“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak”
There are a wide range of different, but highly compatible lifestyles sheltering under the simple living umbrella.
There are survivalists who have stockpiled supplies for Armageddon that are living simply (Survivalists).
There are green thumbed sustainable folks looking to minimise their ecological footprint that choose to live simply (Sustainability).
There are financially independent people that prefer not to work who live simply (Financially Independence).
There are friends of the animals and humanitarians that seek to minimise their impacts and harm to other beings that live simply (Vegan, Vegetarian, Humanitarian, Socialist).
There are minimalists that live without the anchor of possessions that are living simply (Minimalist).
There are self reliant people who generate all of their own energy, keep bees and animals, drink rain water, grow their own food, have a composting toilet and make all of their own clothing that are living simply (Resilient).
There are families that save their money, only ever shop with coupons, and negotiate unbelievably cheap deals that live simply (Frugal).
There are travellers and wanderers that enjoy the road, or prefer to live in tiny structures that they have made themselves that are simple livers (Travellers, Drop-outs, Tiny House, Nano Housers).
…and there are many others that seek meaningful, rich and interesting lives through voluntary simplicity.
When we say we live simply what do we mean exactly? What do we all have in common?
If I were to try to sum all of these threads up and distill their essence I suspect that at the core what all of these approaches share is:
A yearning for freedom,
Respect for others,
Connection to nature,
Concern for for the future, and
More efficient use of resources.
The definitions of simple are –
an ignorant, foolish, or gullible person.
something simple, unmixed, or uncompounded.
textiles: cords for controlling the warp threads in forming the shed on draw-looms.
a person of humble origins; commoner.
an herb or other plant used for medicinal purposes: country simples.
easy to understand, deal with, use, etc.: a simple matter; simple tools.
not elaborate or artificial; plain: a simple style.
not ornate or luxurious; unadorned: a simple gown.
unaffected; unassuming; modest: a simple manner.
not complicated: a simple design.
I can relate my life to these definitions. I certainly can’t deny my foolishness, ignorance or humble origins either.
Our take on simple living is a blend of all of these approaches and many aspects of the definitions. We take freely from any discipline if the the learning can make our life easier and more interesting. We test concepts for a while and chose to adopt them if they make us happier and if we feel that they unweight some burden from our shoulders.
We have enough food and supplies to see us through a natural disaster.
We live locally and travel by bike.
We try to buy products that aren’t harmful to the environment.
We try to buy products that aren’t harmful to other people.
We try to by products that aren’t harmful to animals.
We consume as little as possible so that we can work less.
We eat from our garden.
We try to use resources as efficiently as we can.
We have few possessions and little attachment to things. Our family relationships are far more important.
We try to change ourselves to fit into the environment rather than wasting our effort to reshape the world or others to wrap around our needs.
We try to solve our own problems by making or repairing whatever we can.
We save money and use it to support free living.
We build and maintain our home, but we are happiest wandering with a backpack.
We spend our time on whatever is most important to our family. This means not doing many common things that other people feel that they ‘should’ do.
So how to describe ourselves?
Free, frugal, minimalist, environmentalist, vegan, gardeners that dropped out to work less, become happier, enjoy more leisure, better connectedness and a vastly improved quality of life.
That’s us. What about you? What do you mean when you tell people you live simply?