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What is voluntary simplicity?
If you are feeling overwhelmed by certain aspects of your life you may find yourself becoming drawn to simple living or voluntary simplicity.
You want to achieve balance with your life.
You know you want to slow down and enjoy life more. You want to spend more time doing the things you enjoy and you want to spend more time with people you love.
Voluntary Simplicity can help you do this.
Consumerism and A Materialistic Society
It would seem to those of us that believe in voluntary simplicity as a way to a better life that there is a major problem, at least in the western world, with rampant consumerism.
A lot of people just cannot wait to spend their paycheck on material goods and most of the time they do not need these items at all.
I was watching Marketplace( a Canadian consumer advocacy show) the other day and they had a bit on the new Apple iPhone 5. People were lined up for hours to drop 700.00 dollars on a phone. When asked why, the replies were mostly ,”Because it’s Apple so it’s cool.” or, “My friend is getting one, so I want one as well.”
This is a common theme in our materialistic society. We want more stuff just so we can brag that we have it.
Let’s be honest. It can be very difficult to ignore marketing and advertising. It is almost everywhere. We are subjected to thousands of marketing images every day. Marketers know how to exploit you. They play on your emotions. It is a science.
So how can we combat this and continue on our path to voluntary simplicity and simple living?
- If you have a television, mute the ads.
- realize that even news articles are probably promoted by marketers to entice you to buy a product.
- Learn to recognize “buzz words” on packaging that means nothing but is meant to get you to buy.
- Spend more time in nature
You are thinking about voluntary simplicity as a way to a better life because you are probably sick and tired of the marketing and the spending and actually the lies that you have been fed.
Lies that tell us to spend money, buy this product and you will be happy. It does not work that way. Happiness is not found through spending.
Happiness does not come from buying a particular product. You may find some joy in a painting or photograph or good book. A television program can give us amazing knowledge. But don’t confuse the actual purchasing of new shoes, a purse or new big screen television as an actual way to be happy.
What Void Are You Hoping To Fill
A lot of people buy things as they are trying to fill an emptiness withing themselves. They are attempting to fill this emptiness with stuff.
Have you ever noticed that people will buy a huge house and then try to fill it to the brim with the things that they buy. And they just cannot stop. They think they need more stuff all the time. But they are still empty inside.
When you are choosing voluntary simplicity you get to fill your life with things that you enjoy doing. You get to fill your life with love and joy and gratitude for all of the things you already have.
You may find yourself with more time for volunteering for a worthy cause, reading, spending time in nature, exploring spiritual pursuits, painting, doing yoga, and spending time with those that you love.
Getting rid of some of your stuff may also prove to be a benefit.
But I spent money on that stuff! I know, I know. So it can be difficult to part with some of your material possessions. Take it slow. Try getting rid of one or two things per day. Can you sell them and make a few dollars? Can you donate the items to someone who truly needs them?
Once you get started with this you will gather momentum. Make no mistake. I have stuff that I still need to go through and get rid of as well so you are not alone.
One of the benefits of voluntary simplicity, minimalist living and simple living may be the realization that you can live with making less money. Wow!
This is exactly would of the benefits described in Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship Money. This is a great read.
Increasing Self Sufficiency
I personally want to rely less on buying stuff that comes from far away. Think about how much fuel is used to transport goods around the world so that we can buy it. I will admit that I bought strawberries the other day that came from California. I am in Nova Scotia, Canada! Good grief! It shows that I still have some work to do. It is a journey, not a destination.
Choosing voluntary simplicity as a way of life will help you(and me!) realize how stupid this practice is. We need to focus on buying locally produced goods more frequently. Maybe using the The 100 Mile Rule for buying not only food, but all material goods would be an interesting experiment to try.
Voluntary Simplicity Is Whatever You Want It To Be
Just remember that you are not alone if you are feeling frustrated by the fast pace of your life. Choosing to live a more simple life is a very noble thing to do. Examining why you have wanted to spend money on material possessions is a step in the right direction.
It shows that you are putting the health of the planet and the well being of others before yourself and your own needs.
What could be better than that?
Is voluntary simplicity a path to a better life?
You bet your life it is.
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8 thoughts on “Is Voluntary Simplicity Your Path To A Better Life?”
$700 for a phone? I didn’t know it cost that much. I enjoyed this article and you are so right, slowing down, getting rid of most of my stuff I have never been happier. At the same time I need very little money to live so work has taken a back seat to living.
“Let’s be honest. It can be very difficult to ignore marketing and advertising. It is almost everywhere.”
Right like at the end of this article
They sure picked an interesting bunch of people to interview over the iPhone 5. I am sure the majority of people have much more compelling reasons to buy it. If I were to buy it it would be because I need a new phone and it’s the one that best fits my needs. By need; I mean that in order to be able to make calls, send text and use data applications, I would require it; which would mean that my existing phone is no longer capable of doing these things. Which it is, which means I won’t be buying a new phone any time soon.
I have been accursed of being an Apple Fan Boy for many years. Because I buy Apple products. Thing is, I use devices until they die. And then buy a new one. And usually buy Apple. Having said that, the last laptop I bought was a secondhand Macbook. It was a few years old when I bought it so I made a few upgrades. Lasted for another 3 years.
I completely agree that voluntary simplicity can lead to a better life….thanks for reminding us all and giving us examples…I think we all need constant reminders of this because the marketing machine in our country is constantly promoting consumerism in every way it can. We also need to constantly remind ourselves that “Shiny Objects Don’t Equal Happiness”….that’s why I wrote an article about it at: http://smartliving365.com/?p=451
I think you make some great points here. I’d like to point out that, while alone time is important, loneliness can be toxic and psychologically harmful, and the first can easily lead to the second. Its most definitely a balance of time alone and together with others that is needed, not one or the other. Especially now in a culture where we are seeing more and more of a push towards group everything.
Your Money or Your Life was the book that got me started simplifying my life about 17 years ago. I downsized from an apartment to one room in my mother’s house to care for her. Then I really downsized by moving from Chicago to Buenos Aires in 1999. I brought along my clothes, books, and a laptop.
I furnished my tiny apartment with second-hand items found at house sales. I buy only used clothing and shoes, and I still wear some things I bought 25 years ago. I donate or sell what I don’t use. I stopped buying newspapers seven years ago and avoid reading the news. Two years ago I cancelled cable and gave away the television I bought used at a house sale. The only cell phone I’ve had in my life was given to me by a friend. I have it turned off and use it for an occasional text message or call. I turn off the lights when I go from one room to another. I live without air-conditioning. I drink only filtered tap water and don’t add to the huge amount of plastic waste. I don’t have any credit cards or debt. I own my apartment. I walk or use public transportation. I keep track of expenses and live on $800USD social security. The last time I traveled was more than six years ago. I am happy to be at home with my cat.
Being is more important than doing. I live in silence and listen to classical music. I am completely content with my simple life situation.