Is It Downsizing Time?






Committing to less:

Many people have an "itch" to remove objects and activities from their lives, in order to achieve a greater sense of peacefulness - and to save resources from henceforth. If you're reading this page, you doubtless have experienced at least occasional urges to simplify your life.

...But a commitment to less? To most, that may seem a pretty radical approach. However, committing to less doesn't necessarily have to involve a vow of poverty! It could mean that you desire to commit yourself to a continual renewal of your efforts to be more mindful of your spending and accumulating habits - because you find that a leaner lifestyle tends to lead to a greater feeling of fulfillment, of "rightness" for you. (After all, it does indeed take less to fill a smaller container of any type - even a life!)

Author Wayne Dyer expresses, in his book Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, another aspect of simplifying that comes into play in some people's decision-making - and that in a way reverberates around the pages of this website: 

"...Everything that you add to your life brings with it an element of imprisonment:  Your stuff requires you to insure it and protect it from potential thieves or natural disasters; furthermore, you need to polish, paint, clean, store, and pack it, as well as move it from place to place. ...True mastery can only be gained by freeing yourself of attachments to things and, in fact, downsizing what you already have."

Less can be more... if it helps you gain more contentment, or if the money you save allows you to achieve your dreams. Homesteading blogger Patrice Lewis says that "Frugality is not deprivation or a penance; it's deliverance" - and that it can be simply a matter of plugging the leaks in the outflow from a paycheck when your normal spending routines result in "death by a thousand cuts". The real trick, as she emphasizes, is simply to spend less than you make... and keep working at that until you've trained yourself to enjoy that more thoughtful lifestyle.

There are a growing number of books available that explore the topic of committing to less as a lifestyle. They are in rather a wide range, from the philosophical, socioeconomic, and environmental to the personal and physical (spiritual striving; working less; living well on little money; decluttering one's space).

Some of the particularly interesting books along these lines that I've run across are:

Living More with Less, by Doris Janzen Longacre, is a now-updated 1980 classic from out of the Mennonite experience. It includes thoughtful and thought-provoking articles by others from a 30-years-after perspective. Two of these follow Longacre's revealing chapter titled "Nonconform Freely". A line in one sticks with me:  "By living simple, peace-oriented lives, we embody our critique of culture." And indeed, many who seek simplicity do so in reaction against the "overconsumptive" stress in modern culture (you?).

Downshifting: How to Work Less and Enjoy Life, by John D. Drake, gives advice on how to explore the possibilities of downsizing your job so as to give yourself more "life" - supportive especially for those in a corporate environment.

The Simple Living Guide: A Sourcebook for Less Stressful, More Joyful Living, by Janet Luhrs (who published the Simple Living Journal), is truly a compendium of all kinds of means to a simpler life. A chapter called "Inner Simplicity" is a reflection on awareness (or lack thereof) of what we're doing and the choices we're making. Other chapters offer more practical strategies for downsizing and simplifying, redesigning and savoring your life.

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, by family consultant Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross, is for anyone who has kids or grandkids, or who is interested in kid phenomena in the modern world. I'm thinking that if you do have kids and read this book, you will be making a commitment to simpler living! - kids need simple.

The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less, by best-selling author John Robbins, is a provocative look at our relationship with money, and how making that relationship more conscious and meaningful can be transformational in our lives.  "Affluenza" - "the painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more" - is "the old good life" (recognize it?)... and no wonder Robbins is concerned with redefining "wealth". There are many good practical suggestions in the book - but perhaps more importantly, this author dares to voice the hope that others talk about amongst themselves (I know this, because I and my friends do), that the folding of the house-of-cards consumer economy might lead to a beneficial restructuring of people's individual and collective lifestyle choices. And, as one of his chapter subheadings states, "The good life doesn't have to cost the planet" - and a leaning toward simplicity surely can have a worldwide impact in the aggregate. I'm calling it good, even if it pinches some.

You can also find many resources about the simple lifestyle on the Web. Try putting keywords such as "simple living", "minimalism", "living simply", and "voluntary simplicity" into your browser. Many others worldwide are attracted to and participating in simplifying their lives - and many have written/are writing online about their journeys of change. (The same types of keywords will find you other books on Amazon and perhaps in your local library.)

If you feel a need for some greater companionship in these efforts, look for an online discussion forum, or a group in your community (try and other such services online - or start one!).

Do you like the sensation of sitting in an uncluttered space? Of the sense of freedom you can get from living out of a suitcase when you're on a trip?

If you have a niggling feeling that less really is apt to feel like more, maybe you'll at least choose to make a commitment to studying the effects of less on your well-being.





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