How To Live Simply

Simplicity. Even the word seems to bring an immediate sense of calm over me. It seems that as life progresses, we’re all striving for more, more, more; to be better, faster, bigger; to do more, more, more until we’ve driven ourselves insane. It gets to be so overwhelming – and sometimes I find that while my mind is moving at such a rapid pace, I’m not even physically doing much. Sometimes our minds work so hard thinking about what we should be doing and need to be doing and are going to be doing, that we don’t give ourselves a chance to do — and more importantly, do well. And oftentimes we are doing, but we’re doing so much that we don’t get to enjoy what we’re doing. We don’t give ourselves a chance to stop, breathe, and just be. I think that the way to solve this is by simplifying.

By focusing on what’s most important, and ridding ourselves of what’s least important, I believe that we will discover a life that’s much more simple; much more enjoyable. This method of simplifying can be applied to every aspect of life: home décor, social outings, beauty routine, everyday tasks… even your closet.


Once you’ve identified the need to simplify, it may seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Try not to look at a simple life as a precise thing that needs to be achieved. There’s no end goal. There’s no end at all. Instead, look at simplifying as a way of life, and realize that you can live it by doing a little bit each day. This way, your life is consistently getting simpler, and each day you’ll feel calmer, happier, and more grounded than the last.

So how is it done? However you want. There’s no set strategy for simplifying your life, but I’ll give you two ideas I’ve come up with.

Leaf on crackle wall

An item a day.

Whether this item is tangible or intangible doesn’t make a difference, but the idea here is to remove one unnecessary item from your life every day. Maybe you’re sitting at a coffee shop and a stranger compliments your ring. Take a quick moment to think about that ring. Where did you get it? How long have you had it? What does it mean to you? Would you be okay with giving it up? If you find that this ring doesn’t hold a huge spot in your heart, maybe it’s time to let it have a new home. Give her the ring. Not only did you just simplify your life a bit, you formed a bond with a complete stranger, and you probably just made her day.

But not every item needs to be given up in this way. Maybe one day you walk into your kitchen and notice a wooden spoon that you just never use. Put it in a box to be donated. You don’t have to donate it right then and there, but by deciding to let it go, you’ve just simplified your life a bit.

This item can also be an idea or task. Maybe you’ve been taking painting classes twice a week. You love them, but sometimes it’s a stress to attend a class because you feel that you don’t get to spend enough time with your loved ones because of it. Simplify. Decide to go once a week instead – or even once a month — and decide to find more enjoyment in each class than the one that preceded it.

Flowers on bench

Wood panels

Feather on ground

Two for one.

Another way to simplify is to get rid of two items for every one that you acquire. Again, these items can be tangible or intangible – although this may work best with those that are tangible.

It’s easy. The next time you’re out for a day of flea-marketing and come home with two vintage dresses, a pair of boots, a hand-woven blanket and an incredible mirror, find 10 things to put in your donation box. These 10 things do not have to be related to the items in any way – maybe you have 9 picture frames and a backpack that you never use. As long as you’re using a 2:1 ratio of removed:acquired, you’re simplifying your life, and you can feel even more excited about your new acquisitions.


My hope is that by the end of reading this post, you feel a little more relaxed, and excited to start simplifying your life. I’ll be taking steps to do this every day, and I hope you’ll do so along with me. If we each make an effort to simplify, we’ll be working our way to a more simplified world, one that we’ll all enjoy together. If you have any tips or want to share an experience about simplifying, leave a comment to let us know!

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  1. Why, is it always about what happens outside of ourselves and never about healing who you are on the inside?
    There are often these amazing articles on here, but I always feel like they are missing the bigger point.. Simplifying your life doesn’t equate to cleaning out the garage or something like that. It means healing from what others have done to you and accepting that death, loss, bad things are a part of everyday life. Experiencing pain that’s already happend to you creates a dynamic, so you can live again. The simplification in that would be that you can live authentically without ever needing more then yourself.
    I’m sorry, but I get so frustrated that it is always about how to fix yourself from the outside in. How about figuring your ‘self’ out; your patterns, your pain, your loss, so you can let it go and be more and more yourself. Being positive all the time gets you no where. Get angry, fight back. You make it sound like life is nothing but rainbows and butterfly’s, but it is hard and it is everyday and accepting that can make you joyous and peacefull.
    I’m sorry for the ranting, it’s a bit harsh, but I have to say it..

