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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 to you? Why do you seek the simple life? What practical steps, large or small, do you take to live it? Is there a particular aspect of simple living that you are particularly passionate about? Do tell!

Please share your perspective by spending some time writing a sentence, a paragraph, a page, whatever. Please post a ‘comment’ on this post. Hope to hear from you soon.

Samuel Alexander
L.P.S.C.

46 Responses to “What Does the Simple Life Mean to You?”

  1. Mahesh Kandasamy says:

    The need for simplicity within me stems from the passion to be part of an alternative world. A world where there is equality, fairness, honesty and integrity. Equality cannot be achieved if those who have, continue to want more and more. A need based living by me (as opposed to a want based living)will provide room for several others who do not have access to the basics in life. I have never experienced hunger in my life. I cannot bear to think of the plight of many others who actually die of hunger.
    Simplicity /less consumption by the haves’ means less load on the environment, less natural disasters, meaningful development in those areas that it is really required. Better living standards for all not just a selected few.

  2. Lynn Fitzpatrick says:

    As a volunteer at a big op shop I see first hand the incredible waste generated by mindless consumerism. Among the worst offenders are clothing consumers. It’s a norm now to buy clothes, wear them a few times then dispose of them for the next round of shopping and disposal.
    My advice is try to buy quality in the first place so it lasts longer and is repairable. For example, I had a pair of RM Williams boots for over 25 years – re soled five or six times. Invest in a sewing course and learn the basics of not only making clothes – a skill that can be applied to re modelling and altering clothes – but repairing, ie: patching, darning and sewing up torn seams, etc.
    I’ve seen clothes donated for the most minor things -like a hem that’s come down or a loose thread. A half hour of work would have had it in top shape again. Learn how to knit. Hand knitted scarves, socks and jumpers are distinctive and can be repaired over and over again. When you know how to sew, the sky’s the limit. Make your own pet leads, collars, cushions, linen, curtains, ironing board covers and so on. That vintage stuff – everything from clothes to furnishings – everyone’s after? Ask yourself why stuff that’s over 20 years old has lasted? Because it was well made in the first place.
    In fact, try to exert a bit more control over your life generally rather than being manipulated into having to buy, buy,buy everthing. Grow your own vegies and herbs, learn how to cook from scratch; make your own garden compost or get together with neighbours and work something out.

    And if you do have to buy disposables – see if they really are disposable. Here’s an odd example – I use a big plastic syringe to dose the dogs. It’s marked “one use only”. So why is it I’ve had it for a year and 40 uses?

    Finally, reading an interview of one of my favourite authors, he said: “Spirituality has now been assigned to materialism”. In other words, we’ve all been ripped off by the consumer culture. Talk to a friend instead of buying something.

  3. Cara says:

    As I am now back in the UK, one of the benefits is that it is spring! That now means it is time to plant seeds and I am delighted to see that everything is germinating and growing. It is amazing watching little leaves form. I have about 15 different things on the go!
    The cherry blossom on the trees is incredible too and the flowers all came out at once as the winter here had lasted literally until the day I arrived back. I told everyone I packed the Aussie sunshine in my rucksack and released it when I got back here.
    So, for me, simplicity means getting back in touch with nature. I hadn’t really gardened at all until last year but it is fun and I will enjoy eating the fruits of my labour in the summer.
    If only I had a shed……I’d no doubt end up moving in!

  4. As a naturopath, living life in the simple lane means reverting back to a more natural way of eating. Human beings are one of the most slowly evolving species and our bodies have been unable to keep up with the vast changes our foods have undergone in terms of farming techniques, processing and the many forms of manipulating our foods as they are grown, not to mention the addition of chemicals that are foreign to biological beings. Chronic disease and the resulting mortality rate is on the increase despite the wonderful technological advances medicine has given us.

    Going back to basics in our food choices does not mean we cannot take advantage of technologies which have advanced our lives. The benefits we could derive from eating simply, apart from better health, would be a reduction in waste – since simple foods don’t come in colourful packaging – and making an important contribution towards healing our environment.

  5. Nicholas Lampel says:

    I try to just ‘be’ by harnessing chi

  6. Minnie says:

    For me, a simpler life is a less cluttered life. I’m growing most of my own vegetables and in the last year have planted over 20 fruit trees in our backyard…. getting in touch with nature and the life cycle of all growing things has changed my life; it calms me down which slows me down and this helps me focus on what really matters…. I am part of a much bigger story than my own.

