18 June 2014
I have no doubt that a change of mindset towards a less complicated and busy life would help almost everyone pursue their simple life dreams. It's not easy to switch from the culturally-sanctioned spend-up-big-and-then-pay-for-it lifestyle to a simpler life. Almost all good things are difficult to acquire and you have to be prepared to work for them. The easy things are what most people do. So if you were to ask me today how to change a mindset of convenience to something more sustainable, I'd tell you that, like most things, it's a process of small changes.

There is a lot to be said for cultivating respect for oneself, others, our work, our homes and our environments. I doubt you could live this life if there wasn't some respect there to begin with but as you move into it, as your mindset changes, respect grows and builds understanding and contentment into your ordinary days. I never think much about the special days, the births and deaths, the weddings and anniversaries, because those days take care of themselves. It's our ordinary days we need to be mindful of. They need work and commitment.

I want my life to be full of spectacular ordinary days that are sprinkled with special days. I know that no one is going to walk up to me and offer me such a life on a silver platter. The creation of that kind of life is for the person who lives it. For me, respect plays a big part in giving me those memorable ordinary days. I respect the work I do here because it helps give me the lifestyle I want. That includes not only my housework but also my writing in various forms. My housework gives me the comfort and simplicity I want in my life, my writing gives me creative expression and the opportunity to connect with like-minded people all over the world.  For me, that's a great combination. But there are thousands of other combinations and it's up to everyone to find what works for them.

But I am doing all this for a reason other than comfort and connections. I am living according to the values that are important to me. They provide an ethical structure in which to live my life.  Respect, a change of mindset, mindfulness, self reliance, trust, grace and resilience all play a part. So if you're not really connecting with your simple life in the way you want to, although you're being frugal, organising yourself and doing all the practical things, maybe you need to look at your values and your mindset.  Simple life certainly involves a lot of practical things bunched in together but if it's to last, those practicalities are usually built on beliefs and ideology.

Open yourself up to new experiences and read a lot. If you can get hold of some of Wendell Berry's work, he is an excellent guide. In the meantime, read this poem of his. It's sublime. Of course, I'm not going to steer you away from the practical guides and recipe books that teach what you need to know but don't shy away from books that make you think. They can help you build a solid foundation for your life and will give you good reason to continue in times of doubt.

What has influenced you in your simple living journey?

How much is enough by Vicki Robin
The question of lifestyle by the editors of In Context
Enough by me, written in 2010


  1. Your blog in the first place. Articles I read in newspapers that make me feel like I should act instead of read. And to be honest: often there's a big boost of energy in starting a 'project' or 'challenge' but it quickly boils down. Over the years those boosts have made a real difference though and I think my way of thinking has slowly evolved towards a simpler lifestyle.

  2. My great-grandparents lived in a 250 year old log house in which they raised 17 children with no running water or electric. When I was a wee one, they moved to "the new house" which never felt like the old one. Grandmother had her wood stove and honey was still on the table with her hand churned butter, but things changed. The TV was always on. Grandmother shopped more. The cow was sold. Grandpa's last load of grind corn was left on the wagon when the horse was sold. I missed that life so much. The comfort of voices in the night; Grandma taking time to walk in the woods with us and show us plants to eat or how to make a broom from broom sage; and, the slowness of that life.

    Then, I grew up; they went to heaven; and life moved on. Now, as I reach nearly 60, I want that life again. I want the slowness of it. I want the calm of Grandmother as she churned and laughed or sang; and, I want the security that the food in my garden will, as theirs, feed me through the winter. It tastes better... like sunshine, love, and earth.

    So that would be my greatest influence in seeking out the simple life. It isn't really simple; let's face it, a garden is W O R K. Making Cheese is, too! But it is slow, peaceful, and cannot be rushed. Unlike work in a public job, the work at home takes more time. And, we determine the pace, don't we?

  3. Thank you for putting in words the truth that simple life is a good thing and as such requires work for. Also,I like your perspective on days, that the special ones take care of themselves,but we need to be mindful of the ordinary. Rhonda Jean,you made very good points here. Thank you for sharing.

  4. You! haha. I used to read novels and now I read gardening magazines or simple living blogs or recipe books. I just bought the $21 food challenge which, like yourself, provides all sorts of tips for saving money on groceries. I also love your forum when I find time to visit and love The Thrifty Couple website. I am also inspired in my simple living journey by the current series of River Cottage Australia, and my local permaculture group. The world is my oyster...and I am embracing it by the dozen. A wonderful learning curve that is so satisfying and addictive...I don't want to leave my home. Thanks Rhonda x

  5. Moving to a simpler life has in itself been a slow process so it is hard to say when it started. I know I became aware that buying 'things' didn't make me happy so I stopped doing it and things just grew from there. I think you once said Rhonda that one thing leads to another and opens up all sorts of possibilities you didn't know where there. Your are quite right. Your book and your blog is an inspiration ...I have made 5 minute bread, DH also makes bread, we love to cook together, have knitted dishcloths and use rags for cleaning, have make washing liquid...there is so much more I want to incorporate into our lives, and it will happen in its own good time. We recently had a major declutter by selling our home and moving into a caravan and living in the road. We find it a liberating lifestyle filled with meeting of people and having time for ourselves. Although we don't have a garden, we support local growers and little corner stores...you should have seen the colour of the egg yokes we had for breakfast......amazing. I love looking after what is have, am content standing at my little sink washing my dishes and wondering what the new day will bring :)

  6. I love reading your blog and it raises many issues for retirees as well. I have been thinking a lot about how adaptable we need to be and are and how this adaptability is also based on resilience. However it is also about balance and embracing self sufficiency whilst also enjoying some of the benefits that technology provides as our bodies age.

