7 Simple Principles for Living the Good Life

by Stephen Mills on October 26, 2009

Seven Principles

I don’t claim these 7 simple principles are the principles for living the good life.  There are others that I reluctantly left out, but I chose these because they are simple and easy to understand.  I also wanted to limit the number of principles to seven, otherwise I would be violating principle number one.

Figuring out what actions need to be taken with these principles is not complicated.  Some of them are conceptually simple, but not necessarily easy to implement.  For example, eliminating draining people is a very simple concept.  It is easy to identify the people in your life that drain you and knowing what needs to be done as a next step is straightforward.  However, it requires courage and determination and for some of you, implementing it may be very uncomfortable.

  1. Keep it Simple and Quick

    For some reason we tend to complicated everything.  If you want to go from point A to point B, travel in a straight line.  Don’t take any detours by adding unnecessary steps.  Life is not that complicated so why not try simple for a change?  You need to eat, sleep, love, express gratitude, and find meaning.  Pick the obvious, simple, or easy alternative and go for it.  Go with your gut and just enjoy the ride for a change.

  2. Reduce Your Choices

    It may sound counterintuitive but the more choices you have the more unhappy you are.  Stop killing yourself with choices.

    Barry Schwartz calls it “the paradox of choice,”.  Facing many possibilities leaves us stressed out—and less satisfied with whatever we do decide. Having too many choices keeps us wondering about all the opportunities missed.

    When you seem to have too many alternatives to choose from, a good way to reduce the problem is to just reduce the time spent pondering the decision.  You want to lose weight and don’t know which diet is best?  Eat less.  Don’t know which outfit to wear?  Put on some damn clothes!  Want to see a movie?  Pick the first one that grabs your attention and head out the door.  Reduce your choices and stop wasting time making the simple complicated.  Stop fretting over the perfect decision and start living a little.

  3. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

    I believe this to be one of the most important attitude changes you can make.  When you don’t sweat the small stuff, you allow your mental energy to be available for the big stuff.  I’ve made a lot of progress in not sweating the small stuff and it has made all the difference in the world for me.

  4. Identify the Essential and Eliminate the Rest

    This is the basic principle espoused by Leo Babauta.  It is simple in concept, but takes a lot of commitment to implement.  Most people don’t progress their lives the way they want to because they spend huge amounts of time on the non-essential.  You need to sit down and specifically identify what in your life is essential and then eliminate everything else.  You will tend to think everything you do is essential and nothing can be eliminated.  Don’t get caught in that trap.  What if you only had one month to live?  Would all that trivia be essential then?

  5. Eliminate the Drain People

    For most of us, people taxes are more burdensome than government taxes.  It is something that is overlooked and taken as a given, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    You have it within your power to eliminate from your life the people who drain your resources.  The debaters, the complainers, the victims, the angry, the rude, the needy, and those who think you are obligated to live your life for them should be eliminated.

    If you think you can’t eliminate them, at least reduce the tax you pay to them by limiting your interaction with them.  Most important of all you should set yourself free from manipulative relationships.

  6. Living in the Present Moment

    So much has been written on this that I won’t spend a lot of words on it.  Here is a nice article from Psychology Today: Six Steps to Living in the Moment.

  7. Be Fit and Healthy

    Some of you may believe that being fit and healthy is not that simple, but it is actually quite straightforward.  It may require intense commitment to habit change in order to implement, but it is most assuredly not complicated. Do short, intense, and interval type exercises like the PACE program (not an affiliate link).  Eat natural whole foods.  Eat a lot of raw fruits and vegetables for enzymes.  Eat fish, chicken, and grass fed beef.  Eat tons of green leafy and cruciferous vegetables.  Eat a variety of seeds and nuts.  Vin’s Natural Bias blog is an excellent resource for natural eating.  See how simple that was?

What do you think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.


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October 28, 2009 at 7:23 am
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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Positively Present October 26, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Love this post and, of course, I really think #6 is SO important. Thanks for writing about these seven principles and for providing some great resources for us!
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..how to let go of what you don’t need =-.


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Hi Dani. I knew you would key on #6. I’m figuring you out 🙂


Diggy - Upgradereality.com October 27, 2009 at 3:25 am

Heya Stephen!

Really great, simple post! I love it!
Honest, no-nonsense advice on an effective way to get through life 🙂

Have an awesome day Sir!
.-= Diggy – Upgradereality.com´s last blog ..How To Create Your Own Blog =-.


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Diggy, you too. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


knallan | IFeelGreat.co.cc October 27, 2009 at 5:25 am


7 very simple but great principles. I specially like #7, because I believe that being fit and healthy will make life seriously easier for you. It’s also not that hard to be fit, you just need to be dedicated towards your goals.

Thanks for a great post!


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Hi knallan! I checked out your blog and I really liked your quotes today. I’m a a quoteaholic! Thanks for your comments!


Ideas With A Kick October 27, 2009 at 6:12 am

Very useful principles. I would call them principles for simplifying your life, that’s what they sound like to me. Which is probably the best way to live the good life. As things get more complex in the world we live in, it has an emotional token on our lives.

.-= Ideas With A Kick´s last blog ..Sometimes forgiveness isn’t the answer =-.