  7. Adam Burling says:

    For me there is always the challenge of enaging with modern society for the purpose of creating social change, and my work for a simple life. There was a time when I was disconnected with politics of society, I never bought new clothes, I travelled very little. My life was focused on my community, my family and my immediate bio-region. But I soon discovered that being disconnected means that you allow others to make the choices in society. Choices such as the destruction of our wondrous forests and the loss of civil liberties. Now that I am enaged, I do have to buy new clothes, to walk in the world that makes the decisions. I have to travel. I buy some technology to keep up with news. Yet, I still garden, eat a vegan diet and spend money only on consumables that will help me with my Work. A simple life is beautiful thing to aim for, but how do we that love that life engage others to join us?

  8. Ross Finlay says:

    My take on simplicity is to fix/make things (or do without) rather than buy new & throw away, so while there are many inspiring words on the website, I would also like to see links to sites which would help simplifiers and the dates of the next courses on or simplicity enabling technologies like woodwork, darning, and DIY water harvesting & storage (my particular weakness) etc.

    What factors are stopping people simplifying? Would it be fear & greed, the classic motivators of all time.

    Reading the words on this site, greed I think is not the problem, but fear I think is harder. It boils down to fear of the dark, the unknown, the future.

    “Surplus” wealth represents security to many, which can be quite illusory since money may mitigate, but does not stop bad things happening. Insurance at its basic level seems like a good idea, but it now seems to be an industry preying on people’s fears.

    I believe education & training in practical skills gives a more durable, satisfying security. Armed with these and the confidence that unknown skills required in future can in most cases be learned, the future is not so fearful without the huge nest egg.

    So four years ago when my trees looked very sick from the drought, I went to Bunnings to look at tanks, I came away shaking my head at the prices and ended up making (and now selling) my own, flexible and affordable tanks. I moved from part time work to full time on the new “job” nearly a year ago and as Samuel says Simplicity is not always so simple, but it is satisfying.

    I now have 20,000 litres of storage, the garden is verry happy, in fact I am getting more interested in vegies & fruit trees because I have too much water! The toilet & laundry are both connected, all DIY. Our usage is 40% of the 155 litres/day target. It was not all easy, but most was not hard. Now I hope to show others & they can avoid my little learning curves.

  9. Kerry says:

    I am choosing the simple life because for me it is the good life. I am happier to slow down, enjoy small pleasures and challenge myself to provide for my needs in a more hands-on way, than to sign myself over to a narrow full-time occupation.

  10. Ellen Regos says:

    This is the year of simplifying my life. I am focusing on integration of self: so that I no longer try to balance the roles of partner, mother, career woman, family and friendships, etc… as separate and distinct parts. I am working towards a relationship of being to myself and to others that is simply lived moment to moment, in an authentic and honest way. My process has begun with small steps of ‘letting go’. I am learning to create and honour the empty spaces in my life, those small crevices of silence and pockets of stillness as I live daily. My simple life is a work in progress…

  11. Karen Campbell says:

    When I look back on my life it’s obvious that I’ve always preferred less than more, materially. As a teenager my room was the only one out of all my friends that lacked the obligatory nick-nacks and clutter of the then popular faux bohemian look. When I was flatting it was much the same, I could move everything I owned in one car load. I would have made a great Gypsy! That turned out to be the short period of my life when I had total control of my material possessions. That came to an abrupt end when I got married. How was I to know that you don’t just marry a person but all their stuff as well. I thought I’d seen all he owned at his flat, but no, there was treble that amount lurking at his parent’s house laying in wait for the chance to be unleashed on an innocent young bride. The horror! Then when we got back from our honeymoon and I saw the mountain of wedding presents stacked in our lounge, my reaction was hardly typical. Most people’s eyes would light up at the idea of so many nice new things but what did I do? I burst into tears! It was all too much, I felt smothered and trapped. Then we had kids which was great because I could try the Rudolph Steiner approach to parenting that had always appealed to me. I imagined herding the kids outside where they would spend the entire day playing with mud and sticks and for Birthdays they would be happy with gifts of wooden bricks and balls of hemp twine! What actually happened is the house was quickly filled with various shapes and sizes of plastic objects in primary colours- more horror. We moved house several times over the years and each time I saw it as an opportunity to rid ourselves of the flotsam and jetsam of modern living and be relieved of the burden of our many possessions. Not a chance! My efforts were always met with the scorn and derision of the family who had no intention of giving up their precious stuff. The kids would often say “Mum, you’re always doing this but it won’t work” and they were right. For everything I got rid of, more seemed to find it’s way back into our house. In the end the only way I was going to win the battle against the tyranny of stuff was to wait it out, and somehow I did.

