Living a simple life isn’t just about decluttering or consuming less. It’s also about courage, meaning and intention.

Kien Do on Unsplash

Something funny happens as you get older.

It’s as if unseen hands come out of nowhere just to press the fast-forward button on the movie that is your life.

Days seem shorter. To-do lists seem longer. Responsibilities feel scarier.

Decisions that need to be made feel heavier on your shoulders and less fun to make “Should I go to that party after work?” or “Where should I travel to next?” morph into “What if the babysitter doesn’t show up?”


It’s so much more than spa days, fancy meals and sleeping in.

Photo by Anthony Tran / Unsplash

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” ~Jean Shinoda Bolen

In Malaysia and Singapore, where I spend most of my time, there’s one question that we ask each other a lot, and it’s this: “Have you eaten yet?”

It can sound a little strange to the uninitiated, but in my mind as well as that of others in my community, this question has always translated to “are you taking care…


Things are chaotic right now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but your life doesn’t have to be. Here’s what you can do stay calm and in control.

Mat Reding/Unsplash

I’m on day ten of lock-down as I’m writing this post.

Like you, I’m still reeling from the chaos that the coronavirus has unleashed on all of us and doing my best to make sense of everything that’s happening around me and the people I love.

I hope you’re reading this while safely tucked away at home, healthy and supported by friends and family, with everything you need.

There’s a sense of helplessness…


And they’ve got nothing to do with looking better than everyone else.

Joshua Earle / Unsplash

It’s not easy to feel ‘successful’ these days.

We’re expected to do more, be more and have more than ever, and this obsession with ‘more’ can often seem to have no limits.

In Singapore (which I live next door to and visit pretty often), success has, for decades meant achieving the 5 Cs — the cash, car, credit card, condo and country club membership. …


You don’t need anyone’s permission to live your truth.

Judeus Samson / Unsplash

You’re feeling guilty about something right now, aren’t you?

It’s because you said “no” to that wedding invite from Sally in marketing.

It’s that uncomfortable 7-second hesitation that came up when your friend unexpectedly asked if you liked her new boyfriend (no, you really don’t and can’t really put your finger on why).

It’s not agreeing to do a friend a favour because you’re feeling stretched thin and need to put yourself first right now.

Whatever the source, the guilt’s eating away at you because you’re obviously an ungrateful, insensitive asshole…


It’s So Much More Than Dealing With The Stuff You Bring into it.

Samantha Gades / Unsplash

So you want to simplify your life.

You’ve even considered becoming a minimalist, whatever that means.

But what does it actual entail, where do you start and how?

Here’s the truth about living a simple, minimalist life: You don’t need to live like a monk to do it, and it’s not about getting rid of everything you own. Paring down to just the things you can fit in a backpack may work for some people, but it may not work for you.

Heck, I don’t think I’d…


Want to be happier? Pay attention to the smaller things in life.

JR Korpa / Unsplash

Wake up. Grind. Repeat.

When my to-do list gets out of control, this is what life feels like. Every single day.

From the moment I get out of bed, I jump head-first into the daily routine of doing everything I can to stay afloat or get ahead.

It’s a vicious, all-consuming cycle — I get so lost in endless work, chores and obligations that I sometimes forget that I’m alive.

I forget that it’s the little things that make my days meaningful, and that they’re nothing short of…


Fabian Blank / Unsplash

My first ever paycheck was a humble RM1,300 (about US$325) a month.

It wasn’t much, but it was the expected starting pay for a rookie journalist at the time in Malaysia, where I live.

And although it was on the low end of the average pay scale, it still made me feel rich.

I was able to feel that way because I had few financial commitments at the time, and live in a city where the cost of survival is comparatively lower than others — it was money that I could pretty much do whatever I wanted to, with.

Despite…


Hector Gomez on Unsplash

His cold, swollen hand gripped mine as I gently slid my fingers between his.

With hopes of delivering comfort, my other hand cradled the crown of his head — warm, soft and peppered with faint tufts of silver, baby-fine hair.

His eyes were half-open and staring off into what I imagined to be an invisible horizon that was calling to him. I wondered what he saw.

My 89-year-old uncle was dying.

As I watched him gradually slip away from his body over his last days, I felt the inevitability and finality of death hit me…..hard.

I was more aware than…


Ben Garratt / Unsplash

Zero stress around food.

That has been my goal from the day I set out to put my emotional eating to rest.

I was sick and tired of using food as an escape from life, bingeing whenever there was food in front of me, and feeling like I had no self-control around it.

I also wanted to lose over 22 pounds of extra weight I’d been carrying around on my tiny, 5-foot-tall frame because of my constant bingeing.

MY PAINTED PICTURE

My ideal relationship with food looked like this:

No diets that required severe restriction, and being able to eat the foods I…

Michele Lian

Writer. Self-care advocate. Emotional eating survivor. Introvert. http://www.michelelian.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store