Interview with Mark Smith, Author of 'Simplify Your Life From The INSIDE OUT: The 7 Keys to Finding Inner Peace'

May 4, 2019

I was privileged to invite Mark Smith for an interview with BooKecCenTric to discuss his latest book and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!


Thank you @MarkSmith for your time today. What's your book about, and what inspired you to write it?
@MarkSmith: The book is about how to live a simpler more peaceful life. It's about how to be content vs. happy. it's based largely on the lessons that I learned about simplicity in the course of my recovery from alcoholism. That said it is NOT a recovery book per se; if anything, it's taking the lessons learned by those of us in recovery and putting it out there for those who aren't in recovery. I don’t know that I really ever decided to write it as much as the book just evolved. Writing has always been a way for me to explore how much I really know about something; kind of like the old saying that the best way to learn something is to get ready to teach it. I had been into my sobriety for about a year-and-a-half and was feeling better about myself that I had felt in a long time. One day I just had the urge to try and capture all the reasons why I felt the way I did. All the things that I had learned about myself. And the more I wrote the longer it got until eventually I decided that perhaps it could be turned into a book.

Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?
@MarkSmith: The target audiences are people who sense that there is something lacking in their life, but they can't quite put their finger on what it is, folks who know at the end of every day that they somehow let that day get away from them, but they have no idea how or what to do about it. In other words, it's really designed for people who have a sense of overwhelming complexity in their life and really want more peace and calm. From my own perspective I wrote the book for people who are not in active recovery, sharing the lessons and the insights of life from those of us who are in recovery. I've thought for a long time that everyone could benefit from learning the lessons that are typically only learned in recovery, and this book was written in large measure to do just that.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?
@MarkSmith: There are several key messages. the first would be to really clarify what simplicity in living means, at least what it means to me. There are lots of books and videos available to help you learn how to simplify your life in terms of material possessions and tangible things like junk in your closet. It's been my experience however that those things aren't really the problem; they're just the symptoms of the real problem, which is a sort of loss of identity in your life because you’ve given away so much emotional control to things outside of you. Simplicity in living as it’s defined in this book is all about controlling how and where and when you spend your emotional energy during a day. It’s about remaining in control of how you spend your time and energy each day. So, it's really about simplicity on the inside as the title implies. One of the key premises of the book is that living in a peaceful and calm state is our natural condition, or at least it's the way we were created to be. I really don't think our creator meant for us to be in turmoil; we do that to ourselves. So rather than having to learn something else to do we simply need to unlearn the things that took us away from that peaceful and calm state. Things like the false belief that we can and should try and control everything in our life, for the learned behavior of constantly needing validation from other people that you’re ‘right’ about something. Lastly, we talk about the distinction between contentment and happiness. Contrary to what most people seem to be saying these days, I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect to be happy every day. Happiness is a feeling that comes infrequently; if it happened every day we wouldn’t call it happiness. Happiness is usually caused by something outside of us…a surprise or unexpected flood of good feelings. If you strive to be happy every day I think you’ll fail more often than you’ll succeed, and end up feeling worse. Contentment, on the other hand, is something that is quite reasonable to expect every day. Contentment is feeling satisfied, not lacking anything in that moment. Sure, there are things you wish you had or wish would happen, but in that one moment, you’re lacking nothing and are at peace. And, contentment is linked very strongly with simplicity. The more simple you keep your life, inside and out, the more likely you’ll experience contentment, and it’s been my experience that the episodes of real happiness are that much more meaningful.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
@MarkSmith: For me it was taking what I had experienced and ‘learned’ organically and translating it into concrete and tangible lessons. Most of what inspired the book was spontaneous realization of things, and I tended only to ‘get it’ in hindsight. I had spent months growing in recovery, never writing anything down, until one day it occurred to me that perhaps I should try and capture all of it. Trying to re-construct things in a linear fashion…things that had been learned in anything but a linear fashion…that was a challenge!

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?
@MarkSmith: I learned to be more introspective and self-aware on a real time basis. What I mean by that is I learned how to realize things that were happening to me more quickly. I think I’m better at having little ‘a-ha’ moments throughout the day and immediately realizing what they mean, or could mean.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?  
@MarkSmith: My gosh, this is an easy one. Give me a solid bound book every time! I’m a very tactile person, and nothing can replace the feel of holding a book and turning the pages. Or the smell of an older book. I have an e-reader, and there are several authors I really like who only publish in e-format, so I can enjoy reading an e-book. And I have to admit that when traveling it’s a lot easier to have one little device than lug around a stack of books!

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?
@MarkSmith: Right now it seems to be non fiction, self help, though I hate that term. I prefer to call my books ‘instructive memoirs’, because that’s what they are: providing advice and instruction through story telling. One day I may try my hand at a novel, but right now that seems daunting. I think it more likely that one day I’ll find a way to marry the two concepts into an instructive novel.

What books and authors have most influenced you?
@MarkSmith: I read mostly fiction, mystery/suspense/procedural and I love historical fiction. In that last category I don’t think there’s anyone better than Jeff Shaara. I have read every one of his works. I also like Daniel Silva and L.J. Ross. Silva’s prose is just so smooth, like velvet. And L.J.’s writing is so real and gritty.

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about you?
@MarkSmith: Probably that I am just a regular guy with the same challenges and struggles that they have. I have what some might call a boring life, but it’s a simple routine that I really enjoy. I like the fact that I am at a stage in life where I am usually quite content and easily surprised, in a good way.

Do you have any more books in the works?
@MarkSmith: I do, actually, yes. From Awful to Awe-full: What Happens When IT Happens to You is due out in May. It isn’t really a sequel to this one, per se, but it will make a nice companion piece. Simplify Your Life is really about how to live life every day. From Awful to Awe-full focuses on those gosh-awful moments of tragedy and crisis that sooner or later visit us all. It’s also inspired by events in my own life, and will also include several ‘guest authors’ who share their own real stories from their own lives. I’m really excited about it.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
@MarkSmith: I read every one of them, and I also read every text and every email, and try to respond to all of them. The good reviews I try really hard not to let go to my head, but just smile and be grateful. I also look for any common themes or threads – things that I may not have realized I was doing that lots of readers seem to like. The bad ones are usually hard to swallow, I won’t lie about it. But, I try and remember that every one has the right to their own opinion, they are all legit, and there is usually something I can learn from each of them.

Any additional comments you would like to add?
@MarkSmith: Just to thank everyone who has chosen to read my books. I write for one main reason – to try and pass on to others what I have lucky enough to learn. Nothing makes me smile more than to learn of someone being better off because they read something I wrote.


Mark Wayne Smith is a retired management and engineering consultant, a recovering alcoholic, and, he says, ‘Mostly a very contented stay at home house husband.’ In his 25+ year career he visited clients in over 40 US states and several countries, working in fields as diverse as healthcare, hospitality, government services and technology. He has done extensive genealogical research into his family and discovered among other things, 2 signers of the Declaration of Independence, and a ‘somewhat tenuous but still there’ lineage back to Charlemagne. He currently lives in Macon, Georgia with Bonnie, his wife of over 30 years…and four rescue cats. You can contact and follow Mark at: Facebook: email: Instagram: smithmark7560 Twitter:@theMarkSmith760
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