How to not be obnoxious even though you’re passionate

I’ve noticed a recent trend in my life. After a conversation with an acquaintance, an episode of a TV show, a chapter in a book, or otherwise some other sort of small interaction with new information, I tend to immediately need to outwardly process said information with Kyle (I am an INTJ, after all—that’s one of our marked characteristics). This is especially true if it’s information with which I disagree.

Lucky him, he gets the brunt of my frustration; I like to verbally process because it helps me clarify my own opinion on an issue. And lately, he’s been hearing me talk a lot.

See, I don’t know what’s going on, but since we’ve returned from our family’s two-month road trip where I tangibly lived the joy of living with less, I’ve been decluttering like a madwoman. I just want it all GONE. I’ve remembered why I love living with only what I need—and that there really are very, very few things I really need in life.

This means I’ve been venting to Kyle any time I flip through a magazine that persuades you to buy more more more, watch a TV show where the main character is burdened by her lifestyle of excess, or most significantly, when I have a real-life conversation and the person is just oblivious to his or her dependency on Stuff.

Naturally, Kyle’s been hearing a lot from me lately. I’ve been hyper-aware of how many people are obsessed with amassing… things. Just things. I’ll talk to someone about a book I’m reading on simplicity, or about a newsworthy event that points directly to western wealth juxtaposed to worldwide poverty, and they’ll respond with a “That’s nice,” immediately following with news about the amazing sale currently going on at Target.

I just…. It’s hard.

But here’s the thing: I know I’m no better than anyone else. Our worth isn’t measured by our values, how we spend our money, or what we do with our time—those things reveal some of our heart issues, sure, but they have nothing to do with whether we’re worthy or valuable. And I’m certainly aware of my own weaknesses with simplifying.

So—what do we do when we’re frustrated with our personal interactions? When we’re psyched about living with less, how do we properly engage in our surrounding culture and relationships without being a total jerk?

Photo source

Over dinner in her home one recent evening, my friend Emily said that the way she discovers her next book-writing topic is through what’s currently bothering her most. If something’s bothering her so much she can’t think about much else, that’s her sign to stop and focus her writing there.

There’s truth here. The fact that I’m bothered by every indication of our culture’s wealth and excess compared to the rest of the world’s need means this is where I need to stop and park. That’s a good thing. But I also have to live in the real world. I can’t talk about simplicity nonstop without being a Debbie Downer, without losing my grip on reality, without burning out myself. I’ll lose the joy.

Here are some ideas I’m applying in my own life to navigate and thrive in the culture I’m in, while still staying passionate about living simply.

1. Just live your life.

I can talk to my neighbor all day long about how great it feels to get rid of things I don’t need, but it doesn’t really translate well until they do it themselves. You know? I’m excited because I’ve decluttered and purged. One of the best ways to get others on board with jettisoning their excess stuff is to simply model the lifestyle. As in parenting, actions speak louder than words. Show contentment in your simpler life. Invite them over to your place. They’ll enjoy the peace of simplicity in your home, the joy of living with less.

2. Share other peoples’ thoughts.

It can be hard to share your beliefs without sounding preachy and obnoxious. But it somehow sounds better if someone else said it—“I read in a blog post today that…” or “This book about living simply is really speaking to me because…” Invite a third party into the picture, and let them be the reason for the topic of discussion, even in their absence. (I’m happy to be your scapegoat, if you like.)

3. Know you’re responsible for you.

At the end of the day, you own your own ideas, convictions, and actions, and not anyone else’s. Yes, in order to change an entire culture we’ve gotta “spread the news” about living simply—after all, our decisions do have a ripple effect around us, for good or not-so-good. But if someone prefers to shop for fun and live beyond their means, that’s their stuff. You can sleep well knowing you’re not burdened with the responsibility of everyone you know. Just do your thing and be at peace.

4. Remember the world isn’t perfect. Learn to sit with discontent. (In a good way.)

Finally, even though this may sound defeating, I’ve learned you have to come to terms with our broken world. This side of glory, it won’t ever be perfectly healed. There will always be a burden of some sort, and yes, we should channel our frustrations with doing our best to make it better, but we also need to know that all of mankind’s problems won’t be easily solved. I don’t know why God allows so many of us to live in such comfort, but we’ll work ourselves into a tailspin if we try to figure out why. He just does. Which means in the midst of our wondering, we have the means to do something about making things better.

