The Facebook posts finally got me. I splurged on the $20 lifetime subscription to Simplify Magazine.
And, I’m glad I did. Their approach to simple living and slow living storytelling is a unique one. I must admit I was skeptical going in, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the authors and content they’ve brought together.
What is Simplify Magazine?
Simplify Magazine is a quarterly, digital publication that pulls together experts in various fields to address some of the most pressing needs of the modern family…help families focus on the things that matter most.
Simplify Magazine Issue 001: Happiness
Get a free copy here!
Contributors: Gretchen Rubin, Helen Russell, Robert Waldinger, Joshua Becker, Denaye Barahona, Erin Loechner, Brian Gardner
“Find Your Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen tells her personal story of confronting the “danger of wasting my life” and recurring feelings of discontentment and disbelief. For me, this was an existential crisis. Gretchen asked herself, “How could I discipline myself to feel grateful for my ordinary day?”
In her story, she offers tips that helped her find her own happiness. But, the most compelling piece of advice was around a “happiness project.”
“A ‘happiness project’ is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions.”
One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy; one of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself. — Gretchen Rubin
You can check out some of Gretchen Rubin’s books here:
“What Living Danishly Taught Me About Happiness” by Helen Russell
I found this essay particularly intriguing. If you’ve followed anything related to slow living in the last couple years, you’ve most likely seen the term hygge pop up. Prior to reading this, all I knew was that it meant reveling in the little things in life — life’s simple pleasures. And, I had seen some of the studies that said Danes were near the top of the world’s happiest people. So, they must be doing something right, right?
Well, Helen Russell knows firsthand because she moved to Denmark and decided to stay for the last five years. Here’s how she defines hygge:
The Danish phenomenon of hygge defies literal translation, but the best explanation I’ve seen is: ‘a complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.’ — Helen Russell
Even with the awful weather, 50% tax rate, and other problems, she does believe “living Danishly can make you happier.”
So, what makes it so great? For one, work-life balance. Apparently the average Dane only works 33 hours per week. Other tips to live more Danishly include prioritizing leisure, pleasure, and family. “Remember the simple things that make you happy.”
Check out some of Helen Russell’s books below:
“Learning to Take Care of Our Relationships” by Robert Waldinger
This essay is completely mind-boggling. Robert Waldinger and his colleagues have performed one of the longest studies of adult life — dating back to its start in the late 1930s and early 1940s.
“The Harvard Study of Adult Development has tracked the lives of 724 persons—268 Harvard College sophomores and 456 boys from Boston’s inner city—from the time they were teenagers into old age. Using questionnaires, interviews, medical records, and scans of blood and brains, we monitored their physical and mental health, their work lives, their friendships, and their romances.”
Looking back on their lives, people most often report their time with others as being the most meaningful part of life and what they’re proudest of. — Robert Waldinger
“Chasing a Richer, Fuller Level of Happiness” by Joshua Becker
I’ve been a Joshua Becker fan and follower of his site, BecomingMinimalist.com, for a long time.
I think what Joshua does really well is tackle the aha moment of minimalism head on and from many different angles. This essay specifically resonated with me. It’s the type of thing everyone should read once a week to keep our perspectives in check.
Joshua looks at the differences between short-lived, moments of pleasure and lasting happiness. Why don’t all the things that are marketed and sold to us on a daily basis fall in the latter category of delivering lasting happiness? More is not more, and there will never be enough (see lifestyle inflation). This is the aha moment. “A life that is deeply satisfying can look very different than the one he’d once expected.”
Our deepest happiness in life stems from fulfilling purpose. Doing the best we can, where we are, with what we’ve been given is the best way to live a life of meaning and significance. — Joshua Becker
Joshua Becker’s books can be found here (and you can get a free chapter of his new book, The Minimalist Home, here):
“Could Unhappiness Be the Secret to Raising Happy Kids?” by Denaye Barahona
I’m definitely jotting down a mental (and written) note on this one. My wife and I don’t have kids (at least yet), but this isn’t something I want to forget if we ever do.
Maybe by coincidence, Denaye looks at a similar problem as Joshua: short-term vs. long-term happiness. Joshua looked at it in the sense of adult purchases, how we spend our time and money, etc. However, Denaye takes the perspective of what it can do to children.
Everyone wants their kids to be happy. “Ultimately, we’d like to give them a lifetime of pure and utter joy. When our kids are happy, we are happy.”
Here’s the kicker: “But when it comes to our children, could short-term happiness lead to long-term unhappiness?”
It turns out that, to be happy in the long term, children need certain things from parents that might result in a temporary sense of unhappiness. So even though it may seem strange, it’s true: unhappiness is the secret to raising happy kids. — Denaye Barahona
“Simplifying Motherhood and Having a Happy Family” by Erin Loechner
I’m familiar with Erin Loechner and was a fan of her book Chasing Slow (book summary here).
While this essay seems like a preview for the book, there were still some good refreshers on slow living.
I am pursing minimalism. I know this to be true. I want less, and I want simplicity, and I want to spend my days connecting and caring, not consuming and competing. — Erin Loechner
This next quote hit home for me:
It’s important for me to have a hierarchy in which to prioritize my many roles. In my current season, serving my husband and children calls for the bulk of my energy, so my personal and work lives are often secondary commitments. There’s a lot of “No” in my vocabulary right now, but I know that over time, pruning offers much growth. — Erin Loechner
“The Red Baseball Cap: Scenes from a Less-Is-More Life” by Brian Gardner
Great “less is more” story. No need for a summary on this one. Just read it. Reminded me a bit of the tourist and the fisherman.
Upcoming Simplify Magazine Issues
Issues 002 and 003 are already out! I’ll be writing short summaries of those as well. Issue 002 covers health and wellness, and 003 tackles stress and overwhelm. Here’s what they have slated for future issues this year:
March 2018: Declutter Your Life
June 2018: Technology
September 2018: Money, Savings, and Debt
Do you also have a lifetime subscription to Simplify Magazine? Please let me know what you think in the comments.
Slow Living Resources
Also published on Medium.