Last week I was interviewed on the radio, which was weird/fun.
The host and I were chatting about minimalism and simple living when a text came through from a listener.
The host read it on air, and the text simply said, “You want to know what it is to live simply? Go visit Nepal and see how little they live with.”
And I couldn’t agree more. That one, simple message neatly summed up a complex issue I really struggle with: the privileged position from which I can write.
“Oh look, a [relatively] affluent woman talking about all the stuff we don’t need. There she is, surrounded by all the things many people would literally die to give their families. Clean water. An abundance of food. Good health. Access to doctors, hospitals, medicine. Security. Safety. A support network. The ability to vote. The freedom to have a different opinion and not fear for her life.”
Sometimes, I admit, I feel like I have no right to be talking about simplicity.
Sometimes I feel like a ridiculous idealist. It’s not hard when life is so easy.
Sometimes I feel like a jerk, tossing about ideas of living with less, when a majority of the world’s population don’t call that ‘minimalism’, they call that ‘life’.
But then I realise that those of us with the most (and, yes, if you’re reading this on a computer, with electricity, in a building or a place of relative safety, then I am talking to you) are the ones in a position to make the biggest changes.
Most of us would agree we need far less than we currently have.
So what would happen if we all shed that excess and became content with having less?
- Our focus could shift further away from stuff.
- The world’s over-stretched resources could spread further.
- We could help more people.
That’s what I really want to see in the world. Focus less on stuff and more on humanity.
The difficulty – and I understand this as much as the next person – is in getting to that point. It’s all well and good to talk about it, but when the reality is of an over-stuffed garage and a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear, moving from theory to practice is difficult.
This year I have been part of a 12-month program called A Simple Year. Each month members have received a module of work tackling different elements of simplifying life – from work to money, travel to how to maintain simplicity once you achieve it. The modules include comprehensive reading materials, guidebooks, projects and homework, as well as live calls where students are able to ask any questions they may have.
It’s been a massive success this year, with many of the participants telling us that life has changed in dramatic and positive ways. So we’re doing it again in 2015.
The program was created by Courtney Carver of Be More With Less, and I am so happy to co-present alongside her and the following simplicity advocates:
- Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist
- Colin Wright from Exile Lifestyle
- Jules Clancy from Stone Soup
- Tammy Strobel from RowdyKittens
- Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete
- Rachel Stafford from Hands Free Mama
If you’re interested in finding out more about the course, early- bird regstration is open until 14th November. Check out all the details and course specifics at simpleyear.co