Quality Over Quantity is the Core of Simplicity

I think simplifying gets a bad rap because of the imagery that many people associate with it.  "Living a simple life?  That means having an empty house and no possessions, right?  Basically, you just sit around and think about your existence all day-- maybe do a little yoga?"

However, when I think of simplifying my life, I think of quality.  I think about eliminating all the random junk that seems to fill up my life and only keeping the stuff that I actually care about.  For me, a life of simplicity is a life of richness.  This principle, replacing quantity with quality, can be applied to almost every aspect of your life, not just your possessions.

For example, think about your relationships.  How many friends do you actually have?  Do you have a large group of people that you "sort of" know, but very few, if any, extremely close friends?  A large group of acquaintances can be beneficial at times, but I would argue that a small number of truly high quality friendships is best.  Keeping up with that large group of semi-friends can be very time and attention consuming.  It's much simpler to be an active and contributing part to just a few people's lives that you truly and deeply care about.

Another place that many people, myself included, could stand to apply the quality over quantity concept is in the information they receive throughout the day.  Timothy Ferriss and other "lifehack" authors have proposed the idea of low-information diets before.  The incredibly fast pace and ubiquity of information raining down on the average person is truly mind boggling.  How many feeds are in your RSS reader? How many other websites do you check on a daily (or hourly) basis? How many emails do you get in a day? Every aspect of our lives online could stand to be looked at in a critical light.  Every couple weeks I like to go through my feed reader and remove subscriptions to blogs that no longer add enough value to my life.  Without taking this step, I slowly keep adding more sites to follow, more information to keep up with, until I'm spending an hour or more everyday trying to get my unread feeds down to zero.

Lastly, the most obvious part of your life that the quality over quantity concept can be applied is with your physical possessions.  I am trying to take steps toward saving and buying higher quality versions of items that I use everyday.  For example, instead of buying a set of cheap knives for your kitchen consider buying one very high quality chef's knife.  Or, instead of buying a lot of cheap clothes that wear out very quickly, try saving for some higher quality and timeless clothes that will last longer.

If you are curious about simplifying your life I encourage you to try thinking of it as living a life of higher quality, instead of reduced quantity.  By eliminating your low quality possessions, relationships, and attention sinks, you are left with the true essentials of life.

There is no reason a life of simplicity should be a life of deprivation.