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Currently Browsing: Defining Simplicity

Is Living Simply Primitive? Regressive? Anti-technology?

Voluntary simplicity, furthermore, does not mean indiscriminately renouncing all the advantages of science and technology. It does not mean living in a cave, giving up all the benefits of electricity, or rejecting modern medicine. But it does question the assumption that science and technology are always the most reliable paths to health, happiness, and sustainability. It is certainly better to accept... read more

The Simple Life: Necessarily Agrarian? Just for Hippies?

Living simply does not necessarily imply leaving the city to live in the country; nor does it mean becoming a hippie or joining a commune. Although some may find that an agrarian existence is a very good and natural way to live, it will not be attractive (or available) to everyone; nor will living in a hippie commune. Indeed, learning how to live more simply and sustainably in an increasingly urbanized... read more

Does Voluntary Simplicity Glorify Poverty?

Voluntary simplicity can be misinterpreted sometimes as glorifying or romanticizing poverty, a myth encouraged perhaps by the fact that some of the more extreme proponents of simplicity – e.g. Diogenes, St Francis, Gandhi, etc. – did indeed live lives of staggering material renunciation. Such extremism can be alienating if it is considered to be a defining or necessary feature of the simple life, which... read more

Defining Voluntary Simplicity

Voluntary simplicity is an oppositional living strategy that rejects the high-consumption, materialistic lifestyles of consumer cultures and affirms what is often just called ‘the simple life’ or ‘downshifting.’[1] Sometimes called ‘the quiet revolution,’[2] this approach to life involves providing for material needs as simply and directly as possible, minimizing expenditure on consumer goods... read more

The Voluntary Simplicity Movement in an Age of Commodity Fetishism

In the developed regions of the world today, such as North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc., decades of unprecedented economic growth have all but solved the economic problem of how to secure the necessaries of life and, indeed, have resulted in most people living lives of relative luxury and comfort.[1] Though a small residue of poverty remains in these regions, on the whole... read more

Living Simply as a Path to Genuine Wealth

Money provides power in the market – power to purchase and consume desired commodities, whether goods or services. Consumption, by satisfying market preferences, is supposed to lead to well-being. In essence, this is the economic foundation of consumer culture.[1] Its fundamental prescription is that people should seek well-being in higher incomes and more consumption.[2] The problem, however, as Juliet... read more

Audio Lecture on Voluntary Simplicity

Dear Simplicity Collective, Just a short note to bring your attention to a free, audio lecture by leading ‘simple living’ advocate, Mark Burch, which is available for download here. It is an insightful and eloquent overview of the idea of voluntary simplicity, particularly useful because of the thoughtful questions posed by members of audience at the end of the lecture, to which Mark responds.... read more

A Brief History of Voluntary Simplicity

The celebration of the simple life is about as old as human history itself; so too are warnings about the dangers of greed and materialism. The story could begin with Siddhartha Gautama – the Buddha – who at the age of 29 gave up the superficial luxuries of a royal existence to seek spiritual truth in a life of extreme asceticism. After nearly starving himself to death through his practice of... read more

What Does the Simple Life Mean to You?

Here is an opportunity to share your ideas, perspectives, and insights on simplicity of living. One of the paradoxes of ‘simple living’ is that it is complex. Nobody has all the answers. The simple life is not so much a destination as it is an on-going creative process, and one way to creatively explore your own understanding of simplicity is to put it into words. What does the simple life mean... read more
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