  2. Daria – Thanks so much for sharing your perspective. I absolutely agree with you that it doesn’t have to be about healing from the outside in. The point I was trying to get across was more that removing clutter from the outside can help us feel less stressed and anxious, making it easier for us to focus on what’s inside. I am a positive person, and for me, I believe that that’s what gets me everywhere. It’s a huge part of who I am. Everything mentioned in this post is all my personal opinion, and everyone is different. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your feelings and I’m certain that there are readers who feel the same way as you! xo

  3. Loved the post! My husband and i were talking over the weekend about things that really matter to us. Most things and objects that we really love around the house are things that we bought to remember a special ocassion or really saved up for. I think this is such a great idea, otherwise you get overwhelmed by all the stuff, and become a sort of manager to it.

    Suus from the blog Food Bandits
    Ps. I am from Holland so my english is a bit eeeeh ;)

  4. Daria- awesome comment. This article is actually helpful for anyone with hoarding tendencies- which I have. Sometimes it’s a mystery to me why I bought something or have held onto it for years. When I question a purchase I have found I tend to buy things under the delusion that it will make other people like me better or change who I am somehow- neither are true. But I have noticed a tendency on the FP blog towards this idea that we could all be happy if we just meditate, breathe, do yoga or eat lots of kale etc.

    I actually stopped reading another blog because the authors had yet another post about how we are all as happy as we chose to be. This particular blog was essentially everything that is annoying and toxic about facebook. It was ruining my sense of self worth to see yet another gorgeous picture of the two bloggers doing something fun and frivolous like eating scones at a coffee shop. I understand the bloggers wanting to point out that they work super hard at their jobs, but it’s the same when you hear actors or musicians talking about their struggles. It is easy to “chose” to be happy when you have a supportive family, friends and you are able to follow your passion and get paid for it. Life is hard and suffering is universal but not everyone gets an equal amount of crap in their life.

    I am with you on the “get angry and fight back”. I think as women we are told not to get angry. Certain emotions are considered bad or toxic. I’ve lost friends due to my unwillingness to “let things go”. And this isn’t to say I just kept ranting about past wrongs in conversations. This was caused by my refusal to have a relationship with an emotionally abusive parent. I want to let go but not in a way that requires my becoming a door mat.

    Can you recommend any books or blogs that deal with the whole picture and not just external changes?

  5. Simplification has actually been my year goal, and so far I have done really well. I do try to follow the out when something comes in rule, but it has not been a 2:1, more like a 1:1. I basically redid my entire closet this year that way, and it feels so refreshing. And that’s only the start… I culled books, music, movies – everything. I agree, organizing the outward mess has helped me become more satisfied with my inward self. I feel more relaxed and happier than I did at the beginning of the year. While I have no intention of becoming a straight minimalist, I do appreciate how having a clutter free life has contributed to clearing my mind.

  6. Thank you so much for this inspiration. Lately I’ve been feeling that I’m not going places or doing enough excursions with my husband of one year. After reading this it helps me to address the problem simpler by just being happy to be with him in a room or talking about little things in our lives together. Thanks for the advice! Truly a weight lifted.

  7. I’m sorry for the criticism, but I find this blog post horribly hypocritical. How can you advertise living simply at the same time that the very purpose of this blog is to sell people fashionable clothing at outrageously high prices? I enjoy following this blog for the photography and recipes, but people that actually buy anything from FP strike me as having money to throw down on anything anytime they wish. I agree with the points you are making here but the fact that it’s coming from an organization promoting consumption, not only one time but every SEASON, and not for anything essential but just to LOOK pretty, that just kind of sickens me and I think erodes what it actually means to live simply. Do you have any idea of what poverty is like?


    Another great post, Brigette! I know this kind of sounds weird, but sometimes I feel I simplify my mind by coming onto this blog, looking at the beautiful pictures and reading an article from an interesting perspective. I’m in my early twenties; and at that time where everything coming at me at once can make me feel distracted, frazzled and stressed, so I love this blog that always seems so raw and personal and… simple (in a calm way- not in a ‘slow’ way!!). And for a company website (of my favourite clothing brand!) I love and appreciate that the blog topics never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff, but instead give back.
    The idea of disconnecting yourself from unnesseccary material objects has been on my mind lately. Like I said, I’m in my early twenties and am getting to the age where I feel like if I don’t travel and move around abroad more I never will. The other night I way laying in bed thinking “I’d love to move to England (I’m Irish) but oh, all my stuff!?”. It’s not that I feel I’m materialistic- nothing I have is expensive or fancy- but it’s beautiful and holds memories for me. I attended a feng shui class the other day and the teacher talked about how too much stuff limits you, and ties you down and makes you stay still. It’s been making me think a lot, and this post has helped me clarify. I love the idea of donating two things for every one you buy- it’s something I’m definitely going to try out. Hopefully I’ll get to the point where I won’t feel so married to my apartment that I can move on and explore.