    Eventually children grow up, and you find much to your surprise that they begin to understand what you’ve been banging on about for all of those years. Now that they’re responsible for themselves and their own environment, they have all begun to see how easy it is to be burdened by their material possessions and also to understand the wider implications- the environmental, economic and social effects of the consumer culture. As for me, after finding a copy of Thoreau’s Walden at a bookstore, it all fell into place. I later read many other excellent books on the subject and began to understand that what I’d always thought of as a personal quirk which irritated my family, was really a deep-seated and commonly held human need- to be free of the oppression of modern materialism. In recent years the developed world has come to realise the impact that consumerism is having on every aspect of life globally and that awareness is beginning to have an effect on the lifestyles and choices people make. There’s no doubt that these changes in behaviour are vital if the human race is to have any kind of worthwhile future but as with most things it comes back to the individual, and that suits me just fine.

    Although I share the altruistic reasons for simplicity, for me in the end it has always been a part of who I am and what I need to do to feel free. I love the idea that life is a chance to experiment and I intend to do a great deal more of that. Thoreau said ” The man who goes it alone can start out today” which is all very well if you like being alone. I chose to share my life with others and that meant the usual compromise and give and take and I wouldn’t change that for anything. Now though, I am at the stage of life where once again I have the say over what will be in my life and what wont and that’s the part I intend to experiment with. Just how few possessions can a person living in the 21st century live comfortably with? Hmm, we’ll see…

    Thanks again,
    Karen Campbell
    Dunedin
    NZ

  12. I first read about voluntary simplicity about 12 years ago when my life was in a state of change. The book I read gave me the confidence to make plans on how I wanted to live based on what would nourish me, rather than being driven by financial necessities. Within a couple of years I managed to streamline a 3 day working week and pay a mortgage on my own, feel better about the planet and less stressed.

    I strongly believe that a simpler life is a healthier life and have discussed this on radio, my website and with clients. Here’s more of my thoughts on the subject:
    http://gillstannard.com.au/2008/04/13/keeping-it-simple/

  13. Mark Burch says:

    I want a life rooted in mindfulness, not things. I want to live in equitable and peaceable relation to others. I want to cultivate self-reliance in making sufficient provision for my authentic material needs, and as much as possible, live in a nonviolent relation to Nature and to other people. Above all, I want a life which is oriented toward spiritual and personal development, not material accumulation, ostentation or power. Simple living is a skillful means of promoting and preserving all these values, as well as an expression of them.

    The material steps I take toward this end are to live in very modest accommodation, grow part of my own food, voluntarily limit my wardrobe, all manner of resource consumption, and especially long-distance travel. I’ve invested in energy and resource conserving renovations and appliances for my house and, while I am ashamed to admit that I still share ownership of a car, I strive continually to drive only on occasions when walking, cycling or using mass transit is clearly impractical. I have worked for money no more than half time since 1995, and refrain from investing in any form of stock, bond, mutual fund or other “investment instrument” that clearly depends for its profitability on the exploitation of others (human or infrahuman).

    The nonmaterial steps I take include daily meditation, spiritual reading, writing, and usually at least three hours of physical work or exercise, often including yoga or t’ai-chi or both. I actively cultivate nonmaterial interests and continually seek nonmaterial means of providing for essentially nonmaterial needs. I delight in the creative challenge of innovating toward ever more self-reliant and elegant means of providing for my physical needs. Especially important is bringing mindfulness to the arising of any craving, discernment of the antecedents and consequences of these cravings, and only then, considered action (or non-action) in response to them.

    I am most passionate about the gracefulness, elegance, efficiency and freedom of simple living. To me it has become the essential personal response to much of what ails humanity (and the ecosphere), and is a vital (though certainly not the only) element of a life well-lived in collaboration with all that is best in human experience and all we know of spiritual truth.

  14. Penny Olive says:

    I can perhaps express the infinite thread of simplicity in one ‘simple’ thought, that is, we all take an Existential Pause. This pause is a moment of deep reflection, a time of absolute stillness, to stop what we are doing and puzzle over existence. I truly think our lives here on Earth, and the Earth itself demands that everyone do this. The irony is that the Very Busy ones who most need to pause, are way Too Busy to stop! Today BUSYness has become a badge of honour worn to pronounce to the world a meaningful and purposeful life. I guess that also depends what we are busy for?! In most cases it is to keep the economic development machine well-oiled. Wouldn’t you think?

    When we pause and reflect and ask a simple question, ‘why?’, the thread begins to unravel. Why do we (humanity) do as we do? Why do I do as I do? These ‘whys?’ can make for a very long piece of string!

    Only then can we answer the question of what are our true needs, and how do we find them… such as love, family, friendship, meaning and purpose in life, being well, moving our bodies, healthy food etc… this is an individual list, and it might be long!

    From deep and reflective questioning we can work out our deepest held values, taking true ownership of our own authentic life and the way we live.

    Simplicity is like a softer, gentler form of being in charge. Of making our own decisions and shaping a life of meaning and purpose that is reflective of our own true nature, how we really want to be! In doing so, we can influence how we really want the world, and the society in which we live, to be!

