Be bold, live a life you care about

9 August 2007
I live a life of contentment in a beautiful part of Australia. I grow some of my own vegetables, I keep a few hens in the backyard, I bake bread and preserve food. I live well with no debt on a low income. My goal is to continue living this way and if I can convince a few others to walk this path less travelled, I’ll be a happy woman.

There was a time when I worked as a technical writer, paid a mortgage and shopped at mainstream supermarkets and department stores. There was no method to my madness and I didn’t know where I was headed. Yet from the time I was around 25 years old I had a buried yearning to live the type of simple life my contemporaries viewed with contempt. In those quiet hours of 4.00 am contemplation, I knew that my future held a new direction where less was more and contentment would fill the sweet air I breathed; but I didn’t know almost 30 years would pass before I started to live that dream. I wish I’d been serious about simplicity long before I turned 50, because this way of life holds appeal for all age groups, and will change the way you view the world.

The most common question I hear regarding simple living is: “How do I start?” Well the answer to that seemingly simple question is not so straight forward. It depends on why you want to change. The end result will be the similar but your focus will be slightly different. Hopefully this blog will show you the steps needed to start living simply, whatever your reason.

I also want this blog to encourage people, young and older, to take charge of their lives by not buying into the materialism trap. I think there has been a major shift in thinking in Australia in the last ten years or so. As a society we are moving closer to a kind of moral and material bankruptcy because we trust self-indulgent, unsustainable promises that tell us living a good life requires the latest product in this year’s “must have” colour. We have to have the biggest and the best and it is fine to go into debt to get it. Those promises are problematic. They require that you mortgage your life, enclose yourself with debt obligations and work non-stop to pay for stress-filled fake living that doesn’t allow you enough time to enjoy what you have. Those promises don’t allow for enjoyment of the natural world, they encourage a consumerist approach to life when what is needed for long-term gratification is a prudent and simple one.

Your life should be about you, your family and the people you choose to include in your daily activities. What you see portrayed in today’s advertising is a false representation of modern Australian life. It is a glamorised lie to encourage you to spend money on products you don’t need.

Reinvent your life. Think about what is really important to you and develop a set of values that reflect your true beliefs. Respect and nurture your values. Discover what it is you really want your life to be and then make plans to live that life. Define for yourself what are needs and what are wants. Be courageous and change your attitude about what success means to you. Free yourself of the conventional idea of what you should own and want, strip yourself of pretension and in the process you’ll discover your true self.

I want this blog to take you on a journey inside yourself to discover your passions, uncover your true potential and to help you be the authentic you. Mindless consumerism masks us all. It surrounds us with junk that turns us into curators of merchandise. Free yourself of all that ties you down, be that debt, clutter, stress, envy, or wanting too much. In a world filled with overindulgence, simplicity will liberate you.

If you’re wondering why you work from dawn till dark just to pay the mortgage and put food on the table, this blog is for you. If you just bought more clothes and yet more things to put in your home and still feel a sense of emptiness, this blog is for you. If you don’t have enough money to live on, or if you have too much, this blog is for you. If you feel trapped by modern living, welcome home.

Many of us may voluntarily choose to live simply but even if it chooses you, the result is similar. You live a life that is marked by less rather than more, you organise your home to nurture and support you and your family members, you help develop a caring and supportive community, you make from scratch much of what you consume, you aim to live debt-free, you respect your environment, minimise waste and you are content with your life choices and the kind of person you are.

Living a simple life is about beating the system and not following the same road everyone else is on. Stop following what your friends and neighbours are doing. They’re probably up to their ears in debt too. Reinvent your life. Be bold, live a life you care about, simplicity can make you soar.

I hope this blog will help you discover the essence of simple living and how to apply it to your own circumstances. Please remember that we are diverse nation and have different aspirations. What is right for some is wrong for others. So cherry pick the information here and apply as much as you can to your own life while keeping an open mind about developing new strategies and ways of living that suit you. There is no one size fits all formula when simplifying your life.

To help you simplify I have included information about the practical aspects of day-to-day living. Some readers will already be familiar with some of the activities contained within these pages, others will be novices. There was a time when much of this was common knowledge but our consumer culture has conned us into relying on products to sustain and support us. We’ve forgotten old ways and instead work our entire lives to pay for merchandise that others create for us. The more we have, the more we want, and so the never-ending cycle continues. It wasn’t like that in the past and it doesn’t have to be like that now. We can relearn our collective heritage of basic skills and apply them to our modern lives.

So, what do you really want out of life? If you want more of everything, if you know that you’ll never have enough or be enough, then stop reading this blog now and go back to work. But if you want to live an authentic life, if you want to enjoy time with your family, if you want to help save dwindling resources, if you want to become more self-reliant and build your skills, if you want to discover the real you and live the kind of life you dream for yourself, then read on, the simple life is for you. When you know that buying more of everything will not make you happier and that saving resources is better than spending them, then you will really know that less is more. Welcome to your new life.