Doing what we can with what we havethat’s where we need to park. We need to be okay that because we know about our culture’s (and therefore, our own) excess, we can’t turn a blind eye and shrug our shoulders. But we also need to know it’s not our burden to make all things right. We have to learn how to live well knowing there’s wrong in the world, as weird as that may sound.

solo person at subway
Photo source

At the end of the day, I’ll keep venting to Kyle and processing my own passions and burdens. And I’ll keep learning how to be a good neighbor, a good friend, a sympathetic ear and heart. I’m not perfect… no one is. Let’s cover each other with grace as we do our best to live with less.

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  1. Mel@TheDizzyMom

    Ugh I know. It makes me cringe and fidget and tighten my jaw when I hear the commercials about MORE! and the ways to get MORE done! and how my co-worker bought a 3000 sqft home so she could have MORE space for her crafting hobbies! I don’t have anyone here in the 3D world (except my husband) who shares my view of living with less. Same goes for homeschooling….and working toward debt free living….

    These are great tips. I’ve used the scapegoat technique a few times to take the awkwardness in talking about living with less. It works!

  2. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

    One of my readers sent me over here after my post today, in which I risked being obnoxious because I’m passionate about something. Love it! Your advice is very sound, thank you – Katie

  3. Ann

    Our family of four live in an apartment that most would consider tiny even for one person, but there are people who actually live in smaller places. I’m happy with my life. I’d rather live by example because stubborn people will never convert by words. No one wants to hear that their choices are silly. I have to content myself with the fact that I love to travel, that means I make other sacrifices that I’m ok with, but not everyone has the same wants and needs I do. And that’s ok.

  4. Ana@Lessons From Yesterday

    I felt really odd recently when two friends were talking about getting rid of dandelions in their yards, and I had just tried eating the greens and making dandelion jelly. I just kept quiet, but I often find myself in the position of having a drastically different perspective on things. It’s a fine line between sharing information you’re genuinely excited about it feel is valuable, and being a jerk, as you say. 🙂

    • Cheyenne

      I would love to try your jelly recipe! Every year I tell my kids we are going to put our dandelions in our salads, but I always let them wilt and end up throwing them away. 🙁 Jelly would be a fun experiment though!

        • Natalie

          This is awesome!! I love the wild jam idea, thanks so much 🙂

    • Sharon

      Ana, I love that you are eating the greens that so many people, not me, despise… And are willing to spray poison over the water table. Do speak up, you are not going to be obnoxious, you are educating. Be brave.

  5. Mandy

    This is good! I’d LOVE to see more posts – on facebook or here, or anywhere – that detail your before and afters for your recent de-cluttering. That’s a huge inspiration for me. I was majorly inspired by your closet photo- and while not entirely achievable for me (since we live in an area with larger climate extremes and I’m still in the childbearing ups-and-downs phase 😉 ) it was still inspiring and encouraging! PLEASE share more snapshots of the stuff you’re clearing out, and the empty spaces after!

    • Cheyenne

      I would love to try your jelly recipe! Every year I tell my kids we are going to put our dandelions in our salads, but I always let them wilt and end up throwing them away. 🙁 Jelly would be a fun experiment though!

      • Cheyenne

        Sorry…I replied to the wrong post. 🙂

  6. Cheyenne

    This is so good! I definitely feel this way with a few of my friends. I seriously get so sick of seeing their stuff over social media. It makes my stomach twist whenever they post pictures of what they “have” to get their kids for their birthdays. Or what new ornaments they are adding to their gardens. Or how they are taking their preschoolers to get yet another expensive manicure/pedicure. Ugh. Thank you for these tips…and I’ve already used you as a scapegoat before. 🙂

    • Tsh

      Happy to serve. 😉

      • Sally

        I missed the closet photo, but I would also like some inspirational photos!

      • AmyB

        Tsh, thank you for this post! I feel very passionately about several hot topic issues that run opposite of what friends and family think. This reminder is so helpful!

