Is Living Simply Still Possible in Today’s World?

by Merissa on June 16, 2016

in Simple Living

Is It Still Possible to Live Simply in Today's World? - Little House Living

Is Living Simply Still Possible in Today's World?

We recently got back home from a quick overnight trip to the "big city" (and big city to me means more than 1300 people). During our time there I can't even count how many times I remarked something along the lines of..."People are moving so quickly!" or "Why are they getting upset over that...can't they see it's just stuff?"

I stopped at a few thrift stores and a few big box stores and watched as some left with carts loaded sky high. Of course, I don't know these people's situation...maybe they had a whole house to fill or maybe they were buying it for someone else, it's not for me to judge but it did get my mind working. There's no doubt we live in an age of materialism.

This prompted me to think about some things on our 4 hour drive home. Is the simple life we are striving to live actually possible in today's world?

First we have to define what we mean by simple living. That's not as easy as it sounds since simple living will mean something different to everyone, depending on where you live and what stage of life you are in. My definition of simple living is this:

To live self sufficiently, naturally, minimalistically, and joyfully.

So let's think about these things for a while...

Is living self sufficiently possible in today's world?

I think it is, but to an extent. I have no desire to learn to make my own shoes or make my own fabric for clothing and I think that some things like that aren't really a great idea anyway since they end up costing you more money than they are worth. (I'd rather stockpile things like that if needed.) Self sufficiency is something else to us, it means to be as self sufficient as possible. For my family personally that means to grow as much of our own food as possible, to raise our own meat, and to have simple skills for everyday things which mean we depend less and less on "outside" assistance. Self Sufficiency will look different for everyone depending on where you live and the resources you have available, you may need to be more self sufficient in some areas than others. It's very possible to live quite self sufficiently in today's world, as long as you teach yourself the skills you need. You might want to check out this article on Ways Anyone Can Be Self Sufficient.

Is living naturally possible in today's world?

We happen to live in a world that is filled with more chemicals, preservatives, and un-wanted and un-necessary things than ever. Crops are genetically modified, animals are stuffed with things to make them produce more, and artificial ingredients are added into everything that we eat, wear, and use. Fortunately we also live in an age where knowledge is abundant! There is more and more research being done every day about these ingredients to help us make informed decisions (of course not main stream media, but when is that ever accurate??). Thanks to this info we can choose un-tainted seeds to plant, we can try and purchase clothing and fabric made from natural fibers, we can create our own simple health and body products that don't need preservatives and chemicals to help them work. Nothing is always going to be perfect, but just because nothing can be perfect doesn't mean we can't try for the best possible.

Is living minimalistically possible in today's world?

While researching this article I looked up the word minimalistically in the dictionary. Here's what I found:

minimal

Well that's a bit depressing. Materialistically is in the dictionary but the word above is not. What does that say about today's world? Fortunately it doesn't have to be the case if you don't want it to be! We started by getting rid of about 50% of our things when we moved in our camper, then a few months later we had another sale and sold about 50% of what we had left. And now moving into the new house I'm getting rid of a bunch more. It's much easier to get to the minimalistic lifestyle if you take it slow, you won't feel like you are missing something and trust me, the more you get rid of the more you will want to keep cleaning out! Our goal is to only have things that we really need and use at least once a week or things that we cannot replace (memory items). That's all we are keeping.

Is living joyfully possible in today's world?

With all the death and destruction in today's world is is possible to still live a joyful life? Absolutely. It doesn't mean that we simply ignore the things that happen around us, but taking some of it out of the picture will help. Remember when I stopped using my personal Facebook page at the beginning of the year to find other ways to communicate with loved ones? That's been one of my favorite goals I've kept this year so far. I've distanced myself from the un-necessary gossip and drama and am connecting deeper with the ones I really care about. It's truly been a great experience so far and I hope to write more about it in a future post. My point is that we don't have to go completely Amish, but cutting out as much drama and worldliness in our lives as we can will help reduce our stress and help us to live more joyfully. I also believe that all of the above will help lead to a more joyful life as well.

So, is living simply actually possible in today's world?

I believe it is. It's not going to be easy, and no simple life is ever going to be perfect, but it's still possible...even in the world we are in today.

