The Triple-Win of Simple Living


by Tammy Strobel on January 18, 2011

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Bill Gerlach. Bill writes about the intersections of Life, Nature and Being at The New Pursuit. Normally, I don’t run posts on Tuesday, but I wanted to share this article with you! Enjoy.

Lost LakeWhy do you choose to live simply and deliberately? What about embracing a minimalist lifestyle motivates you each day to challenge society’s norms and redefine what it means to truly live?

We all have our reasons. I have three: My family, my community and this little planet we all call Home.

Redefining the Family Experience

Each day I wake up and look at my wife and three young children and think: How will the way I live my life today help them live theirs to the fullest potential – today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now? How will my choices about what I consume and what I don’t, give them a better understanding of how to live their lives and help others? What should I embrace and what should I let go? What choices will allow the Earth to better sustain itself for my community’s well-being and prosperity?

This is why my family and I have made choices, that while not for everyone, help us live deeply each day. For example, we choose to live without TV and instead we use our time to “noodle” our creative juices, learn by doing, and get outside to explore all kinds of new experiences. We spend a healthy chunk of our spring and summer nurturing our vegetable and flower gardens. We learn how to grow more things better. We slow down to bake bread and make handmade gifts. These things bring us closer together and create memories that will last long after the bright and shiny store-bought stuff loses its luster.

Reconnecting With Community

But why should the benefits of simpler living be kept at home? With each passing day, more and more people are reinvesting in the resilience of their communities, returning to the power and solace that is to be found with neighbors near and far. While some might think the flatter the world the better, there is a growing sense that we have lost that bond with what’s right outside our front door.

Not being pre-occupied with keeping up with The Joneses opens up all kinds of time and attention for playing an active role in this reinvestment. For instance, we volunteer our time with organizations and activities that breathe life into our neighborhoods and families. We stop to chat with the neighbors checking the mail. We take part in events that put the “unity” back into “community”. It’s a wonderful feeling when you can run into so many friends and genuinely know and care about them.

Sowing the Seeds of Stewardship

Much has been written about the benefits of pursuing the simple path: Happiness, contentment, freedom; time to pursue passions; rekindling relationships and the return to community.

But what’s the hidden gem in all this? Minimalism and simplicity are profound pathways to a sustainable existence – at home, at work, and everywhere in-between. Multiply that by the thousands (perhaps millions?) of people consuming less and you begin to see where I’m going. Learning simple ways to be mindful of our consumption allows us to connect the dots between our actions and impacts on this little planet we call Home.

These lessons foster a deeper connection with and appreciation for the natural world. They sow the seeds of stewardship as we think beyond our lifetime and want to protect this beautiful place for untold generations to come. We begin to see the interconnectedness of all things and want to embrace that feeling more.

What Motivates You?

The decision to live simply could be the best decision you ever make – for you, your family, your community and the world-at-large. But what makes the minimalist path so special is the uniqueness that each person brings to it.

We all have the ups and downs of teachable moments that allow us to grow. Embracing such transparency and sharing these experiences builds a different – but no less important – community (some might say family) of support, encouragement and know-how. Here, momentum gathers and tides begin to shift; friction with the status-quo builds as more and more go against the grain of the Throwaway Culture of Convenience.

Here in simple living, everyone wins in his or her own special way.

1 Faith Janes January 18, 2011

Thank you so much for this post. I love hearing about other people’s choices of their “why” behind choosing minimalism and a simpler way of life. It inspires me to keep on the path that can sometimes seem like a simple destination to choose, yet a challenging journey to travel.

(I’m also forwarding it to all my family.) :) Thanks again.

2 Bill Gerlach January 18, 2011

@Tammy >> Many thanks for the opportunity to share this post with all your RK readers — even on a Tuesday! Be well!

@Faith >> Thanks. I’m glad you found some inspiration! Your absolutely right: Sharing and creating that transparency of not only the how’s but the why’s (and the ups and downs that go with them) helps us all move forward — both individually and collectively. Be well and enjoy your day!

3 Lynn Fang January 18, 2011

Hey Bill, beautiful post! I love the shift in focus to community. That’s why we’re here in the first place :)

4 Bill Gerlach January 18, 2011

Thanks, Lynn. I’ve found the more you plug in to your local community, the more joy and satisfaction you get from not only being a part of it, but helping to make it the best it can be. Be well!

5 Erika H. January 18, 2011

Making choices that help you and your family live deeply each day… Beautiful! I hope that I will always remember that!

6 Bill Gerlach January 18, 2011

Many thanks, Erika. To some, the concept of living deeply might sound cheeky, but for me it captures that feeling/essence I’m striving for.

Because you’ve called it out, I’ve thought about that sentence and its meaning a bit more. In retrospect, I might not just define ‘family’ as immediate relatives, but expand it to be more like Family (with a cap “F”) — meaning our entire Family of fellow living beings (human or otherwise). When we start to connect the dots like that, the genuine appreciate and compassion for all Life on this little planet begins to grow in each of us. It’s a beautiful feeling.

7 Jo@simplybeingmum January 18, 2011

I’m on board Bill… the more I simplify the more time I have for everything including my neighbours and community. I talk to anyone and everyone now – I have the time and the inclination. But even more importantly I have the time to listen to them. I have a real and virtual community – I am truly blessed. Jo

8 Bill Gerlach January 18, 2011

Glad to have you on board, Jo! I’m glad the element of community is resonating so well. You strike an important point about truly listening. Such a great way of practicing mindfulness within our day! Deep listening allows us to respond with our hearts — not just our egos. Blessed indeed. Be well!

9 Adams January 18, 2011

happiness + contentment + freedom. live each day minimally… and think others for you to seek your true self. thank God i found this sensation… very inspiring for people like me to live the real meaning of satisfaction and simple living.

10 Sandra Lee January 19, 2011

Bill,

I’m astounded by the incredible motivation you establish every morning to live your life in a way that will enhance your wife and childrens’ lives now and in the future. That’s so beautiful and inspiring! Of course, this is the way most people want to live their lives. Most people want to live in a way that expresses their love and kindness. But the big difference happens when we make it a conscious wish and a conscious choice that we choose everyday.

I’m so inspired by you!

Tammy, Thanks for having this wonderful guest post.

11 Kristy Powell January 21, 2011

This is a fantastic post! I could not appreciate more the addition of stewardship in this post. You don’t find that often in posts around the simple living interweb and it is the heart of my own protest and fast from fashion. Bill I look forward to reading more on your blog!

Thanks for sharing Tammy.

12 Bill Gerlach January 22, 2011

Thanks, Kristy. I’m so glad you find virtual kinship in this stewardship! It is SO important that that we do and think each day feed into something bigger beyond ourselves. Hope to see you around The New Pursuit. Be well!

13 Marnie January 21, 2011

My motivation for living with less is making room for more – more experiences, more time, more freedom.

14 Bill Gerlach January 22, 2011

Marnie — that is a fantastic reason. Here’s wishing you many, many memorable experiences!

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