        Also, I’m always on the hunt for a good book on simplifying and getting rid of things…any recommendations from anyone? I have read (and loved) Tsh’s…

  7. Guest

    I needed this. I am just wired to be passionate. About a ridiculous and overwhelming number of things. This has nothing to do with simplicity but things like child abuse, genocide and a host of other tragic and suffocatingly heartwrenching real life things.

    This morning I’ve felt on edge about it all. How can I go about my normal life when there is so much evil and hurt in the world? But you’re right. This world isn’t going to be perfect and the best thing I can do is try to live an authentic life, taking opportunities to make a difference but remembering that I’m not in control all of this.

    Thanks for this. Applicable in so many ways. (And sorry for the depressing topics)

  8. Debra

    Love your posts, Ann. Thank you for this one in particular. Lately, my husband & I have been dcluttering and downsizing our lives. We are raising a good size vegetable garden & built a chicken coop entirely made from others throw away wood, and now have laying hens. We will only use the eggs. We will not be using them for a meat source. This lifestyle is the polar opposite of what I am used too, but I know we have come to a place where we are supposed to be. Now we are working on the extravegent excess accumulated through the years. I am loving life simpler. Blessings all.

  9. Amy

    I’ve had to pull back the reigns on how I talk about food. I know that when I discovered what is really in our foods and how we need to clean up our diets, that’s ALL I talked about. I know people were tired of hearing about it! I have since tried to live by example and talk about it only when appropriate, and with people who care about the same thing. I get it! Mostly 🙂

    • Mal

      Food is my big one, too! I have such a hard time not evangelizing. 🙂 I have some family members who eat terribly, complain about their health, and also have a shopping addiction. It is really hard to keep quiet, especially when they’re always buying junk for my house, both food and otherwise.

    • Tsh

      Yes… food is SO hard in this arena.

  10. Missy K

    I can so relate, and I am definitely the ranter in our marriage as well. 🙂 But truthfully, what sometimes helps me down off my high horse is seeing how still, in some ways, we are living pretty far from our ideals. I’m unable to drive, so it works best for our family to do most of our grocery shopping once a month at Costco. I can only imagine the incorrect assumptions people could make, looking at our stuffed cart. We’d love to buy all local but with two voracious boys and one driving adult, we need that jumbo tub of spinach! We are very car dependent because that is the nature of where we live. It dials down my judgment meter when I consider how we have navigated “simple,” and while it is crystal clear to us, it likely looks weird to others.

    And practically speaking, no one was ever wooed into any uncomfortable life change by a harangue. Any energy I expend that way is better used figuring out how to live more fully into what we are called to.

    • Tsh

      “And practically speaking, no one was ever wooed into any uncomfortable life change by a harangue.”

      So, so true. Also, nice use of the word ‘harangue.’

    • Meredith

      Missy, I love your approach. I’ve turned this post around in my head all night and came here to write a similar reply. What looked simple to me five years ago is a different kind of simple from where we are now.

  11. Jessica

    Yes! Thank you for this! I tend to keep my opinons to myself because it’s their life so whatevs but I definetely need to work on not judging and showing grace, even in my heart. Focusing on living the way I feel called and not silently judging others for not feeling the same way. So glad I am not the only one who rants about exorbitant spending and over the top living. Our poor husbands. 😉

  12. Rachel

    Passion itself can be inspiring, especially when humble, self-aware and maybe sprinkled with a bit of humor.
    I love what you have to say here. I can relate. I am passionate about food, growing food, making my own homemade everything…I am sensitive to not coming off righteous, or making anyone feel inadequate about their choices.
    Perhaps the more one lives her passion, the less she needs to preach.

  13. Barb from CNY

    The other thing is while you are joyfully talking about decluttering and your friend is talking about that Target sale doesn’t mean you are not making a difference…you just are not doing so TODAY. That talk may plant a seed in her mind that might hit her next week, next month or next year. She may realize that sale stuff she bought isn’t bringing her long term happiness and she remembers yours. She may call you out of the blue one day and want to speak to you about how you started, or how you maintain it. We all plant seeds and sometimes it takes a while to see them bloom.

    • Mal

      Oh, this is something I needed to hear today. Not only with this… I teach middle school. Thank you for your words. 🙂

    • Tsh

      Great point.

