Before starting to plan this post, I asked myself: how would I define simple living? Simple living, is a form of lifestyle. It’s a conscious choice an individual makes in order to simplify their lives and their values within it will attest to how they live day-to-day. But to label simple living with one specific description is not an easy task when you look deeper. If you type the hashtag ‘simpleliving’ into Instagram a whole library of documented moments in time will appear before your eyes and each, though different as they will be, will claim to be part of a simple approach to life. Your mind may be boggled by the various images before you and wonder what simple living actually is amongst all of these pictures, but perhaps that is the irony of it. What an individual perceives to be ‘simple living’ is pretty subjective, because you can guarantee someone out there has a rather different opinion, but there are some general terms or descriptions beneath the simple living umbrella: simplifying one’s lifestyle, enjoying moments more, minimalism, self-sufficiency, a reaction to consumerism…
The list could probably go on, but what it explains is that people will choose to adopt a simpler lifestyle for a number of reasons. It might be a response to the mass-production of food, a response to general consumerism, or be a way to reduce stress and spend quality time with loved ones. So perhaps simple living should be defined as per your values, your desires and your beliefs. Tailor this way of life to your own lifestyle and what it is you want to achieve.
To explain further, I want to give you some ideas as to what you can do, with reference to my own simple living goals to work towards.
Take a minimalist approach
From this perspective, simple living is linked directly to the constantly-debated topic of consumerism. In modern times, we are able to search and pay for goods and services online within minutes. Online transactions, convenient as they are, are almost ghostly. We don’t see the notes being handed over to a cashier behind the counter, as we would if the money we were spending at that present time was tangible. We can spend money so readily these days, that we could occasionally end up buying things for the sake of it. It has happened to all of us at some point. It’s true, objects do bring us satisfaction, but they cannot do this forever. Rather brutally, especially for our bank cards, we will be craving a new product or service next week and we will end up cluttering up our homes with items that can only bring us joy for a certain amount of time before they expire, become defunct and end up hidden away…forgotten about. In this case, simple living can be about tackling mess, exercising frugality and enjoying what one has, rather than what one wants next. Minimalism can help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as assist us in saving our hard-earned cash!
Be smarter with money and manage your savings
When you spend less time and money on goods or services you don’t really need, you can begin to put more money and time into things you actually want to do. For example, you could decide to enrol on a course or craft workshop so that you can learn a new skill or traditional trade and invest in yourself, as opposed to investing in something relatively less valuable. You could also think about taking the kids on day trips or holidays for their birthdays in order to create memories to last a lifetime. By being careful and thoughtful about how and when we spend our money, we can put our constant financial worries to one side for while. Taking the opportunity to organise your time and money occasionally will allow you to spend more time enjoying your days, rather than fretting over overwhelming life admin.
Live, and eat, more sustainably
I like this one a lot and, along with the previous two points, it’s something that I would like to start achieving more as I work to live more simply. You could make a conscious effort to be eco-friendly, by reusing plastic bags and being sure to recycle household items. In the same vein, you could try to minimise waste, by batch-cooking food or composting leftovers and peelings. It pays to make responsible choices when it comes to food, such as choosing local, free-range or organic where possible. If you are interested in the link between slow living and the slow food movement, there are plenty of resources you can look up online and its something I would love to share with you here if you would like to see that. I also like to think one of the keys to simple living is by connecting with and respecting our environment more.
I aim to explore simple and slow living more and discover a simpler way of life that benefits both holistic wellbeing and my lifestyle and I hope this has inspired you to do the same, in whichever way you choose.