  15. J. O. says:

    Simplicity to me means paring down to what I feel is essential in my life. It is not about depriving oneself, but about seeking balance, and of course this will be different for different people. For me simplicity in my life means not buying into the consumer culture that often seems to say ‘to buy more is to have more happiness.’
    Simplicity to me is about enjoying what we often overlook and take for granted in our lives. The Earth is often overlooked in our quest to have more consumer items and, despite what the climate change critics say, I believe the Earth is telling us loud and clear that we can’t take the Earth for granted.

    I seek a simpler life because I am concerned about certain world issues, such as climate change & wealth distribution. I feel that if I simplify my life it will have a beneficial effect in reducing my environmental and social impact. Again this is not about deprivation. One has to be happy with the social and environmental changes they are making in their lives, otherwise you’re unlikely to stick with these changes.

    The steps I have taken and are taking to live the simplicity principle include taking time to really get to know myself, what my needs are, what I can and cannot live without. I have also actively sought information that will assist with my journey to a more simple life.
    A great book that I was able to borrow from the Melbourne City Library Service was ‘Simplicity Lessons: a 12-step guide to living simply by Linda Breen Pierce. Her book was interactive in that she had set questions and lessons at the end of each chapter, which really helped me to nut things out

    A major step I took in the past, which I did not at that time recognise as seeking simplicity, was leaving a career that was not making me happy. I entered another full time job that was unrelated and had a lot less responsibility and this enabled me to attend short courses at night to sort out what I really wanted to do.

    It was a long time before I would allow myself to accept that what I really wanted to do was not necessarily going to earn me an income, but would have to be supported by another job. It took a number of years, but I am finally enrolled in an art course and appreciating everyday that I made this decision. It is odd that although this is what makes me happy, I suffered a lot of guilt about going part-time at work to attend this course. I think this is because a lot of our social status is still tied in with what we are able to buy with our earnings and this consumer culture seems to encourage exchanging more of our time for money, whilst espousing that this will make us happier.

    In summing up, I am passionate about simplicity due to all of the above mentioned reasons, but also because there are growing numbers of people who are seeking to simplify their lives.

  16. Michal Horton says:

    The pride and love I have for my children, husband, and extended family are at the basis of simple living for me. Stuff ceases to matter when I consider the richness that this love brings to all our lives. I live amongst lots of stuff and much of it is beautiful, but not necessarily expensive. I have a simple approach to these things and am mindful of the value they hold in terms of history and associations. Their monetary value (if any) is of little consequence. For me, simple living is a state of mind and how I live my commitment to simple living depends entirely on my decisions about how I respond to the world and people around me.

  17. J.D. says:

    I was moved by M.H’s insight (above) that the simple life is founded upon love. M.H. notes that the ‘richness’ of life arises out of love for family, in relation to which ‘stuff’ ceases to matter much. Wise, beautiful words. I would like to add, however, that the simple life can also be understood to arise out of a renewed love of oneself, a renewed self-respect. I seek the simple life partly because I want to live the best life I can, and on that journey there is no time to waste seeking possessions I don’t need. One of the most important aspects of simplicity for me is that it gives me more time, more time to myself and for myself, and I think I need this time to be who I want to be. It helps me be who I can be, who I should be. I think this helps me be a better member of a community too, since I have more time to care and to listen.

  18. An old man says:

    On sunday mornings I get out of bed just as the sun rises and walk the streets while the world sleeps. I especially enjoy this meditative exercise in autumn. The dawning silver light, the red and orange leaves, the birds, the crisp air, the solitude, the peace. At such times I sometimes ask myself: “What do I lack that more money could provide?” My answer is always: “Nothing.”

  19. Sarah J. says:

    In one of Samuel Alexander’s earlier posts he mentioned that simplicity can be understood as ‘an expression of freedom.’ That sums it up for me. In recent years I have stepped away from a stressful job, decluttered my life, and generally been as frugal as I can be. Never have I been as free or as happy.

  20. Jeremy says:

    It’s pretty obvious that the cumulative impact of ordinary consumer lifestyles are the main reason our planet is being degraded. Rejecting that way of life is not easy for me, for many reasons, but I feel it is an important struggle for me. At the same time, I don’t want to define my life in relation to messages of doom (even if doom is what awaits). I choose the simple life because it is the good life.

  21. Toni says:

    I live simply so I can live creatively.

  22. Simplicity is a calm and simple state of mind. Thinking less and finding meaning in the present moment are the key to this. The rewards may surprise us at first because we will find an inner world opening up that is full of depth and meaning…We find joy in simplicity when we experience sufficiency – full awareness and appreciation of what we have this very moment. No yearning for more or better things, no longing for a better tomorrow. Everything we need is always in this very moment. Once we realise this, our self-defeating and often tightly held beliefs and attitudes, and our anxieties and fears about money and possessions will just fade away without much effort on our part…(from “Think Less, Be More” – see http://www.thinklessbemore.com)

  23. Simon Kerr says:

    How lovely it has been to read the comments above and to see some collective sense and wisdom floating around. For me there are two main reasons I seek to lead a simple(ish) life.