    • guest

      True story…my college roommate (so 20 years ago) was a total clutter bug. It drove me crazy. Kept every receipt, papers, books and just STUFF. As adults I’ve talked about our experiences consuming less and how freeing it is to not be overwhelmed by stuff. She was always very defensive even though I wasn’t telling her she ought to do it. Anyway, she got interested last year and has continued her journey/is continuing. You never know when people will make a change!

  14. Sharon Holbrook

    Don’t discount WRITING. It helps to clarify thoughts and you can share your ideas with others in an article or blog post without coming on too strong. But you must know this, since that’s exactly what you’re doing!

    • Tsh

      Very true! I often feel like I’m writing for me, for my own clarity—and if anyone else can use it, then all the better. 🙂

  15. sarah

    Well said…so good. Thank you.

  16. Naomi

    Totally am going to use you as my scapegoat. I often feel the same way, but find myself just shushing myself, which is also not ideal. I think the best option for me is to just settle into the “live your own life” and model the stuff you’re passionate about. Great post.

  17. Faigie

    It’s extremely hard when people are not living life the way we KNOW is a better way and correct way. Years ago I told a very wise woman that I find it very hard when people just don’t do the right thing and are being so self destructive and she said to me “And how to think G-d feels?”

  18. Anne

    Keep up the great posts and thanks for the tips! Honestly I meet very few people in my community who seem to value simplicity and living with less. I rely on your website to keep me going in my quest for a simple life in this day and age. Aside from “things” and “stuff” what I keep torturing my husband about lately is the amount of activities children are involved in and how it seems even small children always have some sort of handheld device in their hands to keep them busy. It depressed me on Easter to see a row of small children sitting on a couch playing on their iPads instead of playing with each other and running around outside. My kids are the ones who look over the other kids’ shoulders while they are playing their games because we refuse to do that. I mean c’mon!!

    • Tsh

      Yes! Time is just as applicable as stuff here, too. We are BIG believers in lots of free time, and it seems like we’re the only ones that don’t hyper-schedule our kids sometimes. Right there with you…

  19. rachel

    I’m new(ish) to your blog, but have enjoyed and been encouraged by your writing! I think with this topic, we need to be very, very careful. There is a strong tendency in the human heart to judge others, perhaps as a way to make ourselves feel better, perhaps because we are passionate, or maybe a little of both. I’m a lactation counselor and I see it in the breastfeeding world where people villainize or shame moms who use formula. We live in a culture that hyper-sexualizes the breast and yet women are blamed for not breastfeeding. We adopted an orphan from Ethiopia and in the adoption community there were so many judgements against non-adoptive families who homeschool. The claim was they make ‘an idol of the family’ and live an insular life. Then there are the people in the anti-adoption movement, who call adoptive parents selfish, because don’t we really want first families to raise their own children? You have those who are pro-public schools and nothing else. You have people pro homeschooling and nothing else. As a Christian, I have read and re-read Romans 14, which I think speaks so beautifully to these issues. It’s surprisingly post-modern, especially considering it was written 2,000 years ago. And I’m inspired by this quote by Madeleine L’Engle: “We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” I think that’s true in regard to our convictions as well.

    • Tsh

      Beautifully said, Rachel. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for being a new reader! (You’ll soon enough find that I’m a big L’Engel fan as well…) 😉

  20. Breanne

    Yes and yes to all of this. I’ve kept my mouth shut on many occasions because I didn’t want to offend but then spilled all to my husband on the way home.
    It’s a hard balance but I really appreciate your wise words here. Especially on personal responsibility and consistent life living in that direction – simple/local and seasonal food/intentional education etc.

  21. Jenn

    I finally figured out that was a big reason I loved traveling. No extra stuff! Vacation life seems so much easier cause I only have 2 outfits to choose from at any time and they fit and are a favorite! After the last vacation I came home and cleaned bags of clothes out of our closets!

    • Tsh


  22. Katie

    I always enjoy your posts, but this one in particular hit home with me. I read the description for an INTJ (which I haven’t read in probably 20 years), and it answered so many questions I have had lately, such as: Why do I approach things differently than other people? Why was my previous company the wrong fit for me? You have inspired me to reconnect with my core personality and be comfortable with who I am.

