How to Simplify Your Life in 5 EASY Steps

Sometimes, it’s about subtracting.

Photo by LUM3N on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve been through a windfall of stress. With tax season among us, and being the frugal machine I am, I’ve decided enough is enough with the expensive CPA fees. I’ll do my own damn taxes.

After hours and hours behind the computer screen — trying a plethora of online services, I’m still nowhere closer to checking ‘taxes’ off my to-do list.

Why is it so complicated?

I don’t want to just fill in a few blanks on a page and pay The Man. I want to finally understand what I’m paying. Understand why I’m paying. And understand why I feel I’m getting the short end of the straw every tax season.

But taxes aren’t my only stress. Sometimes, it feels like new stress enters the ring every day. Little stresses I don’t have to think about too much. But those little stresses snowball.

I will try not to complain about my personal matters. I understand my privilege — as a white American male. I’ve spent a lot of time in developing countries. I’ve seen how fortunate I am related to others’ circumstances. I’ve witnessed it first-hand.

If I’m focused too much on complaining, it means I need to do something to change my circumstances. Because with the life I’ve been blessed, I shouldn’t feel this undermined. Like life is out to get me. Something needs to change and here’s what I’m going to do about it.

Take a step back

Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, it’s time to remove myself from the situation. I’ve trained myself to recognize that.

Whether that means going for a walk, sitting down to write, or simply moving to a different room. I’ve found different ways to cope with my stresses. Usually, a different environment and time does the initial trick.

The phrase ‘time heals all wounds’ is only half right. A better saying would be, “It’s what you do with your time that heals the wound”.

If doing my taxes is what was frustrating me, I can’t keep pounding away at the calculations. I can’t expect to be relieved of my stresses that way. Instead, I’d be much better suited returning to them later. Meanwhile, finding some activity or someplace new that I can cool off.

Realize the cause of the frustration

Realizing what is causing your frustration isn’t as easy as it sounds. This is where time away is crucial.

Previously, I assumed doing my taxes was the cause of my frustration. That’s not entirely true. It’s true that taxes were frustrating me, but it wasn’t the root cause.

It took self-reflection and a place where I could be honest with myself to realize where my frustrations stem from.

They come from my persistence to do things myself. Naturally, I’m curious, which I appreciate when wanting to learn new things.

However, at some point, my curiosity is driven by the insistence to save money and be independent. At times, I need to know when my tendency to take on more than I can handle is harmful to my well-being.

Taxes weren’t the cause of my frustration. They were only a proponent. More often than not, there is a deeper root if you keep digging. Don’t blame what you see at surface-level just because it’s easy. Look inward and try to narrow down the real reason you’re feeling how you do.

Zero in on your stresses

Once you know the true cause, it’s time to focus on your stress. How does knowing what you now know about the root cause allow you to handle your stress better?

Focus on what you have to do to eliminate this stress from your life. As a matter of fact, you can begin to take out all stresses one-by-one.

Make things simpler

Now, it’s time to make sure these stresses don’t return. Making my life simpler has always been the cure to my anxiety.

When things are getting too complicated is when I start to fret. However, I always revert to making things too complicated. It’s part of my nature!

Instead, I want to focus on not letting my ways lead me to that point. I want to make it impossible for my habits to bring about a more complicated life. Then, in time, I will break my ways and lead a simpler life for good.

Simplicity can solve 95% of your problems. I’m sure of it. Ask yourself, in what ways do you need to make your life simpler? That’s the biggest question to answer.

Get back to the basics

Getting back to your roots — this is your answer to the previous question. Not only should you ask yourself how to make things simpler, but you should also follow through. A.k.a. Make. Things. Simpler.

In my case, I wasn’t delegating enough of my daily business tasks to other people. Because of my propensity to save money and feel self-sufficient.

But my persistence was getting me down. After realizing that, I talked to myself candidly.

Now, I’m able to recognize the sort of things, like doing my taxes, that I need to delegate. And, since then, I’ve had a lot less stress in life.

At some point, my stresses will return. Over time, I’ll forget this message of simplicity. At which point, I’ll need to renew my vow, so-to-speak.

Staying focused on a simple life is key. Sometimes, it’s not what we can add to our life to make it better, but what we can subtract from it.

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