By Leo Babauta
The other day I was having such a chill, easy day despite doing all of my usual work and chores and workout activities – the phrase, “Life on Easy Mode” came to me.
The rest of the week, I kept the question in my mind, “What would it be like to have life on easy mode?”
A lot of answers came to me, and I’ll share some of them below. But the biggest answer is that you can do all your normal activities … but your day can be one of ease, peace, and contentment, no matter what you’re doing.
You can try it right now:
Keep reading this article, but see if you can do it with a feeling of relaxed effortlessness. Of ease and peace.
You might relax your muscles, breathe deeply and smoothly, smile very slightly, and feel a sense of appreciation for being alive in this moment.
What is that like for you?
That’s the essence of life on easy mode.
Let’s talk about some things you can do to access this during your day.
Easy Mode Mindset
Imagine that in any moment in life, you could access any kind of experience: happiness, joy, playfulness, sadness, anger, peace, awe.
That’s not how we usually see it – we think that other people, and external circumstances, cause our internal states to happen. But what if we imagined that we can access any state, no matter the external circumstances, no matter what someone else is doing?
So with this in mind, imagine that you could access peace and easefulness in any moment. A sense of contentedness. A sense of loving life, and appreciating every moment.
Try it right now. What does it feel like?
Now practice it while doing something: drinking a glass of water, washing a dish, reading a message. Same mindset, different activities.
This ease is available in any moment. We just need to be willing to access it.
Things That Make Life Easier
You don’t have to do anything different to live life on this easy mode. That said, here are some things I’ve found to make life so much easier – there might be a lot here, but think of these as ideas you might try one at a time:
- One thing at a time: When you walk, just walk, and appreciate each step. When you do something online, do one thing at a time, as fully as you can. This is such a simple approach but we forget it so often.
- Put space between things: In between meetings and tasks, take a breath. Let yourself have some space, some downtime. Even if it’s just a few minutes, savor this delicious space.
- Bring full appreciation: In every activity, can you fully appreciate the incredible nature of this moment?
- Clean as you go: Put away your clothes when you take them off. Wash your dishes after you eat or cook. Wipe the counter. Tidy up after yourself. This can apply to everything – reply to that email, clean up your downloads folder, don’t have a million tabs open all the time. Simple thing, but really underappreciated by most people. Not letting things pile up is such a wonderful way to live life on easy mode.
- Do less: You don’t need to do less in order to live life on easy mode. But it can be really nice! Reduce how much you’re trying to get done during the day. This can take some time to transition towards, including renegotiating commitments with people or training people to do things for themselves..
- Rest & self-care: Prioritize rest, so that you’re not constantly exhausted. Self-care should also be an easy, loving act: floss your teeth, let yourself relax, take care of your emotions and body.
- Eat whole foods: This post is not about diet, but I’ve really found such a huge wellness benefit to eating mostly whole foods. For me, that means vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes. Don’t be fanatic about it – you can eat processed foods/junk, but see these foods as the spice rather than the main ingredients of your diet. My body and mind feel so much better when I follow this approach.
- Eat slowly: Whatever you decide to eat, take a bite and savor it. Leave a little space between bites, don’t cram it in or automatically get more. This simple approach to eating (eat whole foods, eat slowly) really makes an incredible difference.
- Move often: I don’t mean all the time. But every 30-45 minutes, get up and move. Stretch, do a few yoga poses, walk outside for a few minutes, do some bodyweight exercises. Once a day, do more than that: go for a longer walk, go on a bike ride, do a workout, play a sport, do a yoga routine or bodyweight exercises. Rest some days if you’re sore or tired, of course. This kind of movement throughout the day makes your body feel vibrantly healthy and at ease in the long run.
- Have a cushion: Build a buffer into your life wherever you yourself living on the edge. Create a financial cushion by spending less for awhile or earning some extra money. Build cushion into your schedule. Ask for longer deadlines so you don’t overpromise and deliver late. Life is so much less stressful with a cushion!
- When you’re overwhelmed, take small steps: A lot of time, we can get stopped by overwhelm. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when we’re face with a lot of tasks/decisions. Life on easy mode means just picking one thing off the pile and focusing on that. Then the next thing off the pile. Take a breath, and focus on one thing.
- Do focus sessions to get stuff done: Set up 1-3 sessions each day where you focus on one important task. Set a timer for an hour. You can split them into two Pomodoro sessions with a break if that works better. Sit with someone else (in person or on muted video chat) if that helps you focus. Get. Stuff. Done! They work like magic.
- Do things as simply as possible: We overcomplicate things. What’s the simplest way you can approach the things you have in front of you? How can you make decisions with ease, instead of overthinking it? Be straightforward in your communication – say what you want. Don’t add extra meaning to things, extra layers of suffering. Live simply in every interaction and task.
Again, this is a long list, and it can be overwhelming. So pick one thing and try it! These are simply ideas that I’ve found to be incredibly helpful.
Let’s talk a little more about the last item on the list – doing things as simply as possible.
Simplifying When We Overcomplicate Things
We’re pretty much always making things complicated. It’s our wonderful brains, always thinking. This tends to make life more difficult than it needs to be, a lot of the time.
Here are a few examples of how we overcomplicate things:
- We read things into what people say and do, and create extra meaning out of things. For example, a friend says they don’t want to go to coffee with us, and we might read that to mean that they don’t want to spend time with us, they don’t care about us, they’re always doing this. When it might simply be that they’re feeling tired today.
- We have a lot of things to do today, big and small, and it feels overwhelming, and we get stuck on doing anything because we have in mind how hard it’s going to be to tackle all of it, and how we might not be able to stay above water. When in fact, the simplest thing would be to pick one thing and get started.
- We get anxious about an upcoming event, wondering whether we’ll do a good job, worried about what people will think about us, and spend a lot of time thinking about it, overpreparing, stressing about how it will go. The simple thing would be to take some care to do preparation without overdoing it, and then show up and be ourselves.
These are just a few examples, we’re doing this kind of thing pretty much all the time. We overthink, worry, and complicate, and life is no longer in easy mode.
When we’re doing this, we can simply notice. And instead of beating ourselves up about it (which complicates things), we can simplify the moment. What’s the easiest thing you can do right now, the simplest? What’s the least amount of thinking you can do, so that you can simply do or be?
When people say or do things, prefer the most straightforward interpretation. The simplest meaning.
When you’re going about your day, think about the simplest thing you could do right now that would be helpful. Then savor that simplicity.
What Life Can Be Like on Easy Mode
I’m not saying life will always be easy, nor would we necessarily want that. But it can be easy a lot of the time.
If we’re always stressed, always on difficult mode, we’ll get exhausted. Then when something really requires our full effort, we might not have the energy.
If we cruise along on easy mode for most of the day, when something requires us to put in a tremendous amount of effort, we’ll be ready to spring into action.
For me, life on easy mode is relaxing. It’s simple. It’s washing a dish, writing an email, having a conversation. It’s enjoying the exercise, taking care of myself, enjoying space and silence and breath.
Life on easy mode is flow. It’s a tai chi sequence. It’s smooth and fluid and lovely.