“Choosing Simplicity” by Linda Breen Pierce

A couple weeks ago my mom checked out the book “Choosing Simplicity” from the library and told me I should read it too. At first I thought I would just look over the book, but I ended up reading the whole thing and wanted to read more. This book was inspired from another book, “Your Money or Your Life, Transforming your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence”. This book was the building block for the simplicity movement, which has ‘converted’ all kind of people.

Both of these books are about making your life simple. “Choosing Simplicity” is a collection of stories about people who have made their lives simpler, how they did it, and what inspired them to do it. Many of them were just tired of working long hours, having long commutes, impressing their co-workers and friends, or spending all their money. Some wanted to do more for others and impact the environment less. But they wanted to do more of what they wanted. Many people felt they became more spiritual and thought more about their impact once they were living a simpler life. All people started taking steps toward simplicity in one major aspect of their lives,. Then they found other ways to could simplify. Many of  their choices leading to simplicity was really ‘taboo’ to their co-workers and friends, especially if it meant they were giving up a high position and chose to no longer support lavish golfing trips or expensive clothing. They also believed they no longer had to feed into these complex relationships that weren’t benefiting them or the other.

One thing I like about this book, is that it told stories about all types of people with all backgrounds and lifestyles. There were stories about people living in poverty who were still making their lives simple. Also stories about middle class people who quit trying to live above their means. Every story was unique and something could be learned from each one. Some moved to rural areas to make their lives simpler, while others moved to the city to do so. The author, a leading expert in the topic of simplicity, comments on these stories throughout. She expands on why the methods worked and what you can do to do the same type of things they did.

One main point the book has is; that your life is up to you. Like I said, some people moved to the country from the city, others from the city to the country. There isn’t a right way to simplify your life as long as you believe it’s simple.

Another point made is that it can take time to get to this ‘simplicity’. It can take a few months or a few years. Many people experimented with simplicity by taking a long break, or working half time at their jobs to see if they could live with less income and to figure out what types things they would do with their time.

Most people in the book did find they could leave their full time hectic jobs and only worked part time or worked  jobs with lower income. They did this because they wanted a fuller life with their family, time to do what they really wanted to do, to travel, or to quit working to buy stuff they really didn’t need anyway. To be able to do this though, they cut down their lifestyle. They sometimes sold many of their possessions, moved to a smaller home closer to work, saved more of their money and stopped buying material items, cut down their commutes, and even sold their car/cars. Those who did have to work a full time job for income concentrated on the fact that the income was needed in order to keep their home and found many other ways to simplify their life. Simplifying in this book wasn’t all about income. I think all the people in this book said they didn’t regret this move and love being able to do what they really want.

The last big point of the book is that living simply does not mean ‘without’. It’s really just trading out what you really don’t want or want to sustain anymore and replacing it with things you really want to do or have. One lady said that she still had quite a bit of stuff she had bought, mainly from yard sales. Every time she felt the urge to go to one, she would instead ‘shop’ in her own stuff, often finding something she didn’t remember having!

One story that stuck out to me was a couple about my age who got rid of their TVs, go to school full time, work, and live really simply. They seemed to be like me in many ways. Even though their lives were pretty hectic, they were doing this to save up to buy a house. Doing something like this was called delayed gratification. Even though they weren’t living the total simplistic life they wanted, they knew they were reaching their goals by working hard now.

Areas Where People Simplified Their Lives:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Relationships
  • Material Items
  • Leisure Time
  • Entertaining
  • Environmental Impact
  • Religion/Spirituality
  • Time

Many of these areas went hand in hand. Such as if you moved closer to your work, it could also mean downsizing your home, especially if you work in a city where real estate is usually priced higher. Also, if you purchase less (at least not new items), then you can decrease the environmental impact. Simplifying means having more time, energy, resources to do more of what you’d like to do or at least doing less of what you don’t want to do.

This book made me think about how I could make my own life more simplistic. I’m in a big transition point in my life where I could do really anything. I think this book will help me make decisions in the future. Living simply also goes deeper than just reading the magazine ‘Real Simple” (even though they do have good articles!)

This topic also reminds me of the Slow Home Manifesto on Re-Nest. Instead of buying 5 cheap can openers that keep breaking, buy a good one that will last a long time.


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