Nature and Environment

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Voluntary Simplicity: Easy and Simple

10/4/2011 12:22:37 PM

Tags: voluntary simplicity, communication, community, practicing simplicity

“Simplicity is about doing all things with love.” Matt Johnson, my spiritual advisor, taught me this saying recently as I racked his brain at my kitchen table, wondering what his life secret was. He teems with life as his energy and compassion flow from the roots of his being right into my soul. Matt has taught me everything I know about living life.

I can picture him smiling at me as he tells me in detail his new project on rehabilitating a rooster on his chicken farm. Tears squeeze out of my eyes as I laugh at the idea of Matt carrying a rooster in the crook of his arm while he walks around the yard; the idea being to show the rooster love. However, Matt’s way of simplistic living and practicing sustainability is like finding water in the dry desert that is my life. I can’t get enough of it.

I am a college student at the University of Kansas studying journalism and religious studies. I juggle three internships as well as classes and a social life. My life is busy. Yet, the topics of sustainability and simplicity are two passions I have in life. It’s kind of ironic when both require time and patience that I don’t have.

Discovering Easy Simplicity

I am constantly trying to find ways to easily add these two components to my life. One way I found recently, is adding the concept of simplicity to tasks I already do throughout the day. On Monday I went to the grocery store to get food so I could eat, and I struck up a conversation with the cashier at the check out counter. She was a sweet lady who happily talked my ear off as she bagged my grocery purchases.

Helping HandsIt dawned on me that while I was still running the errand of grocery shopping, I had just taken the opportunity to connect with another human being. It is amazing how much joy I received by talking to my grocer. So on Tuesday I tried my new concept again, and talked to my bus driver on the way to campus. Again, I felt the same joy of sharing a conversation with someone who I saw every day. As I kept practicing this idea throughout the week, I found that I stopped rushing around so much and began to enjoy the, what seemed before to be endless, tasks I had to get done each day.

Finally, Matt’s words clicked. “Simplicity is about doing all things with love.” Tasks we rush through throughout the day, running around like chickens with our heads cut off, can be turned into daily practices of voluntary simplicity. Connecting with others in my life was one way to help me slow down.  Who knew it could be so simple?

Other Practices to Try 

Here are some other easy ways I have found to practice voluntary simplicity

  • Recycling is an easy way to "show love" to the environment.
  • Buy energy-efficient light bulbs for the house next time your lights go out.
  • It's finally fall! Enjoy the outdoors and the beautiful scenery of the falling leaves around you throughout the day.
  • Cook a meal from scratch every once in a while. It's satisfying to slow down and prepare a meal enjoyably.
  • Photo by Fotolia  


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