October 4, 2013

Simple Is The Way

Of all the research I have done into what thinkers and philosophers of the past have recommended, I have never come across any that suggest we spend our lives focused on increasing our material wealth.


When it comes to religious figures and ancient texts the result is always the same. None that I know of tell their followers to acquire as much stuff as possible. Quite the opposite.

Even our comedians warn us of the dangers of participating in the acquisition of material possessions.

So who exactly are we listening to when we are deciding how to live our lives? Not these folks, that's for sure, for if we were paying attention we would realize that simple is the best way, indeed the only way, to live successfully on Earth.

That has been the unheeded message for thousands of years.

Simple Wisdom

“If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, then this is the best season of your life.”

- Wu-Men

"I am more and more inclined to reduce my baggage, to lop off superfluities. I become more and more in love with simple things and simple folk- a small house, a hut in the woods, a tent on the shore. The show and splendor of great houses, elaborate furnishings, stately halls, oppress me; impose upon me. They fix the attention on false values, they set up a false standard of beauty; they stand between me and the real feeders of character and thought." 

- John Burroughs

"Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts, of life are not only dispensable, but hindrances to the elevation of mankind." 

- Henry David Thoreau

Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where rust or moths corrupts or where thieves break in and steal but lay up treasures in heaven where moth and rust does not corrupt and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.

- Mathew 6:19-21 

"Happiness, the goal to which we all are striving is reached by endeavouring to make the lives of others happy, and if by renouncing the luxuries of life we can lighten the burdens of others.... surely the simplification of our wants is a thing greatly to be desired! 

And so, if instead of supposing that we must become hermits and dwellers in caves in order to practice simplicity, we set about simplifying our affairs, each according to his own convictions and opportunity, much good will result and the simple life will at once be established.

- Gandhi

“Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.” 

- Lao Tzu

"You can't have everything. Where would you put it?" 

- Steven Wright


  1. Since first seeing the average house size article this website has become one of my daily websites now and I am just saying to keep doing what you're doing. I don't do drugs but another good philosopher is Terance McKenna who passed away in 2000. Check some of his quotes and such out.

    1. Joe W, It is very gratifying to hear you say that we have made it to daily status in your life. What an absolute honour for you to gift us with your time and attention. We hope to make it worth your while.

      Terance McKenna is one of my favourites. His thinking was wayyy out of the box. What box? Do you see a box?

      You don't have to do drugs to get his stuff, but it helps.

  2. We bought nothing for 6 months. Nothing on food, power, water, transport and we reduced our waste to almost nil. We wrote a book about it... Living the Good Life - How One Family Change Their World From Their own Backyard. It wasn't so hard once you got into the swing of things. My partner biked to work, I stayed at home and grew and prepared our food. In the weekend we biked places and met up with friends. We lost heaps of weight, our blood pressure improved, and despite an almost meatless 6 months our iron levels were 75% better than when we started out. All those green veggies. And we did it on a suburban backyard in Australia. It's not impossible and it's not horrible. Though I don't recommend eating backyard snails :-)

    1. Linda, Wow - what a story. Congratulations on the experience, and the book.

      I am so glad you stopped by and commented here. Your project is EXACTLY what I am talking about, and what I aspire to in my own life.

      The Goodreads website introduces your book by saying:

      "Inspiring and challenging, this chronicle of a unique household experiment takes readers inside one family’s environmental test. Already mindful of the impact human activity has on the environment, the author and her family decided to take a further step towards thoughtful living by aiming for complete domestic sustainability.

      For six months, the Cockburns grew, bartered for, and made everything they ate; used exclusively solar power; collected rainwater for drinking, cleaning, and cooking; parked the cars and turned to bicycles; and aimed to not spend a single dollar.

      From just their average home on an average-sized lot, they experienced success, surprises, and challenges in their quest—all while learning about themselves as a family. Whether readers are looking for lessons on adopting some—or all—of the Cockburns' practices or are just curious about what it might take to "do it yourself” even more deeply, this story will bring them along for the ride."

      The reader reviews are also awesome. I will be looking for your book in my public library.

      What you say in your comment is exactly the message I wish to convey about living simply and more sustainably.

      "It's not impossible, and it's not horrible".

      To me, it is the only way to go.

  3. Anonymous4/27/2014

    I must have missed this one when you posted. Wow, I learn so much reading your posts! There is so much support for how I think about things and the way I aspire to live.
    This post and the comments have given me boatloads of life-changing connections and insight while reinforcing what I know deep down is right for me. Thanks!

    1. Terri,

      There is little to no support in mainstream society (depending on where one lives), so we have to stick together.

      If we are all wrong and don't actually "need" to live simply, we will at least have followed the message our hearts are whispering to our minds.

      And really, how can one argue with thousands of years of simple wisdom about how to conduct ones self on this planet? I think we know this instinctively, but are so addicted to what amounts to luxury, that it will be hard for many to make the shift they must know is inevitable.

      Living more simply is both possible AND enjoyable.


Comments will be printed after moderation to eliminate spam. We are proudly a no buying, no selling website.

We enjoy reading all comments, and respond when time permits.

If you put a name to your comment we can all recognize you for your contribution.

Thank you for visiting and commenting.