31days

If you are ready to fully jump into living a simpler lifestyle, check out my new eWorkbook,Β 31 Days to Simpler Living! In it, you will find 79 pages of daily challenges, info and advice, and printable worksheets and checklists to keep you on track along your journey.

Are you striving to live simply in today's world? What is your biggest challenge in your personal journey to simpleness?

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6:00 am

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marlies April 4, 2014 at 6:36 am

Thanks for another great article!! I guess it is all a matter of priorities and values. Keep up the good work and let’s live simple together!

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2 Joline Fleming April 4, 2014 at 7:34 am

I continue to move toward a more simple life style every day. It isn’t always easy but if it is important to me I will do it. Family members are the worst critics — “why don’t you buy it?– you can afford.” Just because I can afford it does not mean that I NEED it. I think that is a big problem with the world— learning the difference between a need and a want. I read a book a long time ago –“Work Less,Play More””” . A lot of good points on needs versus wants.

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3 Angi April 4, 2014 at 7:54 am

I wonder about things like this too. I live in the city and have access to just about every big box store imaginable in a 5-10 minute drive. I see people leaving the warehouse stores with all sorts of “stuff” they think they can’t live without. Not trying to judge, but do you really “need” the latest and greatest HD TV to survive? Our house happens to have 3 tube TVs and we are perfectly happy with them! I wonder how much stuff we buy today will end up in tomorrow’s garage sale. Plus, the more you have, the more you have to maintain, even if it’s just with a dust cloth. Just my .02…thanks for the great perspective!

PS – I think soon the word “minimalisti
cally” will end up in the dictionary! πŸ™‚

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4 Tricia April 4, 2014 at 7:56 am

Loved this article! We live on one income and I am a housewife. We live more simply out of necessity and choice. I enjoy the challenge of being more self-sufficient, When we both worked, we had more money and bought more things but never really got ahead.. For us it is easier to appreciate and be grateful for what we have when we’re not trying to keep up with the Joneses.

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5 Marlies April 4, 2014 at 9:51 am

Tricia, we sound a lot alike. we are living on my husband’s income and I too am a housewife; except that he is home on weekends only due to no work here. When I was working FT or PT, we could tell a difference. Life is so much simpler now.

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6 Eliza April 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm

I agree w you both. I am a stay at home/home school mom of three & we live solely on my husband’s income. I love the challenge of seeing how little we can spend to buy what we need (or sometimes just want). I often tell people that he makes the money & I save it. πŸ™‚ Keeping up w the Joneses is very wearisome.

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7 Lois April 4, 2014 at 8:36 am

Great article. About 4 years ago we moved to the “city” from our home in the country. (husband not a country boy or handy man) This actually was a smart move in some ways for us with the exceptions; Life does move a lot faster here. Plus, I can’t have my own garden. But, I have with a lot of help from your blogs managed to bring a simpler life to our city life. Love your blog and fb page. So much wonderful information. Thank you.

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8 Barb April 4, 2014 at 9:00 am

We live a fairly simple life away from big cities but I believe you can live simply no matter where you live. I find it sad that people get high paying jobs, make tons of money and then have no time to enjoy their super expensive gigantic homes. No one is ever home and when they are they are busy planning vacations to get away. I know I’m generalizing but how much is too much. I am old and it took me a while to come to this. It is so nice to see a young person who knows what is important. I have to admit I do shop online once in a while and would miss the internet.

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9 Lucy April 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

I LOVE your blog! I have found so many parallels with our lives and our beliefs for all that you mentioned above and more that you have mentioned in other posts like Samaritans Ministries and “waking up” to the things in our food, clothes, etc. You put into words what many of us think and that is a great pleasure to see.

We began growing our garden three years ago on someone else’s property, not really seeing that we could do it on our own little plot of land. Now, three years later, we have taken most of the flowers out of the “flower beds” and added or kept only what is edible. My husband often says, “if we can’t eat it, lets not grow it”. We have added beds around our 100×100 lot and yes, we even have 4 chickens laying organic eggs for us. It is so much fun and we have learned so much and grown so much in the process. We added a large greenhouse and now have planted dwarf fruit trees. I do many of the same things you do in making my own soaps, etc and so enjoy learning all of the ways to save here and there.

