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Does Simplicity Equal Freedom?

By Tom Lowrey, Education Assistant

“These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraphs and kerosene and coal stoves―they’re good to have but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ‘em.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Some call it the American Dream: making more money, acquiring all the newest stuff, having the biggest house,  joining elite clubs…But do all these Simplepossessions and activities really bring authentic satisfaction to our lives? Or do they bring unwelcome side effects? Do we end up with closets, attics, and basements full of things that we really don’t need…or calendars clogged with things we don’t really want to do?

More and more seniors are coming to the realization that one’s life journey has fewer burdens if one is able to travel light.

“We have reached a place in our evolution where time is becoming a precious and valued commodity,” says Carole Fogarty, a writer, passionate blogger and facilitator of Women’s Rejuvenation Retreats in Bali. Her blog The Healthy Living Lounge is all about holistic and inspirational living. “Our souls are craving a simplicity with the underlying want of feeling less pressure and less stress in our lives.”

Does this mean we should move to the Himalayas and become monks? Probably not.

In Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings, a book written for people over 50, author Ciji Ware says that we can gain freedom by paring away the glut and rubble that many of us amass during our lives. She defines rightsizing as “a conscious, practical, and psychological evolution in the way one lives one’s life, a process that enables people to create new surroundings that will profoundly impact the way they feel and behave.” She goes on to say that this may even include a move to a smaller living space more suited to one’s needs. “The transition will, if executed properly, liberate you from many real-life burdens and free you in ways you cannot now imagine.”

Or perhaps the space you are already living in could be just right, if some of the “stuff” were to be cleared away. Marlene Hickman, a counselor at Midland Senior Services, suggests that some people may see de-cluttering as too daunting a task, and may want to ask for help. This can be the hands-on type, or perhaps just simple encouragement. She has also found a good online article in MoneyTalk News: www.moneytalksnews.com/7-ways-declutter-you-probably-havent-tried.

So…can a “smaller” life give you newfound freedom? There are quite a few books, blogs, and articles with good ideas about simplifying, downsizing, and rightsizing (or whatever you want to call it). But good ideas are just that…ideas. What you do with them is up to you!

Here are some more thought-provoking quotes:

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ~ Confucius

Simplicity is an acquired taste. Mankind, left free, instinctively complicates life.
~ Katherine F. Gerould

“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.” ~ Edwin Way Teale

“The aspects of things that are most important to us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed—it is a process of elimination.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

“Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplify, simplify.” ~ Henry Thoreau

“Living simply is… getting down to the core of things and returning to a way of living that most of us can only vaguely remember: pleasures that don’t cost piles of money, rewards you don’t have to buy in stores, amusements that don’t require a screen or scrabbling with hundreds of other people to get to.” ~ Daphne Rose Kingma

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” ~ Lin Yutang

“The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” ~ Elise Boulding

“Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury – to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.” ~ Albert Einstein

“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.” ~ Victoria Moran