I believe in the power of simplicity. Since childhood I have tried to use everything I own, and not to own too much. I like the feeling of nothing left over; of using just the right amount. Through my life experiences I have observed how material things and frenetic activities appear to bring little or temporary happiness. Instead, I think a focus on ideas and experiences is more valuable than having lots of things.
One way I practice this belief is though simplified travel. I love to travel as it expands my perspective and forces me to live more intensely. Using only one bag I have traveled to Europe and across the U.S. I find traveling with less makes me more resourceful and saves time. Also, I don’t have a cell phone, cable television, lots of clothes and electronic do-dads. Instead, I read a lot and enjoy hobbies that don’t require much stuff.
Simplicity means I leave more things to others who may need them. I enjoy passing on my clothes and books to others, keeping them in circulation. Reducing waste is a way of thinking outside myself. For me, this type of simplicity is not voluntary poverty; rather it’s a concentrated decision to focus on fewer things and maximize their use. This belief also meshes with my desire to be a careful environmental steward. By simplifying I reduce my environmental impact and free up time to focus on people and ideas that I care about.
The simple idea of clearing away the unneeded and using all that I own has given me a powerful tool for experiencing life. In reducing what I use and own I more fully appreciate objects that pass through my life. I don’t deny the complexity of the world and human relationships, but for me a streamlined approach has worked. In it I have found comfort and joy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.