One of the biggest challenges to me, to us, is that we SO want a larger piece of land to roam around on and to have a small home that is just the size we need (we currently have a 2000 sq footer) but we tried to sell our home for a year and a half and never got a nibble so decided this is where we will stay for now. My next challenge will be to begin to empty out the closets! Oh, and get rid of the six sets of ski’s in the attic that are totally grown out of now!

Keep up the great work, your articles are so inspiring!

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10 Lisa yates April 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

Merrisa!
Great to read this post and I too am trying to do this! I was injured in a car accident last July. So I went from working full time to being home full time. We are now living on one income also……………………………There has been a lot of adjustments in our lives! Thanks for all of the great info!!

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11 Gloria April 4, 2014 at 11:54 am

minimalistic is the element of and trending towards smallness or necessary elements. Living minimalistically would be to do something that is just necessary or just big enough or just enough.
Can we live this way? Yes but it is a commitment to simplicity and to joy in the small stuff. Thank you for your sharing of your journey. It is refreshing.

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12 Diane April 4, 2014 at 11:57 am

I look forward to reading your thoughts….I live in a metro area, however strive to live a simple non-complex life. Thank you again for your thoughts, I find them very enjoyable to read.

Your Friend
Diane Daniels

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13 Emily April 4, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Merissa, just curious…has your husband always been supportive of the way that you two live? Or have you been the one to influence simplicity in your lives? My husband and I have very different views, and its tricky to get him to adopt many of these ideas…

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14 Merissa April 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Luckily we are both very much on the same page with how we want to live πŸ™‚ I think that if your spouse isn’t on the same page, maybe you can suggest some small changes to start with and compromise in other areas. It may also help to encourage him in being self sufficient in his areas of expertise. For example, my hubby loves building things with wood so I am encouraging him to make the shelves and some furniture for our home instead of finding something else. He’s still doing something that he loves but it’s actually working well with our self sufficient lifestyle as well!

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15 aing April 4, 2014 at 2:17 pm

We have been a single income family since the day we married. My stay-at-homeness was my contribution to our future family. We have lived in 4 addresses in the last 32 years, and the first things my husband did for me at each place was put up a clothesline and find a site for the garden. We had chickens for a year before we decided the hassle wasn’t worth it, because we could get our eggs at the farm down the road. We are as self sufficient as we can be and still be on the grid. Your checklist to be self sufficient is a good guideline.

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16 George Eager April 4, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Merissa, you’re doing a great service by showing people how basic values such as simplicity, community, harmony and equality lead to a more fulfilled life and ultimately make a truly spiritual life possible,

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17 Debbie April 4, 2014 at 5:41 pm

We live in a little 4 room “shack” (as we love to call it). It’s over 100 years old and there is ONE CLOSET!!!! The biggest room is the kitchen, thankfully as I am always in there. We are on 5 acres of property, half of that being vegetable gardens. We can and freeze as much as we can come harvest time. Our house is heated by a woodstove only so we also chop our own wood from fallen trees on the property – and the generosity of the neighbors fallen trees that he gladly lets us remove for him! It’s a lot of work! We both also work full time, but this is the best lifestyle in the world – we love it. People laugh at me when I go on vacation and they ask where I am going. I tell them “to my own little piece of earth” πŸ™‚

Great website!

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18 Pamela April 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Yes, I think it is possible. We should continue to encourage one another. We are a single income household. I desire, and have seen the benefit of living with natural products and to garden or join a CSA. We have desired to put people first. Reading books like Affluenza and Toxic Success helps too. I am showing other people by the way we live, that there is another way. Let them see joy on your face. Maybe, one day, they will figure it out. Blessings.

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19 Therese Bizabishaka April 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm

I’m a stay at home, homeschooling Mum of 5 Who lives in a large house but small yard in a large rural town. Over recent years I have found myself
relying more on convenience. My aim this week is to make my own cloth diapers and tomato sauce/bbq sauce. Making from scratch when possible is a way for me to live more purposefully and connect with what i’m consuming and giving my children.