  7. Being a poor art student forced me to live simply, then I got a "normal" job and more money for more things but I was never satisfied. Going back to my poor 'artist' life means we have less financially but I am happier and more productive. I am forced to live simply, to live in the present, to value just how wonderful our lives are.

    I have found the internet a great source of inspiration and knowledge. I purchased your book after borrowing it from the local library when I had my first child and it solidified my desires and lofty ideas floating around in the back of my mind. The internet allows me to research specific topics, skills, and recipes. It allows me to connect with like-minded people and stay focused on my type of lifestyle rather than be distracted by the 'shiny new things' all around me.

  8. Today's post and links certainly provided balm to soothe a troubled soul.

    I think my first influence towards simple living was meeting some people who had packed up everything in Sydney and moved onto 100 acres. They took time to do things, their home was always open to guests even though their means were slim, and it was awe-inspiring to see the raft of skills they had taught themselves. They were about as close to self-sufficient as you can get.

    So I took the plunge and left Sydney in 1996, even though I'd never heard of 'tree change' or 'downshifting'. Gradually I came across inspiring books like 'Your Money Or Your Life' (Robins and Dominguez), and 'Affluenza' by Clive Hamilton. It was a joy to discover your blog and realise there was a whole community of people who shared similar values.


  9. Lovely post as always way I dug up my first earliest rocket potatoes during the week and yes were lovely it unfortunately this black tunnel has come back hence have not been on the form must try and tick on tab so each morning I come to it have a blessed week and thank you for my birthday wishes

  10. The biggest influence on my partner and I before this year was definitely Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage in the UK. He is pretty much considered the successor to John Seymour who wrote the 1970s Self Sufficiency Handbook which was also really popular. I think I first moved towards the idea of more simple living to live more ethically and with a lighter footprint on the planet. Firstly (thanks to HFW) in regard to animal welfare and food chain issues and later with regard to the UK's growing dependence on fossil fuel which isn't currently sustainable long term, slave labour and a million and one other injustices. This all led to our moving to Derbyshire from London just over a year ago, to live a greener and more sustainable live with enough land to have a vegetable garden, pigs and hopefully chickens and bees.

    A month or two after the move we had our first baby and that has been the biggest mindset change for me in terms of my life's philosophy. I don't want Raffi to grow up trapped in a consumer cycle before he has the chance to make real choices. I want to give him love, community, security and experiences not things and he has massively changed the way I spend my time. As you know having a baby is really all consuming in the early days, but as he slept more, or played on his own more and I had a little more time (and energy!) I found I spent that time differently, I got into a routine of housework, gardenwork, creative work and after going back part time - money work. I split this equally with my partner we both took 6 months parental leave, we both are going back to work 3 days a week and share all the housework, gardenwork and money work equally. I'm sure this sharing is what gives me time for my creative work!

    I'm sure as Raffi gets older things will change again. But I think my core values of trying to live in harmony with the planet, trying to make sure everyone has a fair chance in life and is treated fairly and valuing love, community and experiences over things - I don't think these things will change, but I bet my life and my expression of them will.

  11. Thank you for quoting the Wendell Berry poem, so good. I haven't read much of his work but I do enjoy his friend Gene Logsdon's blog 'The Contrary Farmer' which you may also know. I retired three weeks ago and am slowly winding down and beginning to live more mindfully each day. Life is still busy, but in a more relaxed way. Your blog is a daily read for me! Anne

  12. Well stated! I think being frugal, simple, or minimal isn't enough. There needs to be underlying value to drive that lifestyle. No matter what lifestyle you are going for, you'll feel unfulfilled without those underlying values to drive you.

  13. I wouldn't say that an individual has influenced me so much as an inner sense that I need to live better and I don't mean that in the way most people think. I had been thinking this way for sometime and then after a "medical adventure" I became even more aware of this inner voice calling my attention. I now shop less and "do" more. I am acutely aware of what I put into and onto my body. I crave the serenity of the back porch and a good book and just listening to the mockingbird chirp. I have been reading your blog on a daily basis and it has done a great deal to feed this inner voice and I find that I want the type of life that you have. I want peace. I want the knowledge and skills to be self sustaining. I want those spectacular ordinary days. So, I would have to add that with all my reading about "frugal" living, and a minimalist wardrobe and how to have less and enjoy more, your blog has been the most influential because, in addition to imparting knowledge, it imparts heart -- you show that in order for it to work at all a person has to want to live this sort of life, there has to be a commitment and a love for what you hold dear. I have learned a lot from you and look forward to learning more. Thank you for such a wonderful post as well as a wonderful venue for learning what life is really about.

  14. "I want my life to be full of spectacular ordinary days that are sprinkled with special days."
    That is one of the best sentences I have read on a blog! Thank you for putting into words the exact way I have been feeling!

  15. Hi everyone. As of 3pm this afternoon (Thursday) I'll be a stay at home step mum, living this simple life as best I can, learning to slow down, de-stressing our home one day at a time. I'm excited, nervous, but enthusiastic and optimistic about this change. BUT it does feel so strange to be deliberately out of the paid work force. So, I'll be on here and the forums looking for like minded souls, advice and support..please wish me luck on my last day of work...Natalie :)

  16. Honestly, I think it was when my dad passed away two years ago. I loved him and miss him so much but I feel his spirit as I take on the simple life more and more. He was a simple man but very complex at the same time and I just feel like I am becoming more and more like him all the time. I try to live with integrity and purpose every day. I think he would be proud of who I have become and that makes me happy.

  17. I would have to say my parents who lived very differently to those of my peers and gave me the confidence to do the same.



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