Why living a simple life is essential

Why living a simple life is essentialI recently read a series of Terri Blackstock novels in which “the pulse” from a distant star immobilized all electricity, as well as all gasoline and diesel operated engines, on planet Earth.

I know . . . sounds far fetched . . . but the story of one family struggling to adapt and survive was captivating.

With no running water, no automobiles and no electronic communication, bicycles were coveted and any water supply was invaluable.

Banks were closed, paper money had little value and bartering became commonplace.

Suburban families dug up their front yards to grow vegetables and learned to raise rabbits and chickens.

The Brannings, our star family, had been quite wealthy but the stock broker father now had to find other ways to provide. It was literally do or die, so this family transitioned from a stressed father, pampered wife, haughty college daughter and three younger spoiled children to a unit working for their every meal. Tempers flared and frustrations surfaced as each learned to cope with primitive living. But, over time, the Brannings developed a cohesiveness and appreciation for each other that was missing in their previous life.

While we Americans may never be forced to make such radical life style changes, many have lost jobs and been forced to a lesser standard of living. Is this you? How are you handling your new “poverty”?

A “Simple” Challenge

Here is a challenge: instead of bemoaning your poverty, try embracing a new and simpler life style. It could turn out, like our fictional family, to be the best thing that ever happened to you. In fact, a simpler life style would undoubtedly make life better for us all.

Career Coach Dan Miller makes the following observation:

“The dictionary defines poverty as, ‘The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.’ The definition of simplicity is, ‘the absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.’”

Miller continues, “Could it be that whether we live in ‘poverty’ or ‘simplicity’ is primarily a choice of how we view our situation? Simplicity has many rewards that go beyond saving money. Among those may be the experience of living well.”

A Simple Life Style

Can’t afford to eat out as often? Have friends over for a potluck dinner, challenging them to bring any produce from their gardens. Plan some simple activities to have fun while getting to know each other better. When was the last time you played “Charades?”

Can’t afford to travel as much? Visit state parks. Take neighborhood walks. While doing so, take time to visit with your neighbors. Attend Little League baseball games even if no one you know is playing. How about sitting quietly with your spouse, learning to be comfortable with no TV of music or other distracting sounds? (For more read: 20 fun cheap dates ideas)

Simplicity is a Choice

Simplicity is not always our reaction to negative event in our lives. John Robbins, of Baskin–Robbins ice cream fame, turned down a family fortune in order to “live a far more simple and earth friendly life.” John and his wife live in a one room cabin where they grow most of their own food. Radical? I suppose it depends on your viewpoint. Robbins says, “It isn’t about deprivation. It’s about choice and self-determination.”

Henry David Thoreau once said,

“For my greatest skill has been to want but little. I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all of the marrow of life…”

Even if life has taken you to a lower income, you still have a choice: you can live in poverty or you can choose simplicity. One will keep you down and perpetuate a victim mentality. The other could allow you, like Thoreau, “to live deep and suck out all of the marrow of life.” Which will you choose?

photo by Express Monorail

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  1. Bob S

    Wonder what is the title of the Terri Blackstock book referred to. She’s written dozens of novels but I can’t seem to find the one about the pulse from a distant star. Help. please!

  2. [email protected]

    “Even if life has taken you to a lower income, you still have a choice: you can live in poverty or you can choose simplicity”

    You hit the nail on the head, Joe!

  3. Shawn G

    “Last Light” is the first novel in the series.

  4. Joe Plemon

    @ Bob S,
    The series is called “The Restoration Series”. The four books are: “Last Light”, “Night Light”, “True Light” and “Dawn’s Light”. Here is a helpful link: http://www.terriblackstockbooks.com/books/adult-fiction-books/restoration-series/

    Right. We can’t control our circumstances, but we can control how we respond to them.

  5. Joe Plemon

    @Shawn G,
    Thanks for helping us out on the book title.

  6. CJ Williams

    Fantastic article, and wonderful quote by Thoreau. It is amazing how debt and many financial obligations just make life so stressful and complicated. You can not put a price on freedom and simplicity. This article really got me thinking and was a big help. Thank you!

  7. Joe Plemon

    Thanks for the encouraging words. Maybe we can’t express ourselves with the elegance of Thoreau, but we can nevertheless seek a simpler life style. As you say, tackling our debt and financial obligations is imperative. I wish you that freedom and simplicity you referred to.

  8. Evan

    People don’t realize how much your quality of life improves once they get out of debt. Someone making $35,000 yearly with credit card payments and a big car payment is really just an indentured servant

  9. zoranian

    There is also a stand-alone novel by Larry Burkett called Solar Flare based on the same premise (published in 1997). I haven’t read the Blackstock books, they are probably more well-written, but I really like Larry Burkett’s version as well. It seems pretty realistic in a lot of ways (evacuating major cities and setting up refugee camps) and also provides an interesting policitcal/religious commentary.

    It is a very conservative book (basically most of the people end up practically Amish) but it does have a very interesting take on things for people that like political/science fiction.

    Also, a solar flare is much more likely to actually impact our satellites/power systems than a “distant star”. Back in the 1800’s telegraph service was interrupted by solar flares (Carrington Event) and as recently as 1989, millions lost power in Canada for hours due to solar flares. I doubt that there would be a large enough storm for our entire electrical system to collapse, but I would definitely have a Plan B to live without computer, cell phones, and TV, because those would be the las to be brought back up if something were to happen. Especially now that we have moved to “all-digital” TV.

  10. Joe Plemon

    Thanks for the good info. I am familiar with Larry Burkett, but not with his novel “Solar Flare”. I appreciate your documentation of actual solar flare events. I am not technical enough to discuss electronic pulses intelligently, but Blackstock did a lot of research before writing her series, so I am assuming that such pulses are not out of the range of possibility.

    As you say, we in the all digital era should be prepared. We could be setting ourselves up for some drastic problems.

  11. Ronda

    Out of necessity, I’ve had to simplify this year in a radical way. It has been extremely liberating. You just don’t realize how much white noise and the voice of self screams at you. I’ve thought a lot about this process in light of the fact that God wants us to prosper. I loved this article. It put that relationship in perspective. I think a lot of what we call prosperity isn’t really. I believe freedom and simplicity go together.

  12. Joe Plemon

    Thanks for sharing. Although I can’t say that I personally have ever had to simplify out of necessity, you make my point. You did and you feel “extremely liberated”.
    Your story is an encouragement to those, like you, who are being forced toward a simpler life. And your insights into what prosperity REALLY is are right on. One must ask, “Which would God prefer for me: lots of stuff or a simpler lifestyle?” Hmmm.
    “Freedom and simplicity go together”… how true!