It seems to me there are many motivations for keeping life simple. Each unique and each difficult in their own way.
The most common reason people live simply is due to finances. They just don’t have the income or their expenses are greater than their income to live life large.
Having real life experience in this category, I’d say that this is a hard and yet easy way to live simple.
It is hard to have to watch friends and family buy another car, get their kids cool gifts, go on vacation and wear really nice clothes all the time and so on. It can become a minefield for jealousy.
When it comes down to the nickels and dimes, you do have the stress of trying to budget each penny. Still there are many ways to make the most of your cash. And the reward of being able to ‘do it with pizazz’ on so little!
This method of living simple requires self-control but not a lot. Knowing that you could have ‘x’ but that means no food, is a very easy way to stay motivated.
Another is motivation is one of philosophy. In my experience, this is actually harder because you must exercise great self-control!
For most, the money is still a factor. For most of us, having a disposable income is not a reality. Because when we have a few extra dollars we quickly find a few extra ‘needed’ expenses to fill that expansion in the budget. There is a point when it isn’t a question of food on the table but if you are going to have cable/PVR or another car.
When philosophy is your motivation you’ll find ‘Living Simply’ is complicated.
I’ll use a simple example, Bread.
We all know that it is possible to make bread with the basic ingredients, a bowl, and an oven (heat source).
You don’t need a mixer, you don’t need a grain mill, you don’t need much of anything else. A little flour, oil, water, yeast, some salt and sugar and you can have bread. Come to think of it, you don’t even need the bowl!
And yet, when there is discretionary spending available you’ll often find that bread making involves many other tools and gadgets!
However, you could even say that it is cheaper to buy bread ready made.
Yesterday at the grocery store, I was able to purchase whole wheat flax bread, made by the store bakery, for 75 cents a loaf. I could not make bread for that cost myself and I’d wager the nutrition of that bread is equal to my own home-made bread.
Which is option is ‘Simple Living’? Making home-made bread, or buying store bought bread?
Is it easy to judge?
So what is simple then? Is it doing with less? Spending less? Is it spending more time at home doing things you perceive as healthier and wholesome?
Again it comes down to personal choice and philosophy.
Yet it is so easy to judge someone else!
Miss Suzy grows her own wheat, threshes her own wheat, mills her own wheat, and cultures her own yeast.
Aunt Sally, who only has $50 per week to feed her family, buys everything below wholesale; spends her time trolling the stores to get the most for every dollar.
Is one ‘more right?’
There are those who live simply because of medical reasons. For example, a blind person’s home is very minimalist (most of the time! and forgive me because I am not trying to make a stereotypical remark!) or for homes where someone has sensory overload, or where some one is so allergic to chemicals.
Cultural reasons, I think of Japanese minimalism.
Architectural reasons, for example, in most of Europe and parts of Asia, there is much over crowding and space is very valuable. People tend to have less, for many reasons, but one of which is the simple fact that there isn’t place to put lots!