December 13, 2013

Voluntary Simplicity - What Is It?

Voluntary simplicity is an ancient idea that has never gone away. Today it is a growing social trend that continues to gain steam. But what is it?

There are as many definitions as there are people choosing to live the simple life. A common thread runs through them all, however, and can be described by a common principle - 'All things being equal, everything in nature tends toward simplicity.'

In medieval times, Thomas Aquinas wrote:
"If a thing can be done adequately by means of one, it is superfluous to do it by means of several; for we observe that nature does not employ two instruments where one suffices."
Researchers found 12 dimensions in discussions from 1977 to 2001 that refer to voluntary simplicity. They can help us move toward a more complete understanding of what is involved.

12 Dimensions of Voluntary Simplicity
  1. The Good Life
  2. Life Purpose
  3. Personal Growth
  4. Chosen Life
  5. Self Determination
  6. Relationships
  7. Material Simplicity
  8. Minimal Consumption
  9. Role of Work
  10. Plain Living
  11. Ecological Awareness
  12. Human Scale
Some recent definitions randomly selected from the Internet help to identify other features common to voluntary simplicity.

Defining Voluntary Simplicity

  • A lifestyle that minimizes consumption and the pursuit of wealth and material goods.
  • A life that is less costly, so one can work less and have more time and freedom.
  • Living the way you want to live without having to compromise who you are or who you want to be.
  • A lifestyle that is less pressured due to a focus away from accumulation of goods and more toward non-material aspects of life.
  • A way of life in which one consumes responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life and promote social justice.
  • Dumping what doesn't make you happy in order to have some time for what does.

Since humans are part of nature, we have an (often hidden) urge to conduct our lives with simplicity and efficiency in mind.

Simple is Nature's way, and it is what we crave as Nature's children.

How do you define the natural expression of simplicity in your life?


  1. I really enjoyed this, thank you! The list gave me a lot to think about.

    1. K.G.T.,

      We are getting down to the knitty gritty, and thinking is what leads us to action. First we think it - then we make it happen.

      Glad you are with us. Feel free to share your thoughts here.


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.