Many of us have this idyllic dream of living in the countryside and being self-sufficient, but for most of us that is not achievable. I know that even if I won the lottery now that I would be too old to sustain that life any more, as it is hard work. That does not mean that I can not still live a simple life, and that is what I have tried to do for over 8 years.
Yes, I do grow my own food as I want to eat organically and it saves me money, but that isn’t really what simple life is all about. Simple living is about getting rid of all the things in your life that are no longer essential, and concentrating on the things that are the most important to you. This isn’t just material possessions. It is hard as it totally goes against consumerism and all the values that we have been taught in school, and have probably lived by for most of our lives. It is a mindset and a way of life, and you become very selective about who and what you allow into your world. This gives you space to be who you want to be, or who you really are.
Living intentionally and rejecting the competitive culture is not the norm, and many do not understand it. My mother was mortified when I gave up my good job and started living this way to improve my health. She thought it meant that I was a failure. In contrast I feel like a winner as I feel like I have beaten the system, as living simply has made me more independent and self-reliant, and I don’t want the things that society dangles and tries to entice me with anymore. I have stopped being money or status orientated. I am not in competition with any one, and that feels so good.
I no longer feel overwhelmed and stressed as I did when I was part of the rat race. I choose how I want to spend my day, and can change my plans if I feel like it. I also don’t have to mix with toxic people who gossip and stab each other in the back as they either want status themselves, or are jealous, or unhappy in their own lives. I am selective who I let into my life and only allow kind people into my personal space.
I get to spend so much time in nature and now feel more like our ancestors must have done. I am understanding mother nature more, can tell by the smell on the wind if it is going to rain, recognise the seasons, recognise the plants and food that are good for me, and don’t need a watch to tell what time it is. I can breathe easily and deeply. I feel whole and like I am ‘home’ when I am actually outside.
I am so much happier, and I definitely needed to be. I don’t think I really knew what happiness was before. I also feel in control of my own life and so have to take responsibility myself if things go wrong, and I can’t blame anyone else. I love that feeling of independence. I am healthier, both mentally and physically. Stress has a massive impact on every part of our body, and not just the mind. It literally nearly killed me. I feel younger now than I did when I was 48. I forget sometimes that I am in my sixties, until my aching body reminds me later.
I always had to feel in control before I retired, but living simply is helping me to let go, and not be attached to the outcomes that I think that I want. I am more flexible and therefore I find I have more opportunities as I am more open to changes in plans, and seeing what happens, rather than forcing things to happen. I used to be so anxious if plans were changed at the last minute, or if someone turned up late, or if someone surprised me, even if it was a good surprise. It has taken a while, but that is slowly changing.
I am more grateful now and jealously barely lingers. I might wish I was on a beach like some one that I know is, but it is a passing thought that does not impact my feelings, and I will feel glad that they have that opportunity. I can remember in my past watching people and wishing that my life was different, and I could swap with the people that I could see. Now I know that we don’t know what is happening in other people’s lives, and that they are not often what they seem like on the surface. I am building my life to be one that I don’t wish to change. It is not perfect, but it is up to me to make it one that I want to hang around in. A good life doesn’t just happen, we have to work at it and be aware of how we respond to it.
I feel like I have got more to give now as I am no longer in survival mode. I am actually thriving, though many will think that I am poorer and my life is going backwards. It is not, as I keep growing, learning new skills, and changing so that I am not stagnant and stuck. I have to show up each day and make it the best I can, for I do not know if this will be my last. I have learned to listen to my heart rather than listen to the opinions of other people. Impressing other people does not lead to happiness inside. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Living simply has helped me find my authentic self again. I remember who I am and what I stand for and I won’t be compromised. I won’t be a watered-down version of myself any more. I am no longer a frustrated, angry version of myself and I won’t be bent to fit in one of society’s boxes. I am awake. I can see the corruption. I can anticipate the games and the dialogue used to influence our thoughts, and corral us all into behaving in a way that profits some, and controls others. Living simply has allowed me to step away from this, as much as is possible, and make decisions based on what is best for me, rather than what is best for our constructed society. My life now has purpose and meaning based on the things that are important to my values, which is basically why I chose to live this simple life. What are your reasons for wanting to simplify your lives?