I came across the concept of simple living in my early 20’s, while desperately looking for a way out of the 9-5 through financial freedom. Simple living could allegedly yield millions according to the authors of “The Millionaire Next Door”.
I wasn’t thrilled by the time frame (a long time) but got hooked on the concept. As soon as I figured out what ‘’simple living” actually was.
Still studying full time, with one foot in mother’s house and the other in my boyfriend’s house, I had a pretty simple lifestyle. Financially there wasn’t much going in, nor much coming out.
Luckily my boyfriend, spooked by the size of his mortgage and liking the sound of being millionaires one day, was right on board. Needless to say it was a while before we had proper furniture instead of cardboard boxes.
Initially, we were doing it for the money. But after 12 years, I’ve noticed these unexpected benefits of simple living that have stretched far and wide through my life.
Lifestyle inflation never happened
Lifestyle inflation never even got a foothold in our lives. A friend of a friend told me that once you get a good job you find yourself buying more expensive clothes, going to nicer restaurants, more luxurious holidays.
It never happened to us. We were so young and financially committed to a mortgage, simple living saved us from ever going down the path of debt, credit cards and keeping up with our friends and colleagues. The benefit was we’ve never had to scale back our lifestyle.
I’m not going to lie, I feel like I have a million things to do like everyone else. But these days I’m more deliberate with how I choose to use my time.
I spend it on things that are important to me, that once upon a time I said I didn’t have time for. Each day I exercise a little, cook nourishing food, read and be in the moment while watching my toddler explore her world.
I’m more organised
I never thought the day would come when a friend would look at me and say “Gosh you’re organised”. She’s only known me a short time and probably thinks I’ve always been this way. Little does she know!
Simple living has definitely caused me to be more organised, which has been immensely helpful since our baby was born. By focusing on the things that are important to me and ditching the ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos’ I’m better able to stay on top of everything that needs doing.
Simple living brings more life satisfaction
Satisfaction in life doesn’t come from stuff. We all know this, but the advertising promises that it will and we think ‘maybe just this one thing’.
Sometimes I’ve looked at my simple lifestyle and been jealous of others. Wondered if maybe I was missing out and not enjoying life enough. Facebook helps with that doesn’t it? I started an informal gratitude practise to see if it was the lifestyle I’d chosen or just the fear of missing out.
Turns out, simple living actually brings immense life satisfaction as long as you’re grateful for what you have.
I appreciate the things that actually make me happy (experiences)
The benefit of simple living is that there is an end point to how much you can accumulate. After all there is only so much space in a small house.
Experiences are said to bring happiness, not things. But particularly for special occasions it feels like we should be buying each other stuff. My husband and I stopped many years ago getting each other gifts for our birthdays and instead focus on doing something special whether it’s a day cycling around the city visiting places we’ve talked about for ages or travelling somewhere.
We also started receiving experiences as gifts from our families and some of the best things we’ve done over the years include a cheese making course, a champagne tasting evening, abseiling at dusk and theatre shows. More than any thing I’ve been given, I cherish these memories.
A teenage me would not have been able to understand this.
We have a clutter free and (mostly) clean house
Alright, this is an obvious one. A small house with less stuff means less housework. Everything has its place, so it’s easy to put away. Thanks to the domino effect, we got into the habit of making sure we tidy up each day.
One of the huge benefits of a clutter free house is that it’s a calm place to relax. In fact, visitors often remark how tranquil our house feels.
Well that was before the toddler existed. Little humans have no regard for clutter.
Maybe I’m getting old. Maybe it’s the clutter free house or maybe it’s simple living. My husband thinks I’m calmer than I used to be.
From since I can remember I’ve always had a tendency towards high highs and low lows. My grandmother noted this when I was just 3 years old. But I’ve mellowed and grateful for it. High highs are awesome, but the lows aren’t fun.
I think simple living requires a degree of mindfulness and by being more aware I’m better able to control my moods and feelings.
A simple lifestyle is less stressful. There is literally less stuff to stress over because you don’t bring it into your life in the first place. Money worries are non existent, your time is managed with better awareness, there’s no clutter to deal with day in day out. And when you feel satisfied with your life, you’re not worried about whether it could be better.
It’s the cheapest, easiest, most convenient way to save the planet
While studying my architecture degree I discovered self sustainable living. Up until that time, I’d never knew that humans were overusing earth’s resources, causing extinction, changing the climate, polluting the soil, water and air. I found my passion in the field of sustainability.
Over the years, I’ve asked the great existential question that most of us have – what can I do to help? Well it turns out, the very best thing for the planet is a simple lifestyle. Use less and you will be doing your bit through self sustainable living.
Overall, I’ve found simple living to be a wonderfully positive experience. How about you? Have you embraced simple living?
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