Okay, time for a rant. Ready? Here goes.
As most of you know, I’m “big” into Simplicity. That’s why I chose to write a book about it.
But why is it whenever somebody discusses simplicity, it’s always from a far left green or New Age perspective? Can anyone explain to me how these perspectives are supposed to simplify one’s life?
This latest piece of sunshine came from CNN Living and is entitled The Seven Stones of Simpler Living. As you can imagine, was I delighted when I saw the headline this morning. I’m always interested in simplicity perspectives!
But, unsurprisingly, this article was a disappointment because it is not a guide to simple living; it is a guide to green living. It admits as much under the first suggestion (“Anyone who thinks they can shop their way to greener living has been watching too much television.”) Look, if you want to go green, by all means do so. We have. But don’t call it simplicity.
Here are the seven “stones” of simplicity this author suggests:
• Reduce your consumption
• Reduce your waste stream
• Trim your energy use
• Prepare and grow your own food
• Reduce your reliance on automobiles
• Reduce your personal stress
• Learn to give back
Ironically, all of these suggestions appear in my own Simplicity book in one form or another because I have an entire chapter on Green Living. However I must point out if you’ve complicated your life through multiple divorces with resulting out-of-control kids, or if you’re up to your eyeballs in debt; or you’ve otherwise made choices that had added a huge level of complexity to your life... then driving your car less or growing your own tomatoes won’t do squat to simplify your life. It might lower your Chevron bill or spice up your salads, yes; but it’s not the answer to a simple life.
The point of this rant is to distinguish between simple living and green living. They are not the same thing.
The only tip on this list which is directly proportional to simplicity is reducing your personal stress. On this point, the author is correct. But then again he mixes up going green with reducing stress. Recycling our plastics does not appreciatively reduce my stress level. Living with well-disciplined children (because we chose to be their parents instead of their friends) does. See the distinction?
The essence of a simple life is to make good choices, and the biggest choices you can make involve your spouse and children, followed by living within your means and staying out of debt. In other words, BIG ticket items.
If you’ve chosen to get married before having kids; if you’ve chosen a good spouse; if you’ve chosen to treat your spouse well; if you’ve chosen to discipline your children (and perhaps chosen to homeschool them so they aren’t adversely impacted by peer pressure in schools); if you’ve chosen to stay out of debt and live within your means…then you’re well on the road to simplicity.
Everything else is gravy.