Inside: Learn what simple living is and what it isn’t and decide how you may want to incorporate elements of living simply into your life.
When you hear the words ‘simple living’, what does it make you think of?
Do you picture Laura Ingalls Wilder? While times were much simpler back then in some ways, the realities of life were also very challenging.
Or maybe you imagine living in a five-hundred-square foot studio with minimal furniture and décor. That certainly could be one way to live simply.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer for whatever first comes to your mind. Everyone has a different frame of reference for what simple living means to them.
But there are also a lot of misconceptions about what simple living is. Today we’re going to take a look at what simple living isn’t and what it is.
Read on to learn more about living simply and why you may want to simplify certain areas in your life.
What Simple Living Is Not
Before we look at all the things simple living is, let’s first explore some of the misconceptions. Here are some of the things that simple living is not.
A political agenda
I am not here to tell you that there is (or isn’t) a government agenda to move people toward owning nothing personally. What I can tell you is the simple living/minimalist movement is not connected to that ideology.
People pursuing a simpler way of living are not part of some plot to get you to have nothing to your name. I see comments along these lines on my Facebook page at times, so I wanted to clarify that here.
Simple living is not about being dependent on the government or on other people. It is not part of a movement to a new world order.
Simplifying is about having freedom and flexibility. In the second section of this post, I’ll explain more about why people are pursuing simplicity and what the end goal is.
Boring or lazy
Living a simple life doesn’t mean living a boring life either. Working to have less isn’t done in an effort to sit on the couch all day doing nothing.
It’s quite the opposite in fact. Your stuff can hold you back from the things that are most meaningful to you.
Simplifying your home and life is not done in an effort to create a boring aesthetic or an unfulfilled life.
Simple living is also not about depriving yourself. It’s more about focusing on the things that are important rather than the stuff that isn’t.
A life with fewer distractions allows you to live more abundantly than one that is collecting excessive items that don’t even get used.
Simple living isn’t like dieting. It’s about discovering a more fulfilling way to live.
Some people think of homesteading as being synonymous with simple living. While there are some aspects of going back to our roots and caring for the land that are tied to living simply, that doesn’t mean you have to live on a farm to pursue simplicity.
If you are interested in going back to basics but don’t live in a place with acreage you can incorporate some aspects of homesteading like cooking from scratch, composting, and container gardening in most living spaces.
However, even if you aren’t interested in homesteading, you can still pursue living more simply.
What Simple Living Is
So now that we’ve covered some of the misconceptions about simple living, let’s look at what simple living actually is.
Simple living is about getting rid of the excess and focusing on what matters most. Simplifying is making an intentional choice to minimize stuff so that you have more time to spend on things that are meaningful to you.
Opting to live more simply acknowledges that possessions are not the most important things in life and that more energy can be spent on important pursuits when distractions are minimized.
Here are some things to know about simple living.
We live in a world that is busy and full of distractions.
The influences of modern technology on our culture cannot be overstated. Our devices are constantly alerting us with all kinds of notifications. The instant access we have to information can be beneficial, but also comes at a cost.
It’s challenging to be fully engaged in your life while being bombarded by various things vying for your attention. Simplifying works to live more intentionally and minimize those distractions.
Advertisers constantly tell us to buy more and that our value is attached to what we own. While others work to amass more things, simple living rejects the status quo and instead focuses on being grateful for what you already have.
Instead of chasing the culture’s definition of success, you get to define what success looks like in your life. It doesn’t need to mean living in a huge house or driving a fancy car.
Simple living is about clarifying your values and creating your own version of success according to your unique goals.
The statistics on clutter highlight the stuff problem that we have in our culture.
Pursuing simplicity means being ok with not going with the flow. It is a countercultural choice that is driven by a desire to live intentionally and purposefully even if it’s not popular.
Focus on freedom
One of the goals on simple living is to create more freedom in your life. When you simplify your things, it not only gives your space more breathing room, but also gives you more time back.
“Owning less means less cleaning, less burden, less anxiety, and less stress each and every day.” -Unknown
Simplifying your home minimizes the negative impacts on clutter. Choosing less gives you more time and money to spend on the things that you care about most.
Living simply is about getting out of debt and focusing more on the necessities rather than continually buying more unnecessary stuff.
Having less to clean, maintain, and move frees you up to pursue new adventures in your life. Simple living allows you to be more flexible and available for the unexpected circumstances that arise from time to time.
A way of life
Simple living is a way of life. It impacts what you say yes to and influences how you use your resources.
Adopting certain habits will help you to simplify your life. It’s about choosing less and being selective with what you allow into your home and life.
For many it means opting for a slower pace of living as well.
Every person has a bit different comfort level with the stuff in their life. This is why I focus on simplicity, not minimalism.
Some people opt to go to extremes while others (myself included) opt for focusing on frugality and practicality. Wherever you land on that spectrum is up to your priorities. Your simplifying goals can also change with your stage in life.
Create space for what you love
The end goal of simple living is to create more space in your life for the things that you love.
Sometimes that looks like decluttering your home so that you have more room for enjoying the people in your home without the added burden and stress of excess stuff.
Simplifying can also be cutting unnecessary things out of your schedule so that you have more time to spend on the people and things that you care most about.
Reduce the excess in the places you need to most and create a life you love as you make space for what matters most to you.
What is simple living to you? Let us know in the comments section!
Simple living will look different for each person. We’d love to hear what simple living means to you & how you’re working to simplify your life.
Check out these helpful posts on living more simply:
- The many benefits of choosing to live simply
- How to live simply in a culture focused on consumerism
- How to live a simple life: 7 practical ways to get started
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My husband and I made a choice 33 years ago to live within our means. I didn’t know this was such a different thing to do!! Made sense to me!! We lived this way to stay out of debt and to see our son go to college debt free. He had special learning difficulties that we dealt with by homeschooling him. We meant our goal . He finished with a masters degree!! We are so proud of him!! Several years later he married his college sweetheart and they have four children with one on the way!! Now we have had time to save for a new car and pay cash. What a feeling!! We always bought used cars before this and paid cash. Because of all this my husband was able to retire early in his fifties and stay home with me because I have major medical problems and I’m disabled. as a result. The Lord is so good to us. We just have to use our resources well. Our home is paid off . We are able to spend our days together now and have fun if not at doctor appointments. By the way my husband never made more than a teachers salary!!!
While it may sound good to declutter your home it does not take into account that your discarded stuff has to go somewhere. Landfills are overflowing and charity shops cannot keep up with the loads of stuff dumped at their door as a result of this new trend. It may make you feel better to live in a streamlined home but at what cost?
I am not directing these comments at you, Diane, but the multitude of people that continue to think there is some virtue in only looking at their own comfort and expecting the rest of society to take care of what they no longer want.
I think the most important part of the decluttering process is to make sure that you are disposing of cast off items in a responsible way which, unfortunately, is not usually mentioned in all these articles about how people freed themselves from “things” by making them everyone else’s problem.
I agree that is an important part of the discussion. I wrote a post about donating responsibly here: https://www.thesimplicityhabit.com/the-best-ways-to-responsibly-donate-your-clutter/