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Eduard, I think you are right about principles for simplifying your life. That’s more appropriate, but whatever they are they have made my life immensely better. Thanks for stopping in. 🙂


Derrick October 27, 2009 at 7:43 am

I like one of your other readers feel everything is based around #6. It seems that once you have that one mastered everything else falls into place one by one. The present moment is so much more refreshing then the thinking mind. As you incorporate the other principles with the present moment you can’t help but say…WOW! Thanks for all your great posts.



Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Hi Derick. I have to admit that living in the present moment is one of my favorites too. It was very exciting to discover and experience it. I need to get better at it though. Thanks for your comment.


Daria October 27, 2009 at 7:46 am

You have done what you recommend – you’ve kept it simple. It’s a great post. I particularly like the “Eliminate the Drain People” (number 5). It’s a difficult one to implement, since some of the people involved can be very close to us, but it can take a lot of energy from us.



Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Hello Daria. Thanks, I did try to keep it simple. Thank you so much for dropping in to comment. I know eliminating the drainers can by very difficult. If you had 1 month to live would you waste it on the drainers? Do you know how much time you have? Why waste any of it no matter how much you have? Thanks again!


Vin - NaturalBias October 27, 2009 at 7:51 am

Great tips, Stephen! Thanks for mentioning my site. 🙂

Obviously being fit and healthy is my favorite one, but I also really like the tips about eliminating energy draining people and minimizing your choices. I like Leo’s minimalist philosophy and I think eliminating the essential is an excellent way to reduce choices. I think those two things go together very well.
.-= Vin – NaturalBias´s last blog ..How to Make Dessert a Nutritious Part of Healthy Living =-.


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm

Hi Vin. I can’t help but mention your site because I love it! BTW, that book by Weston A. Price showed up. It’s a big one and I don’t know when I’m going to be able to get through it 🙂


Jonny October 27, 2009 at 8:04 am

A superb post of some very essential points to a happy life summed up excellently in short concise wording. Each section is so key to a great life, everyone must read.
.-= Jonny´s last blog ..Cubical With A View: The Office Of A Traveling Entrepreneur On Holiday =-.


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Hi Jonny. Thanks. I need to get an office on a Thai island 🙂


Dayne | TheHappySelf.com October 27, 2009 at 10:15 am

I think keeping things simple, having passion about something, and being present are all the right keys to happiness.

Very nice post!


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Thanks, Dayne! You certainly kept it simple in your comment 🙂


Bradley Gauthier October 27, 2009 at 11:34 am

Great list, I feel that #5 is absolutely most important. The people you associate with will have a direct effect on your life. Since peoples attitudes and beliefs slowly rub off on others around them, it is absolutely key to surround yourself with good people.

Nice Post, Thanks!
.-= Bradley Gauthier´s last blog ..What Is The True Dollar Per Hour Value Of An Employee’s Income? =-.


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Hi Bradley. It’s great that you like #5 the most. Most people find that the difficult one. Thanks for commenting 🙂


meatlessmama October 27, 2009 at 11:34 am

#5 is simple common sense, yet very tough to do when the drainers are close to you. And #3 is so true, don’t sweat the small stuff, nearly everything is small stuff! When you stop and think- will this matter in 10 years?- the answer is almost always no, so it’s small stuff.
.-= meatlessmama´s last blog ..Natural Home Remedies For Colds and Flu =-.


Stephen Mills October 27, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Hi meatlessmama. Yes it tough and to deal with difficult people who are close to you. Most of the small stuff won’t matter next month even! Thanks 🙂


Lorenz Sell October 27, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Hi Stephen,

Just came across your blog recently and I’ve been really enjoying it. Thank you!


Zeenat{Positive Provocations} October 28, 2009 at 9:40 am

Oh…love the simple list. And might I add you have covered all the essentials. JUst follow all this and you cannot go wrong. Me love #6 mostly. And then me love #5.
Am gonna save this…and pass it on to a few friends….they need this today..and i mean NOW!!! 🙂


Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills October 28, 2009 at 11:04 am

Nice work Stephen, I appreciate the emphasis on simplifying. This is becoming more and more important as life around us moves in the opposite direction. You may not claim these principles, but they have YOU all over them.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..The Key to Making Wise Decisions =-.


Walter October 29, 2009 at 12:45 am

Your carefully selected principle are indeed powerful but is not easy to implement in one’s life. We are creatures of habits and are puppets of our past, here lies our difficulty in making a good life. In order for us to emancipate we much chose the uncomfortable path growth. Only then can we introduce a new habit that will be beneficial to our well-being.

You are wise to have this list and I believe that you are in the path of growth. 🙂
.-= Walter´s last blog ..Illusions we hold dear =-.


Nea | Self Improvement Saga November 1, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Hi Stephen. This post is great overall, but I really really love #2. A wide range of choices may seem like a good thing to some people, but for me it can be overwhelming. It is nearly impossible to be productive when wasting time pondering options.

Keep up the good work here.
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..Who Doesn’t Deserve Compassion? =-.


M.AKRAM NIAZI December 13, 2010 at 10:02 am

Some time small ignorance and small matters and small things could cause huge destruction like small insect of mosquitoes although very samll insect has taken more lives than all wars,all earth quakes and all floods and all accidents.




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Beautiul Tips ..very Realistic


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Your tips are awesome and inspiring. Looking forward to your new post


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Ya…………… its Really Good……


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