    The first is ultimately self interested: I am happier! I don’t, by the way, consider self interest to be wrong in itself, because we all inhabit our own bodies and see the world through our own minds; we all have great interest in our own well-being. (I do distinguish between self-interest and selfishness, the latter being unwilling to consider the needs and rights or others).

    We have evolved to care for our own well being. But we have also survived and flourished as a species because we have developed empathy for our tribe! There is some totally cool anthropological research around this stuff by the way. The challenge, though, is to develop empathy for those beyond our immediate kin, those fellow citizens of this challenged planet, and to all those species with which we share this cosmic miracle called life. We all seek happiness in own ways.

    When I moved to Australia from Aotearoa/New Zealand I divested myself of most of my possessions. The joy of travelling light! The funny thing is, I genuinely miss none of those things. I still have the memories, which I treasure, but I don’t miss the stuff. Ok, my special hand crafted guitar I would miss for a while, I admit! But things will come and go, that’s how life is. Even I, having arrived on earth, will eventually leave. And that’s ok.

    So I revel in what I call the Economy of Joy, a life rich with creativity and connections. I was going to call it the ‘New’ Economy of Joy, but, really, these ideas are not new. I still appreciate beautiful things, I admire clever design, superb performance, functionality. But I (mostly) don’t get attached to these things that flow into and out of my life. That for me is freedom.

    Oh, there was a second reason why I value simplicity. It makes for a sustainable world. Eventually. Given the fact that we consume the equivalent of about 2.8 planet’s worth of material resources, I fail to see how everyone in the world can live like we do. And that simply doesn’t seem fair. That is cause it’s not! So, somehow, we have all got to pare back our material footprint on the planet.

    It is good to be able to do it with such a lovely bunch of fellow travellers.

  24. Lyn Hamilton says:

    When I look back over my life, which is over 70 years, I believe that I have always strived to live simply. However, it has taken a few years of life experience, reading, talking to others, to become conscious of what I was doing. Finding, and reading, a number of years ago, a copy of Duane Elgin’s ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ really set me on the path to a more conscious focus on simple living.

    I continue to try and par down “stuff,” be aware of on what and how I spend my money, and focus on family, friends and relationships, including my relationship with the earth which supports us all.

    As a committed Christian I also believe that this is the path which God is leading me to take, to love all people and the creatures of our world, and that I must “live simply so others can simply live.”

  25. Ilya says:

    Simplicity to me is being clear about my soul’s path. It’s about always keeping my sights on what is important, and for me that is the feeling of wholeness. I want to experience the full spectrum of human experience not just indulge in one or two over and over.

  26. Ruth says:

    These days the simple life means deconstructing everything to get to the truth of what is real. This may sound paradoxical – deconstructing may not be considered simple, but deconstructing is certainly worth it to get to what is actually simple. It’s the process of removing the layers that mask what is real and meaningful – the layers that seem so seductive in the whole system and what people buy into. When the layers are removed, so much space is opened and the possibilities for creativity are endless. And so much head space is cleared too!

    The simple life to me also means living close to nature, eating real food, taking responsibility for raising my children and growing food etc, not buying unnecessary stuff, creating relationships with the people who are most important in my life, creating enough energy to live and sharing resources where possible.

    The simple life to me also means happiness! Being and feeling happy most of the time seems to be the by-product of living simply.

  27. Kirby says:

    How wonderful to read what everyone else feels on this important topic.

    For me, living simply began when I moved abroad last year. I was working as an au pair for family who were wealthy, sure, (they could afford an au pair) but I was shocked at how stressed and time-poor they were. I found it amazing that my ‘job’ was to play with their kids, take them on excursions, teach them to read; while the only time the parents spent with them was over breakfast in the morning and putting them to bed at night. I worked for a second family with the same situation, except their daughter was older, almost a teenager. She had everything she wanted in terms of material possessions, but she was miserable, because what she really wanted was her parents. It is kind of sad to think what a perverted sense of reality these kids will grow up with, where your parents don’t discipline you for throwing a tantrum but if you touch their expensive work clothes with dirty hands, you’re in big trouble.

    For me, living with ‘the other half’ gave me this amazing insight into a world I never particularly wished to belong to, and certainly don’t now. They are overworked, stressed and generally miserable.