  23. Allie

    I hear you, but this came off as a little judgemental. It sounds like there is a lot of mental clutter to clear out, starting with worries about friends’ and neighbors’ amount of possessions.
    From the post: **Yes, in order to change an entire culture we’ve gotta “spread the news” about living simply.**
    I don’t really get that.

    • Tsh

      I’d love to hear more what you mean by “I don’t really get that.” I’ll be happy to explain more of my meaning if you let me know what’s confusing.

      Also, perhaps you’re new here? If so, welcome! Yes, I agree about clearing mental and relationship clutter. Feel free to poke around the archives (see the categories, above), and you’ll get a better sense of our heart around these parts. 🙂

      • Allie

        I have been reading the posts for a few months. I would hate to think that any friends or neighbors of mine were judging me for the amount of “unnecessary” goods they thought I had, or wanting to evangelize me to their lifestyle in that regard. And we do live simply, but I have friends who have less, or more, and that’s ok! I just feel like many of the the comments here were about people judging others, and writing about how little they themselves get by on.

        • Tsh Oxenreider

          Okay, I hear your perspective a little bit more now. What I simply mean is that I’m a believer in simple living affecting more than just me, than just my household—our decisions have a ripple effect around us. I believe that, for the most part, our collective decisions to simplify have a positive social, environmental, and cultural effect, yet will really only bring about real change if we do it together.

          My post about chocolate is a good example of this—I’ve had many people tell me they sincerely had no idea what was going on in the chocolate industry, and now make more ethical decisions when they buy chocolate because of the post. I’m not trying to make anyone feel needlessly guilty there—yet I feel personally convicted to share the news with others, and it makes me happy to hear that people take it upon themselves to make changes once they learn how their choices can be a force for good instead of…not good. 🙂 This kind of thing is empowering.

          So, I feel it’s the same with decluttering—living with less brings about goodness. And I want that for others, for a variety of reasons (environmental, ethical, a freer lifestyle, etc.—all stuff I’ve written about here). This post is about how to be passionate about these things without coming across as judgmental. It’s pulling the curtain back a bit about how I think through that process.

          Let me know if you need more clarification, Allie. And thanks for reading!

  24. Chris K. (Disquisitive Mama)

    LOVE! Thank you for this. Yes, I never want to sound obnoxious but feel like (only AFTER a conversation, of course) I may. This is really helpful and a good reminder to let go of it. We can make a more positive impact by living our lives and (hopefully) leading by example.

    I am an INFJ (though I believe I am a T not an F…) It is tough to keep in my ideas and excitement or passion about something and I really appreciate your so effectually addressing it here. I will read this at least two more times!

  25. KittysMum

    I personally think that book sounds wonderful and writing it wouldn’t make you a ‘Debbie Downer’ at all – this generation needs prophetic voices like yours. You’ve hit upon a truth that I’ve discovered too: that amassing stuff doesn’t make you happy and that it’s actually in finding that enough really is enough that you’re free to live. xx

  26. Traci

    Traveling does do amazing things for the soul, no?

    We just finished a 1500+ mile road trip with a 3.5 month old, and it feels like we conquered the world. Before we were three, we talked a lot about not wanting to halt our life for a babe, but scooping her up and bringing her along on ours. And WE DID IT.

    Now that we’ve not just said it but we’ve done it, I’m finding it hard to return to play dates & other mom arenas where topics of conversation include hiring a babysitter to do grocery shopping (some people love doing this, & I’m happy for them – but it dampens my own excitement for life with a kiddo).

    Writing helps though. Talking to your spouse does too, I think. And, it really helps to know that you’re not along in your convictions, passions, conquerings. Rock on, Tsh.

  27. Melissa

    Excellent points! I tend to agree with a lot of what you stand for – would rather eat real food, ride a bike, and explore a new place than do the more common American pastimes. So, tell me, how do you find/make/keep friends when you are unable to connect over the latest X product you tried or plot of last nights TV hit?? We feel lonely in the midst of lots of people because we have such opposite values and lifestyle choices. I’m new here, so maybe you already covered that and I should keep reading, but if not, please consider that as a future topic!

