The era of the ubiquitous “suburb” began after World War II in America- people wanted space, but to still enjoy the benefits of living close to the city. Now, the vast majority of Americans live in suburb communities. Tsh gently reminds us that what we enjoy are luxuries, not necessities.
- In 2005, half of the world’s population lived on less that $2 per day.
- 80% of the world’s population doesn’t have running water, or electricity.
So, can we keep our luxuries AND simplify our lives? Here’s her advice:
- Don’t go to extremes.
- Say no, so you can say yes.
- Decide what “simple” looks like for YOU.
Her definition of simple living is, well, SIMPLE: “Living holistically with your life’s purpose.”
To break it down:
- Holistically- all parts work together for good of the whole, and the whole is more important than any one part. Components can include spiritual, relational, emotional, intellectual, physical, and financial.
- Life’s purpose- what are you are ABOUT.
The benefits of simplifying and decluttering, or “living simply”?
- More Time for people- you have less to do, less to clean, and so more free time.
- Improved health- too much stuff stresses our bodies.
- Improved financial well-being. We don’t need to spend money on maintenance of things we don’t love, or buying things we don’t need or love.
- It’s an ecological step in the right direction.
- When we get rid of things, others can use what we don’t.
- We need less space.
- We produce less trash. (Landfill space isn’t getting any bigger, folks!)
This chapter really gave me some things to think about! One of my favorite things about traveling is how easy it is to keep clothes and things organized- we have what we need, and little else. Laundry can be done in one load, it’s easy for the kids to keep track of their things, it’s dead simple to keep our temporary living space neat and organized. What if my home was the same way? Surely nothing to drastic as asking us all to live out of a suitcase, but do I really need 20 shirts? Do my kids need 30 pairs of underwear each? (Somehow, it just stacks up. I’ll bet half of it doesn’t fit, but they’ll never give up their favorite pair without a fight, so I’ll never know!)
I love living in the suburbs- we can drive to the zoo, we can have a big garden. Costco is just a few minutes away. I can definitely see myself breaking from the societal norms around here already- the toddlers aren’t in preschool, we try and keep the toy situation to a manageable chaos. I stay at home with the kids, and we home school to keep our family life simple. I like what she’s suggesting, though, and I’m wondering when I’ll be able to stop my life-long hoarding tendencies. (My parents are snickering right now, I just know it.)