Living Simply in The Midst of Modern Life And Work – Part 3

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In the first part of this journey, we discussed what it used to mean to live a truly simple life. In the second part, we discussed whether or not that was something that was a realistic goal in our modern world. In this third and final part, we will take a look at what living a simple life might look like in our day-to-day reality.

To live a live a simple life in reality is…well…simple. But the practical application sometimes gets lost in the fog of a busy day. The rush to get ready for work, beat the rush hour traffic, and scarf down a form of breakfast before running out the door never seems to lend enough time in the day to put into practice the idea of beginning each day alone in silence and peace.

By noon, there is no time to eat a leisurely lunch and readjust one’s perspective of reality. It is a rushed time set aside by busy employers to allow their employees an opportunity to physically refuel and get immediately back to the grind of work.

By the time night comes around, this same person is too worn out from the pressures of the day to do anything but grab a fast food or frozen microwaved dinner, or cold sandwich and site before a mind-numbing television show or video game.

He then stumbles into bed, forgetting to recharge his spiritual and emotional batteries, and falls into a fitful sleep. And he awakens to repeat the same routine early the next morning, exhausted from the routine of trying to keep up with all life demands of him.

The elusive chase

The simple man lives within his means, and spends less than he earns. He doesn’t borrow to gain, and gives more than he gets.

That is the secret to living in peace and simplicity.”

Every moment of time man spent trying to chase the income, the project, someone else’s dream has gone without any chance of regaining any second of it back. It is gone forever.

The simple man lives within his means, and spends less than he earns. He doesn’t borrow to gain, and gives more than he gets.

That is the secret to living in peace and simplicity.

To be one’s own boss allows for more flexibility. It gives a person more breathing room to schedule their days around time to spend recharging the spiritual, physical, and emotional batteries. But the downside can leave the person filled with the pressure of trying to keep the income pipeline filled, dealing with the demands of clients, and collecting what is owed. Simplicity gets put aside when the pressures of monetary necessity outweigh the ability to live an uncomplicated life.

What is the secret to living the simple life?

It is learning to let go of wants in favor of needs. The needs of man are really very few: food, shelter, clothing, and a sense of belonging. Man doesn’t need the newest car, toy, technological gadget, or other advertised piece of material obsession on the market or in the stores. He doesn’t need any impulse purchases.

The simple man lives within his means, and spends less than he earns. He doesn’t borrow to gain, and gives more than he gets.

That is the secret to living in peace and simplicity.

So what are the practical steps to gain that level of nirvana?

There are no tricks or hidden secrets among those who are happiest and most joyful in life. Learning to live within one’s means, spend less than is made, and living off of a budget to manage both time and money are what is needed. It isn’t easy. It requires discipline. And it requires self-responsibility and accountability. But it is necessary to build those boundaries to experience unlimited freedom to live without the stress that modern life demands.

When one detaches from the wants of this life, then this world no longer has hold of him. He can live in perfect freedom, perfect joy, reaching upwards and outwards instead of trying to drink from the cup of the world that never satisfies.

In reviewing the stories of the happiest people who live simple lives, many gave up great income for the sake of peace. The stresses associated with chasing the high paying job are gone. The weight of trying to meet deadlines set by others are gone. The burden of working one position that should be done by many no longer applies. The expectations by others are replaced by the knowledge that just existing in this life matters; that each of us holds a precious place in this world.

What types of lifestyles lend themselves to simple living?

Living within the rhythms of nature is first and foremost a necessity. It is part of who we are as human beings. We are part animal and our human nature relies on our connection to our natural surroundings.

It is the first thing we, as modern man, forget. We complain about the heat of summer, the cold of winter, the rain and fog, the snow and ice. We live inside buildings that have temperatures set to the same degree year round and don’t adjust to the change in the world outside that environment.

But we are meant to live within the rhythm of nature. We are meant to live with the seasons, rejoice in the changes, adjust to the temperatures, and learn to live flexibly as the weather changes from day to day.