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20 Kit April 4, 2014 at 8:20 pm

We’ve been a one income family since the beginning of our 34 year marriage .. now retired. I think people can bloom where they are planted ~ even if for a season. It’s good to have skills to prepare for emergencies, being thrifty, making due with what you have, not keeping up with the Jones. There is nothing wrong with living in a small home or a comfortably sized home if it can be afforded without sacrifice to family time; whether city or country. Learn at a young age that the debtor is slave to the lender. Follow a plan to limit debt. and live on a budget. Be content with little or a lot.

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21 Squid4life April 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I love your website πŸ™‚ thank you for allowing us the wonderful pleasure of “meeting” you online.
I am one of those high income earners yearning to leave everything behind. Last month I found a home that I finally love. It is a quaint 2 bedroom one bath bungalow with an expanded attic, very quaint, and small and affordable. I currently live in a 5k sq foot home with 8 family members who can’t for the life of them get ahead. I am tired of making payments on this home and gave everyone notice. By the end of the year, I plan to move away into my little bungalow with my only child.

How do you all deal with the negative people? Everyone in the house has something to say about my downsizing even calling me crazy. This is just because they would have to move and they can’t understand why I want to quit my job to downsize. I’m only 34 but I have spent 20 years of my life traveling the world. I want to settle down and just be for a while and I can’t do it with this job or home or family around who always need something. I feel about burnt out from living in the city, I was born in the country and I miss it. πŸ™
Anyone have any ideas? Suggestions etc? From like minded folks like yourselves?

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22 Merissa April 5, 2014 at 4:39 pm

It seems that we have our share of negative people in our lives too. Sometimes their words can really get to me but for the most part I just ignore it. After a while when they see how happy we are because of our lifestyle they either find it encouraging and want to learn more or they just decide you are crazy and they move on to other friends. That part can be hard but then I remember I’d much rather be friends with those who accept us as we are instead of people that want us to look/act/be a certain way. We believe this is where we are meant to be and who we are meant to be and that’s what matters to us…that we are doing what we feel called to do.

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23 Donna June 1, 2014 at 11:22 pm

What a tough position to be in. The only thing I can think of to suggest, is for you to do what you feel is right for you. Follow your heart; it sounds like you’ve put in a lot of years of hard work & have earned the means to live the way you want to. It’s unfortunate that your family doesn’t support you. The others will (need to) figure out how to make their own way. And, in the end…you will feel fulfilled & you will be surrounded by the people who are meant to be around you. You only pass this way once….so why not live the way you want to? (right?) πŸ™‚ God Bless & good luck

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24 Tracy April 6, 2014 at 3:35 am

This week I was just pondering one older friend telling me she has hoarded her home with a hundred or more boxes of possessions of now-dead relatives…when another friend called and asked if I’d like a broken electronic organ.

Both wanted to realize some of the value of their items or if not that then gift them individually so they weren’t completely worthless since good money had been given for them at some point.

It just makes me sad that both friends need the space and to detach from the past…yet they can’t just let go of out-worn out-grown items.

Squid4Life-
no easy answer to this unfortunately. I told one friend of mine two years ago I’m sorry but I cannot help you financially any more; last time I heard from her.

If your family loves you they will adapt and be pleased for you eventually.

Everyone has their own version of the same set of resources: money, time, health, energy…and it’s up to everyone to determine what works best for them.

I used Tim Ferris ‘4 hour work week’ when health determined I maximize income and minimize hours…have got much criticism from people, disguised as comment: eg you only work an hour a day?

People are not always pleased for you. Good luck anyway!

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25 Donna April 6, 2014 at 10:21 am

Good Morning!
I think it’s possible to to live as simply as one can. I think folks just have to decide what area of their lives they want to improve upon. For us,it started with a garden. I then started making my own laundry soap,cleaners,and hand soap.We then started raising chickens,and for a while,turkeys. We now have Romney sheep so we can make our own yarn,and we are getting Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats so we can have our milk and make our cheese,etc. We live in a 918 sq ft house with three dogs,four cats and four humans πŸ™‚ so we are very particular about our purchases.
Enjoy your blog!
Donna from NH

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26 Carola Bartz April 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

