What is Simple Living and Why Should I Care?
Even with predictions that our economy is turning around, the current financial climate isn't exactly what most people would call "good." In fact, for some of us, it's downright rotten. Regardless of your personal situation, the last year could be construed as an alarm clock, buzzing and beeping until we look around, see the excess in our lives, and eliminate it.
While it's true that not everyone feels the pull to cut back, overall there's something attractive about empty space, whether it's in our decorating, how we spend our time, or some wiggle-room in our budgets. Now that we have the financial motivation, it seems like a good time to figure out what we want, why we want it, and how we're going to get there.
Part of the allure of simple living is its mystique. What do you think of when you think of the simple life? Tibetan monks in a monastery on a high, frozen Himalayan mountainside? American pioneers, whittling their possessions down to whatever fit in a wagon so they could haul it across the country? Your parents or grandparents who, during the Depression, got by with so little that they still tell stories about it?
While all of these people definitely lived more simply than we do today, none of these portrayals is realistic for the average American. But what does simple living look like in today's modern, convenience-filled world? I think it looks different depending why and what's important to you. Why?
Because simple living is about priorities.
What is important to you and how can you ensure that those things get done, bought, and followed through on? Or, on the other hand, what isn't important to you? What could you easily do without? And what's in the middle? What is nice to have around you except when it gets in the way of those higher priorities?
Simple living means clearing out the space of our lives, in terms of time, money, and psychological space, so that those things that are the highest priority are ensured a place. It means living deliberately, not getting caught up in the infamous tyranny of the urgent but learning to keep our eyes on a higher goal.
Since we all have different priorities, simple living will look different for each one of us. Sure, we all have the same basic priorities...food, water, shelter, clothing, but even with these basic needs, different ones of us are willing to accept different types and kinds of provision. Beyond those, our priorities are very different, and that's ok.
We can learn to live in such a way that, whatever our priorities, they are almost always adequately provided for. It means making changes, even sacrificing some of those items in the middle so that the ones on top have more space. But the best thing about simple living?
In the end, we have the life we want.
Sure, things happen. And nothing's perfect. But we can make choices today that give our priorities the best possible chance of being met. Does it mean making changes? Almost certainly. Cutting back? Most likely.
But in the end, we reap the rewards of that work. We get to live lives that are full of the things we value and carry a minimum of the things we don't. How satisfying is that?