by Duane Elgin
Although there is no dogmatic formula for simpler living, there is a
general pattern of behaviors and attitudes that is often associated with
this approach to living. Those choosing a simpler life:
Because there is a tendency to emphasize the external
changes that characterize simpler living, it is important
to reiterate that this approach to life is intended to
integrate both inner and outer aspects of existence into a
satisfying and purposeful whole.
- Tend to invest the time and energy freed up by
simpler living in activities with their partner, children
and friends (walking, making music
together, sharing a meal, camping, etc.), or
volunteering. to help others, or getting involved in
to improve the life of the community.
- Tend to work on developing the full spectrum
their potentials: physical (running, biking, hiking,
etc.), emotional (learning the skills of intimacy
and sharing feelings in important relationships),
mental (engaging in lifelong learning by reading,
taking classes, etc.), and spiritual (learning to
move through life with a quiet mind and
- Tend to feel an intimate connection with the earth
and a reverential concern for nature. In knowing
that the ecology of the earth is a part of our
extended ``body,'' people tend to act in ways that
express great care for its well-being.
- Tend to feel a compassionate concern for the
world's poor; a simpler life fosters a sense of
kinship with people around the world and thus a
concern for social justice and equity in the use of
the world's resources.
- Tend to lower their overall level of personal
consumption---buy less clothing (with more attention
to what is functional, durable, aesthetic, and less
concern with passing fads, fashions, and seasonal
styles), buy less jewelry and other forms of
personal ornamentation, buy fewer cosmetic
products and observe holidays in a less commercialized
- Tend to alter their patterns of consumption in
favor of products that are durable, easy to repair,
nonpolluting in their manufacture and use,
energy-efficient, functional, and aesthetic.
- Tend to shift their diet away from highly processed
foods; meat, and sugar toward foods that are
more natural, healthy, simple, and appropriate for
sustaining the inhabitants of a small planet.
- Tend to reduce undue clutter and complexity in
their personal lives by giving away or selling
possessions that are seldom used and could be
used productively by others clothing books,
furniture, appliances, tools, etc.).
- Tend to use their consumption politically by boycotting
goods and services of companies whose
actions or policies they consider unethical.
- Tend to recycle metal, glass, and paper and to cut
back on consumption of items that are wasteful
of nonrenewable resources.
- Tend to pursue a livelihood that directly
contributes to the well-being of the world and enables a
person to use more fully his or her creative
capacities in ways that are fulfilling.
- Tend to develop personal skills that contribute to
greater self-reliance and reduce dependence upon
experts to handle life's ordinary demands (for
example, basic carpentry, plumbing, appliance
repair, gardening, crafts, etc.).
- Tend to prefer smaller-scale, more human-sized
living and working environments that foster a
sense of community, face-to-face contact, and
- Tend to alter male-female roles in favor of
nonsexist patterns of relationship.
- Tend to appreciate the simplicity of nonverbal
forms of communication---the eloquence of
silence, hugging and touching, the language of the
- Tend to participate in holistic health-care
practices that emphasize preventive medicine and the
healing powers of the body when assisted by the
- Tend to involve themselves with compassionate
causes, such as protecting rain forests and saving
animals from extinction, and tend to use
nonviolent means in their efforts.
- Tend to change transportation modes in favor of
public transit, car pooling, smaller and more
fuel efficient autos, living closer to work, riding a bike