Voluntary simplicity is a philosophy. Often called compassionate living, it is a conscious choice to simplify your life and a deliberate downshifting to create the life and home environment that fit you and your family.
Some people think that voluntary simplicity means frugality, but voluntary simplicity and frugality are actually two different things. Although frugality is an important part of voluntary simplicity, frugality is a tool that makes the simpler lifestyle possible… not the goal. Voluntary simplicity does not mean you have to live in poverty or practice a lifestyle of self-denial. It means quite the opposite, in fact, because once you develop the habit of being frugal where it really counts, you will be able to enjoy a happier and more meaningful lifestyle, with more discretionary money and time, plus the freedom of being able to decide what to do with both.
My view from a kitchen window after a first snowfall
Many people are tired of the consumerism and materialism that is “out there” these days. The constant round of needing more money to pay for more “things” locks some people into continuing on with jobs they hate and lifestyles that leave them feeling dissatisfied and unhappy. Many are looking for something, but they don’t know what. Voluntary simplicity provides an alternative… an opportunity to find balance in your life, connect with who you are, and create a lifestyle where you wake up each morning feeling a sense of fulfillment and excitement about the day ahead.
Choosing voluntary simplicity does not have to be a complete lifestyle change all at once. Making just a few small changes in your life can make a major difference.
- Start by limiting unnecessary purchases. Ask yourself if the item you’re considering is something you will still want a few years down the road… or if it really is something you want or need. If it’s just an impulse purchase, or you were going to buy it because it is the latest trend, maybe you would rather save the money or use it for something else that is more important to you.
- Think carefully about how you are spending your time. Is your life full of activities or scheduled events that are meaningless to you? Frugality of time is sometimes more important than frugality of money. Start doing things that bring you joy and stop doing some of those things that cause you to feel stressed and unhappy.
- Appreciate your family life and enjoy the people you love. Spend time with each member of your family and build strong relationships… make the effort to become a genuine part of each other’s lives.
- Do it yourself and become more self-reliant. Learn skills and teach yourself to fix things.
- Make a connection with nature. A short walk, time spent working in the garden, outdoor activities, or just being outdoors and enjoying the beautiful day that has been given to you can all bring amazing amounts of relaxation and peace of mind.
- Re-think the way you shop for groceries and the foods you eat. The old adage of “you are what you eat” is even more true today. Good nutrition… eating REAL food and a diet as free of preservatives and additives as is possible will help make you healthier and happier.
- Try to find a balance between work and relaxation. Everyone needs some downtime, both physically and emotionally.
Voluntary simplicity is not a limiting lifestyle. Actually, choosing to live “consciously and deliberately” will give you freedom… more quality time… more discretionary money… and more appreciation and enjoyment of every aspect of your life.