Throughout history, living a simple and frugal life was mostly based upon one’s social class, and most people had no choice but to live simply.
For most of us these days, life moves at the speed of light, as we work harder and harder to keep up with the expectations of modern society.
“Simple living” is now more of a lifestyle choice than necessity for most – but choosing a simple way of life may actually extend our lives.
It seems like we’re constantly surrounded by messages about our health in the news and on social media.
Healthy eating, exercise, meditation… we’re advised to do all of these things while trying to keep up with the rat race of family, home, work, bills, and all the other adult responsibilities.
Until modern times, success was typically measured by family, friends, and health. Unless one was wealthy, this was all that could be asked for and expected.
And it was enough – plenty, in fact.
Core traditional values in our country are often based on “simpler times,” looked upon with nostalgia and fondness.
And sadly, those simple times we refer to so longingly include quality time with family and having time to relax – something most of us don’t have anywhere near enough of these days.
These things, as well as many others that involve physical and emotional well-being, are mandatory for good health.
In our race to keep up with the expectations of a fast-paced society, we’ve lost many of the simple things that keep us going.
Most adults are stressed-out, burned-out, and maxed-out nowadays. The mental exhaustion of the balancing act makes us depressed and physically ill.
Poor eating habits and obesity, alcohol and tobacco use, heart disease and stroke – many of the things that are killing us can be directly tied to the fact that we don’t have time to stop and think – much less take care of ourselves.
We’ve been led to believe that the simple life is “boring.” If we’re not productive every moment, we must be doing something wrong… or we’re lazy.
Reading a book or sitting on the porch swing for hours at a time are now looked at as “wasted time,” time we could be using to get more done.
Ask nearly every adult, and they’ll joke about going back to their childhood when they didn’t have to take care of all of this responsibility.
But the reason we look at those times with nostalgia is that we were encouraged to play and explore; to read and relax. Who decided that adults had to give these things up?
There’s no written rule, and there may be no good answers.
We’re still going to have bills to pay, jobs to do, children to raise, a home to keep up. But we don’t have to buy into the modern-day propaganda that we’re less if we don’t do more.
And, deep down, we want the nice house, the new car, the best of everything for our kids. The media, and all their coverage of celebrity, wealth, and power is not helping to fuel this message that it’s “necessary” for success.
We may say we want to live simply, but many of us are not willing to leave behind the luxuries that our culture deems important.
Historically, living simply was not a choice, but a necessity. We have that choice again, perhaps in a different way.
Fighting against cultural norms by leaving a good-paying job or moving into a smaller house isn’t for everyone – and it’s not the only answer.
There’s no quick fix, but if you’re sick of being tired, overworked, and always on the go, there are a few questions you can ask yourself…
What makes you happy or fulfilled? When do you feel at peace? When do you feel the most healthy?
Chances are, these feelings are not tied to all the “must-do” activities we all take on (and we all take on too much).
We can all take small steps, make attainable goals, toward living a simpler life. It may be something small like going for a walk, taking an hour to meditate, or reading in the morning instead of watching the news.
Or, it may make you really stop and think and make more life-altering changes – like switching jobs or downsizing to a smaller house.
Whatever a “simpler time” means to you, chances are, you’ll be healthier and happier when you work toward attaining that for yourself – instead of trying to live up to the expectations of a culture that makes us all constantly yearn for a simple life.
(h/t Better Change Project)