There are other names too – Simple Living; Voluntary Simplicity; Sustainable Living.
What do they all mean? And how do they differ from each other?
The simplest way to look at it is to see what they have in common. They all want to lead people out of the modern industrial desert of chasing the next pay rise, the next promotion, the next dollar, the next car, the next pair of shoes, and into a Shrangi-La world where there is enough time to play with the children, talk to friends over a glass of wine or watch a sunset.
Where they differ is how they choose to go about it.
Slow Living is, of course, about time. It’s that word ‘slow’ again. My daughter, in her early 20’s, tells me that no young person is ever going to be interested in something called Slow Living, yet she admits that when she reads my posts she agrees with everything I have said. See what a good daughter she is! That aside, and back to the point in question, Slow Living says take the time to decide what it is that you want to do, and then take the time to do it.
Wikipedia says of Slow Living “By slowing down we make time to savor our experiences and to connect more fully with others. The process of slowing down involves simplifying our lives and minimizing distractions so that we have more time and more energy to focus on what is meaningful and fulfilling. By consciously choosing to do less, we contribute to reducing some of the negative social and environmental impacts of our actions.”
The really fascinating thing about this definition of Slow Living is that it uses the words ‘simplifying’ and minimizing’. In fact Slow Living is Simple Living and Minimalism. The only difference (other than the name!) is the route taken.
Minimalism tends to look at numbers. The minimalist joke is that to be a minimalist you have to be a young, white male, who is single, well educated and makes his living from writing. You also have to own less than 100 things! (Paraphrased from Joshua Fields Milburn at the Minimalists.com)
Whilst this is a joke, it has its truth. Minimalists do tend to look at numbers. “I have disposed of 50 things this week!” “I only own 10 books!” “I lived for 1 year with less than 100 possessions!” It is as if the magic of numbers will somehow change your life into a blessed and happy place. And amazingly it seems to work!
I think that by dealing with the physical clutter in your life you gradually make space in your emotional and temporal clutter as well. Of course we cannot all own only 100 things. Some of us live in extreme climates and need winter coats, hat, gloves, boots gaiters, snowshoes etc etc. Or people who like me, make our living with sewing machines rather than computers. In my case it means my workroom, instead of having nothing but a desk, a chair and a computer, has 2 sewing machines, 8 rolls of fabric, dozens of rolls of tape, buckles, sliders, spools of thread, pins, scissors, tape measures…..
But the rules of minimalism do help. What do I do with the scraps of material left over? Store them in large boxes ‘just in case’? Let me tell you, I have done that and have almost never used a scrap. Now I pass the scraps on via Freecycle. Local schools, craft clubs or occupational therapists tend to find my scraps a goldmine. Far better than them sitting under the table until there is no more room and I send them off to landfill.
The principle remains the same, get rid of what you don’t need to free up space and time for what you do. Go on, admit it! What do you have hiding in the attic, cellar or garage? Getting dusty or damp, taking up space, dragging you down. Pop into a minimalist site to take a look at how to start. There are some links at the bottom of this post.
Simple Living is again the same. Choosing to live simply, without all the status symbols of our modern age so we have time and space to spend on what does matter. Simple Living tends to attract young families, who can take the time to cook together, to gather wild foods, to make their own games. Having young children slows us down anyway, and embracing Simple Living often enables one parent to stay at home, or both to work part time, so the children can be raised within their own families.
So there we have it. Minimalism for the 20 somethings in their gorgeous empty city lofts. Simple Living for the young families, choosing to raise their own children and do without the trappings so important to ‘designer families’ and Slow Living for the older folks who maybe realize that time is actually the one thing you cannot buy. Who realize that each and every one of us only have 24 hours a day, and we had better spend at least some of those hours mindfully doing what we want to do.
Simple Living Blogs