The Simple Life


    In our culture, very few of us aspire to create a simple lifestyle. We equate successful living with earning more money, having a big house, accumulating many material possessions and advancing in our careers. We look to external events and possessions to create and validate our happiness. However, happiness is an internal state. It is not dependent upon externals. It is created by the choices we make, and the responses we choose to make into sub-conscious habits.

    In her book, Choosing Simplicity, Linda Breen Pierce describes her experience during 1968 while living in a West African village of 400 people. The people lived in "mud-hut conditions, limited transportation and hard, physical labor." But they had "a greater sense of well-being, a more intimate and rewarding community life, a deeper spiritual awareness and more joy and fun in their lives than any other people I’ve come to know."

    I am not advocating a life of poverty or deprivation. I am not advocating an austere and sterile lifestyle. Rather, I am advocating a lifestyle with which we can more easily cope. One wherein we have a better chance of creating internal happiness and fulfillment.

    Why does a simpler way of living form a context more likely to generate happiness? The primary reason is that there are fewer distractions to which we must attend. It is extremely stressful to be constantly vigilant and reacting to a complex and complicated lifestyle. Therefore, a simple life requires less energy to maintain, and inner peacefulness has a better chance to flourish.

    When you are less "scattered" in your energy and attention, you are more able to focus on what is really important to you, e.g. your creative thoughts, your hopes and dreams, your significant relationships, your personal health, and your spiritual growth. You more easily distinguish between what is truly important and fulfilling to you, and everything else!

    When you live a simple life, it is less expensive. It costs less financially, emotionally, and physically. Anyone whose primary purpose in life is to acquire more money is rarely happy. Anyone who is emotionally drained is rarely vitally healthy. Anyone who is physically stressed out is rarely joyful. There are two methods for filling a lake. One is to slow down the out-flow. The second is to increase the in-flow. Most of us seek to fill our lives by the former. A few of us choose the latter. Simplifying your life does both! By simplifying your life, you are more easily filled with less cost.

    When your lifestyle is simple, you are more likely to recognize your needs. Your emotional fluctuations are your body’s attempt to signal you about what you need at the moment. If you are unaware of your feelings and emotions, you will ignore your needs. When you become needy, you function less effectively. If you become needy enough, something within breaks down. As an adult, it is your responsibility to identify your needs and see to it they are addressed. Nobody else can do that for you. If you are living simply, taking full responsibility for yourself becomes easier.

    Any experienced auto mechanic will tell you, "The simpler the system, the less it breaks, and the easier it is to fix." The same is true of your life! The less your life breaks down and the easier it is to fix, the happier you are.

    If you want to experience "a greater sense of well-being, a more intimate and rewarding community life, a deeper spiritual awareness and more joy and fun in" your life, you may want to simplify it!

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