Tapping into the Power of Values to Simplify Your Life

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Sam Spurlin of The Simpler Life.

What Qualifies As Living Simply?

I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to argue that simplicity looks and feels different for everyone. I consider my lifestyle to be pretty simple, yet Henry David Thoreau would scoff at the amount of things I own and how I spend my money. Living in a cabin down by the river (or a van for that matter) may be simple but it doesn’t simplify my life. It’s up to each of us to pick and choose what advice, tips, and philosophy we follow when it comes to our own lives. There are obviously tons of blogs in this particular niche, so how do you know what advice to take and what advice to leave by the wayside?

The Power of Values

My definition of what constitutes living simply is, “Any action taken to align your life with your values.” That’s it. My values, my deepest held convictions and beliefs, are what guide me through my day. Unfortunately, in the world today my values are often muddled and hidden behind layers upon layers of complexity. Focusing on simplicity allows my values to come to the foreground and gain clarity.

Take a moment and think about some of the decisions you have made lately. What was the driving force behind your choice? For many people advertisements, peer pressure, tradition and other external factors are what make the decisions in their lives. It’s impossible to completely erase these factors from your life, but the more we live in accordance with what we believe, our values, the simpler our lives become.

If you agree with my definition, then the first step is to figure out what your values are. That topic alone is enough to fill an entire blog but Steve Pavlina’s take on finding values is top-notch. What it comes down to is figuring out what drives you as a person. For me, a few important values are Growth, Family, and Teaching. These concepts are ever present in my mind as I go about my day and I try, to the greatest extent possible, to live my life as closely aligned to them as possible.

Building the Essentials

Once you’ve figured out your values you need to determine what must be done to bring them into focus. Decluttering your mind and space, learning to develop concentration and focus, cultivating a sense of gratitude and selflessness — these are the essentials you want to learn and the qualities you want to develop. There are as many ways to do this as there are people who are reading this article; that is why blogs like Becoming Minimalist have become so popular. There is a nearly infinite amount of advice to be given on this topic and it’s up to you to pick and choose the ideas, advice, and actions that will let your values become your decision-making mechanism.

There is no ultimate and ideal Simple Life that exists as some perfect standard. There is only The Simpler Life that we make for ourselves — one decision at a time.


Sam Spurlin writes about simplicity, values, and living a conscious life at thesimplerlife.net. He recently released his first ebook, Living the Simpler Life: 8 Essentials to Practice Everyday. He brings the perspective of a recent college graduate, teacher, and college hockey coach to the questions that puzzle him on a daily basis. He’s been known to tweet occasionally, respond to email promptly, and write like it’s going out of style.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Lots of us seem to be writing about simplicity and minimalism. What we share in common is a desire for a better life, and we think it comes from less, not more.

    It’s hard to come up with a definition of simplicity or minimalism, but it’s easy to decide whether a particular decision supports my beliefs or undermines them.

    Thanks, Sam, for a nice article. I’m glad to see it here.

  2. says

    With so many blogs and posts available that talk about minimalism, it is easy to fall into the idea of “this is what minimalism is” and if you’re not exactly the same, you must be doing it wrong. It is good to be reminded that “simplicity is in the eyes of the beholder” – what is minimalist to me may be far different than how you view it. I am living my life in such a way that it allows me to live the life that I want, or at least work towards it. My version of minimalism helps me to clean

  3. Michael Donovan says

    I’m surprised Joshua allowed this post seeing that he is a youth minister. A post about “values” and the guest writer uses STEVE PAVLINA (of all people!) as an example? Pavlina is a man of questionable morals and is in admitted Polyamorous relationship(s). Pavlina openly discusses his sexual lifestyle which, I would think, Joshua would rule out as an authority on “values.” Here’s just one link: http://www.superawesomedating.com/polyamory-commitment-and-steve-pavlinas-marriage/ or just Google Pavlina and polyamory.

  4. Michael Donovan says

    Sorry to double-dip, but this is a very thoughtful (and long) blog post relating to Pavlina’s decision to live the polyamory lifestyle openly. The blog author discusses the impact on Steve’s two children (six and nine years of age). Pavlina seems oblivious to all the hurt he’s causing. I still can’t believe a post about “values” would point to this man as some kind of example. Here’s the link: http://monkeyinmymind.com/2009/01/04/internet-self-help-guru-steve-pavlina-decides-to-have-sex-with-women-who-are-not-his-wife/

  5. says

    If you read his article on values that I link to you can see he doesn’t talk about polyamory. It’s a general article about the point of values and how to develop them. It’s not my place to pass judgement on anybody’s values but my own.

  6. says

    @Michael Why must an article about finding your values and the author’s own values be intertwined? It is this kind of polarisation that makes this world so sick. The fact that Pavlina’s values are opposite to mine (I really and truly believe in monogamy) doesn’t mean that his method to finding your values is also wrong. The fact that he came to different set of values just means that his choices are different. I do think his choices are wrong but does that give us the right to burn everything he has ever created?

    To use some very old words: “Let he who is free of sin throw the first rock.”

  7. says

    @Michael. The article posted above has nothing to do with Steve’s relationship choices. It has everything to do with finding your values and using them to lead you in your minimalist journey – which is completely consistent with my view of minimalism and appears often in my writing.

  8. says

    good answer, Josh.
    My husband is going to be guest posting on my blog occasionally, and has started writing a few posts, on this very subject. (have not published yet.)
    Interesting discussion, great topic.

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