Over the weekend I sold a bed frame on Craigslist. The man who bought it was friendly and engaging. For whatever reason he offered to me that he and his wife were a childless couple who owned a big, new home. He was buying the bed frame to go into one of the extra bedrooms that “would never get used.” He saw the ridiculousness in the whole thing.
As consolation I offered, “At least you’re buying used furniture.” He flushed and said “not exactly.” The day before, he admitted, five boxes of home furnishings his wife had ordered had been delivered to their front door. He pined over my small, sparsely furnished, older home and said he wished to live in something similar, but couldn’t convince his wife. Before his departure I learned that he suffered from PTSD and to help ease his anxiety he was making plans to move away from the city to a small town to grasp a simpler life.
I thought about his obvious desire to live with less – stress and stuff – and wondered if that simple life would be found in a small town. As if small town living would cure him, or more accurately from what I gathered, his wife from consumerism. There’s a lot to be said about place, but I don’t think simple living is dependent on it.
Simple living can be practiced anywhere, but it requires we stop buying stuff. It means recognizing the difference between needs and wants, and tending to one while slowing the other. Simple living means we get our financial house in order by paying off our debts. It means we get our real home in order, letting go of the things that no longer serve us or cause us anxiety. It sometimes requires we turn off the t-v and disconnect from the Internet to go outside and connect with nature. It also means taking care of nature. Simple living may require we clear our calendars and leave space for breathing. It requires we take our health into our own hands by moving our bodies everyday, purposefully; fueling ourselves with real food, made at home, from scratch. It means nurturing our relationships and letting go of those that are corrupting us. It means finding fulfilling work and staying balanced in those efforts.
If you think about it, simple living is really about encompassing health into every aspect of our lives: our homes, our bodies, our relationships, our finances, our work, our world. When there’s authenticity, balance, quality, contentment, and wellness in our lives we are living simply. No matter where we are.