Whenever you ask young people about their dreams and goals in life, most of them would talk about making a name for themselves, seeing the world, earning their first million by age 25, owning a big house or their dream car, and living large. You will find it very rare to get answers such as start a family and live a simple but happy life.
Commercialism has conditioned our minds to go big or go home. And unfortunately, a huge majority of the world’s population has bought into this concept. While there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big and wanting the best things life has to offer, those who are older, more mature, and wise beyond their years would say that all the flashy things in life won’t bring true happiness and real meaning in life.
Jim Carrey has been quoted as saying that he wishes for people to get their dreams — be rich and famous — so they realize how these things don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Given this perspective, it makes us think about our priorities in life. Do we always have to be in pursuit of big things to say we truly lived life? Or does the opposite have something bigger to offer?
Why should you consider transitioning to a simpler life?
Living large is great. But it’s still not enough to buy you happiness, peace, and sanity. Many people who have lived their lives in pursuit of fame and riches live burned out, unhappy, and meaningless lives. Their work and business have taken much of their time away from the things that truly matter in life.
Somehow, people who learn to live simpler lives are less prone to breakdowns and burnouts. They are less likely to crack under unnecessary pressure. Think of it like this. Life is a concrete slab that gets pummeled and beaten day in and day out. Although it has certain foundational steel reinforcements (our values and morals), an extra layer of OBIC lining (living a simpler life) is needed to extend its life and provide rehabilitation when needed.
A simpler life promotes a healthy work-life balance that significantly reduces the stressors we encounter daily. Making this transition to a simpler lifestyle, a.k.a downshifting, could be the best thing a person will ever do for himself or herself.
What are some truths in contrast to the myths about downshifting?
Now while the benefits of living a simpler life may be awesome, many people are on the fence about it mainly because of the myths and misconceptions going around. In contrast to those different urban legends about downshifting, here are a few realities:
You don’t need to go back to the stone age
Just because you choose to scale down doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to technology. You’re just trying to streamline your life according to your priorities, not go back to the stone age.
It doesn’t happen instantly
It takes time to make the transition, especially if you’re coming from the opposite end of the spectrum. Expect that there will be challenges and certain episodes of withdrawal if you decide to take the step.
People have different reasons for downsizing
Just like in everything else, people downsize for different reasons. One person who’s also downsizing at the same time as you probably has a different motivation in doing so. It could be because of financial hardship, or perhaps they’re tired of all the clutter and have decided to go minimalist. So don’t judge them or even compare your situation to theirs.
How does one make the changes?
So how does one start the process of living a simpler life?
1. Take baby steps
Take it one step at a time. Understand that it is a process, not an overnight thing. It will take time, so plan wisely. Do it gradually. Start small and build upon it brick by brick until you get to your desired lifestyle.
2. Start decluttering
One of the best ways to get started on simple living is to start decluttering. We all accumulate so much junk in our lives and homes that they sometimes tend to become part of the things that eat us up. The only way to liberate yourself from attachment to material things is learning to let go of most of your belongings.
3. Reduce your carbon footprint
This goes without saying. However, it should not mean disengaging from technology. Reducing your carbon footprint simply utilizing whatever tool or tech is necessary to help significantly lessen your energy consumption.
4. Spend more time with nature
Take time to literally stop and smell the flowers. Living simpler allows you to enjoy life in its purest form. Lessen technology’s hold on you and go back to basics. See the beauty of the natural world in a different light so you can experience its majesty.
5. Be with your family more
Family. They are the reason why we hustle and grind daily. Don’t let your work make you lose sight of the reason you’re working hard. A simple life allows you to have and maintain that healthy tension between work and family life. And prioritizing your family will help you realize what the most important things are.
In the end, you cannot take all the things you work hard for to the afterlife. What will live on are the memories you built with your loved ones, even if you do choose to live a simple yet beautiful and peaceful life.