Let’s get the obvious misconception right out of this room, right away: minimalism is not simple living. A buzzword these days, minimalism is becoming more of a “classy” style statement than actually embracing its authenticity. You may hear people claiming to be minimalist because according to them, “White is my thing!” Sadly, there’s more to it, in fact, a lot more to it.
What’s the difference between the two, you may ask? Simple living is finding contentment in simplicity while minimalism is a way to decluttering your life. Think, quality and quantity. Well, maybe the elephant in the room will continue to exist in this article, but more on that later.
Now, simple living. Do you ever wish to be like a child again, you know, the happy days of carefree living? Well, it’s not that simple (pun intended), but maybe, in a nutshell, it can be taken as a good example. So, what is simple living? It’s a lifestyle choice rather than just following a bandwagon. Simple living comes from an inner longing to simplify your life.
Life, just for understanding sake, is classified in the main components of self, family, personal, leisure, ambition and money. There’s more to it and it depends from individual to individual. But if your purpose is to simplify life, then stick around to find clarity on this subject. Who knows, you might actually find it logical to adopt some parts for sure!
6 Lessons for Simple Living
1. It starts with self
Simple living is finding happiness in just the company of your own.
What is the facade of creating this empire of wealth, if you cannot take a moment to simply just breathe? Is this sounding too philosophical for you? All right, let’s take a scenario from our everyday life. It’s Friday night and you’re young and spirited. You can either go out partying all night or come home and just read a book. Choosing either is neither wrong nor right. It’s your decision completely.
Whether you choose to be out with the world or with yourself is completely yours to decide. But when you decide to choose the latter, you’re essentially beginning to focus on self and that is the essence of simple living.
Simple living is about being okay with your own company; in fact, it’s more than being just okay, it’s being happy with self. Simple living teaches you to find that satisfaction in self, a sense of self-contentment and independence from outward happiness. Simple living is a personal development that starts with self. A perfect reference is from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. when Monica tells Rachel, “It sucks. You’re going to love it!”
2. Treasure this gift called family
Simple living is about appreciating the treasure trove of love that’s already in your life- your family.
Have you ever taken a moment from your busy lives to count your blessings? It’s not about having a home or of talent and opportunities, but about your constant support system- your family. Ask yourself why do new clothes make you happier than real people in your life? When you start embracing simple living in your life, your focus shifts to find clarity, and it does so drastically.
This focus is more inward from the perspective of personal development. It transforms you to value what’s in your hand instead of finding something outside in the world.
Living a simpler life teaches you to appreciate the small, simple things in life. As simple as having tea with your family and soon you’ll realize that it’s all you really need.
3. Love shouldn’t be that complicated after all
Simple living is about finding love within each other and not the world outside; it’s not about social media dedications but heart-to-heart conversations and sharing moments with your partner.
Ask yourself these questions- when you think of your love life, is it only filled with extravagant dinner dates, weekends filled with adventure sports, attending parties with large groups, Instagram flooded with dedicated messages of love to each other, and stories after stories to share and like, or is your love life filled with just spending time doing nothing that significant with your partner.
Now, don’t take it wrongly, parties and dinner dates are great but how much it dominates your love life is the real question.
Simple living teaches you about finding pleasure in the simple things of life. For example, gardening, going for a jog at the park, cooking food at home, reading books, as opposed to showing off your life to the world outside. Simple living is a choice; it’s simple in its simplicity of things, no complicated and complex stuff required. Plain and simple. Lentils and rice.
4. A new definition of leisure
Simple living is finding joy in living and spending time in the company of yourself or doing the most ordinary things in life. It’s about finding extraordinary in your ordinary life.
You may say that you’re a social person, and that’s all right, but how much of this life is bringing anything good, meaningful, uplifting, improvement and positivity in you? When you talk about free time on hand and if meeting friends, going for a movie and scrolling through your feed are the things that first come to your mind, then maybe you need a reality check of sorts.
When we talk about reality check of sorts, it means your time beyond the obligations of your job. Your work may demand a significant amount of time to be spent at forum websites, checking trends, learning new ways to do-it-yourself and what not, but your time afterward should be about things that make you feel good. You may argue that since you’re forever connected, you’re okay with the after-hours too but that’s where you need to stop and think in retrospect.