  9. I guess I wasn’t finished yet… I agree with Daria’s comment, that living simply is more about an internal philosophy than about quantifying how many objects you have. Living simply is partially about confronting materialism and reducing your desire or sense of need of objects, about focusing on other more important aspects of life. If you’re getting rid of certain things just to justify buying new things, you are completely missing the point, just creating an illusion to satisfy yourself. Living simply is also, depending on the context, about reconsidering your privilege and acting in solidarity with people who have no CHOICE but to live simply. It’s about promoting class equality and creating an even playing field. Have you at FP ever even considered how privileged you are?

    I appreciate the effort with this blog post, but as FP is a cog in the giant wheel of capitalism, this just fell really flat for me.

  10. I love this. This Fall has felt like Spring to me- I’ve been feeling the urge to turn over a new leaf and simplify my life. I think I’ve filled 5 bags with things to be donated – and I feel so much more relaxed now. Even by removing some art that I wasn’t crazy about from my walls and leaving a little blank space has made me feel a new, cleaner energy, and I appreciate the things I kept more.
    Great philosophy. Great tips. Great energy.

    <3 dani

  11. This article really inspired me. Inspired me to clean out my closest that is. I dont see how throwing away things that you have can help people relax. Trying to find things to get rid of would stress me out even more then i am already stressed.I understand the whole cleanse your life thing but i think that something more along the lines of finding inner peace without having to get find of anything in my closet. i truly enjoy this blog and usually find a lot of helpful things but this just doesn’t work for me.

  12. Thanks, this is very much in line with what I have been trying to do for the past weeks: de-clutter my life. It’s not that easy for me, but I feel that I am slowly getting there.
    Regarding the comments criticizing a post like this on a fashion brand blog: I don’t think it’s such a contradictory. And I think if you really consider the things you buy, and decide to buy less in general and focus on things you really really love like brigette suggested here, then that’s already quite some progress, I think. And then you can also maybe splurge on something nice from free people (which is usually not within my price range).
    Actually, I rarely feel like people are trying to sell something to me here. Instead, I feel like this blog has opened my eyes to quite a lot of things over the past months. Especially Brigette’s posts.So thank you for that!

  13. Thank you so much for your comments, everyone! It’s always great to hear feedback, whether positive or negative. The words you’ve shared today really show that our readers are a diverse, passionate group, and that’s one of the things we love about you all. :)

  14. Exactly what I’ve been doing for the last year without realising. Going away a lot has made me realise how little I need. I used to need keepsakes and photos and souvenirs…now I’m just happy with experiences and memories :) and it really is benefiting me on the inside :) it’s nice to see it written about!

  15. I love this. I think the actual act of thinking about each object in your life DOES provide introspective. Where did this come from, what does it mean to you, is this a memory you want to be reminded of, is this just something beautiful that cheers you to see it, etc. etc.. Sometimes it will be less deep, and more practical — you don’t really use this item, and it’s just cluttering up your space/life; but on the flip side memories attach themselves to objects, and sometimes I’ve realized I’m better off letting something that’s become painful go, or packing something beautiful away that doesn’t fit in my life right now but that I don’t want to let go off. Hopefully you’ll realize a little better what’s important to you with an exercise like this.


  16. Thanks for this post Brigette…I live in a huge Victorian in the country and you cannot believe the massive amount of stuff we have collected over the yrs and then somehow feel so connected to these things that it’s hard to clean out the clutter. Well, I have been cleaning out some of the clutter and it is such a great feeling – nothing like what I thought it was going to be. I love u guys!

  17. Hi Vivi,

    I don’t know if this was directed at me: “Can you recommend any books or blogs that deal with the whole picture and not just external changes?”, but I figure I’d answer it anyway.
    I once read a book by Scilla Elworthy that was called Power and sex; It’s about seeing power as something integral, not to gain something for yourself but to find power (or empowerment) in your own authenticity. And I think Women who run with wolves is a great book (not the easiest read), it made me tap into some very deep and hidden feelings and helped me uncover my sexuality. The book is very primal and is about the psyche of women described through folklore and other tales.
    I would advice you to just take it from it what feels right to you and make it your own. I have gotten myself so sucked in to what I was reading and it sounded so wonderfull that I wasn’t being very critical about wether or not I fully agreed with it or not.

    – Brigette: I was just venting my overall frustration about this constant bombardment of being overtly positive and happy and yoga and healthiness. I just don’t believe that people who are like that are as happy as they claim. It sounds more like a natural high to avoid the very real pain they carry.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love yoga myself and take care of my health and am not advocating sitting around depressed, but I think that if we’re being real, there’s no need to deny the other end of things and I’m really sorry to say it, but you do come off to me that way. You and free people maybe as a whole, kind of come across like there are no scary bad things in the world and it bothered me a little.
    I think pretty much everything about Free People, this blog and you, is wonderfull. It just sometimes seems like there’s something missing. The picture is just too pretty to really believe. Like it’s situated up in the clouds and I would like to keep my feet on the ground so I can see what goes on there as well.