I think it really depends on where you live and what your situation is, but all in all I do believe that it is still possible to live a simpler life in today’s world. We do – in our own way, which means we only own one small car (a stick), husband bikes to work (up a very steep hill, in any kind of weather), we conserve water wherever we can, I grow my own veggies, my garden is completely organic and I’m just learning how to bake bread. I’d love to learn how to can, and I’m sure I will do that as well. I wish we could have chickens but my husband doesn’t want to. He’s also not into beekeeping which would be something else I’d like to do, despite the fact that I don’t like honey. My daughter makes her own granola bars. Before we moved to the States we got rid of a huge chunk of stuff, and then again when we moved into our new home. Getting rid of stuff can get quite addictive, and I regularly go through my things. It’s freeing…

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27 [email protected] April 11, 2014 at 1:18 pm

I’m a minimalist with a hoarding problem, unfortunately. I strive to live like Thoreau, who kept a rock for a short time because he thought it pretty. But when he discovered the time he spent to dust it, he tossed it out the door.

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28 Angel B June 1, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I have always been a person who doesn’t hold onto things. It’s both good and bad. If I didn’t use it it was gone! I had to learn to keep certain items around…but not many! After Christmas we gave our big tree back to my mother in law and downsized the decorations to 1 tub but I’ll go through it again soon and give away more. For us, we want to get away from commercialism and the need to keep up with everyone else. We want to celebrate Christmas how we believe. We’ve talked with our children and my 6 year old said he doesn’t need more toys because he doesn’t play with them now! That’s so true.
I have 2 friends who have way way way more than needed. One of them used to poke fun at me, now she’s slowly getting rid of items of no value.
It’s freeing to have a life without all the clutter. As I look around my home I see more things that can go.

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29 Merissa June 1, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I totally agree…the more we let go of the more freeing it is. I’ve been cleaning out again and it feels great!

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30 Linda Thomson July 24, 2014 at 1:04 pm

I love your posts on living simply. My husband and I are in our 60’s. We have found that the older you get, these less “things” you want. We’re new to gardening but are really enjoying it. Keep up the good work on your posts!

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31 Bobbi April 14, 2015 at 10:26 pm

Nice article…good questions to keep asking all along the way…I think the word you are looking for that does have a definition is minimalism….:)
Keep up the good work!

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32 Rita July 1, 2015 at 5:47 pm

we have began the process to simple life a little later in life than some folks ( in our 50’s) and we are all the way there yet. we do raise all own meat, have a large garden and I can our harvest. we also have milk cow that supplies us with milk and we make cheese, butter, sour cream. we are still trying to unclutter our lives, but it takes time. I would tell others to take it in small steps and not to worry about not getting all there way all at once. just little steps at a time

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33 Christie July 2, 2015 at 6:36 am

Great advice, Rita! And as they say – better late than never! Best of luck to you!

Christie | LHL Assistant

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34 Pamela July 7, 2015 at 5:08 pm

I used the year 2014 to do a large purge of household goods. In 2015,
I find I am quicker to decide when a possession is not something that
needs to be around anymore. I try to get rid of it right away. I heard
the Amish and Mennonites near where I live, make a habit of purging
every 6 months. Many times they like to support charities. There are
ReUzit and Liberty Thrift stores in our area for this purpose.

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35 Pamela July 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm

I think I was blessed with a childhood near the woods and a large County
Park. I was raised fairly simple my whole life. We rented on a farm
during my early childhood. That was a blessing too.

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36 Sheila September 26, 2015 at 11:31 pm

Loved it!! =)

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37 Jod October 5, 2015 at 12:14 am

I live in the ‘stuff’ capital of the USA, New York city. My apartment is small and quite cramped, it’s how I processed the mourning of my late husband. Frankly I woke about 3 years ago from my mourning with the idea that I needed to take an 80/20 approach to my living space and belongings. The minimalist lifestyle began to appeal to me, as I read mouse and more about it over this last year. I was faced with a fire in the apartment building next to me in April. What a clarification of ‘things that matter or don’t matter’ in one’s life. The journey is on going but what I keep I appreciate and enjoy more than I ever did. Side note, I can see my floor again… I love this process. My moto, keep the best of the 20 & ditch the 80. Wish me luck!

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38 Theresa May 26, 2016 at 7:32 am

Great article and I love your blog. I lost my job last last week and therefore our income was reduced drastically. Fortunately we have been in a mission over the last couple of years to payoff debt and live a simpler life. I bet my husband will be glad now that we planted a bigger garden. LOL

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