30 000 after only one year of blogging — here’s how I did it” (side note: and how you never will) would-be motivators.

I want to be a travel writer. So what did I do? I Googled anything and everything about how to become a travel writer. What did I find? Reams of information about highly successful travel bloggers living the dream with a footnote of spelt out reasons why I will never make it in an over saturated market. What did I do? I momentarily became overwhelmed, doubted myself and then decided WTF I’m going to do it anyway. And I’m going to do it my way. I’m not going to follow in the footsteps of any coconut sipping, sun hat billowing, over tanned “highly successful” travel writer.

Anything is achievable if you follow your own path. Don’t spend hours procrastinating or panicking over other people’s success stories on the net. Just go out and do your own thang. Simple.

Let relationships follow their natural path

The moment you try to force something off its natural path, it starts to crack and crumble. I’ve learnt this lesson many times in my life but especially when it comes to relationships. You can’t change someone (why would you want to?) and you shouldn’t change yourself to suit someone else either. If his peanut butter ain’t pairing with your jelly and her froth ain’t topping your cappuccino (or however those sayings go), then stop trying to make a fire happen where there’s no fuse to light.

If you want a relationship to work out, just let it be. It’s just that simple. And if it doesn’t, well then that’s the best thing that could have ever happened to you. Something better is on its way. Trust in your path, trust in your partner’s path and trust that everything happens as it is meant to.

Don’t stress, let things flow

We all know that stress is one of the biggest modern day killers but how many of us catch ourselves stressing on a daily basis? Stressing over a deadline, a tough decision, feelings of self-worth or just what to do this weekend. We create so much unnecessary stress for ourselves that serves no purpose other than making our situations seem worse than they are.

This is a tough one and I’m still working on it, but I have committed myself to live a stress-free life. And the key to doing this is to just let things flow. Yes incredible, amazing, rainbow-filled things happen and yeah, dog shit stuck to my shoe things happen too. But you know what? That’s life. Without the challenges we don’t relish the good times and we don’t grow as people.

Rather than letting life stress you out, change your situation by changing your mindset. The things we look at change when we change the way we look at them.

Let the simple pleasures of life enthrall you

Perhaps the most important point of all — let yourself be bowled over, swept off your feet, tumbled head-over-heals by the exquisite simplicity of life. The thin whisp of incense as it trails the morning sunlight, the shimmer of a butterfly’s wings as it lands on a nearby leaf, the immersive beauty of a pink and blue sunset, wafts of children’s laughter from a playground across the road… Let it energize you, soothe you and satiate your desire for simplicity.

How often do you stop and take in the beauty that is all around us? Do yourself a favour and slow down. Stop. Listen. Look. Open your senses. Open your heart. Let life flood in. Nature heals, she breathes life into our soul and purpose into our days. She can give you the simple life that you crave if you only take the time to stop and listen.

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