One of the most important aspects of living simply is having the time to develop self-awareness; to heed Joseph Campbell’s advise and “follow your bliss”.
With infinite consumer entertainments vying for our attention, developing self-awareness is difficult. Very few people will recommend it, and many will say you are wasting time ’navel-gazing’. Maybe they know that the system as we know it would change irrevocably if becoming our true selves were our top priority.
Ralph Waldo Emerson warned that “society is everywhere in conspiracy against the [individuality] of every one of its members.” How do we fight this conspiracy? Find and live out our “sacred integrity", which will lead to lasting happiness and fulfillment.
Susan Murphy says you have to “allow a kind of healing crisis of mind and heart that will yield a genuinely liberating glimpse of who you are and what reality is, minus all opinions about it.” Such a crisis leads us to our sacred integrity.
Or as the poet Basho says, “Cultivate a mind to follow nature and return to nature.”
In other words, the process of awareness that identifies who we are to ourselves is the same process that reveals reality, and is the same process that operates throughout nature.
How do we gain insight to these processes, and thus get to know ourselves and discover our bliss? The Buddhist mountain hermits in China have 3000 years of experience in this area. They would say, "Don't follow your old habits: Observe your mind."
While this may be a life long journey, the sooner we simplify and align ourselves with nature, the sooner we can get started.
First we change ourselves, then we change the world.