Living simply doesn’t mean you have to give up creature comforts and embrace the life of a monk.
As much as I admire the way monks live—and I do find a great deal of inspiration in the simplicity of their lifestyle, the concentration and mindfulness they practice in their daily activities, the calm and peace they exude—a monk’s life is not the life for me.
I’ve been on a quest to simplify my life ever since I returned from Oaxaca. It was a remarkable vacation. I spent ten days distanced from reality and totally immersed in a foreign culture. There’s something to be said about living in the moment, living life to the fullest, and enjoying each and every new day as it comes, less concerned with the materialistic world than the quality of your days and how you spend them.
Life in Oaxaca had been simple and uncomplicated. When I returned home, I wanted to make changes and improve my lifestyle so I could feel that same sense of inner peace and happiness.
What is a simple life?
A simple life means different things to different people. There is no single definition.
By most standards, living in a log cabin in the mountains with no electricity, running water, or television is a pretty simple life and might be exactly how someone wants to live. They have what they need and love the peace, quiet, and solitude. They chop wood to burn for heat and cooking. They hunt and grow vegetables. They use water from a nearby stream for drinking and bathing. It doesn’t get more simple than that. For me, however, it would be a lonely existence, more hardship than joy; and I would be miserable without creature comforts like hot showers, air conditioning, or my computer.
What I think is a simple life might be different from what you have in mind. It mostly depends on the answers to these three important questions:
- What is essential in your life? Mine would be home, food, clothing, heat/running water/electricity, and money to pay for it all.
- What is important to you? Family, friends, pets, car, computer (for digital photos and diaries), and a comfortable bed.
- What do you love to do? Travel, eat well, watch movies, read books, write, design websites.
These answers of mine were quick, off the cuff, the first things that popped into my head. With some thought, I could probably come up with more and better answers, but quick replies are often a clear window into your subconscious. Try it. You might be surprised, like I was, to see a truth emerge.
When you can identify what is important and essential for your well-being and happiness, and eliminate those things that aren’t—the visual and emotional clutter that distract and keep you from doing what’s important—you end up with a life that is more meaningful and satisfying.
For me, a simple life is about embracing simplicity, but living well. It’s very much like the life I have now . . . with a little less.