    Having a year to observe this madness gave me the opportunity to see what was really important to me. Over the summer my boyfriend and I spent a month cycling through England and Scotland. Once more, some amazing perspective on what material possessions you need to be happy. We had shelter, home-made stoves, a couple of changes of clothes, our bicycles, a ukelele and the scenery. The most amazing times were spent huddled around a fire, eating out of our one bowl and enjoying the simplicity of it all.

    Moving back home meant paring my possessions down to 20kg. A year earlier the packing was a task. This time not at all. Now that I’m living back in Melbourne it is somewhat of a struggle to maintain this lifestyle, being surrounded once more by friends who live to consume, but I learnt many skills in my year away that help me keep aligned with what I believe in. Don’t rush decisions. If you’re not sure if you need it, you don’t. Be self-sufficient as much as possible. I cycle everywhere and people look at me like a madwoman when they see me out in the rain. Take a change of clothes, it’s rain, you won’t melt!

    I feel lucky that my parents have always encouraged me to follow my passions, so I have a healthy approach when it comes to working, where if I don’t love it, I don’t do it. If you look hard enough and just be patient, you’ll find what it is you want to do.

    I’m so glad to have found the Simplicity Collective to be a support and resource for me in my on-going journey.

  28. Nadasvarupanand says:

    To me, simplicity means wealth.

    When you have enough resources to satisfy your needs, that is wealth.

    It is about recognising what we perceive to be as our ‘needs’ and letting go of them.
    As others have said, simplicity is freedom, poetry and brings about a consciousness of living with purpose and grace.

    My great inspiration for simplicity is the madman St. Francis of Assisi, to take Lady Poverty as his bride and live in the fullness of life.

  29. Jungle Girl says:

    Some of the best moments of my life have been doing “simple” things. Washing my hair under a waterfall. Climbing a mountain and watching the sun come up the next day. Sailing on the Solomon Sea in a canoe with a sail made out of sugar bags. Eating taro and avocado from a jungle garden. Sharing food with people who invite me into their house, neither of us speak the same language.

    To live a life less ordinary was all I ever wanted. Now I realise I’ve been doing it for a while…

  30. Ananda Anaam says:

    For me it is living a life where I use my life acquired skills in exchange of nourishment for me and my Self without disturbing the general order of the things around me.. For this I need to understand what my skills are and what nourishes me.
    It is only after an understanding descends that ‘Knowing is NOT Understanding’ life becomes simpler and simpler…….
    To do this I eat food which is grown and cooked by traditional means , non refined and non preserved. I help this get digested by simply using my limbs, I walk and I work with my hands.
    My mind do interfere to complicate the things…but it is okay. I do provide some nourishment to it too—it is simple..

  31. SJ says:

    Hi, I hope this forum is active because I have noticed that all the dates are from last year. I have taken something from all the comments above. Although I have enjoyed the simple life at many stages in life and have always enjoyed some degree of self sufficiency, I have actively been seeking knowledge on the subject of late. I have found myself trapped in a well paid mining job with little satisfaction and surrounded by people obsessed with getting more stuff and unsure of my future in the rat race. Thoreou has helped me greatly to understand just how little we need and how much we have lost by ignoring the opportunity for simplicity. I also really connect with the guy when it comes to his passion for nature. I am now working toward an escape. For me it has been a selfish thing because I really need the liberation that comes from simplifying life and exploring wisdom. Some of my favourite possessions are snippets of wisdom that help to shape my evolving ideas.

  32. Patricia says:

    Today it means selling the dream home in the country for 1500sqft less within an easy bicycle commute to work, shops, and kid’s schools. It is so easy for life to become excessive once you add kids to the mix. I’d forgotten what’s important. Here’s hoping our house sale is finalized as I’ve already become so energized by the prospect of life getting that much simpler.

  33. SJ says:

    It is interesting that simplicity means such vastly different things to different people and I can see that it is all about priorities. For Patricia, being closer to everything will free up time for what is more important. For me and my wife, who’s kids have long since left home, staying out on 8 acres and stewarding that land for nature and our own purposes is a priority. So we each simplify within the framework of what is important in our lives. We can do opposite actions with no real conflict in over riding philosophy.

  34. Anne Batchelor says:

    It’s a beautiful statement – “The Simple Life.” However, my husband and I are only living “the simple life” now, after many years of being in the paid workforce, working towards “the dream” of a simple lifestyle. Therefore, I can’t see how you can obtain the “simple life” without quite a lot of financial backup. We are 67 and 63 respectively and built our own mudbrick home 16yrs ago in country Victoria. We have fruit trees, 2 vegi gardens, a herb garden, vines and a bush block. We attend church each Sunday, so also have a “spiritual” component. Our children are married and we have 3 beautiful grandsons, all in Melbourne. However, I still feel we have not pulled it all together and feel quite empty inside as if something is still missing. I truly would appreciate any genuine considerations to my letter.

