I love the concept of voluntary simplicity… consciously sorting out those things in my life that are important to me and my family… intentionally eliminating or minimizing those things that cause us stress… and intentionally maximizing those things that bring balance and joy to our lives. It’s extremely empowering not to just let events or society dictate how we live.

So that’s why it still surprises me that the lifestyle I find to be so natural and normal seems scary and intimidating to so many people. Many of the messages I receive though my contact form are from readers who tell me they desperately want a simpler life but are afraid to take that first step. They yearn for simplicity but they tell me they’re afraid they couldn’t live “that way.”


The line of trees bordering the field next to our house

I assume they’re referring to the concept of simple living that comes to mind when you read the world of simple living advice that is out there these days. I have seen specific guidelines about what someone living simply should and should not do… I have seen specific rules about what someone living simply should and should not buy… and I have seen actual numbers given for how many items of clothing (or other items) someone living simply should own. The truth is that in simplicity (as in most things) there are no absolutes.

My advice would be to ignore the “one size fits all” approach and instead work to create your own simplicity… a simple life personalized to reflect your values and your circumstances instead of someone else’s. Not everyone’s dream is to live “off the grid” in a cabin in the woods, but most people have areas of their lives that would benefit from some degree of simplification. It’s important that you discover what those areas are for YOU and what your boundaries are. It’s also important to realize that forcing yourself to live a lifestyle you don’t really want will never bring you happiness… and that you can’t live someone else’s idea of simplicity.

But when you personalize the simplicity… when you know who you are as a person and what is important and has meaning in your life… and when you base your decisions and actions on these discoveries… you will naturally be creating a simplicity and a simpler lifestyle that is the right one for you and your family.

And that’s a simplicity anyone can live with.