On Being a Modern Gentleman:
Guideline 19: Live Simply
The modern gentleman, unlike forebears, is an individual that chooses simplicity over materialism. Investing his or her time in personal development, the modern gentleman has no time for a life filled with possessions and distractions.
Of all the guidelines listed during this challenge, simplicity is my greatest struggle. I like things. I appreciate fine clothing, books, furniture, and knick-knacks of various sorts. The only way I’ve been able to combat this is by living by the motto quality before quantity. Rather than accumulate lots of possessions, I’ve tried to look for quality goods that will last a lifetime, or at least close to one. For example, rather than buy shoes that would need to be replaced after a year or two, I buy quality shoes that will last many years and then can be resoled to last for many more.
While I can’t really lead by example, I understand the principle well enough to present some suggestions for living a simple life.
1. Declutter – Sort through all your possessions and get rid of any that haven’t been used/worn in over a year. (Many people say six months, but I feel like a year is a little more realistic.) Reducing clutter in your house will reduce stress, save you time, and give you a fresh start on life. When I do declutter, I feel like I’ve taken a fresh lease on life.
2. Reduce Distraction – Most people have a lot of unnecessary distractions in their lives. Surrounded by smart phones, easily accessible internet distractions, television, and near-constant contact with both friends and strangers, it’s difficult to concentrate on a task or on the things that matter. While all of the above are useful and enjoyable, try not to let them usurp the important things in your life. Take time each day to cut out all distractions and focus on yourself, your friends or family, or your work.
3. Cut Ties – We all have a lot of unnecessary relationships in our lives as well. While it may seem harsh, cut ties with people that don’t benefit you. Reducing the amount of people you interact and associate with will allow you to develop stronger relationships with the people that remain. You don’t need 800 Facebook friends, and you don’t need to hang out with a different social circle every night of the week.