The following is a guest post from a reader. Louise, thanks so much for sharing your story today!
Living simply, living slow
I started living the simple life about 20 years ago and at that time it was because I had very little money. For me, this style of living has developed over the years. Now, I have more money but I really don’t have any desire to accumulate material stuff.
There are two kinds of things in life. There are the important things and things that have no purpose. I want to live my life with things that have purpose and meaning.
In those early days, I scraped together money to pay the mortgage for my apartment. I was forced to live simply but at the same time I endeavored to enjoy the best of what life had to offer; to learn, to discover, to be adventurous, and to be surrounded by beauty and friendships.
Luckily, when I got married my husband had learned and grown in many of the same ways. It was easy to live our life together focusing on living instead of things.
After my years of practice I wanted to share with you the things I do buy and don’t buy to live simply.
- Food – In my kitchen cupboards I only have what we need for a few days; I have a couple of packets of nuts as back up for an emergency meal. We eat small portions and simple plain dishes often without meat. We drink a lot of water, and avoid juices, and sodas. We rarely snack in between meals. Eating a lot seems unnecessary to me, and storing a lot of food is based on fear that we may not have enough in the future.
- Clothes – I have always bought quality items that won’t become dated too quickly; items that are at the higher end of the market. I limit the colors. What works best for me is white tops and a pair of jeans (one pair only and designer!) and that is the basis for the rest of my wardrobe. I use scarves and have a couple of brightly colored knitwear items to add color.
- Shoes – My total number of shoes: 6! That includes slippers and snow boots.
- Toiletries – I probably use less toiletries and make-up than other women. I am a firm believer that beauty comes from within, and one needs to let their passion for life shine through. Some people can get so caught up in buying tons of cosmetics because the media says that’s what they need to do to look beautiful but it isn’t true and it is a waste of time and money.
- Home – My house is minimalist and white: white walls, white furniture, white furnishings. I have simple, straightforward, and functional furniture; like my clothes, they are good quality and styles that don’t date quickly. We don’t have garden furniture but we have furniture in our living area that can be used inside or outside including wicker chairs and a light-weight dining table.
- Electronics – We use our computer for watching TV, listening to music, storage of photos, books, bank statements and other documentation. We use our computers in a variety of ways, and we use them a lot. This means we have less to store, and less furniture to store things in.
- Entertainment – In the early days when I had less money and there was no Internet, I would rely on listening to the radio for music. I never owned a stereo system. Neither have I ever owned a video or DVD collection: now-a-days these can be found on the Internet. For books – I would always borrow either from friends or from the Public Library. I have moved 5 times in 20 years, and two of these moves have been international moves. I have also had several extended trips. For this reason important for me to have less stuff!
- Vacations and holidays – most of our trips are to see family or work related. ( I try to live as if I am always on vacation; but that’s another story and blog). I travel quite a bit for my work and my husband’s family are in Spain and my family are in the UK – travelling is very much part of our lives. My husband and I do very little sightseeing when on vacation – it actually does not really interest us. What does one really get out of it? Our lives our enriched more through friendships and exploring spirituality.
When you live with only the very basics, the gifts you get from others are far more meaningful. If you don’t treat yourself, the gifts you receive from others, things you would not buy for yourself, are so much more precious.
On a trip to Africa I observed how people lived with practically nothing and were happy! Consumerism in the Western world is rampant and so mesmeric.
I have found having less stuff allows me to focus on, and appreciate more, the beauty around me. Things like beautiful sunsets and sunrises, listening to the birds singing, and the beauty in friendships. Also the peace and love within ourselves that we only find when the five senses are quieter. For this, I really evaluate what I need, and what I can do without.
Another realization was that one does not need to possess something to enjoy its beauty (tweet this). I’m talking about art work, vintage cars and stuff like that. I realized that I can enjoy the beauty of an item without owning it. I love being surrounded by beauty but this can be found in so many things that we don’t personally possess.
When I read this back through this post again I can imagine that someone will think I live a dull, boring life. But I don’t think I do. I actually decided a few years ago to only work 4 days a week so I can enjoy life more. This helps me to live slow and to live simply, to spend more time in reflection, and meditation, and to enjoy the deep and meaningful things in life.
Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us today Louise! It is good to know the tangible ways people shop and live differently so we can have ideas about what will work best for us 🙂