3 Ways Simplifying Your Life Can Boost Happiness

3 Ways Simplifying Your Life Can Boost Happiness - the confused millennial

*Guest Post* 


How many times have you been distracted from work by a Youtube video, or pulled out your phone on the elevator to avoid talking to the person standing next to you? Yesterday, I did both multiple times alone.

Instead of buckling down and starting a task or engaging with a stranger, I choose to do something comfortable, because it's easy. 

But doing something that is easy, comfortable, even habitual, is only half of the problem. The other reason I do these things is because I'm constantly being bombarded by distractions, all of which are accessible with the push of a button.

Want friends? Check Facebook.

Want food? Deliveroo. UberEats. Seamless.

Pictures of food and sunsets? Instagram.

Want love, sex or something in-between? Bumble. Tinder. Hinge.

I can access anything, talk to anybody, do anything in seconds; and so can you.

Today we live in a world in which technology rules practically everything around us. The Internet is widely available (at least in the Western world), and most people now have the ability to go online at any time.

In Australia, 68% of adults aged 18 to 44 are using three or more devices to access the internet. In the U.S., 68% of adults 18 and older have a smartphone, and 45% own a tablet. The average UK adult uses media and communications services for 8 hours 45 minutes a day and sleeps for 8 hours 18 minutes.

Every day, humanity grows more and more reliant on technology to make simple decisions and to get from point A to point B. It is easy to brush off this increase in internet usage and connected activity as just a sign of the times, but many are starting to see the negative impact of this reliance on technology.

According to a survey from Harris Poll, 45% of US adults try to unplug from the internet at least once a week. Ofcom reports that over 30% of UK adults reported that they had tried a digital detox. In Australia, “tech free tourism” is growing in popularity, and companies selling digital detox travel packages have seen increases in sales over the last several years.

Needless to say, we live in a world filled with distractions and infinite choices. By simplifying your life and reducing the number of decisions you have to make every day can you begin to maintain a higher level of motivation to reach your goals.

 

 

3 reasons why reducing distractions can bring about a major shift in your life:

1. Fewer choices mean you are more likely to reach your goals

More and more people are suffering from decision fatigue.  By reducing the number of choices you have to make in a given day, you can actually boost the likelihood of reaching your goals. Steve Jobs famously did this by wearing the same outfit every day. Another way to reduce decision fatigue would be to delete distractions such as social media or games from your phone.

According to research from Stanford University professor Szu-chi Huang, reducing the number of decisions you have to make to reach a goal greatly improves the chance that you will actually reach that goal.

“When people are close to the end of a pursuit, they ask, ‘How do I speed to the end?’ Offering choices undermines people’s motivation at this stage because it makes answering that question harder.” says Huang.

Professor Clifford Nass and two of his colleagues at Stanford’s Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab also found evidence that self-described “multi-taskers” were less likely to be able to pay attention to the task at hand and were more likely to be distracted by irrelevant information.

2. It’s better for your mental health

Cutting down on things like social media will make you a much happier person. Not only will it give you a reason to go outside and interact with other people face-to-face, it can do wonders for your self-esteem.

You’ve probably heard of FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. This is a major factor driving people’s addiction to social media. The reason FOMO is so powerful is because it taps into two major human motivations identified by Abraham Maslow: self-esteem and belonging. People want to feel like they’re a part of something larger than themselves like they’re an accepted member of the community, and like they matter as individuals.

While the jury is still out on the long-term effects of social media usage in connection with mental health, some researchers have drawn conclusions that extended periods of social network exposure can lead to diminished self-esteem or even symptoms of depression.

One meta-study published in the 2014 Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, found that most studies showed some correlation between high social media network usage and instances of low self-esteem and depression.

3. It makes you more creative and your output better

People who experience fewer digital distractions are often better positioned to adopt practices that have proven to increase creativity and problem-solving skills. Practices like mindfulness and mindful meditation have grown in popularity (even among startup founders) in recent years.

