Simplicity

“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual.”

Linda Breen Pierce

Simplicity is an idea I’ve been studying and thinking about a lot lately. I’ve been reading blogs about minimalism and and getting back to basics. Minimalism and simplicity are not new ideas, but they are counterculture. I’m just learning about this and I don’t consider myself a true minimalist, but I love the idea of living simply. I’ve found a balance that works for me as expressed in this quote by Duane Elgin, “The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence.” 

When I think about the things that make me most happy, I realize they’re not “things” at all. In my last post I made a list of the things that are most important to me and bring the most joy:  Faith, loved ones, nature, art. These are the things I surround myself with daily. Of course there are other important things, the “must haves” such as food, clothing, shelter etc, and I have to admit I love these as well. I love good food, and I like my clothes to be an expression of my personality, and I take pride in maintaining our home, but these do not define who I am.

When we moved a few months ago I decided it would be a good time to implement the idea of simplicity. I went through my closet and removed anything I hadn’t used for several months. It was embarrassing actually to see how much had accumulated over the years we’d lived there. The kids did the same and with some help they were able to give away a couple boxes of toys they no longer used.

Part of why I like the idea of simplicity is because is makes life easier. I feel less stressed when there’s less clutter, both physical clutter and mental clutter.  There’s less mess for the kids to clean. There’s less running around to get unnecessary stuff.

Also, when you choose to live simply, you are intentionally stepping out of the comparison game. I know I’m guilty of comparing my life to others and feeling like I don’t live up to the cultural standard. I don’t make a certain amount of money or have designer clothes. Once you stop comparing your life, you can start living it. Choosing to simplify means I’m free to be myself.

Another reason is that I feel a bit more connected to those in the world who are less fortunate. Josh and I have both traveled a lot and have friends in third world countries. We communicate often with our friends and hear of their struggles. We do what we can to support their causes and by living simply ourselves we can do more for them. We’re so blessed in comparison. Once you’ve looked poverty in the face it’s difficult to justify extravagance.

When we stop worrying about material things we are free to enjoy the simple pleasures life has to offer, like a good book, a day at the ocean, more time to intentionally love your family and friends.

“The simplest things are often the truest.”

Richard Bach

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Originally written on 7/27/2011

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