People who embrace voluntary simplicity consume less not because they need to, but because it makes them happier. By choosing to spend less, they gain the freedom to work less and devote more of their time to the things they care about. Throughout history, there have been many noted writers and thinkers who claimed that the key to happiness lay in living a simpler life with fewer possessions. In the ancient world, Buddha, Socrates, and Jesus all embraced lives of poverty and emphasized the importance of limiting material desires.
In the early days of this country, writers such as Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau promoted a simple, frugal lifestyle. Various religious groups, from the monastic orders of the Middle Ages to modern-day Quakers and Amish, have made simple living a key part of their teachings.
The modern simplicity movement arose out of the counterculture of the s and s, which put a strong emphasis on resisting consumer culture and living in harmony with nature. After , the popularity of the term declined for a while, but in the s its use began to surge once again as several new books contributed to the movement. The main focus of the simple life is on reducing your consumption. The simple life means different things to different people. This country-dwelling downshifter might work only a few hours a week for pay, perhaps working from home as a freelancer , and spend the rest of his or her time tending a garden and livestock, making and repairing clothes, and homeschooling children.
For another person, by contrast, the simple life might mean living in a sparsely furnished apartment in a building with a rooftop garden. On weekends, he might take in a free performance at a local park or a poetry reading at a nearby bookstore. They have to spend a lot of time explaining to others that voluntary simplicity is not about the following:.
Downshifters and minimalists have many different reasons for choosing the simple life. The benefits people mention most often are as follows:. This is particularly true for those who choose to withdraw completely from the consumer society, such as the Nearings. If you refuse to purchase anything at all, then everything you use — food, clothing, household goods — has to be homemade. When you have to grow or make absolutely everything from scratch, just keeping yourself fed and clothed can take far more hours of your time than a full-time job.
However, even for those who choose to stay within mainstream society, but just consume less, living simply can still be time-consuming. For example, it usually takes longer to walk or bike to work than it does to drive. Preparing a home-cooked meal takes longer than stopping at a fast-food restaurant drive-through, and repairing a torn shirt can take longer than going to a department store to purchase a new one. For many people though, the biggest challenge of the simple life is how it can cut you off from your peers.
You can try to maintain your friendships by suggesting different social activities that fit your new lifestyle, such as going for a walk together at lunchtime. This social isolation can be particularly challenging for downshifters who have children in school. After weighing the pros and cons, if you decide the simple life is for you, here are a several steps you can take to achieve it:. The whole point of voluntary simplicity is to be more mindful about the way you live your life — how much you work, how much you spend, and whether your actions match up with your values.
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Shares Share This Article. You can then start to build your wardrobe around the items you know you love and will wear more often.
You can automate a lot in your life, and fortunately, automating your bills and income payments has only gotten easier and easier. You can have your paychecks direct deposited many people still deposit their checks manually , you can select to auto pay your bills, you can even auto pay your monthly credit card payments.
Sometimes, going paperless can give you discounts on some of the payment you make on a regular monthly basis. Automating your payments can even make managing your budget easier! Even though I check through all transactions and expenses, I still automate many of my actual payments so that I never have to worry that something was forgotten about.
Most of my expenses are similar from month to month, so I can usually just check the payment to see if everything is correct. Side note: Motif Investing allows individuals to invest affordably. This can be one of the most difficult areas to work on, but I really do believe that gaining confidence can help you to live simply and enjoy life more.
And, once the ball gets rolling, your confidence will allow you to improve your life rather than dwelling on things that scare you. As you can see, gaining confidence can help you in many, many different ways and can help you to enjoy your life more. Like I mentioned in the previous point, creating a reminder can be a huge help.
I know this firsthand because if there is something coming up that I know I will not remember, I will create a reminder. There are some days when it feels like all you are doing is rushing from one thing to the next. It is exciting to think about the future, but if you stop to look around at where you are right now, you might be surprised by how good it is. Like many people I know, I'm guilty of running through life too quickly and not stopping to really enjoy it. However, by slowing down, we can learn to do things correctly, enjoy things more, and have the ability to start living simply.
This goes along with the previous point, as we rush through life, we have the tendency to multitask in order to speed through tasks and challenges. Some people can multitask successfully, but because it takes so much time to refocus on a new task, many people cannot. This means that every time you switch between tasks, you may actually be spending more time than if you approached each task separately. Think about your strengths and weaknesses to understand whether or not multitasking actually helps you save time.
And, for the most part, by single-tasking, your ability to focus on one thing at a time and fully complete each task in front of you will help you better focus on the ways to simplify your life. We all live in a world that is constantly moving and making noise. However, when was the last time you just sat down in complete silence with no distractions?
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For the average person, this is probably a rare occurrence. It can also help you relax, destress, and clear your mind. Are you interested in learning ways to simplify your life? What else would you add to this list? If you are new to my blog, I am all about finding ways to make and save more money. Here are some of my favorite sites and products that may help you out:.
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Click here to learn more about starting a blog! Great post Michelle. Saying no more often is such a great tip. We tend to want to please everybody and say yes as often as possible. I need to practice saying no both personally and for business more often. My organisation is a mess.
Thank goodness hubby is good at keeping track of things. Those late fees on bills are no joke! Oy, I needed this today. Too many yeses gets you in a big boatload of over-committing. Multi-tasking gets me all the time. Five minutes later from upstairs I could hear a sputtering sound.
Water and coffee grinds from the coffee maker were seeping out onto the counter. I watch wayyyyy too much T. I completely agree with 12! I try to stick with neutral colors and solids rather than patterns. I occasionally throw in a bright piece and bold, statement accessories to mix things up and keep it interesting. Awesome tips, Michelle. I will focus on a couple of these next. Probably saying No and organizing my workspace are high-yield for me.
Becoming debt-free earlier this year was so helpful in relieving stress I had! Slowing things down is key. It enables us to think, reflect, plan, and then execute more effectively. Great post!! Very inspired by reading your course. I will be incorporating these tips for sure in the New Year.
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It is all about giving things away… donating them and freeing up your mind and living space. It is seriously the best ever. I have a general rule. If I did not wear something in the season it belonged summer, fall, winter then it has to go. Thank you. Great article! Paying off debt and limiting my TV time are my main goals in !
I finally found a system that seems to be working for monthly tasks to run my business. After that I want to transfer that to household tasks, personal life, etc. Great recommendations. I am already implementing many of these. Especially cutting the cord on cable and watching less TV. I scan the headlines online in about 5 minutes. The TV just repeats everything through different talking heads. Huge waste of time. This is an awesome post Michelle! I started a lot of these in and have helped me tremendously.
I lose stuff all the time!
TV is the ultimate time suck. We challenge people to literally put a blanket over their TV for 30 days and just see what happens. The first few days suck, but eventually you discover all this incredible free time and amazing things you can do. I started to feel all smug as the list started.
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I thought I was the only one who paid some bills twice a year. Example: I have a client where I pay all his bills. I talked him into paying utility and other bills we were unable to automate twice a year. We send one big check to cover expected expenses and it covers a good portion of the year. At least most of my bills are automated. I started to feel smug again as I read down the list until 16 slow down. My natural tendency is to always do more. I love so many activities I want to try them all. Great ideas.
I strongly believe that simplifying your life is the key to happiness. We can get overwhelmed so easy by the environment around us.
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