What is “Simple Living,” Anyway?
I originally started this blog as a creative outlet to help alleviate my depression, prescribed to me by my therapist. I also wrote about what it looked like to simplify my life as an expat trying to live in a new-to-her culture.
This online space was a catalog of my ideas as I was field-testing them in real life.
I also chose this topic of “simple living” because it wasn’t widely written about on the internet at the time, and because I couldn’t find a blog with what I was after, I decided to start my own. (My, how times have changed.)
“Simple living” is an old phrase, and it’s so broad that it invites as many definitions as there are people who want to simplify. Well, there’s not a one-size-fits-all way to describe what it looks like to live a simple life, but I believe there’s one definition that works for all of us:
Simple living means living holistically with your life’s purpose.
This is what “simple living” means here on this site, and what it also means in my life. The more I explore this idea—in books, podcasts, courses, and in blog posts—the more true it becomes. It works for all of us.
Let’s unpack this definition.
What “simple living” is:
• First, it requires knowing who you are. And from that, it means you have a sense of your life’s purpose. This is your vocation—how your life speaks.
• Then, it’s holistic—all the parts of your life are pointing in the same direction—not just keeping a minimalist home, or biking to work. All the moving parts of life are congruent with who you are.
• These parts play in harmony—that the stuff in your home, how people live there, your physical and emotional health, your calendar and commitments, your relationships—they’re not in opposition to each other.
• It’s a process, not a one-stop arrival. Living simply isn’t easy, but it’s worth time and effort because, in my experience, it’s a better way to live. You’re living out who you were made to be.
I’m not perfect at this, at all. There have been years of downright stress for me and my family, which have made life feel more complicated than simple.
But that doesn’t mean the effort hasn’t been worth it. It has, tenfold. Slowly simplifying, a bit at a time, hasn’t eliminated the crashing waves—but it’s made them easier to ride.
What simple living isn’t:
• It’s not a backwards race to see who can live with the least amount of stuff. Every family is different, so who am I to say that you absolutely shouldn’t have two cars, or that you’re doing something wrong if you don’t grow your own food? Preposterous.
• It’s not a competition. Just because one family is doing X, Y, and Z doesn’t mean it’s best for you. We should learn from each other, yes, and it doesn’t hurt to try something new before writing it off. But no one’s in a contest for Most Minimalist.
• It’s not the end all, be all. “Living simply” for its own sake gets boring. So you save money because you bicycle most of your errands or you line-dry your clothes. What are you going to do with that saved money? You’ve cut out almost all afterschool extracurriculars in favor of more family time and less fighting traffic. How is that time spent?
I believe that relationships are more important than things, and that life is so much better when we live beyond ourselves. Mother Teresa once said:
“Live simply so that others may simply live.”
This is it. That’s what I think this is ultimately about. We choose to live simply—in the way that best resonates with our life’s calling—so that others may simply live.
So that we have extra funds to give where we want to make a difference.
So we have more time to spend with each other and really invest quality time in our kids’ lives.
So we can spend time knowing our neighbors and friends, and not just waving at them as we hurry off to the next thing.
We live with less so we can better appreciate true beauty, in all its forms.
When you hear the term “simple living” on this site, this is what it means. We don’t give awards to the most minimalist household or gape in awe at the family who lives a Spartan lifestyle. It’s so much more than that.
It’s living well—leaning fully into who you really are.
p.s. – If you’d like to explore deeper the idea of vocation and who you really are, check out Like Your Life.
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