Live within nature

We, also, are meant to live by the sun, not a timepiece. As with many technologies, the tool of the clock has become the slave master. So rise and sleep in rhythm with the rising and setting of the sun, changing with the seasons.

My mother once asked if our farm animals adjusted to daylight savings time. I was a bit stunned. “No,” I said, trying to picture a goat looking at his watch. “The animals don’t care about time. They live by the sun and seasons.”

My mother once asked if our farm animals adjusted to daylight savings time. I was a bit stunned. “No,” I said, trying to picture a goat looking at his watch. “The animals don’t care about time. They live by the sun and seasons.”

Turn down or off all artificial lighting when the night falls. The glow of natural lighting, like candles and kerosene lanterns, doesn’t stop the sense of night as it enters the walls of the house like the brightness of artificial lighting and computer screens. The body begins to wind down, and the pressure of staying awake longer than it is meant to goes away. Sleep becomes refreshing instead of the result of mental and emotional exhaustion.

Live with dirt between your toes and on your hands.

Garden. Wild craft and eat what is naturally available during each season, not when the grocery stores stock the shelves with produce grown out of season. Work the soil, use the physical body for the labor for which it was created. The weariness of physical work is a hard life, but generates endless satisfaction in the accomplishment of one’s own hands.

Don’t fear the unknown

Don’t live in fear of nature. The animals, insects, plants all have their place. Learn how to live with them, among them, and thrive.

Live and breathe your natural surroundings.

Remove the distractions

Turn off or limit your technologies. Anyone who has found themselves falling down the internet rabbit hole can attest to the fact that the lure of discovery becomes lost time. There are only so many videos, news articles, informational pages, texts, instagrams, emails, etc. that anyone can assimilate during the day. Figure out how many hours you can afford to waste each day that you will never regain, and then set a time limit on your devices. If possible, have it turn off after that limit is reached. If not, set a timer somewhere else, then lock the device(s) up in a safe or faraday bag. You’ll find yourself less and less likely to be dependent on the distraction as time goes on.

Reduce the unnecessary

Reduce or remove modern conveniences. Can you beat an egg by hand using a fork or whisk, or must you use the blender? Can you pop popcorn using a stove top and pan, or do you have to use a microwave? Can you sew by hand or using a treadle machine, or do you have to use an electric sewing machine?

Learn from the past

Learn new skills from the lost arts of yesteryear: knitting, hand sewing, crochet, tatting, wood working, carving using hand tools, making soaps and candles, making cheeses and canned foods, baking your own breads, making your meals from scratch instead of scratching the box open, starting a fire without matches, writing a letter with a fountain pen, reading a paper book by candlelight as twilight falls…

If money were no object, what would you do?

It’s an age-old question, but still remains. Remember what you wanted to do, wanted to be when you were a kid? Did you want to become a rocket engineer, ballerina, computer scientist, doctor, farmer? Did you want to be a vagabond, explorer, live in a log cabin in the woods? What changed? What did you become instead? Why?

Most of the time, the choices we made in our careers were made for financial reasons. We began to chase the dream of making enough money to get the house, the car, the job that would fill our every need. But we are rarely happy.

Desires of the heart

If the appeal of living a simple life is growing inside you, take time off what you are doing to recapture that dream. Take the time to determine what is missing in your life. Then work a plan to get your dream back.

Let go of the material wants. Give up the lust for more. Never push off today what you planned because you “don’t have enough money.” Get out of debt. Stay out of debt. And don’t let money cloud your vision of achieving your goals. As with the monks of old, we need to give up all for the sake of something greater than material gain or possession. When we stop trying to build untenable goals of such things as financial stability, power, or position in a company before we act, we’ll never find what we are really meant to do.

We are more important than that. Our lives are more important than that. We matter and what we do matters. It affects every one of us. We are all connected. And when we recognize that, whatever we set our hand to no longer is done solely for ourselves, because we know that what we do is for the something greater. We have found our place in the body of the human race.

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