What does simple living mean to you?

What does simple living mean to me?

Ask 10 people and you will get 10 different answers to the question: “What does simple living mean to you?”

In fact, ask me 10 times and you will get 10 different answers.

Not because I’m flaky, but because simplicity can be kinda complicated. What we need it to be will change depending upon circumstance, seasons in life and who it applies to. And that’s OK.

Recently a friend asked me to describe simple living. And while it was easy enough to give the expected answers:

  • cutting away the excess in life
  • getting back to what is truly important
  • decluttering
  • saying no to things that we didn’t need or didn’t need to do
  • taking time to do nothing
  • looking for contentment
  • practising gratitude
  • living an environmentally conscious life…

what I found myself thinking about were the benefits. What the actual day-to-day nuts and bolts of life look like now that we have embraced simplicity. Instead of focusing on the what, my mind was drawn to the why – to the things we’ve gained simply because of living a simpler life.

My answers weren’t about living in a clutter-free home (although that is so lovely) or having only clothes that I wear in my wardrobe (even though it makes getting dressed in the morning infinitely easier) or cleaning our home with natural cleaners (although I appreciate the impact of this).

Instead, I focused on the time I got to spend in the garden. The tiny beauties I now notice and appreciate. The giggles of our kids. The joy of a lazy Sunday afternoon. The sunlight in the trees.

And I know these are cliched answers, but that doesn’t make them any less real. If we hadn’t taken the time, and worked for years to create a simpler life, I wouldn’t have been around to notice these things. If I hadn’t suffered a crushing breakdown and closed my business, I’d still be working all hours, I’d be falling further and further behind at home, I’d be barely present in my kids lives and I would be missing out on the tiny (and yet massive) joys of the sun on my face, the dirt on our hands and the hugs of our kids.

That’s what simplicity means to me.

It’s not a destination. I don’t think I will ever look around me, brush my hands together and say, “Well, that’s it. I’m done.”

I believe that our ideas of enough and simple and freedom will continue to change over time, as our perspectives and seasons of life change.

Simplicity is a mindset, but it’s not the point in and of itself. The way we live, and the life we live – this is the point. The sun, the dirt, the travel, the laughter, the memories. These are the point. Noticing them and carving a life from these tiny moments – that is the point.

The decluttering helps us to get there. Learning to say no helps us to get there. Letting go of constant busyness helps us to get there. But those aren’t the point.

So what does simple living mean to me?

Living. Simply.

In October this year, a group of simplicity advocates and enthusiasts will gather in Minneapolis to share their ideas on living a simple, intentional life. You have the opportunity to join them and join the ever-growing movement towards a simpler, slower way of life.


The first-ever SimpleREV is being held at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis on October 3-4, and shouldn’t be missed if you’re looking to slow down, simplify and get real in a world of hyper-consumerism and endless busy-ness.

Those who do attend will work closely with workshop leaders and keynote speakers such as Joshua Becker (Becoming Minimalist), Joel Zaslofsky (Value of Simple) and Dan Hayes (Simple Life Together), as well as an entire community of people who value a simple life just as much as you do.

This event is for anyone interested in living a simple life – whether you’ve sold 90% of your belongings and live in a campervan, or if you’re merely dipping your toe into the pool that is simplicity.  There will be encouraging keynote speeches to uplift you, while intimate workshops will help you craft a more intentional, simple life. At SimpleREV, there is something for everyone. (And can I tell you, the line-up of workshops and presentations makes it sting even more that I can’t attend. Unfortunately, living on the other side of the planet has its downsides and I can’t swing it this year.)

Grab your ticket today, or visit the SimpleREV website to discover more about the event, the founders and what you can expect during the first weekend of October.


Wake Up. Come Home. Fill Up. Be Simple.


13 Responses to What does simple living mean to you?

  1. I do think that simple living comes from a mind set. Having moved to the country, I get over being told how life is so much simpler out here. It is just geography. In some ways it is, whilst in others it is more complicated. We have made conscious choices about our lifestyle to put the important things first.

  2. Simple living isn’t the easiest or the most convenient choice, it is work. It is living in a way that meshes with your values and what you want out of life. It is different for every person and anyone can make the decision to live a simpiler life style now, where they are at. Simple living allows me the time and resources to spend my time doing what I value most.

  3. For me “simple living” means designing a life that minimizes stress due to excess in possessions or activities. This enables me to focus of my life goals and to appreciate the golden moments in life.

  4. Two important aspects of simplicity to me are: learn to enjoy things without owning them and reject anything that breeds the oppression of others. In the book, Celebration of Discipline, simplicity is described as a spiritual discipline. I believe this to be true.

    • Stephanie, your comment about simplicity as a spiritual discipline reminds me of something Vicki Robin told me recently. She said that simplicity is more of a spiritual promise than a practical one these days.

      I’d change her perspective a bit to say that the spiritual promise of simple living leads to practical impacts. But really, it can easily work the other way around.

    • Stephanie, I love these two thoughts. So many of the real joys of life are not to be owned, are they? They’re to be seen, felt, experienced, but not owned. I think we have a long way to go on your second point, but I do believe that the more aware we are of our stuff, where it comes from, who makes it and what their lives are like, the more we can start to make better choices. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  5. Increased productivity … that’s what simple living means to me. As I declutter my life (not just my house), I have less pointless stuff and people to worry about and/or take care of, and more time to spend on the activities and people that really matter to me. I’m lucky in that I have a lot of autonomy at work, and and can choose what areas on which I will concentrate. It has taken some considerable mental adjustment, though; my work culture is predicated upon “busy-ness” – my colleagues often boast about how busy they are, even though said busy-ness often consists of meetings and committee work that goes nowhere and will be swept away by a change in management.

    I’m also a lot happier and I think my carbon footprint is smaller. I practice gratitude and enjoy my life so much more!

    • That’s it in a nutshell, Tracey. Less stuff (both physical and mental) means more time to focus on things that matter. And also more time to get done the things we need/want to get done. The beautiful byproduct of that is then more time to rest and slow down and rejuvenate too. I’m the same as you in feeling good at the smaller carbon footprint also. If we all make these kinds of changes, who knows, maybe we CAN change the world!

  6. I love the video!

    To me it’s about focusing on the things that matters most such as my family, friends and health. It’s having mental clarity, gratitude and contentment.

    I have to agree, my definition is ever changing because simplicity involves our entire being. It’s not something we can reduce to one area of our lives. It’s a journey and not a destination. And my life is better because of it!

  7. In the past I was known to mostly hire things done. I did not have the patience or the inclination to do things myself. It took a theft of my wedding ring to help me realize that I needed to slow down and re-organize my priorities. I am slowly getting back to the joy of cleaning, fixing and doing the things that give me a great sense of appreciation for what I have.

Leave a reply