When I first learned about simple living I felt as though it was a community I belonged in, but that I wasn’t really radical enough to be able to join. What I didn’t realise back then was that I didn’t need to be growing my own food, making my own clothes and living with only a handful of possessions to be a part of it. So what is simple living? And is it something you want to aspire to?
Well, as I quietly continued with my own ideas of living more simply, I found that all of us on this path do things differently. But we all have a common understanding of what it means.
Simple Living Defined
Simple Living is the intention and practice of living more simply in all areas of life.
It is more about the intention than any given standard of living, and there should be no judgement of others because there is no criteria for simple living: it is a journey.
How Do People Live Simply?
Many people (myself included), initially find their way to simple living through decluttering. The things that we own can number in the thousands, if not tens of thousands and for most households what comes in constantly outweighs what goes out. Living a more simple life is usually equated with owning less, sometimes living in a smaller house, a tiny house, or even with not having a permanent base and being a nomadic traveller. The process of questioning what belongings we really need to own opens up the simple living world as we start to look at how we travel, what clothes we wear, what we buy and what food we eat. I think for anyone wanting to simplify their lives, a deep look at your relationship with things is something that will change the way you do everything else.
Sustainability is a big part of simple living – and it means the avoidance of the depletion of the earth’s natural resources. One way we can contribute to that is to buy local, and make and grow our own food. The food industry is a topic so huge I can only touch on it here, but the benefits of making our food from scratch, choosing organic and higher welfare products, and growing your own really do make a difference. Not only for our planet, but also for our health. There is also the art of mindfulness in how we eat, and appreciating what we have rather than hand-to-mouthing processed snack food while watching TV (who me? never!).
Getting out of debt, learning to budget, and saving instead of borrowing are all part of simplifying our relationship with money. Many people find that this becomes easier when they start to deal with their relationship with stuff and with food.
I am all for technology – I think it’s an amazing tool that can make life easier, and make tasks faster and more efficient. However, it is something that is very much open to abuse – especially with children who love screens! I wouldn’t want to live without technology in my life, but that is just me. There are people out there who live off the grid and have very little to do with anything electronic. As I said before there is no right way of simple living. It should be something that fits with your lifestyle. Perhaps that’s no screens after dinner, or maybe no TV in the house at all. Whatever feels right for you is right for you. Generally simple living means not letting gadgets rule you. Always remember that they are tools, not real friends.
Recycling, caring for our environment, for animals and the wellbeing of our planet is something we should all be doing because we only have one home and this is it. It doesn’t take much effort to be greener and you can start anywhere. The combined effect of everyone doing their bit is enough to make changes on a global scale, so never think that what you do doesn’t make a difference, and doesn’t influence others, because it does.
Slowing down, reducing stress and taking the time to enjoy life are all part of living more with less. Prioritising relationships over things, time with your family, friends and community over time at the office, and your own wellbeing over the 1,000 items on your todo list makes for a happier you. Mindfulness, gratitude, journalling and any exploration of our inner thoughts and feelings are all important parts of living a happier and simpler life. On top of that we should take care of our bodies with fresh air, exercise, sleep and good food. More energy combined with a simpler lifestyle where you can focus on your goals can be absolutely life-changing.
Your Simple Life
As you can see, simple living covers a huge number of things. But all you need to remember is that simple living is really whatever you want it to be.
Whether you are craving a less busy lifestyle with more time to enjoy the outdoors, or you want to stop using supermarkets altogether, simple living has a path that will lead you there. It promotes a less hectic, less chaotic, and less stressful existence.
Simple living can be a way to find an extra 30 minutes each week for a hobby, to nurse yourself back to health, or a way to achieve the dreams you never thought you’d realise.
Simple really can be life-changing.