  28. Elizabeth

    There is nothing like living and traveling to other places for a couple months that sends me straight into the minimalist mindset! I love how you said, “I just want it all GONE.” Yes, yes, yes. That feeling. Live out of a suitcase for a while, and this is exactly how I feel when I come back from my longer trips – every single time.

    I haven’t traveled that extensively in about four or five months now, and I’m getting antsy. My junk drawers are getting full and I’ve got some clothes to donate. By the way, your 80/20 principal is totally spot-on in that area.

    I think it’s time to throw away (almost) everything and see the world again. Happy decluttering, Tsh!

  29. Traci

    I want to know more about the decluttering. I’ve done some and know there is more to do. What kinds of things are you parting with? What makes the cut to be kept? I realize it’s different for all of us but would love to know what you’ve considered.

  30. liv

    when i was younger i used to get so much thrill from finding new treasures to define our home. those things don’t thrill me anymore, in fact i’ve found that “things” are so much work. now the greatest boost of energy i get is finding some unused items to donate! it seems i’ve come full circle. i actually wrote a guest post about this awhile ago on my friends site. feel free to stop over!
    anyway i often have to tamp down my enthusiasm about ideas i feel passionate about too! i could relate to so much of what you said.

  31. Angela Knoll

    Well said! I am guilty of getting on the declutter horse and back off again and I appreciate your outlook and your GRACE that you extend to each of us. I go through those spells of passion and wonder, “Why does no one else GET IT?” and then give up because they don’t. You are such an inspiration and you find the right words to speak the truth, with love, of course. 😉

  32. maryann

    Lately I’m having a really hard time reading blogs I used to enjoy. All those posts about organizing, and buying pretty containers, and the Silhouette machine, and painting chevrons, and making starburst mirrors and mason jar chandeliers.

    If those lovely talented ladies, and I mean this sincerely, could just use their time and money to volunteer for something, anything, what a huge difference we could make in this world.

    Can you imagine how may children could be sponsored if everyone stopped shopping at the Container Store? What a great blog post THAT would be.

  33. Meredith

    As you know, finding treasures was a real bright spot in my life at home with small kids. I enjoyed the hunt, and I appreciated the little ways that my finds enhanced our life.

    Today, my energies are focused elsewhere, and I have lost the desire to accumulate except for tools that help me reach my goals. But the truth is that I don’t look back at that younger mom with judgement–only kindness. Those things didn’t prevent her from growing, but they did give her something she needed at that time.

    To me, it is a chicken-and-egg question. Does decluttering give us detachment from material things, or do we first need a reason for that detachment in order to live more simply?

  34. Deb@asimplelife Quilts

    To me the beauty of the virtual world is that it allows you to find people who share your passion so you don’t have to be obnoxious with your real life people! If someone shows an interest by asking me then I’m happy to share my thoughts. I find it tiresome when people insist on converting me to their point of view and I like to show the same respect to others.

  35. Christina

    This is such a great post. As an environmentalist and now simple living blogger, I wonder if I am that friend that makes everyone feel awkward about their lives. A number of years ago I realized it is more important who you are being than what you are doing. But, I get so frustrated with our consumer culture, the constant pursuit of more, and the damage that does to the earth and ourselves. I just try to remember we are all doing the best we can with the level of consciousness that we have. And remember my imperfect self and life and try to stay focused on that.

  36. Lisa J

    I’m guilty of the same thing sometimes, especially regarding extended breastfeeding and homeschooling (and I was a rather obnoxious vegetarian for a while), but I have to tell you: this post feels slightly obnoxious to me. I hope you’ll take this critique in the spirit in which it’s offered. I normally love your posts and adored your latest book. But lately I have very little patience for anything that feels …superior. I get it. Decluttering is awesome. Mindless consumption is bad. I think everyone knows this, whether they’re currently opting to act on that knowledge or not. People have different priorities and are in different seasons of life. When my son found buckets of joy in playing with some old toddler toys he found in my admittedly cluttered home, I was glad I hadn’t tossed them. When I unexpectedly conceived my baby girl, I was glad I’d never got around to giving away all the baby stuff. Not everyone can repurchase things down the road. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post called “The Case Against Decluttering.” Here’s what’s obnoxious: believing you need to save people from their choices because you made different ones. I’m making a vow right now to never do that again.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Lisa, I agree with you—we don’t need to save people from their choices. I think you’re saying the same thing I’m saying in this post! Here, I’m sharing my personal process of learning how to not be obnoxious. 🙂

      Thanks for reading.

