What is Simple Living?

The Amish prefer a simple life and do not use modern conveniences like telephones and cars.
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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2014
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Have you ever heard of voluntary simplicity? It is another term used to describe the concept of simple living. Both terms refer to a basic lifestyle often one in which people “live off the land.” Some people embrace the idea of simple living as a lifestyle that helps to protect the environment. Some just prefer this way of life to the hectic existence of many consumers. Others do not approve of corporatism, capitalism, or consumerism, and choose simple living on principle.

Voluntary simplicity may actually be the more accurate term since simple living should not be confused with having only the most basic necessities due to poverty. Simple living is a chosen lifestyle, and that choice may be based on a variety of issues. People who choose this lifestyle feel as if they get something out of it, not as if they are doing without.

Simple living means that every available resource is utilized in a way that makes the most of each one. For example, fruits and vegetables are planted and harvested and then that food is eaten for nourishment. Waste from that food such as peels, stems, and cores that are not eaten, can then be made into compost. The compost is used for fertilizer with which to grow more food. It becomes a cycle.


Simple living also has a spiritual aspect for some. People of many different faiths believe that they are to trust in their God to provide for their needs and that they are not intended to long for the trappings of the secular world. The Amish for instance, are one group of religious people that have transformed simple living beyond a lifestyle and into an art form. They subscribe to a lifestyle of working hard to meet basic needs and are not consumed by luxury or extravagance.

This is something else about simple living that many people do not realize. Simple doesn’t mean easy. Simple living requires hard work often from sunrise to sunset. Planting, milking, hunting, butchering, harvesting, cooking, building, and many other chores are necessary, some each day, depending on how far people take simple living. Some may actually use technology such as a computer, yet run it with wind or solar generated electricity. Clearly, simple living means different things to different people, but the overall concept is one of getting back to basics.


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