The art of being simple

  • Do you lead your life on your terms, or do you just allow your life to lead you?
  • Do you feel trapped without the trappings of a upper middle-class lifestyle?
  • Do you find television soap operas dictating how much and when you should spend time with your family?
  • Have you experienced the 'freedom' of being without a mobile phone?
  • Do you feel lost and left out when your friends' excitedly discuss about the latest gadgets that they have, that you don't?

If you tick 'yes' to any or all of this, don't worry, you are not alone. Most of us live this complex life. So much so, that we have forgotten how to be simple. We get stuck with jobs that we can't leave because of some or the other loan on our heads. We fall for marketers' tricks, buy more (often on credit) and then spend the rest of our lives, trying to earn to support our 'lifestyle'.

So, is there a way out?

Yes. If you're already addicted to conspicuous consumption, it will take some getting used to. But it IS possible to own your own life if you are determined to do it. How? Simplify!! Being simple is an art not many are able to master. The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn't simple. And the definition of simplicity is also quite warped.

The term "downshifting" is often used to describe the act of moving from a lifestyle of frenetic consumption towards a lifestyle based on voluntary simplicity. Many simplicity gurus urge us to become tightfisted as the true path to a simple life. But voluntary simplicity and frugality are not really the same thing. Frugality is a vehicle for achieving simplicity, but voluntary simplicity is about freedom. It's about owning your own life. Frugality is to live with less of what money can buy. Voluntary simplicity is to want less.

This revelation allows us to be content in our work or to change that work when it no longer satisfies. It permits us to spend less time acquiring things and more time acquiring experiences, insights, and relationships. It encourages us to lend a helping hand in our community, whenever the need arises, because we can make the time to do it. It gives us freedom and control of our lives.

Try this simple exercise
So, going simple really worth it? Try this. Make a list of the ten activities you enjoy most. Then make another list of the ten activities that occupy most of your time. Compare the two lists. This little self test may be all you need to convince you to jump off the merry-go-round. As Confucious had said: "Life is really simple. We insist on making it complicated."