Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger. A brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world.
John Lennon, Imagine
There is a growing movement in our world today called minimalism, and while this is a trend for some, it is a way of life for others. There is a great value that can be learned and gained from this way of life but it is important not to get caught up on labels. Minimalism, simplicity, sustainability - all of these are different expressions that are possible when we switch to living consciously. Living based on these principles does not mean living in a state of deprivation, lack, or poverty. Rather, minimalism, simplicity, and sustainability are based on the following premises:
- The current human way of life, based on consumption and materialism, is unsustainable.
- The obsession with a constant desire for “more” is one of the root causes of stress, anxiety, depression, and unhappiness.
- There are numerous short-term and long-term benefits of shifting from a “want” to a “need” way of life.
- True joy, satisfaction, and meaning do not come from the external or from material possessions.
- The more things we have the more obligations and fears we have.
- Once basic needs are met, time and enriching experiences are more valuable than money and material possessions.
- Health, happiness, and wellbeing come from living closer to the harmony and balance of nature.
My Path to Simplicity
In my own life, I chose to take on voluntary simplicity, which means that I took conscious steps to simplify my life to be an expression of my authentic needs, rather than just live habitually based on how I have been conditioned to live. I feel immensely grateful that my partner and I came to a point early on in our life, where we knew that we wanted a different kind of life and that it was possible. We were not interested in climbing corporate ladders or amassing wealth. We were not interested in playing the games of the status quo or of keeping up with the Joneses. We did not want to end up like most people around us who were too busy to live and were destroying themselves in a mindless quest to live based on a societal illusion they bought into. We did not want our lives to revolve around work, bills, social expectations, and cultural obligations. We were not going to sacrifice our joy, freedom, and wellbeing to support a destructive system that is based on fear and greed, in an effort “to fit in”. We wanted to live with depth, passion, harmony, balance, joy, peace, and wellbeing. And most importantly, we wanted to live on our own terms. Our reality is a reality of choice and freedom, not have to’s or should’s.
By 2010, we made a radical shift in our lifestyles. We both left our comfortable and well-paying jobs, the suburban life, and the quest for more. We downsized, minimized, and simplified, getting rid of any excess of material and immaterial things that weighed us down. The difference in the quality of our life was immediate! By simplifying our life and focusing on what mattered to us, we were able to own our own time, express our passions and creativity freely, and enjoy a deeper sense of meaning and wellbeing. We are able to invest our time and resources in things like growing some of our own food, migrating south for the winter, evolving our spirituality, and helping others. The journey of voluntary simplicity has been amazing and increasingly rewarding with each passing year.
Steps On Our Journey of Voluntary Simplicity Included
- Switching from working for others to working for ourselves
- Switching from working outside of the home to working from home
- Optimizing the number of hours worked each week
- Moving out of and far away from cities and suburbs into a remote area in the midst of nature
- Significantly reducing our bill payments and cost of living
- Minimizing our material possessions (cars, furniture, belongings, clothes, etc.)
Our Life Based on Voluntary Simplicity Life Includes
- Conscious consumption: buying what is needed, as needed, rather than buying for the sake of buying
- Minimal stuff in our home: focusing on having only what is needed or used regularly
- Home decor based on elegant simplicity
- Having one car instead of two
- Heating our home with local wood
- Not having, not wanting, and not needing a television, dishwasher, furnace, or air conditioner
- Waking up naturally each morning (no forced alarm-clock wakeups)
- Not being limited by any specific day of the week
- Vacations of greater frequency and duration
- No reliance on or observation of consumer-based holidays and special occasions
- Ample time spent outdoors in the natural elements
- Environmentally-conscious home practices, such as composting
- Re-use of resources anytime possible
- Growing some of our own food
The Benefits of Voluntary Simplicity
- Owning your own time and spending time on what matters most to you
- Being free from consumerism-based societal expectations
- Reducing your financial obligations yet increasing the quality of your life
- The freedom to choose where you want to live (i.e. an environment that is most conducive to your wellbeing and not forced upon you due to your job or others)
- Leading a slower and more relaxing way of life
- Becoming more connected to nature and living in harmony with the cycles of nature
To learn how you can apply minimalism, simplicity, or more sustainable living, I have created an entire online video course based on my success to help others attain more freedom, meaning, and wellbeing in their life that you can find here: The Art of Simplicity.