  37. Stephanie@Mrs.Debtfighter

    I agree, leading by example is a great approach!! I am more of a reserved person and don’t normally get into these conversations with people. Most people are very set in THEIR ways/beliefs and you have a hard time convincing them otherwise. I was brought into this simple lifestyle by reading blogs like yours and others!! 🙂

  38. Archer

    So much good, good stuff in this post.

    #4 was particularly good for me. I get frustrated the most (completely different topic but applicable) over people who expect health but don’t want to do anything for it… but then complain about their “annoying” health problems yet can’t handle being inconvenienced with actually doing the work to get there. Good advice to park in that frustration in write it out.

  39. Linda B

    Good thoughts! I will be pondering these ideas.

  40. C.A. Lewis-McCarren

    This post really spoke to me in a way that actually left me feeling good about myself instead of the usual feeling of “lack” and “loser”. I am an “INFJ” type girl…..I absorb too much of the world around me. :-/. You helped me to understand it’s ok to live with my own passions and pursuits but I don’t have to convince the world of my perspective. Just live and do my thing in a place of peace.

    Thanks Tsh. Your an encouragement to me. 🙂

  41. Bethany

    I think it is very important to be sensitive to where everyone is on their journey. There are so many good changes we could all make, but we can really only focus on a few things at a time. It’s important to be patient and understanding and to bear with others. I have 3 little ones (5 and under) with another one on the way and I spend most of my energy keeping up with the dishes, laundry, keeping the kids clean, cleaning up messes, preparing 3 meals a day, etc. I know we could always eat better, there is always room to de-clutter just a bit more, reach out to more people, etc. I have certain things I am really passionate about and when I pointed it out to one of my friends (referring to another friend) she then pointed the finger back at me and said something that I needed to work on myself. I was put to shame. We all have things we excel at, but none of us are the best at everything. We need to show people grace.

    I love your #1. I have been convicted about being too vocal about my opinions. Proverbs says, “A fool delights in airing his own opinions.” and Romans 14 talks about individual convictions and how we need to keep whatever we think about such matters between ourselves and God. I have been convicted to just live my life and hopefully people will see by the choices I make when they see me with my family or visit my home that those are desirable qualities and they will make the choice for themselves. And to be Spirit-led when maybe an opportunity to share my opinion will be well-received or when it’s time to keep my mouth shut.

  42. Alison

    I had to laugh when I read this post. My poor husband has lived through many a “revelation” and has often brought me back to earth with things I had not thought of. I am so thankful for his perspective. This was a great article – thank you for sharing. Great comments above as well.

  43. naomi

    Perhaps those interactions should teach you. Less is not just about stuff; it can also be thoughts. Could words be a way of adding back to your life? A life less cluttered includes truly listening to others, not talking at them. Too many people talk without hearing – here you’re given an opportunity to listen to another and respond, not react. I find my mouth too often filled with words when another needs my ears instead.

  44. Bethann

    Tsh, love your helpful list in how to engage without being obnoxious. No one likes to be harassed by preachy types, no matter what the issue might be! And, totally love your statement “Learn to sit with discontent.”

  45. Cori

    Thank you! This is such a good read. After living on the road in a little RV for a year, returning to “normal life” in a house in a city on a whole new schedule and plain of existence was not easy. There are blogs everywhere detailing how to escape it all, but coming back to this “American Dream” and relating to many people is absolutely the hardest part.

