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After the consumerist orgie that is the holiday season, it feels good to kick off 2013 with a refocus on voluntary simplicity.
I started embracing the principles of voluntary simplicity several years ago, and more radically three years ago when I made a New Year’s resolution to buy only things I need (or absolutely love).
It started with reading Simple Prosperity (affiliate link) by David Wann. This amazingly inspiring book made me think twice about the lifestyle I was living (lots of work, climbing the ladder, spending more and more money) and encouraged me to break free from the consumerist culture of the West.
Voluntary Simplicity and Wellness
But what does voluntary simplicity (or “simple living“) have to do with wellness?
I believe that in order to be well, we must reject stressful consumerism and embrace a lifestyle that does not measure success based on the size of our house, the make of our car, and the amount of valuable stuff we own.
Voluntary Simplicity is Freedom
Voluntary simplicity is a conscious decision to buy less and live more. This has implications on a number of levels:
- When you spend less money, you don’t have to earn as much. This means you can do work you love, even if it doesn’t pay as much.
- Shopping takes time! With the Internet and its product reviews, I spend literally hours researching products before I buy them (even cheaper products like blenders!).
- Buying too much stuff leads to a cluttered home. Visual clutter is distracting and doesn’t allow us to be fully creative.
- The things we buy require maintenance, break, and need to be replaced. The more equipment and electronics you have, the more complicated your life will be.
- Expensive stuff adds stress. Do you worry people will break in and steal your valuables? If you don’t have any, you don’t have to worry.
- If you choose to share expensive items with neighbors and friends, you’ll gain a sense of community. And that’s good for your health.
- Living simply is good for the environment too. And doesn’t it feel good to know that you’re part of something bigger – like saving the planet?
The point is – voluntary simplicity is not a sacrifice, it’s freedom!
Beating the Urge to Shop
Of course, voluntary simplicity is not just about shopping, but shopping is an important aspect. In the US, we shop for fun. Going to the mall isn’t a chore, it’s a social event.
So how do you beat the urge to shop? Let me share a simple formula:
Always think twice before buying something.
That’s it. Stop. Think: “Do I really need this?”
Most of the time, the answer is no. Move on. Go for a walk in the park.
Renewing my Voluntary Simplicity Resolution
This month, I will renew my voluntary simplicity resolution.
This means buying only what I need and favoring reusing & repairing over buying new (for example, my slippers and a pair of jeans are currently with Buffalo Boot Trading Post for a makeover).
It means simplifying other aspects of my life. Looking at social media, email, activities, commitments and making conscious decisions about how I want to spend my time.
It means saying no to new requests until I have room on my plate.
It means living consciously and enjoying all the wonderful non-material things in life.
It feels so good.