“I believe that voluntary simplicity goes way beyond HOW you live and is more about the WAY you live… it’s also about happiness, contentment… going outside your comfort zone, accepting responsibility for your actions, and getting your priorities ‘right.'”
– Shirley at Choosing Voluntary Simplicity
Many people use the terms voluntary simplicity and minimalism interchangeably. Others use minimalism to describe a lifestyle focused mainly on having fewer possessions and voluntary simplicity to describe a life that focuses more on values than stuff. Some use voluntary simplicity to mean living more sustainably and self-sufficiently.
This form of voluntary simplicity is often associated with rural living, though you can live quite sustainably and self-sufficiently in a suburban area as well. The Urban Homestead, for instance, produces up to 6,000 pounds harvest on 1/10 acre.
If this type of simple living appeals to you, consider reading magazines like Mother Earth News, Countryside and Small Stock Journal, and Urban Farm. You might like to read Helen and Scott Nearing‘s book The Good Life, John Seymour’s The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It, and Carleen Madigan’s The Backyard Homestead.
“These days there is a lot of poverty in the world, and that’s a scandal when we have so many riches and resources to give to everyone. We all have to think about how we can become a little poorer.”
– Pope Francis
An important part of the term voluntary simplicity is the word voluntary. If you’re reading this blog, you mostly likely have regular Internet access, electricity, clean running water, decent shelter and enough food.
You may not have the ability to live in a mansion in an exclusive neighborhood, buy a yacht or jet around the world, but for the most part, you have the opportunity to choose how you’ll live. How many pairs of shoes you’ll own, whether you’ll have chicken or beans for dinner, which hobbies you’ll spend your time and money on.
Although global poverty has fallen faster during the past 20 years than at any time in history, there are still 700 million people living in extreme poverty. One of the benefits of living more simply is having a little extra cash and time to share with others who aren’t so fortunate.
One of the charities I’m supporting this year is The Hope Effect, which is building orphanages that feature two-parent, family-style homes for children. Click this button to support The Hope Effect, or donate your time and/or money to your favorite charity.Donate
How do you define voluntary simplicity? Do you consider it different from minimalism?