Living Simply: Why Simplicity?

Today I bought a new bag, and now I’m deeply conflicted. For the first time in months, I walked into a big retail store, picked out an item, and paid money for it. But I’m not upset that I acquired something new. My old bag was falling apart, and I had been mulling over the idea of a new one for several weeks. I’m not distressed over the money I spent. I was frugal in my choice, and I made sure to make a selection that would be both versatile and sturdy. I even checked out the brand’s rating on free2work.org and was satisfied with their production methods and level of accountability.

I’m conflicted, not because I bought a new bag, but because I felt guilty about it.

I shouldn’t feel guilty. This purchase passed all the tests; it’s a useful, economical, responsible acquisition. I’m donating my old bag (hopefully to someone who knows how to fix everything that’s wrong with it,) so I won’t be just racking up a collection of purses. But I still felt a twinge of guilt as I left the store, and a voice in my head chided me about my decision. (“You’re a minimalist. You shouldn’t even carry around enough to need a bag!” Blah blah blah, inner voice. Who asked you anyway?)

For this reason, as well as a few other recent happenings, I’d like to present what will hopefully be a stabilizing influence in our little community. Without further ado, here is Why Simplicity? or What Simplicity is Not, and Why We Shouldn’t Feel Guilty For Not Being As Minimalist As The Next Guy. Ta-da!

Reason 1:

We aren’t the next guy. Just because I live with 15 items of clothing doesn’t mean that you’re less of a person for having 33. Or 50. Or 100. The point of this blog is not to draw comparisons between people who live in such different places, walks of life, and situations that they can’t reasonably be compared. The point of The Live Simply Blog is not to make you throw out all of your possessions. I’m here to show you that you can. That if you feel trapped or overwhelmed by clutter, you have options. I never judge any of my readers (friends) for owning more than I do, or spending their money differently than I would. My goal is to help us all expand our minds, but never, ever to impose guilt on you for the size of your horizons (or the size of your closet.)

Reason 2:

Simplicity is about freedom, and it manifests itself a little differently for everyone. For me, freedom is about being able to pack up and move anywhere, anytime. This requires a flexible job, minimal expenses, and a very light inventory. For you, freedom may be about chasing a dream that requires a high-tech office, or building a big family who will need a big house to live in. Everyone’s North Star is different, and my hope is that simplicity opens doors to your unique future, not to a clone of mine.

Reason 3:

It’s all in our heads. Simplicity begins in the mind. If we aren’t owned by our possessions, it matters very little how many possessions we own. Downsizing usually follows a minimalistic mindset, but not always. If you know that your stuff (or commitments, or money) doesn’t control you, the numbers don’t matter. Sometimes we have to do with a lot less to break the mental dependence on our belongings, but once that’s done, we only need to stay on the bottom rungs of the ladder for as long as we want to.

So there you have it! Three big reasons for simplicity, along with (I hope) the debunking of a few myths. For the record, I love every one of you. I have had a blast getting to know you all over the last several months, and I’m looking forward to seeing our community grow and bloom. Thanks for making The Live Simply Blog (and Tshirts & Twine) such a fantastic success!

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