Things like fast food, dishwashers, and cars simplify our lives, especially when compared to the days when farming, lack of indoor plumbing, and horses were a way of life. Yes, life is simpler now, but we long for something less stressful and slower pace of life. What we call simple living today is about making choices to do without some modern conveniences in order to improve the quality of living.
What would make you a good candidate for simple living, twenty-first century style? How can you cut back on your lifestyle to enjoy more?
What Makes You Tick?
Given the sort of person you are and the sorts of things you enjoy, how radically can you scale back to simple? Do you want to get more exercise by choppy wood or sweeping? Do you enjoy the sensual pleasure of kneading dough or sanding old furniture? Do you look back fondly on times in your life when you’ve cooked over an open fire or hand-made a gift as occasions?
Does living without some of the trappings of modern life give you pleasure? If these sorts of peaceful pursuits and soul-satisfying labors sound good to you, then you might be ready to look for ways to simplify your life regularly and permanently.
If you have a young family, simple living will involve your mate and children. Suggest a camping trip or involve them in planning, working, harvesting, and enjoying a vegetable garden. Participate in scout troop activities and encourage crafts.
As an individual, detach yourself from too much dependence on television, computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices. Open the windows to enjoy the sounds of birds, rain, and wind. Ride your bike or walk to work and on errands.
More than exercise and aesthetics, simple living is embraced by many people who are concerned about living sustainably. They feel that preserving the earth’s resources is a morally responsible choice.
If you chose to live a simpler life in order to conserve the earth’s resources, consider becoming a vegetarian. Much more energy is needed to grow beef and chicken than vegetables and fruit that supply the same number of calories and amount of nutrients. Even if you don’t become a complete vegetarian, cut back on meat and add vegetables to your diet. Grow more food, buy foods that are in season, freeze and can foods for later use. Consult recipes for everyday fare from cookbooks like the Good Housekeeping Cookbook to prepare well-rounded meals.
Cut back on the amount of clothing that you buy. After laundering, dry clothes outdoors on a clothes line. Mend small holes and tears. Recycle clothes by giving them to neighbors or exchanging them for new items at the thrift store or consignment shop.
When gift-giving occasion come around, consider crafting a gift. Mother Earth magazine, in addition to news and tips about ways to simplify your life, includes many how-to instructions and do-it-yourself projects.
Don’t make yourself simplify in ways that don’t suit you emotionally or physically. Simplification should be embraced mindfully and make sense for you given you age, family needs, and physical capabilities. Don’t simplify in ways that create stressful chores or are unable to do.
Simple living can be enjoyed for many reasons. Saving money is one that benefits everyone. Cost-saving ways to simplify your life include cooking more and eating out less, eating fresh rather than processed food, opening and closing windows and curtains to take advantage of natural light and temperature, focusing on handmade and heartfelt gifts rather than on consumer habits, and growing berries and vegetables rather than grass.
If you are the simplifying type, you will have fun being creative and finding natural ways to live with less. You will be more likely to understand that “less is more” and will appreciate “quality not quantity.” Use kids art as wrapping paper, make jam, enjoy wildflower bouquets, use the library more, turn a trip to the farmers market into a family outing, and let a picnic under the trees substitute for a lunch in a restaurant with friends.
Simple living means finding many small and simple ways to add value to your life.