Simple living is also called voluntary simplicity. It’s important to notice the word ‘voluntary’. The spirit of simple living is missing when these choices are forced on you by poverty or other circumstances. Put simply – you have to want this change.
Voluntary simplicity focuses on two key ideas:
- Reducing the consumption of material or consumer goods
- Reducing the quest for money or wealth
Let’s talk about each one individually.
I Buy, There I Am
Simple Lifers buy less stuff.
Why would I want to do that? I like stuff!
In a nutshell:
- By reducing the amount of stuff you buy, you reduce the amount of money you need to buy it with.
- Needing less money means you can spend less time working for it.
- Having more time enables you to pursue the things you really love – artistic pursuits, charity work, raising children, spending time with family or friends, hobbies.
Also, fewer things mean less storage, cleaning, maintenance, etc. Reducing the things in our lives reduces the amount of space required to put them in and the amount of work associated with taking care of them.
Stuff is not bad. Too many people shy away from voluntary simplicity because they think it means you have to dump all (or even most of) your possessions. Simplifying your life should not leave you riddled with guilt because you love your comfy armchair or your laptop. The point here is LESS stuff, rather than NO stuff. Another way to look at it is keeping the things you love and dumping the rest.
The trick to living more simply is to keep the right stuff for you and your family.
Robin’s Real-Life Example: I could not function without access to the internet at home. I could go to the library to get my access, but that simply doesn’t fit into my life with children.
So I own a computer and pay for an internet connection. This is a choice that simplifies my life because I save time.
Money, Money, Money, Money
Simple Lifers live more frugally.
Live more frugally than whom?
The answer to this is YOU. The journey towards voluntary simplicity is 100% individual. Simple Lifers don’t waste their energy trying to keep up with the Joneses.
But doesn’t living frugally mean being a cheapskate?
The answer to this is a resounding NO. Frugal does not equal cheap.
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to live on less. I’m not going to lie to you – it does require a mindset shift if it’s not the way you usually do things. But the benefits are well worth it!
The Other Benefits
So we’ve covered the Big Two (money and stuff). What else does simple living mean to me?
House and Home
When it comes to stuff, one way to reduce the volume of things is to declutter your house. This also makes organizing what you keep much easier. Decluttering and home organization are wonderful stress-busters.
Stuff To Do
Buying less stuff means you’ll have more free time on your hands. For a lot of people shopping is entertainment and recreation. So what do you fill this time with instead?
- Rediscover (or discover) nature
- Start a garden
- Work on that “honey-do” list around the house
- Volunteering your time
More time and less stress leads to better quality relationships. Embrace this chance to reconnect with loved ones or rekindle neglected friendships.