Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger. A brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people sharing all the world.

John Lennon, Imagine

There is a growing movement in our world today called minimalism, and while many parts of my life may reflect it, I prefer to call how I choose to live voluntary simplicity. Just as it implies, voluntary simplicity is consciously chosen, and does not mean living in a state of deprivation, lack, or poverty. Rather, it is based on the following premises:

  • The current human way of life, based on consumption, is unsustainable
  • The obsession with a constant amassing of “more” is one of the root causes of the majority of stress and unhappiness for human beings
  • The short and long-term benefits of shifting from a “want” to a “need” state of mind
  • True joy, satisfaction and meaning do not come from the external or material possessions
  • Time and enriching experiences are more valuable than money, or material possessions
  • Health, happiness, and wellbeing come from living closer to the harmony and balance of nature

Just like with minimalism, there is no one definition of voluntary simplicity that perfectly describes how each person will choose to apply this lifestyle. There is no one right answer, and each person will apply the art of simplicity, as it feels most right at any given point, evolving it accordingly over time.

My Path to Simplicity

I feel immensely grateful that my partner and I came to a point early on in our life, where we knew that we wanted a different kind of life, and that it was possible. We were not interested in climbing corporate ladders or amassing wealth. We were not interested in playing the games of the status quo. We did not want to end up like most people around us, who were too busy to live and were destroying themselves in a mindless quest to live based on an illusion they bought into. We did not want our lives to revolve around work, bills, and cultural obligations. We were not going to sacrifice our joy, freedom, and wellbeing to support a destructive system that is based on fear and greed, in an effort “to fit in”. We wanted to live with depth, passion, harmony, balance, joy, peace, and wellbeing. And most importantly, we wanted to live on our own terms.

Our reality, is a reality of choice and freedom, not have to’s or should’s.

By 2010, we made a radical shift in our lifestyles. We both left our comfortable and well-paying jobs, the suburban life, and the quest for more. We downsized, minimized, and simplified, getting rid of any excess of material and immaterial things that weighed us down. The difference in the quality of our life was immediate. By simplifying our life and focusing on what mattered to us, we were able to own our own time, express our passions and creativity freely, and enjoy a deeper sense of meaning and wellbeing. Now we are able to invest our time and resources in things like growing some of our own food, migrating south for the winter, evolving our spirituality, and helping others. This journey has been so amazing, and even more rewarding with each passing year.

Steps On Our Journey of Voluntary Simplicity Included

  • Removing ourselves from work environments for external entities
  • Working from home, for ourselves
  • Decreasing the amount of “work hours”
  • Moving out of city suburbs, and into a more remote area, far away from cities, amidst natural landscapes of forests and lakes
  • Significantly reducing our bill payments
  • Minimizing our material possessions (cars, furniture, belongings, clothes, etc.)

Our Voluntary Simplicity Life Includes

  • Conscious consumption: buying what is needed, as needed, rather than buying for the sake of buying
  • Minimal stuff in our home: focusing on having only what is needed or used regularly
  • Home decor based on elegant simplicity
  • One car, instead of two
  • Heating our home with natural resources (wood)
  • No television, dishwasher, furnace or air conditioner
  • Waking up naturally each morning
  • Not being tied to specific days of the week
  • Vacations of greater frequency and duration
  • No reliance on consumer-based holidays or special occasions
  • Lots of time spent outdoors
  • Eco and environmentally conscious practices
  • Re-use of resources anytime possible
  • Growing some of our own food
  • Lots of joy, happiness and laugher
  • The freedom to BE

Voluntary Simplicity Allowed Us To

  • Own our time, and spend time on what matters most to us (what brings us most joy and creative expression)
  • Be free from consumerism-based societal expectations
  • Reduce our financial obligations, yet increase the quality of our life
  • Live where we wanted
  • Lead a slower, more relaxing way of life
  • Become more connected to nature
  • Live in harmony with the natural cycles of nature