In one study of mindfulness and cognitive rigidity, researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Israel conducted two experiments on participants to measure their ability to think creatively and solve problems in unique ways. In one experiment, participants were split into two groups. One group received mindfulness training, while the other did not. They were then asked to complete a “brain teaser” task.

What do you think happened? Those that received the mindfulness training were far more likely to think “outside the box” and avoided being blinded by previous experiences. They were able to live in the moment and were thus able to come up with unique solutions to the problem.

 

Finding a long-lasting source of motivation is never easy, but you can improve your chances of getting motivated and staying that way by embracing simplicity. For instance, try to limit yourself to an hour of unstructured time on social media per day. Also, consider creating a block of time each day to practice some form of mindful meditation.

The key is to work on reducing the noise by focusing on interactions that add value to your life. Every little bit counts and every day that you are able to reduce the noise by even 1% is likely to increase your productivity, your level of motivation, and your ability to focus on the task at hand exponentially.


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69 thoughts on “3 Ways Simplifying Your Life Can Boost Happiness”

  1. Courtney Patterson

    Social media, for all its great points, has certainly taken away from good ol face to face conversations and the ability to relate to people without a digital influence. I’ve cut back tremendously on my screen time and I have to admit, my mind feels more at ease. It’s liberating to let go of something that takes so much of your time.

  2. What a great article. I would also agree that fewer choices can really simply the process. Cutting back on social media is really a game changer when needing to recharge your batteries.

  3. I totally agree with you. Too many choices! I’ve cut back so much and will continue that trend in 2017.

  4. great points! One of my new year’s resolutions is to live a simpler life, and I know that includes limiting my social media!

  5. Yes, to all of this!! The simpler I make my life, the happier I am. My favorite moments are when we head out camping and end up with no wifi service and we only have the essential, non-technological fun to occupy our time. These are all such great reminders!

  6. I think point #1 is my favorite. When I have too many things on my to-do list I feel like I get less done than when I only have a handful.

  7. Brigette Collins

    These are all great points! I often get caught up in “other things” that I forget to chill or take a step back.. it can be A LOT at times. Great post 🙂

  8. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the apps, lists, bookmarked stuff etc. I have. It’s then I spend some times weeding out some of it, apps (especially games!), lists get finished/filed/or tossed. I go through bookmarks and delete or push the resource to where I need it. I like using Evernote to save articles I want to read again, it helps me control the overwhelm of too much bookmarked sites. I also use Feedly to keep up on blogs I follow without getting tons of emails.

  9. This is so true! I feel like you miss out on so much in your daily life when you’re constantly glued to your phone. It’s easy to get distracted with social media, so it’s better to set specific times to browse and then put it away and enjoy your life. Great post!

  10. Brittany Marshall

    I have really been striving to simplify things…ironically it seems things are getting more complex lol but I will keep striving to do so! Detaching from the digital world is a big thing but is difficult when you run 2 online businesses from home!

  11. This is such a great post! I’ve realized that the more I spend time on my phone the more I reach for my phone. It just escalates. I always know it’s time to put my phone down and walk away when I refresh every social media app and don’t find anything new.

  12. Ah so true. We are surrounded by distractions all day – sometimes we just need to unplug! I find the best ideas come when I am enjoying the outdoors 🙂

    XX Claire | bloomwithclaire.com

  13. Loved reading this! I spend most of my time on social media and I need to learn to put it down and be more present in the moment.

    xoxo, Hannah

  14. Great advice. One of my worst habits is staying glued to my phone/other technology constantly. I’ve actually made it one of my resolutions to do more reading, writing, art, etc. and unplug for a few hours each day.

    Katie | http://katieisadora.com

  15. This is such a great post! I’m definitely someone that is easily distracted by my phone and I need to stop. I started by leaving my phone in a different room while doing what I need to for a couple of hours.

  16. So, so true! I’m expecting baby #2 next month and have been trying to rid our house of things and simplify life as much as possible before her arrival, bc I know it will help keep me sane!

  17. I’ve never heard that phrase “decision fatigue” but that is SUCH truth! I find myself looping in that all of the time but didn’t realize it was an actual thing. I thought it was just my crazy brain.