    I realize this is all very direct (at the very least), but I am trying this thing of just being honest, even if that causes confrontation.

  18. Oh, and Alexa Sonken; I think you are completely wrong. If you actually take a while to obsess about yourself and heal from your past and learn to love yourself unconditionally; then you can share that with other people.
    How are you going to love someone else unconditionally if you don’t love yourself that way?

    Aren’t you the starting point in your own life instead of someone else?

  19. It’s hypocritical for you to love the blog for it’s recipes and DIYs and hate the corporation because it’s capitalist. Take the blog post for what it is and don’t go on some unnecessary rant about Free People being just one small entity of a capitalist society. At least they have an awesome blog for you to read! & about those high prices – see something you like, wait 6-8 weeks and I promise you’ll find it on sale for half the price. Bargain shopping at its finest.

  20. I love this very idea Brigette. When I moved from California to New Mexico, I literally sold/gave away everything but my bed, books, my art supplies, dishes and a few antiques. I had a 3 bedroom home and garage filled! And I knew that I was moving to a small ranch house (2 bedroom, 1 bath). But it was well worth it, I don’t feel bogged down with a “bunch of stuff” and I gave a lot of my stuff away to friends who I knew would love what I gave them. And now? “Stuff” doesn’t mean a whole lot to me, I live in the middle of no where, and wake up to what’s really important…something that can’t be bought….peace of mind.

  21. Daria- Thanks for book recommendations. I know exactly what you mean about reading critically and taking away bits of the book that are helpful. I wish I could come to terms with my past and myself but I am starting to think that just isn’t possible for everyone. I think that’s why fashion blogs in general sometimes rub me the wrong way. I see someone whose problems seem to consist of trying to figure out what to pack for a festival or how to deal with split ends and I just want to cry. I realize no one’s life is really that perfect but some people really do have it easier than others.

  22. Namaste Brigette!!
    Just loved this post..
    So true, that we often carry unnecessary things & thoughts, that adds upon so much stress in our life.
    Though they are positive attributes, load is a load.

  23. Hi Vivi,

    I honestly think that if good and bad is a part of life, then everyone is effected by it. Even when we are watching the news, we block the horrors out, which is nessecary at that time. It makes me wonder; if we supposedly haven’t lived through horrors of our, why we feel the need to block someone elses story out. I just think we get used to not dealing with pain early on in life. It reflects on our parents really. Well, that’s just my opinion. I hope the books inspire you in some way.

  24. Spot on Daria! The article is lacking and I came away feeling empty. Thank God I searched through the comments and found yours. You should have written it ! Btw, do you have a blog? I’d love to follow it

  25. I would like to validate Daria, Viv, Emma, and Maria in the pain that they have felt and in their frustration with the messages to just “be positive”, “doing x, y, and z will fix all your problems”, etc. I suffered many years with internal issues that lead me to great resentment toward people who promote such ideas of an easy fix to deep suffering. I have worked hard on my issues for two years now and have recently, and quite joyfully, discovered the Free People Blog. I have found this blog extraordinarily inspiring and helpful in its ideas to create a mindful, joyful life. True, none of the posts have solved my life’s issues in their entirety, but I do not believe that that is Free People’s and its bloggers intention. It is merely a lifestyle blog to share conceptualizations and visualizations of accumulating positive experiences, thus contributing to a life worth living.
    In regards to Maria’s thoughts on essentially how messed up this post/blog/company is for selling pricy, non-essential items and exclaiming seemingly hypocritical messages about simplicity, I absolutely see where you are coming from. I thought about buying my FP vegan leather jacket for over five months simply because the price tag overwhelmed me. (Happy to say, I finally bought it and truly love it! Hard earned money well spent.) At the same time, they are a clothing company in a capitalist society. Of course they put a pretty price tag on their items. I have not seen them deny that fact; however, I only discovered this blog a month ago.
    As a FP customer (and a budgeted college student), I buy these products and follow this blog because, as mentioned above, it gives me great thoughts on living a centered life. I have bought a few items from FP because I feel that the particular item exudes my own personality when paired with other meaningful items I own, such as a pendant my mother and grandmother bought me a few years back. Some blog posts, of course, are not my cup of tea; however, some resonate with how I live my life and how I can improve the quality of my life based on my personal values. I bring myself to the blog instead of expecting the blog to bring forth my self.
    Just wanted to give another prospective on the ideas presented! Naturally, I am coming across this post and these comments nearly 6 months later…nonetheless, I hope you all can pick through and find some posts that are meaningful to your own life, as I know I have found it to be quite enjoyable!

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