Simplicity and Freedom

Simplicity and Freedom

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Written by Emily McClements, Contributing Writer

It’s been a little over a year that I have really been pursuing this “frugally green” lifestyle. I still feel very new to it, there is so much I still want to learn about, changes I want to make, and areas that I want to grow in.

But, in other ways, it feels like I have always been on this journey. Now, it’s sometimes hard for me to remember what it was like to wash my hair with conventional shampoo and conditioner, or to use paper towels for cleaning and paper napkins at every meal.

As I reflect on the changes I have made, I realize just how far I have come in a relatively short amount of time. But one of the biggest changes in my life is something that is unseen, imperceptible to those who view my life from the outside looking in. That change is the freedom I have found in pursuing a simpler, more natural, “greener” lifestyle.

Freedom from Materialism

I used to be someone who liked to have nice things, and thought that it mattered. The idea that we are what we have – the kind of car we drive, the size of the house we live in, the clothes and shoes we wear, and even the handbag we carry – is so pervasive in our culture, that we almost don’t realize that it’s there.

In this materialistic culture, our things define us. As I pursue simplicity in my life, I am changing the way that I define my own life and the lives of others.

Instead of looking at the nice things I have, I am trying to define my life by the way that I am loving others, being a good steward of the earth, and glorifying God with my life. Instead of being defined by what I have, I have found freedom in choosing to be defined by what I do.

Freedom from Advertising

I used to be one of those girls who was always looking for the next best thing. I would flip through magazines or watch TV and want to try all the things I would see ads for. The new hair product that would tame my frizzy hair, the newest shoes or purse or jewelry of the season that would make me look well dressed and pulled together, or the latest gadget or product for my home.

I wasted a lot of time, effort and money on things that I thought would make my life better, make me more attractive, make my home more organized.

Some of the freedom from advertising I have found comes from not allowing as much into our home – we watch much less TV than we used to, and I have canceled all of my magazine subscriptions. But, the freedom from advertising I have found has also come from the changes I have made in the products that I use.

Since I started no ‘pooing, I no longer have the need for all different types of hair products. Making my own cleaning products keeps me from wanting to try the newest cleaners that promise to make my bathroom sparkle.

Because I have simplified my life and my home, I just no longer have the desire to find the next best thing. Advertising does not have the pull over me that it used to. Instead of believing the advertisements, I have found freedom in choosing simple products that I know are good for my family and our environment.

simple orange flowers

Image by JustSomeDust

Freedom from Keeping Up with the Joneses

I also used to be one of those girls that thought that everyone cared what I was wearing, how I looked, and how I acted all the time. I am definitely a people pleaser, and I always wanted to make sure that people liked me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still care whether people like me or not, I really don’t want anyone to dislike me, but I have learned how much the world does not revolve around me. And at the same time, I am learning how the actions I take, and choices I make, have an impact outside of myself and my little world.

Now more than caring what others think of me, I am trying to care more about the impact that my actions and choices have on other people and on the world around me. I strive to make choices that are based on my values and view of the world, and not based on what others say is valuable, or what others’ view of me might be. Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, I have found freedom in being conscious of the effects of my actions.

Freedom from Stuff

I used to have stuff just for the sake of having stuff, and we as a family still have more stuff than we really need. Of course, there are basic things we need to live, but don’t we all really have much more than enough stuff? Doesn’t having too much stuff just mean that we need more stuff – to use or enjoy, or organize and store, the stuff?

As we have moved toward living more simply, we have learned that we don’t need all of the stuff that we thought we did. I am always trying to move items from our home into the giveaway and garage sale boxes in our basement. And having less stuff frees me to pursue relationships and other things that I enjoy doing.

I loved Stephanie’s post about learning to live with less, where she says, “Stuff requires time and effort that I’d rather spend elsewhere.” Instead of having too much stuff, I have found freedom in learning to be content with what I already have.

While pursuing a simpler lifestyle, my paradigm has shifted in how I live my life, what is important to me, and what I spend my time and energy on. Now, I am free to pursue more ways of simpler living, more ways of being green and frugal.

As my wonderful father always says, “The best things in life are not things at all.” The freedom that is found in simple living allows us to focus on those things (that aren’t really things) that are most important to us in our lives.

How have you found freedom in living simply?

Photo by misskelly

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  1. This is very true.

    Its interesting that the “more stuff is better” mentality even fits in with natural living…I can think of how I wanted to wash my hardwood floor and thought I needed the “hardwood floor cleaner” the natural company that I buy from markets. I thought I ordered some, but the wrong product came, so I called the company to ask if using their all purpose cleaner would work on hardwood. They told me it would and the proper dilution (not on the bottle). I asked them if basically the “all purpose” meant I could use it on most anything, and they said yes. So when I asked why then do they have all the specific brands like toilet cleaner, glass, tile, etc etc. they said “well you don’t really need it, you just need a few things, but we want people to use the natural products, so they think they need so many different products to specifically clean one thing” (which isn’t true at all! I love the freedom of not having 10 different cleaners in my house!

  2. So true! Its awsome how our creator made it so. Its the oppisite of what the world tells us. They say” to be happy you need more”. But I’ve found that I am the happiest I’ve even been when I have less and so are my children. One of my children has visitation every other weekend and they have a large room with tons of stuff for her and now that she is used to less the thought of all that STUFF is daughnting. She says she wishes that she could get rid of it all and just have a little. Less is more.

  3. I enjoyed this post as well. We have been working on changes for about a year as well, to live simply and smarter! I am still in the process of just getting stuff out of the house and at times it is overwhelming and at the same ensuring we don’t have ‘stuff’ coming in needlessly! Like others I want to spend and invest in things that are irreplaceable! I have enjoyed not buying napkins, or deodorant and cleaning products as well. Little things make life simple and enjoy the things that matter most- my loved ones! Thanks for the great article!

  4. I am on this same journey and about the same amount of time into it. I do admit that I have battles with myself as to what I am doing and why I am doing it. Some days I get tired of thinking about it all and say “why am I making things so difficult for myself, why do I spend so much time reading labels, why do I want our little farm (hopefully soon) and make more work for myself and the family to have to take care of. Then I see my son, who has Autism, and I know the answer to those questions. My awareness changed entirely when he was diagnosed.

    Just night before last, my dh and I were shopping for butter, of all things. We looked at the processed spreads and the like. Yes, the fat content and calories are “better” for you, but everything is processed. Butter, on the other hand, is just cream and salt(if you buy salted). That’s all. So, does one choose simpler and un-processed and a little less healthy that way, or does one choose processed and less healthy that way? We chose butter 😉
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Bring Back My Bar =-.

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