What Simple Living Means + Steps Toward A Simple Lifestyle
Living simply sounds wonderful, right? Home-cooked meals from scratch. Organic fruits and veggies straight from the garden. Less of buying stuff and more of making things yourself. A better, purer, simpler life.
It sounds good to me even as I write this.
But if you’ve tried this simple living thing, there comes a point when you start to realize that three meals from scratch a day (plus snacks) can take just about all day to make.
Or maybe you bring in a few worms with your newly grown organic produce. Or have a small heart attack when you see how much organic food costs.
Maybe (like me) you realize that some DIY projects work much better when someone else does them.
Turns out the simple life might not be so simple after all.
I first realized this when I spent a whole day working to grow my own food, pick it, cook it, and (finally) eat it. A whole day! And this was just to eat. I hadn’t even gotten around to making my own soap, clothing, and deodorant yet.
This simple living thing was pretty exhausting.
A Simple Living Reality Check
After a few more years of trying to make it work (I’m kind of stubborn), I finally admitted to myself that maybe I was going a little overboard. If I kept on going like I was, I might not survive my new simple lifestyle.
It was the stress of it all that really motivated me to change the way I was looking at everything. After all, living more simply is supposed to be simple. It’s supposed to be good for us. And stress is just about the worst thing possible for good health.
So I gave up on trying to fit some sheep into our backyard and started to relearn what a simple, all-natural lifestyle really meant to me.
And what did I find out about what simple living actually means?
Stress is NOT the Way to Go
First off, living simply means no stress. Now, I don’t mean that we can get rid of all the stress in our lives. If you figure out how to do that, please let me know. But a simple lifestyle should not be adding stress to life.
Yes, living all-naturally means more work at times and making some sacrifices from how we used to live. But there’s a big difference between that and piling stress into our lives by trying to live up to an impossible ideal.
We tend to get this picture of what a simple, clean life would look like and stress ourselves out trying to fit our lives into that mold.
So living simply might mean change, some hard work, and giving up some stuff- but not stress.
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Live Out Your Values
Second, the simple life looks different for everyone. There’s no one-size-fits-all way of life. Your life doesn’t have to match that person who doesn’t use electricity and takes cold showers. Or the one who eats only the food they grow, even in the winter.
Simple living is about finding your values and what helps you live better. If tending sheep and knitting your own sweaters makes your life better, go for it. I found out that sheep were not going to be my thing- but they could be yours.
It’s also not about living perfectly. For one thing, there’s no definition of what a perfectly simple life would look like. How natural is all-natural? How green do you have to be to live a green life? No one knows.
Trying to do it all perfectly is usually where the stress comes from. Compromising on some things is better than going crazy. So go for success at simple living by doing what makes sense for you. Live by your own values and not by someone else’s.
Simple Living Means Being Different
Finally, I do have to point out that having a simple (or green or all-natural) way of life does mean living consciously and differently than mainstream culture. Eating processed food for every meal is not all-natural no matter which way you look at it.
I look at simple living as a way to be more conscious of what I’m doing and to live with intention. I know why I do certain things and why I don’t do others. I think it’s important to know things like where my food comes from and what impact my actions have on the environment.
And I’m guessing that if you are interested in this kind of lifestyle (or already overwhelmed by it), you share some of these values and have taken some steps to live better, healthier, and more in touch with the world around you.
Keep that spirit and that intention moving forward. Just keep your sanity, too.
So what does simple living mean really?
- It should be a distinct way of living that’s more in touch with nature, caring for the environment, and getting away from materialism.
- It should not be something that makes you stressed out about every non-organic piece of food you eat, etc.
- It’s a lifestyle that will look different for everyone but is all about living a balanced life.
That’s how I look at it, and I think it’s very much time to put the simple back in the simple life. Live in a way that’s good for you (sheep or no sheep) and let yourself have some peace of mind again.