  35. SJ says:

    You have already done something bigger than yourselves by living by such a fine example and having a reduced footprint. The only thing I can offer is that I get the greatest satisfaction from doing something bigger than myself. I tend to do things for nature rather than people as such, but it will be different for every person. I go and pull weeds from a piece of public land in danger of being lost to weeds or build a nesting box to fit to tree to replace the stag trees removed by people. You can imagine the pleasure of watching new hatchlings learning to fly from one of my nesting boxes.
    Good luck and i hope you can find the natural highs that I get from nature.

  36. Pamela Sherwood says:

    Living a simple life to me means truly valuing life. One of the biggest ways I find myself valuing life is by living it out day by day more naturally, or as it was intended, without all the man-made rules (I don’t mean breaking the law here) and yes, even some of the technological devices, especially the communication ones (uh hummm) that we are bombarded with on a repeatedly incessant basis. The biggest way in which I value life however, is by being governed more by the giver of life, my creator God, than by the clamor of the society of which I am a part. In doing so, I’ve not only learned to cherish more what I have and to take better care of it, but I’ve also learned to have greater value and respect for myself because I know how eternally loved I am, just as I am. This in turn makes it easier for me to value and respect others. I find that when I stray away from truly valuing life my own life becomes harder and more difficult with each passing day. Sometimes just retreating to my Adirondack chair in the backyard for a few minutes of distressing time with nature in the fresh outdoors does wonders. Life will invariably have its pressures and stress but I think more and more we are finding in society in general that the way in which we are coping with those pressures and the de-stressing methods we are using are actually creating more stress and difficulties. In fact it seems that they are causing greater separation between both nature and other people, and most importantly our creator; thereby cutting us off from the very essential sources by which we as humans are best nourished and gain healing, restoration, renewal, and a sense of contentment. There is just no disputing the fact that when we lose intimacy in relationships we suffer most grievously! To me there is nothing more rewarding than working hard with my hands and my whole heart to provide for myself and those I love by utilizing my gifts, talents, land and other possessions as a wise steward should. Yet taking the time to genuinely and lovingly SHARE all aspects of my life, although it may feel risky at times, is key! The result is a sustainable, purposeful, and gratitude-filled life, or what some people may refer to as a Simple Life.

  37. Jane says:

    About me living simply:

    I have lived simply in my life for many years, because it is a mind set/belief of mine.

    Some of the ways in which I act: use a car as little as possible (walk or catch the bus),have acquired few consumer white goods, use old furniture, minimise electricity usage, buy new clothes extremely rarely (use opp shops), recycle as much as possible which is a lot these days(eg recently took a boot load of scrap metal of all types from a collection in a garage including old wires (plastic covered)etc to the scrap metal merchant), have been a sustainability representative at work.

    The one thing I will next do is : create a vegie garden!

    Best Wishes
    Jane

  38. sara says:

    its a strange existance us humans have. we avoid simplicity because we become bored easily and follow the herd of mankind that tell us we should be rich, have a house, family, kids, investments, support, future, stability, mod cons, respect.

    yet in reality all of the above is the sole reason we are so lost, so unhappy, so caught up in anything BUT the moment.

    simplicity is not caring about the above. if you want to see it in action. Go to thailand, a simple people with simple mindsets. they have no pensions, no investments, they build what they can afford and food is sacred. Life is about living – and living is about life – the life around us. its that simple!

  39. I didn’t start thinking about simple living until I was pregnant with my daughter, nearly 3 years ago. My basic outline for living simply is “Live within you means”. We closed our credit cards, stopped using shopping as a hobby, only buy second hand clothes and furniture, get as many groceries as possible at the farmers market, canceled our cable, use the bus when we can, started a garden, and overall try to do things in life that don’t cost money. Instead of shopping, I take my daughter on a long walk or play in the park. Instead of watching TV, we listen to music. Little shifts like this have helped – although we have a LONG way to go. Sometimes I am still very disheartened by our waste and dependance on consumerism for happiness. But at least we have started the journey. So glad I found this website.

  40. Tom says:

    I’ve dreamed of simplifying my life as you have described in your recent report, “Radical Simplicity and the Middle Class.” My defining moment regarding materialism came when I arrived in Malawi, central Africa in April 1988 for a six month work secondment as a training consultant. Suffice to say, I left Malawi a changed person. Rubbing shoulders with people in a third world environment showed me that you don’t have to have discretionary money to be content. Since then, I have adopted a basic lower-middle class existence and adopted permaculture principles, not all that successfully. I belong to Sustainable Population Australia and the local natural resource taxation reform group in Western Australia. I have been involved for the past six years in trying to get a local ecovillage started, having faced lots of challenges in the process. (still not finalised) I support the Occupy Movements worldwide as solidarity is our one powerful weapon against the maintainers of the status quo. How telling was your comment, Samuel, the the Victorian government uses a desalination plant to provide drinking water for the public to defecate in! Here’s hoping us simplicity hopefuls can join together to show how life can be lived lightly on this earth together. Thank you for your stimulating writings.

