Voluntary simplicity is not about poverty or self-inflicted deprivation, but about determining what is important and clearing away the rest. It’s about wanting less, working less and spending less. It’s about paring life down to its essentials – those activities and relationships you either need or truly cherish. It’s about improving the quality of life and unburdening it, no longer feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day. By simplifying, you limit the amount of things that bring you stress, and you become more at peace, relaxed and fulfilled.
These concepts were brought to my attention in the course Nutrition and the Environment at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and they really hit home for me. Below is a list of simplicity values brought together by Linda Breen Pierce (who started the Voluntary Simplicity notion) that may help you to see where you can start to make some positive changes to improve your life:
· Eliminating excess possession and activities that produce physical and mental clutter or are incompatible with our highest values
· Limiting consumption of material goods to items that are truly needed or valued, focusing on items that have the least impact on non-renewable resources and are durable, functional and aesthetically pleasing
· Applying ourselves to meaningful, satisfying work that serves as a platform for our unique, creative talents and skills, and which also makes a contribution to the community (whether that work is for pay or volunteering)
· Living in ways that preserve the earth’s resources such as recycling and reducing (avoiding purchases that are wasteful of the earth’s resources) and sharing of material goods
· Developing compassion for poor and disadvantaged people, making financial contributions or volunteering our efforts to help those less fortunate
· Investing time and energy to develop close, rewarding relationships with family and friends
· Experiencing the splendor of natural beauty, feeling the connection between nature and our inner selves and to the spiritual presence we feel when we are quiet in nature
· Exploring our spiritual selves, through meditation, prayer, journal writing, mindfulness, yoga or other spiritual or religious practices
· Developing a deep sense of peace and joy by learning to live in the present moment (not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past) and enjoy the everyday wonder of our lives
· Taking good care of our bodies by eating a diet rich in healthy, unprocessed foods and by exercising regularly – often by walking, bicycling, running, yoga or other activities which enhance our awareness of the body and are non-competitive in nature
· Becoming more self-reliant in our daily needs such as repairing our possessions and home or exchanging services with others such as baby-sitting, hair cutting and car repairs…etc.
· Depending less on the one-car-per-adult form of transportation focusing on alternative methods such as walking, bicycling and public transportation
You can add or remove items from this list as you see fit. As we start to remove clutter and unhealthy habits and relationships from our lives it becomes easier to live a happier, more fulfilling life every day and learn what it is that we truly need, rather than what commercials tell us we need to live happily. When creating my goals and resolutions for the New Year I always refer to this list to help me focus on what really matters in life. There is a lot of self-exploration in this process so enjoy the trip!
Hayley Shwaizer, CNP