Concern for the environment is what initially motivated me to embrace the idea of voluntary simplicity. Overconsumption is killing our planet. By choosing to consume less, I choose to be kinder to our environment. These days, my motivations are more selfish. Environmental concerns are no longer the primary contributor to my desire to live simply. I’ve discovered that I like living with less.
I like what I am discovering as I chip away at the clutter and chaos.
Even if a consumption fairy bestowed upon our planet unlimited resources, I’d still be on a mission to simplify my belongings, reduce my commitments, and improve my DIY skills.
Simple living is often perceived as deprivation. But it’s actually the opposite. You focus on what truly matters to you and let go of the rest.
Simple living nourishes your true self and allows you to be a little selfish. Here's a few of my favourite selfish reasons to love simple living:
Six selfish reasons to embrace simple living
1. Discover what is most important to you.
The essence of simple living is embracing who you are and what’s important to you. To clear the clutter from your home and schedule you have to identify your life goals. You need to nurture the essential and drop the unnecessary. The more you simplify the closer you get to the core of who you are. Rather than frantically pursuing endless opportunities, you’ll be able to focus more intently on a few key goals.
2. Spend less time cleaning, organising and repairing.
It’s simple. The fewer possessions you have, the less you need to clean, organise, repair and replace.
3. Strengthen your relationships.
Once you realise that there’s more to life than what you own, you’ll find more time, energy and space to devote to relationships. I’ve consciously decreased my working hours so that I can devote my afternoons to my daughter. By spending less, I can afford to work less. I switch off from distractions and focus on being present. Rather than shop together – we explpre and create together.
4. Gain competence and confidence.
A large part of simple living is learning how to live without, make do, and create. Rather than acquire material possessions, you acquire practical skills. I love the confidence that comes with learning a new skill. I’m currently learning how to bake sourdough bread. Being able to turn just flour, water and a little salt into delicious bread nourishes more than just my family’s diet.
5. Be healthier.
Pursuing a simpler life automatically nurtures health. Avoiding toxic chemicals; walking or cycling instead of driving; and decreasing packaged and processed food all contribute to greater health. For me, gardening and foraging not only provide healthy local food, they also offer a source of relaxation and add meaning to our meals.
6. You’ll learn to be more grateful and generous.
To be content with less, you need to learn how to be grateful for what you do have. Practicing gratitude actually makes us happier and healthier. As a bonus, as you realise you have more than enough, you have more to give.
I’m going to continue to selfishly live simply.
Simple living nourishes me, my family and encourages me to be a creative contributor rather than a consumer.
That it’s also good for the environment is a pretty good added bonus.
Originally published in the Newcastle Herald Monday 18th August 2014.