Principles of Voluntary Simplicity
Voluntary simplicity is a philosophy that involves pulling out of mainstream consumerism while focusing on improving the quality of your life.
Using the following principles, you can create a simple life of quality over quantity.
Intentional living is the number one principle on this list because if you don’t live with intention you probably aren’t living simply. To live with intention is to choose or consciously create your life.
You are choosing how you will spend your time, how you will spend your money, and ultimately how you spend your life.
If you are mindlessly trudging through work everyday, shoveling food into your mouth, and shopping online out of boredom, you might need a dose of intention.
Another main theme of voluntary simplicity is being able to spend your time in a way that pleases you. Instead of trading your time for money, in order to trade that money for possessions.
Simplicity is all about choosing work that you love even when it pays less, because you can afford to earn less money when you are consuming less.
You might trade your car lifestyle for walking, which allows you to trade your cubicle for a career in photography.
Maybe you work part time, cut your expenses deeply and spend your free-time creating art.
It’s up to you.
Maybe your passion is closing deals from your office wearing heels and silk blouses. If that is making your dreams come true than you are on your true path.
The key is to be doing what you choose; not to be mindlessly doing what everyone else in society is doing, without questioning it.
Getting off the “hamster wheel” is the carrot for many people choosing voluntary simplicity.
Maybe you want to follow your passion OR maybe you want to put away as much money as you can now, in order to reach financial freedom at an earlier stage than traditional retirement.
Both paths require simple living, you are choosing intentionally how to live, earn, spend and participate in society.
With financial freedom you no longer have to trade time for money, unless you choose to. I think this is how we humans are meant to live, grow and evolve naturally.
Not all people living simply are minimalists but many are.
Certainly a homesteader will have a lot of stuff because they are making and tending all their own things.
But for many people living simply, minimalism is a common thread. People tend to choose to have less stuff and focus more on their passions and relationships.
It costs less to do it yourself and for many people they would rather be out in the sun doing their own gardening and mowing their own lawn versus being in an office or cubicle earning money to pay someone else to it for them.
It they are even aware that that is what they are doing, most are not.
Many people living a simple life make their own repairs or barter for things or services they need from others.
Being green is a side effect of living simply because consumerism has a great cost to the environment. And I find the more you do, when it comes to making earth friendly choices, the more you want to do.
Sometimes being green requires more up front cost such as purchasing glass storage containers and buying the better quality tool. However, these choices will last a lifetime if cared for and replace cheap disposable products that must be purchased over and over again.
When we step back from consumerism our eyes are opened to the true cost of that lifestyle. When we are no longer ignoring the truths of what consumerism does to people and the planet it quickly loses any appeal it once held.
Focus on Vitality
If you live simply you are taking care of your health because there is nothing simple about disease.
If you live simply you probably cook your own food and eat healthy, you might even grow some of it yourself. Cooking is so much cheaper than eating out and many people enjoy cooking when they have the time to do so.
You are likely active and fit because you are living life on your terms and your energy and vitality are at optimum levels because you are happy and fulfilled.
Quality over Quantity
Quality over quantity runs through all of voluntary simplicity. Everything about voluntary simplicity is about have a better quality of life.
You take your time replacing pieces in your wardrobe with intention.
You choose better quality clothing that is made of better materials, produced in a healthy way. Maybe you are buying recycled, vintage or thrift.
Instead of buying mass produced synthetic products that are disposable and filling up our landfills. You stop buying to fill a need because you are living a fulfilling life already.
You choose high quality foods that are humane, natural, organic and local when possible.
You prepare meals because you love to nourish yourself and your family.
Instead of buying chemical filled convenience foods that have no nutrition and make us sick.
You don’t bring home take-out because you are exhausted from the job that sucks the life out of you.
You stop buying junk food and pop.
You choose to spend your time with people who truly light you up.
You intentionally spend time with like-minded people who encourage the lifestyle you are living.
Your relationships are deep and meaningful.
Instead of having large groups of friends that strive for the bigger house, nicer car, and designer handbags.
You work doing something meaningful and good.
You accomplish more in less time and the quality of your work is better because you are happy to do it.
Instead of working 40, 50 or even 60 hours at a job you don’t love, to earn money for the big house, fancy car, and designer handbag.
Methodically slowing the pace of your life allows you to begin to see and create the life of your dreams. You can reduce your spending and expenses immediately or gradually. It may take time for you to realize what is truly unnecessary and those things that keep you plugged into a highly consumerist way of life, but the key is to keep at it.
Eventually you will find you are comfortable changing jobs to something more to your liking, no matter the pay cut or maybe you find yourself retiring early. Either way, enjoy your every days because we get this one life, are you going to spend it impressing the Jones’s or yourself?