  18. This is an awesome post! I had no idea about decision fatigue and Steve Jobs. Having a meal plan has really helped me with my weekly decisions.

  19. These are great tips! I have been adpoting a minimalist lifestyle and I can see how it has had a great impact on my health!

  20. This is such an interesting post. I always get so caught up in my choices each day and in turn, I get so stressed. Sometimes social media is the thing that overwhelms me most! What great reminders for me to minimize my life and reach my goals.

  21. loved reading what you had to say about simplifying your life, especially #3. as a creative person, I’ve realized that I function waaay easier if my mental & emotional state is as minimal as possible. gives my brain more room to run! x, nicole // http://www.nicoleeigh.com

  22. I like to take a break from social media on the weekends and limit my use in the evenings. All of the tech out there can be overly distracting!

  23. Totally agree. I need to take a break from electronics every now and then. Just sit in a quiet place with a good book, unplugged.

  24. I loved these tips. I am the worst with getting distracted. I swear my brain is scrambled all the time. I need to start limiting screen time so that I can actually focus on the task in front of me. My goal this year is to have tech free Sundays and just enjoy the day with Brad before the crazy work weeks.

  25. Oh my gosh, love this! FOMO is definitely real and putting away my phone definitely gives me less distractions while working on stuff!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

  26. Totally didn’t know that decreasing your decisions would allow you to reach your goals better – but it definitely makes sense!

  27. I definitely support the idea of being less reliant on technology for meeting basic human needs… in fact I try not to think about it too much because things are reaching a kind of scary level of technology-dependence. I hope more people see this and choose to make smart changes!

  28. Love this, Rachel! In a world where we are really offered too much, we really do have to figure out what is truly important to us and reduce the rest. Otherwise, it’s not healthy!

  29. So true. Keeping life simple is the key to happiness. Lesser clutter means lesser distractions, which in turn leads to better focus on few things that matter the most, and that brings the desired results to us – can’t agree more!

  30. Such a great guest post! I’ve been focusing on slowing down lately. In church we are focusing on making “Sabbath” a Daily part of our lives and I just read this! It must be something I really need to hear lol

  31. Awesome guest post! I definitely need to narrow down my choices in things. I always try to come up with the longest list of options haha

  32. These are such excellent points. I definitely agree that fewer choices means you’ll reach your goals. And if you are no longer spread thin you’re more likely to achieve them as well. Great post!

  33. I agree that “too many” choices can make staying on track difficult. It’s important to put aside distractions and focus in on those goals!

  34. I really would LOVE to cut down on social media! I truly agree with all you said! But I feel like as a blogger and journalist, I can’t escape it! Great post 🙂 xx thecarlycollective.com

  35. Kristine Circenis

    I really resonated with this post. I only limit myself to one game on my phone (trying to get down to having none) because well plainly, it’s unnecessary. I also have been making an effort to do something other than browse social media for long periods of time if I’m bored. In doing so, I definitely feel like my self-esteem is generally higher. I’ve made an effort to read more and cook in order to fill free time.

  36. I completely relate to this post, especially the idea of taking digital detoxes, even if they are mini ones. It can have such a profound impact on your mental and physical well being. After a brief but exhausting marriage I’m rediscovering myself and realizing how much I neglected myself for four years. Recently, I’ve met a wonderful man who impresses me with his conscious effort to turn his phone off for extended periods of time, especially when we are together, that way he can focus on the task at hand, be it working on a project or engaging in a conversation face to face with another human. It’s so refreshing and I can see the difference it makes in our relationship as well as his relationships with others like his family and friends.

  37. I’m trying to get rid of distractions and use my phone less. It’s so hard since as bloggers it is so ingrained in us – but I’m working on making my life less complicated!

  38. I’m a mental health professional by day and I could not agree with this post more! Thank you so much for adding this to the Thursday Three Link Party on LiveLifeWellBlog.com. I hope to see your posts again in the future!

    All the Best,
    Allison

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