Thriving on Less – Simplifying in a Tough Economy

By Leo Babauta in Management on December 26th, 2008 / One Comment

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

The recent economic recession has a lot of people worried, about their jobs, their businesses, their homes and their bills. When your income is dropping or in jeopardy and you still have a mountain of bills to pay, things can get pretty scary.

However, tough economic times do not have to be a time of struggles! If you look for the opportunity in the middle of difficulty, as Mr. Einstein suggested, then tough economic times become an opportunity to transform your life.

The problems of our economy stem from unchecked consumerism – people buying houses too expensive for their incomes, getting into too much debt by spending too much, living a lifestyle of more and more with the idea that things will only continue to get better. Unfortunately, this kind of consumerism is unsustainable, both at a global and a personal level. Eventually, the bills have to be paid and things will be corrected to a more sustainable level.

What does this mean for you, personally? It means that in order to survive in a tough economy, you must adjust your lifestyle to a more sustainable level. But to thrive in a tough economy, you can go even further: simplify your life to make room for the truly important. Clear away the clutter and the excess spending to make room for the essential: the people and things you love the most, that you’re most passionate about.

Such a simplified lifestyle can be truly wonderful – you’ll finally have time for the things you really love, for relaxation, for outdoor activities, for exercise, for reading or finding peace and quiet, for the loved ones in your life, for the things you’re most passionate about. This is what it means to thrive – to live a life full of the things you want in them, and not more. To live a better quality of life without having to spend and buy and consume.

In this ebook I’ll show you how to start on the road to that simple lifestyle. Even better, I’ll show you how you can thrive on less, change your habits to create a more sustainable lifestyle, get out of debt, and be in a great position to live well in any economic times.

A quick note: this ebook is a companion to my print book, The Power of Less, which goes into much more detail on these and other topics. While this ebook is free, I highly suggest you buy the actual book – see my website,, for more info, or look for it in a fine book retailer near you.

Chapter 1 – A Simple Lifestyle

“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.” – Edwin Way Teale

Not too many years ago, my life was full of clutter. There was the clutter of too many possessions, piled up in every corner of my home and office, bought one at a time on impulsive decisions and stacked up until I realized that I had way too much and that it was way too stressful to have so much clutter. And there was no room to … live.

There was the clutter of too many commitments, filling up my schedule until I had no room for the things I really wanted to do, no room to accomplish my goals, no room for my family. These commitments

piled up one at a time until again, I realized I had way too much and that I was way too stressed out. There was no room for the life I wanted.

There was the clutter of too much to do, too many tasks on my to-do list, too many emails to process each day, too much paperwork piling up in stacks on my desk, too many calls to take and make, too many meetings. It all piles up and you wonder how you’ll ever get it all done and how you ever got so much to do.

Then I decided that too much was too much, and that I wanted to simplify. It was a long process (one that continues to this day, to a lesser extent), but over the course of weeks and months, I reduced the amount of clutter, the number of commitments, the amount of things I had to do each day. I simplified my life, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Today, things are much simpler: my desk and my home are uncluttered and serene, my life is less hectic with room for the things I love, and I am living the life I’ve always wanted.

It’s not an incredible secret, or anything that’s terribly difficult to do. Sure, it means making some tough decisions to cut things out in favor of the truly important, but if you don’t cut those things out, you’re still making those decisions by not taking action – you’re deciding to let the unimportant fill your life so you don’t have room for what you love and value. Instead, you need to take a close look at your life and make those tough decisions. You’ll be happy you did.

And here’s something really great about a simple lifestyle: it doesn’t cost a lot of money!

If you reduce the clutter in your home, you can actually make a little money if you sell some of the stuff (donate the rest to charity). And learn not to fill your home up with clutter, and you’ll be spending less on buying possessions as well.

If you simplify your schedule to make room for the things you love, you’ll be running around less, you’ll be less stressed, and you’ll have less need for the “de-stressing” activities that many of us undertake after a long day or week of work: shopping, drinking, partying, going out to expensive entertainment, and so on. You can relax and have fun in other ways that don’t cost a lot of money.

After simplifying your life, you will realize that a life full of the things you love and value does not cost a lot of money at all. Sure, you’ll still have to spend on the essentials, but beyond that you’ll save tons of money.

Imagine that: a truly great life that costs almost nothing. Let’s find out how to get there.

Stay tuned for chapter 2 – Focus on the Essentials or download the ebook for free here.

About the author:
Leo Babauta is the author of The Power of Less and the creator and blogger at Zen Habits, a Top 100 blog with 80,000 subscribers — one of the top productivity and simplicity blogs on the Internet.

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One Response to “Thriving on Less – Simplifying in a Tough Economy”

  1. D.Bheemeswar Says:

    This is again a well written article. We need not blame the people for the unwanted purchases that they might have made, instead of living simple with what they have. This is quite common that where some people who are having living highly comfortable, each and everybody would think that life is becoming richer and richer or atleast have comfortable life as far as possible. It is human tendency to err like this, it is also human tendency to come back to normalcy and live as simple as possible, especially those who want to face all the troubles and struggle shall revert back to simplicity. It is to be note that all great personalities that this worlds trend setters are Noble and known for their simplicity. But people never learnt it but are aways after the false prestige and err.

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