What would simplicity look like for you in your life?
I have lived in South America for 4 years now, and in general the majority of the population where I have lived seem to keep it simple. At first it was shocking to me.
Things like no running hot water in the house blew my mind. A cold water shower isn’t considered burdensome, but is viewed as refreshing. When hot water is needed, it is boiled in a pot over a gas cook top.
Most people don’t have a lot “things”. They make due with what they have. What they don’t have and need, they get creative. A friend of mine has a smooth round stone a little larger than the size of a clenched fist in his house.
This stone is used like a hammer. I have seen him put a nail in the wall with it, and also use it to break off a piece of canella (brown sugar) from its solid brick-like block to cook with. In both instances it worked just as good as any hammer.
Most people don’t have cars. Many people do, however, have motorcycles. That seems to be the most common mode of private transportation. Even so, the majority of people use the bus to get around. An entire country can basically function on public transportation. It’s simple and it works.
I see families and friends who regularly gather together. Whether it is in their homes with doors wide open and people spilling out from the house, or a group gathered in a park, they seem happy, and engaged with each other. Music is almost always present in some form, and food is definitely part of it.
Observing this lifestyle makes me realize how “things” can be a burden. When we have lots of things there is a mental tracking that happens, using up our time and attention. There are also expenses involved with both acquiring and maintaining things. We have added responsibilities and time to maintain the things in working order.
I am not saying things are bad. I like a water heater for a hot shower.
What I am aware of though is how the absence of things can often create a sense of lacking or wanting in a person’s life. It can create feelings of sadness, jealousy, and bitterness. When not having a “thing” is preventing a person to be joyful, then there is a problem. When the acquisition of things distract us from engaging and connecting with those we love, there is also a problem. This is my beef with things.
I believe one way to keep our need for things under control is to be conscious of simplicity, and to appreciate what it adds to our lives.
Simplicity allows for more time to focus on people, those we love and care about. Stress is reduced in our lives when we don’t have to earn more money to pay for more things. Gratitude can be practiced more often for what we do have, and this helps with our overall sense of well being.
What is one thing you could do to move toward more simplicity in your life? I would love to hear.