Living simply has a broad meaning, one that people interpret differently. For some it means owning less stuff in general. For others it means being more self-sufficient. For still others it means eschewing cheap mass-produced things and choosing specific products from small cottage industries.
Regardless of viewpoints, there do seem to be a few common themes. (I mean for these to be read completely tongue-in-cheek:)
- Natural materials like linen and cotton are beautiful, but polyester? Acrylic? Why would you want those?
- What, you don’t garden? Don’t you want to pick your own vegetables from your own soil to serve to your family for meals? Well, you do at least buy your produce at the farmer’s market, don’t you?
- You forgot to bring your canvas bags to the grocery store? Shame!
Kidding aside, we do have a social tendency to accept common practices as better than others, so much so that they almost seem like rules when you speak to others. But most of us are on a journey to simpler living, and the process is gradual change. Maybe we’d rather have wooden toys for our kids, but there are still quite a few colorful plastic toys in their rooms. Maybe that plastic bag was tossed (oops! recycled) instead of washed and reused for something else. And maybe, just maybe, you don’t make your spaghetti sauce from scratch.
There have been times when I’ve been concerned that mentioning something might not be good for my image. You know, my desire to look healthy, conscientious, resourceful, and like I cook all my food from scratch. Oh forgive me for wanting to have an image! That should be the first thing that anyone de-clutters. Life is so much easier when you don’t have to worry about how you look to others.
When I’m talking to someone else, I would much rather admit that my spaghetti sauce comes from a jar at the store than pretend I’m a fabulous chef. Authenticity is living simply.
It has an additional benefit as well: it gives other people freedom to be real, to be open, and to connect with you. If we’re trying to add a richness to our lives by living simply, then it doesn’t really get much better than that.