What Is Simple Living? A 450-Word Introduction

Simple living means different things to different people, but these people and their practices share some things in common. Still, no one discussion of this lifestyle choice could ever be complete.

The term simple living can be used synonymously with minimalist living or voluntary simplicity — although some people may live simply because they can’t afford to live any other way, meaning the lifestyle may not be completely voluntary.

In any case, simple living often involves reducing possessions, increasing self-sufficiency, simplifying diet and reconsidering the role of technology in life, among other things.

Simple living is a lifestyle that aims to fulfill needs and focus on what you really want in life rather than chasing after dreams and life plans established by others.

Why People Choose Simple Living

Many people turn to a simpler lifestyle when they realize that their lives are out of control. They may find that they have accumulated a lot of debt but have little to show for it or that they are always busy but aren’t finding time for the things that are most important to them.

Some people feel an almost religious zeal toward their simple lifestyle and feel compelled to promote it to everyone they meet. Others allow their lives to serve as a positive example of simplicity. Still others don’t make their lifestyle choice obvious to others.

Religion is exactly the reason some turn to simple living. In fact, religious leaders like Buddha, Confucius, Laozi and Zarathustra recommended simple living, and some see preferences toward simplicity in Jewish and Christian teaching.

Christian sects like the Amish, Mennonites, Quakers and Shakers all prescribe to and promote a simple lifestyle.

Some turn to simple living after reading works by those who promote it. This can involved sources as diverse as Henry David Thoreau’s classic book Walden or the Zen Habits blog by Leo Babauta.

Advantages of Simple Living

Those who choose simple living often find that they:

  • Have more time for the things that are important to them
  • Are more self-sufficient
  • Are satisfied with their income level even if it is low
  • Can keep life, family and work in balance
  • Become increasingly uncomfortable with consumerism and materialism
  • Reduce their ecological footprint

And these are just a few of the benefits of living a simple life.

Even more simply put, those who choose simple lives often find that they like their lives better. If they didn’t, they would have simply gone back to their previous way of life.

Final Thoughts

No matter why people turn toward simple living or what specific advantages they find once they start living the simple lifestyle, few people turn back from this way of life.

Simple living casts aside life’s unimportant details and focuses attention on what really matters.