There is something special about people who decide to live simply. They share a determination to step away from the mainstream to pursue a life where they are content with what they have, they reconnect with family and environment, they reduce spending, conserve resources, slow down and live each day with a purpose. They see beyond the crass consumerism that supports much of modern life, to a richer way of being that is sustained primarily by family, friends, happiness and a solid day’s work.
A simple life is a life of deliberate choices. It involves personal responsibility for how you interact with your community and your environment. It allows you to take control of your life and how you live within your neighbourhood. When you live a simplified life you won’t be an indifferent observer; you’ll make deliberate choices about the way you live and you’ll reap the benefit of those life choices.
If you are new to this lifestyle, you will need to take some time to decide just what it is you want your life to be. Simple living comes in many forms and although the basics are the same for almost everyone, the overall structure of simple lives change for each person. That’s one of its benefits too. Your life feels right; it fits you perfectly. You’ll probably be giving up some things that support and comfort you to replace them with more practical requirements. We’ve all been encouraged to nurture ourselves with products like clothes, shoes, furniture and every type of electrical appliance imaginable. This not only causes stress by having to pay for it all and adding more clutter to our homes, but it also stops us having a clear view of ourselves. We become defined by our possessions instead of who we are. Decluttering our minds and our homes is a part of this simple change.
Learning to live a simple life will give you the skills to unburden yourself of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Freeing your mind and slowing down allows you to develop positive patterns to replace negative ones. You will develop a new awareness of who you are and see how your life fits into your family, your community and your place in the world. Instead of doing what you’ve always done because that’s “what most people do”, you will make new decisions to meet your needs and stop living on autopilot. This is what I mean when I say you will live deliberately. You will decide what you want your life to become and make the decisions to make that life happen.
Simple living relies more on people, nature, learning, generosity and an open heart than it does on products and the relentless quest for them. You don’t need to live according to the grandiose dreams of some advertising copywriter or your teenage fantasies. You can pare back your desires and simplify your ambitions, leave the rat race to the rats and dessert ship. I believe that a successful life is one that’s lived with the people you love surrounding you, few financial worries, a clear direction and the ability to gain satisfaction from the work you do - be that a vegetable garden, raising your children, projects in your local community or a paid job.
A simple life is a mixture of being thrifty and working towards living debt-free, saving resources, being content with what you have, slowing down, reinventing yourself by working towards identified goals, rediscovering your family and your environment, cooking from scratch, shopping wisely and less often, looking after what you have and caring about your environment. It is changing how you see your place in the world. Instead of identifying as someone who deserves everything a modern Australian should have, it changes those desires to focus more on family, community, generosity and sustainability.
Living this way is not easy but it beats being in debt and living a self-indulgent life hands down. If you simplify you’ll probably shed some of the possessions you’ve worked and paid for that are superfluous to your needs. You’ll do more cooking and less eating out. Initially you’ll work harder because you’ll need to create an organised, less cluttered home but this will allow you to reap the benefits of that organisation. You’ll see the wisdom of shopping wisely and less often and you’ll be encouraged to pay off your debt faster than you would in your old life. But as the months and years roll by, you’ll see the value of those strategies and you’ll look at your non-simplified friends and neighbours and be glad you left that all behind.