Leisure is a time to relax, a time to do something else, something different, something that makes you happy and simple living teaches you exactly that! Choosing yourself over social media, choosing your home over restaurants, choosing pets over your social circle, choosing a book over video streaming apps, choosing to sit by the balcony doing nothing over a gazillion other stuff outside.
It’s about putting the focus on you, your well-being, and the simple things that make you happy. Ask yourself why do you need so much excess when you can be happy with what’s already there! If you find some logic in this, then maybe this article is starting to rub off on you.
5. Being ambitious in leading a meaningful life
Simple living is being ambitious more than just your career growth; it’s about your health’s growth, your quality of life and finding everyday contentment with self.
Let’s start by saying that this is not about improving your skills or going the extra mile to get the job of your dreams, or start your own business, or following your passion.
This one, in fact, is being ambitious in that part of your life which seldom gets neglected- you! You work hours and hours at a stretch every day to provide a livelihood to your family, push yourself to do better and then what? What happens to your life in the middle of doing so much for work, family, business and everything in between? How do you find satisfaction and contentment from yourself? This one is again going back to self-care and self-love.
Does a handsome amount at the start of the month equal to an hour of meditation sitting right outside your porch. You may say yes. But that amount will diminish but investing in self will only grow.
Learn the importance of growth that comes from nurturing your health and enjoy the fruits of your efforts and sincerity to self. Volunteering at the NGO, meditating, spending time in the park, early morning jogs, walking barefoot on the grass- these are the things you must not avoid just because you want to reach the office on time.
Completing a task in hand is as important as taking care of yourself first thing when you get up in the morning. Learn to pause, learn to find goodness in simple pleasures of life and see how your life transforms. That’s the power of living a simpler life; it never asks too much, all you need to do is be.
6. Lastly, put your money where your mouth is
Simple living is about being mindful about your monetary spending; invest your time and energy over things and experiences that matter and add value to your life and you’ll see that you’re a little richer at the end of every month.
Now, this one combines a little of a lot of the above points together. How? Starting with self, learn how to spend time and money on yourself- not buying those expensive shoes but perhaps donating your stuff to the underprivileged. In this way, you aren’t earning money per se, but you’re earning a fortune of goodness. When it comes to monetary decisions, keep it simple- understand your needs, the absolutely essential ones; keep aside some for investments; save money, no matter what that amount is. Money can play a vicious part in your life and while it is okay to aim for bigger amounts, learn to save more and better with the amount you currently hold.
When you practise simple living, it’s not about just living simply, but also finding ways to live smarter and better. Multiple credit cards can be cut down, expenses can be estimated beforehand, and indulgences can be better managed. Simple living thus teaches the importance of a frugal lifestyle. By doing the above, don’t consider yourself as cheap, it’s only smarter and better!
Now that we have covered the basics of simple living, let’s expand our horizon to the possibilities of adopting a simpler lifestyle for yourselves. Simple living has no set rules like other styles of living. It’s basic and simple- that’s all there is to it. While minimalism helps you clear out space in your life, simple living is the cleared space you live in, mentally-physically-spiritually.
With any change, always remember to start small; take baby steps instead of jumping right to it.
As we reach the end of this article and you still feel similarities between simple living and minimalistic lifestyle, then think of it as this way- they both are a complete “declutter” makeover of how you lead your life, but minimalism focuses on “less is better” concept and simple living focuses on “less or more- whatever simplifies your life” concept.
Simple living may seem a bit complicated at the start, but once you keep at it, you will actually realize that it’s honestly simple- just keep your perspective simple towards everything and you’ll catch the drift sooner than you think.
Arpita writes to earn, as a Copywriter in Advertising; writes to express, in different forms of poetry; writes to voice opinions, with articles on different subjects; and writes to breathe and live in general. Words, as she puts it are the best version of her; and cakes, chocolates, coffee, chai, and cafes are her ideas of respite. As she always says, she is just somebody who’s trying to make herself a writer and for now, she’s just writing...