I am currently taking a break. This article was first published on 14 September 2007.
One of my main interests is how I can simplify my life. Back when I became interested, I wanted to get off the merry-go-round of too many activities and demands on my time and energy, but I didn’t know how.
The U.S. culture is very good at encouraging us to stay on the ride; “consume”, “buy”, “keep up” are the messages that are thrown at us day in and day out. I wanted to have time to relax, to do my hobbies, to enjoy my life. On my terms.
It turns out I’m not alone. Anyone who wants the following can start by simplifying:
I Want More Time
People want more time. We work more than even one generation ago, with longer hours and less time off. We bring work home with us, and we try to sandwich our personal lives in the cracks. This pace takes a toll when it goes on long enough. Simplicity is about having time to do what you want with whom you want.
I Want Freedom
Some people realize that their lives are being controlled by others. We respond to bosses or customers or some other group of people that we don’t want to obey. Simplicity is about being deliberate in who we choose to direct us.
I Want To Follow My Purpose
Often people having some sort of crisis will look at their lives and decide it is time for a change. Perhaps a brush with death may leave someone realizing that making widgets is not what they want to be remembered for. Simplicity is about doing things in line with our purposes in life.
I Want To Be True To Myself
Some people want to be who they truly are. Tired of putting on a face for the world, they want to be authentic and true to their inner selves and beliefs. Simplicity is about getting rid of the complication of these masks.
I Want To Have Less Impact On the Environment
It’s no secret that we are damaging the earth. Many people want to lessen their impacts, and simplification is one of the great ways to get there. When you live a simpler life, you consume less, and have less of an impact on the planet, even if it is just the amount of trash you generate.
I Want To Pare Down My Belongings, And Stop Buying So Much Stuff
Part of our consumer culture is that we accumulate masses of stuff that we don’t need. Advertising agencies are expert and figuring out how to convince us to buy stuff that promises to make our lives different, but end up collecting dust. Some people have so much stuff they are being stifled. Simplifying allows you to clean house, literally, and get out from under.
I Want To Be Debt-Free
Most of the U.S. is in debt. In order to get out, you have to spend less than you make, and put the extra toward those debts. Living on less is often a precursor for simplifying.
I Want To Stop The Craziness
When life gets crazy enough, it can affect the sanest of us. Simplifying is one way to get out of the insanity of overconsumption.
I Want A Healthier Life
When our health is affected by our over-processed lifestyle, simplification can help restore us. Our over-processed diets lead to all sorts of ills, and going back to real food can make a real difference in good health.
I Want A Fulfilling Life
Simplicity is about living life deliberately. When you think about what you are doing, and really understand the consequences and benefits of your actions, you will lead a life that is more satisfying.
If any of these reasons sound like things you want, you might want to consider simplifying your life. This means different things to different people. When I first started the process, I expected I would be living on a farm in the middle of the country, raising livestock and living on my own schedule. What has changed for me has been much less drastic: I work less hours, have less outside activities, and make time for real food and real people. I’m still simplifying, but you can see that I haven’t become a hermit in my quest.
Here are some books I recommend to get you started on the simplicity path:
- Inner Peace for Busy People – a great book on slowing down and getting a bit of space to think about simplifying
- Simplify Your Life: 100 Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy the Things That Really Matter – an easy read. I found the book too dictatorial, but it got me thinking.
- Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads, and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting – ideas for simplifying when your life contains youngsters
- The Simple Living Guide – an excellent resource on all areas of simplicity
- 30 Days to a Simpler Life – 30 simple steps that you can use to start simplifying. None of these were too taxing, and I think would fit well into most lives.
- The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life
Photo by yoppy