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Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

What does "living simply" mean to you?

Asked by Aesthetic_Mess (7887points) January 25th, 2011

I don’t know how to clarify this

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21 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

The life of a homeless person.

Austinlad's avatar

Makes me think of Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreau, the original off-the-grid guy.

I once walked across that pond, by the way, when it was frozen solid. Beautiful!

wilma's avatar

Thinking about what I really need and want and only buying or working toward those goals.
Do I really want or need more or new clothes? If not then I don’t buy them.
Do I really need or want new furniture? If not then I don’t acquire more. Those kinds of decisions help me to live more simple.
Also when I am asked to do something for my community, school or other organization, I try to ask myself if this is something that I really support? Do I care about the outcome? Can I work well with the other people involved? If not then I try to not commit to projects that I won’t be all that interested in. I don’t need to add these kinds of things to my already busy life if they are not important to me. I try to be choosy about who I give my time to.
I also try to enjoy what some folks would call the “simple things”. A nice day, a sunrise or sunset, a smile a fragrance, a pleasant sound. Some things you can’t buy these things might be all around you.

janbb's avatar

I see it as not giving in to the American idea that you need the things that the rest of the world sees as luxuries.

AmWiser's avatar

I shudder to think! For me it would mean, living with the bare minimum.
A one room home with a kitchen and bathroom.
The simplest of foods.
Few clothes. No jewelry.
Money only for the bare necessities.
Gee! This is depressing, yet I know many do live a simple life.

filmfann's avatar

After dealing with my Mom’s estate, following her death, my mantra became “less”.
Living simply means exactly that. No computer, DSL, jewelry, SUV, or satellite TV.
Living like your grandmother probably did.

Aster's avatar

Small house with one bath, old dependable car, no shrimp or steaks in the freezer, old wood-burning stove instead of central heat, no fancy jewelry, one modest tv, rare clothing purchases—doesn’t sound bad at all.

Scooby's avatar

I’m just a simple man in a complicated world…. :-/

flutherother's avatar

Having what you want in life and being content with that.

Scooby's avatar

Living simply is me all over, I only have the things I need to get by in life…. There maybe a few little extravagances, for example.. I have two cars! :-/
But essentially I live hand to mouth, I’m on my own so no point in keeping the fridge fully stocked or the cupboards for that matter… I buy enough in for a couple of days at a time, for pack lunches mainly :-/
Apart from my wine rack, that’s never less than half empty! So!! I like a drink, Lol…..
I’m not really materialistic ( apart from the cars ) I might own a couple of pairs of jeans, trousers & tops etc but you can’t wear them all at the same time…. I tend to hang onto stuff for years too :-/
In fact I think some my pants are older than my niece….. Lol.. & she is twenty :-/

iamthemob's avatar

I like to look at it not as thinking about “I have this much and no more” or “having no more than I need,” but rather being in a place where I have what I reasonably need, and recognize that if I want something more than that, it’s just something I want, and I should think about whether it will really do me any good to have it.

It’s dropping the “need” from my consumer lexicon…and removing the “now” as well. Anything that I want, if I really want it I’ll want it 48 hours after I see it. If I forget about it by then…well, I’ve lost nothing and saved the cost of the object as well as reduced my impact.

thorninmud's avatar

I look at it in terms of minimizing the stuff competing for my attention. How many mental “plates” I have to keep spinning, in other words.

Owning stuff isn’t necessarily a problem in itself. Stuff can help simplify. Owning more clothes may make it possible for me to do laundry once instead of twice a week. That’s one less thing occupying my mind. I may not exactly need those extra clothes, but they help simplify.

Technology can help simplify. I don’t shop much, but what little I do is online whenever possible, because it’s much simpler. Again, I wouldn’t call a computer and internet connection a necessity, but it helps simplify. I haven’t taken this step yet, but I could see how having an eBook reader would be an enormous step toward simplification (my father-in-law, the retired English professor, is unwilling to contemplate moving to a smaller house because of the prospect of dealing with all those books).

What I’m trying to say is that simplicity doesn’t always equal less stuff or less and older technology. Anything I can do that has the net result of freeing up my attention is a step toward simplicity. “Doing without” is often, but not always, the solution. You just have to be brutally honest in making that assessment.

Everybody has to decide how far to carry simplification. Taking care of my relationships with other people is the single biggest complicating factor in my life. It consumes vast amounts of my attention. It would far simpler to live as a hermit, or to just let those connections lapse. All of that extra attention capacity I gain from keeping the rest of my life simple ends up getting reinvested in people.

TexasDude's avatar

I think of the kind of lifestyle that is examined and preserved in the Foxfire books.

thorninmud's avatar

I recently spent a week at a cabin in New York state with a wood stove for heat. Getting that stove started and then keeping it fed and regulated was an interesting and not unpleasant experience, but absolutely not what I’d call simple. We could never just forget about it. All our activities had to take the stove into account somehow.

Rustic? Yes. Quaint? Yes. Educational? Yes. Satisfying? Yes. Simple? NO.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Most of what people call “living simply” is a hell of a lot more complex than “the daily grind”, at least on the personal level. When you look at indigenous people, who can easily be described as living simply (and certainly sustainably) we see that in most cases their lives were both materially and culturally rich (the term “Noble Savage” wasn’t always an easily dismissed straw man, but rather was coined when a French explorer noted that American Indians were all living like nobles did in Europe). I’m involved in a cultural movement referred to as rewilding, which many describe as including living simply as one of its goals. A big part of our work, particularly when we have had extensive conversations amongst ourselves and with others, is dispelling the myth associating living naturally and directly experiencing the world with asceticism. Indeed, one of my biggest selling points is the material advantages. So what others refer to as living simply, I refer to as living directly. The best way to live, in my opinion, is not to depend on intermediaries outside of your ‘tribe’ for your needs and necessities, but rather to have complex reciprocal relationships with that tribe and the land you live on.

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard I’ve only had a chance to peruse a few tidbits of Foxfire. Do you highly recommend them? My dad might have some old issues of the magazine.

SavoirFaire's avatar

“I threw my cup away when I saw a child drinking from his hands at the trough.”
—Diogenes

To me, “living simply” means getting rid of all those things we think we need and discovering that not only do we not need them, we don’t particularly want them.

glenjamin's avatar

To me it means taking the path of least resistance. I try to do this all the time, I don’t like complicated decisions, the easier the solution, the better. The less confrontation, the better. I’m kind of passive and diplomatic in that sense, though being married sometimes makes it tough to be that way. I try not to let anything bother me too much.

TexasDude's avatar

@incendiary_dan they are great. Some of the stuff is interesting, but not particularly useful (witch stories, midwifery, and so on) but some of the information is potentially good to know (how to make oxen yokes, canning, rifle-making, etc.).

YARNLADY's avatar

Living simply means only purchasing items you really need to survive, and nothing more.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Living simply means living within my means which are meager.

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