  41. Ted says:

    Is there any way that I can get my hands on a copy of Voluntary Simplicity: The Poetic Alternative to Consumer Culture?

    I am a US Citizen living in Cambodia. I am willing to pay for the book (of course), and would prefer a digital copy if possible (which I would not share).

  42. Samuel Alexander says:

    It’s available in print here: http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Voluntary-Simplicity-Samuel-Alexander/9780986453700

    We were only granted rights for a printed book, so no e-book available I’m afraid.

  43. Hello, we are Jim and Mindy. We have been working at living simply for many years, first in living off the grid out in the desert in Arizona and building our own straw bale house, and for the last seven years living in a small village of 600 people in the mountains of Veracruz, Mexico.

    We would like to share with you a video we have just completed called “Living Simply Is Beautiful”. It shows some of the highlights of our version simple living this past seven years and draws on the approximately 13,000 photos and video clips we have taken in our little village.

    http://youtu.be/AaTZQOY6NUI

  44. Jennifer says:

    Living simply for me has been a true adventure in the beginning years of my independent life. I am glad that I am realizing this at the age of 25, so I can take the steps I need to take now while I have the strength both physically and spiritually inside me.

    I recently started a blog about transcendentalism and self-sufficiency, and within a week of writing my first post I was fired from my job due to something I’d said on my blog. This blog was mainly about the power of independent thought and positive change in our lives. It’s about taking control of your decisions and actions in this society! So it was a bit of a surprise to see that my actions gave me a negative outcome… then I realized that the outcome was a positive step in the right direction. Their reason for my termination was in regards to my comment that “working at the store is a burden to my personal growth” due to the fact that I have to be indoors for my job. This reaffirmed my feelings about working there. After they told me I was ‘too existential’, I felt relief that I was free’d of working for capitalism. I am very thankful to be a freelance artist, this is what I am currently doing to get closer to achieving my goal to live simply.

    Since I have lost my job I am able to leave the city and move into a rural setting where I can practice what I have learned about self-sufficiency from Thoreau. I love the beauty of human resourcefulness when you don’t depend on money and society. I believe that all people are creative, you just need the right state of mind to apply it. I have surrounded myself with people who agree with my lifestyle and I have gained invaluable knowledge and insight as to how I will achieve my goals for living simply.

    The Simplicity Collective has reaffirmed my opinions on living an alternative lifestyle and has built my confidence that the way I am headed is the right direction. I hope to continue learning about ways to minimize my impact on this world and live a fulfilling and modest life. You guys are incredible.

    I look forward to living in a small home that I have built with my hands, building a garden and minimizing my purchases to only the essentials for living. Educating myself with library books, meditating, and enjoying nature will always be what I put my energy towards. That is all I need to be happy in my life.

  45. Godofredo Aravena says:

    Before anything, the question would be, what is the purpose of human life?
    Because without a useful purpose, there is no way to define the concept of “simple”.
    In the rest of the Universe, everything has a function, a purpose, that is essentially to keep “the system” running. The “big system”.
    The humans, facing the crisis ahead, that clearly says that everything done so far is wrong, should find a purpose useful to the system. Today, the great majority of human lives are not useful to the big system, they are just empty lives. People are born, live and die, but after that, what has been done that could be useful to the system is nothing.
    So, in essence, a simple life is a life with a purpose, with a benefit to the system. Not the human system, but the “big system”(the Universe, biosphere included). Based on the filter of a useful life, it can be defined as simple life, any life that in the end is useful to the “big system”.
    Any attempt to define a simple life based on the current concept of society, it will be wrong, as the basic concept of our society is not useful to the system.
    My personal efforts today are focused in defining what could be a “useful” life for the human species. Clearly is nothing we have done so far. I can see that it is required a total shift in the basic concepts of our society, that roughly have not changed since our origins, and essentially keeps on being the same basis, only the tools have changed.

  46. Carol Newlands says:

    When I was a little girl. I used to believe in fairy tales and magic. In fairy tales, you live in huge castle with plenty of foods and you can’t feel sadness though you encounter tragedy but at the end of story you still happily ever after but as I grow older I realize the true meaning of life and how reality differs from fairy tales. I encounter so many trials, problems and obstacles that I almost give up. A Simple life is so easy to have, but life complicates it. No matter how you tried to control all the scenarios and moments you could not stop and predict what would happen. Living a simple life is my dream. People complicate life if you want to talk to someone then call them, if you want to see someone visit him, Don’t like something? state it. Like something? say it. Want something? work for it. You just live once, make it simple.

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