  46. marilyn

    Thanks for baring your hear Tsh. My husband and I are recently back from 2 years work in Vanuatu.
    We downsized our household before we went so storage didn’t cost us and so that friends could enjoy the goods we loaned out to them for the duration. Now we are home again, and really resonating with you. We need some things to live in this more complex society again, but we don’t want to get on the consumerism treadmill again. So many stories of contentment in Vanuatu encourage me to work hard at simple. Which is why I love your blog so much. The whole reentry experience will be worth the navigation for you too. People back home have not had our experience and can only respond from their experience. So, as always, it’s God’s grace that sees us through. Lot’s of articles about Reentry, just google. One that I found helpful is lots of topics to help,
    Blessings as you travel whereever He leads, Love. marilyn

  47. Lindsey Swinborne

    I’m so inspired by your writing, your perspective, your books, and your lifestyle. In fact, your blog and others have convinced me to start blogging again and maybe eventually turn it into an income. Thank you for this post. The subject I want to write on is truly one I’m passionate about and one of those subjects that is “driving me nuts” about people nowadays so I am going to attempt to model simplicity for them in that area in order to help them better their own lives.

    I had to chuckle at the end of your post when I saw a Pottery Barn Teen ad on the bottom of your page. Pottery Barn makes beautiful things, but some of it seems so excessive and expensive and it seemed ironic at the end of this post. I know many bloggers don’t even realize which ads a company is running on their site (the other day I was shocked to see a 50 Shades of Grey ad on the site of one of my favorite blogger’s that adamantly opposes that book…I’m sure she never even realized it….just as another of my favorite bloggers had a bra ad constantly coming up when I looked at her site).

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Ha! Yeah, unfortunately that happens all the time around here. I don’t think living simply means having nothing, which is why I’m okay with having ads—but it’s definitely a tension on this blog. Our goal is to be ad-free in about two years, so fingers crossed we can afford that!

  48. Master Nerd

    I find the easiest way to avoid being “the weird friend that’s obsessed with X” is to just let other people bring stuff up in conversation. If people ask, oh what are you having for lunch, I tell them, and if they’re interested they ask more about it. Or if they ask, how did you afford that vacation, I tell them and let them guide the level of detail that they want to hear about. That way, I can still be awesome while sharing my life tips and tricks with others without being obnoxious.

  49. Christina Hubbard

    “Just live your life.” Great advice! I needed to hear this.

  50. Michelle

    Your tips are great, and just what I needed to read today, in a week where my passion is causing me no end of frustration. In our family we are conscious about using no more transportation than necessary – walk when we can, bike when we can’t walk, and drive only when necessary. On my best days I serenely and joyfully live my life, but other people making different choices from us do impact us. Other people choosing to drive put my family at risk on the road. Other people’s complaints about traffic mean that I don’t have bike lanes where I need to go. City policies actively discourage what I do, and the politicians don’t show any signs of changing that. I’m confident that we are doing the right thing (bless you, Pope Francis!) and we just need to live it the best we can.
    Thank you for writing, and for the inspiration.

  51. Craig


    Remember point #3, reread point #3, hold firm to point #3, and you won’t become obnoxious while letting me live my joyfully cluttered and delightfully excessive life.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yep! You do you.

  52. Katie Di Filippo

    I came back to this post because I have felt the discomfort SO HARD when it comes to being “too excited” about simplicity that people, CLOSE FRIENDS, go on the defensive. I have always been so careful about making any conversation about simplicity about MY choices, but people still are quick to get upset about me making different choices than them. It’s hard. Sometimes it feels like mentioning simplicity at all is obnoxious to some people.
    I have been putting a lot of effort into my personal thoughts on the consumerism that surrounds me. I often have to remind myself about where others come from, where I came from and my own continued struggle with the relationship I was taught to have with stuff. This post, blog, and community are a big help in keeping me inspired and keep me looking inward to my own relationship with stuff.

  53. Meredith

    Oh my gosh I needed to read this today. I am an ENFP, for the record, and I process information via verbal vomit everywhere. I am very passionate about my beliefs, but I never try to be pushy or judgemental. In fact, I’m pretty darn naive and that gets me in a lot of trouble – I assume things that aren’t necessarily true. About how people perceive me, about how I am a very non-judgemental, caring, deeeeeeply feeling person. But I jabber on a lot about my life and how I’m finding joy and happiness and its a little (okay, sometimes a LOT) overwhelming for my friends and family. I loved your tips and have had similar ideas buzzing around in my head. Thanks for the crystal-clear organization – I will refer to this page often 🙂 xoxo, Meredith (

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