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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Voluntary simplicity fear



People fear voluntary simplicity. They might hate slaving for the man and paying too much for a lifestyle they don't even enjoy all that much. Even though they don't like the rat race they are afraid to get off the wheel.

They fear that if simplicity doesn't work for them, they'll never get their old lifestyle back. (they might hate it, but it's familiar)

The thing is, the fear is valid. The trip down can be one way. Let's say the guy gives up the big house, the expensive car, and the high pressure job. He retreats to small cabin where he can make a living weaving baskets. His needs are simple. There's no pressure. Six months later he's going stir crazy and wants back in the game.

Getting back won't be easy. There's the six month gap in the resume to explain. He doesn't even own a good suit for a job interview. Then there's the fact that potential employers will figure he's a radical nut for his six months of simple living.

Be careful when making radical life changes.

I've a couple of friends who live downstate. One was going through some issues and was thinking of giving up everything: the job, the house, the wife, the cars -everything. I think he had some idea of backpacking through South America or something like that. My other friend recommended that he come up to see me for a few days.

So my buddy comes up to visit us in the woods. We hang out, take it easy, and have some good conversation. I figured out the big problem. He was in a terrible marriage that was just entering the early stages of divorce. I told him to deal with the divorce then see how the rest of his life looked to him.

Well, after the divorce, the rest of his life didn't look bad at all. The house was sold, but he had a new one built in a lower cost area. The guy remarried and is doing fine. Turns out he didn't really want to backpack in South America. The one thing he really needed to downsize was the high cost wife. She was emotionally expensive.

We hear about people making the big leap into a simple lifestyle. That's a good story. Dramatic. Those who downsize, little by little, into something they are comfortable with, isn't as exciting a story. Now it is possible start out by doing a few small things and eventually living very simply. By moving slowly, a person can figure out if the whole simplicity thing is what he really wants. Also, there's the chance to learn from trial and error along the way.

Unfortunately, the way the economy is today, involuntary simplicity can happen to anyone who works for a living. It's a rougher road than the voluntary kind. Choices are limited and everything has to be figured out at once. Even if you don't want to simplify your life, it wouldn't hurt to give some thought on how to go about doing it. The mental exercise will be good for you. You might even find you like the idea and take a few baby steps in that direction. Being mentally prepared could save you a world of grief in the future.

-Sixbears

16 comments:

  1. I spent too many years trying to make people happy that refuse to be happy. My current poverty is forcing my wife and I to live the way we SHOULD have lived all along.

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    1. It's a waste of time to be responsible for someone else's happiness. Hope your financial situation improves and you keep the frugal lifestyle.

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  2. I started making the transition a couple of years ago. I wanted to make the leap too, but I'm glad I decided to go slow and incrementally. I've learned a few things about myself along the way. Like the fact that I don't have to leave the good paying job to live simply. I decluttered, simplified and downsized, and am much happier for it!

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    1. Good for you! Now imagine how much better the world would be if more of us did this.

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  3. Listen to the man. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
    Good one Sixbears...

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    1. Thanks Flying Tortoise. Fear is the mind killer . . .

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  4. I am shaking my head.. We live in Australia, both my hubby (American) and I are now retired, I was a professional and did find it difficult to give up a life of rush at first, but life is catching up and we are slowing down with age. Now, there are many ways of NOT overspending while you DO work. You don't have to own a big house or have a new car. Also, for the 3 years I lived in the U.S .I couldn't believe the extravegance spent on eating out. Even people who said they were poor, stopped at a Take-Away to purchase their breakfast or/and a large iced tea. Couldn't they have made that tea at home, as well as the breakfast? I was about the only person at my work who brought my sandwiches from home. I only purchased my lunch on occassion. Then the washing of clothes! No one in TN where I lived, owned a clothes line?? I hated using drier's as they are not as healthy as clothes blowing dry in the sun and breeze. Back in Australia I am so glad to get back to hanging out my clothes. Here, we only put the air conditioner on when its freezing cold or boiling hot...Its unhealthy to live constantly in airconditioned enclosures. We have 2 water tanks to supply garden water and if need be, can be used for drinking. Many people here recycle water that is then used on the garden. We have a lot of solar electricity. Many of our street lights are slowly being converted over to solar as are highway emergency phones. We have a huge skylight in our kitchen which lights up well during the day and its not until dark that we turn lights on. They are many ways to save and so many more comforts can be purchased with the savings, or it can be given, as we do, to support orphan children in third world countries. I love living like this... I love keeping the windows open and breathing the fresh air. People are just too wasteful.
    Mother Teresa once said something that has always stuck in my mind. "Rich men mend their clothes and thats why they are rich. Poor men don't, and thats why they are poor." So true.

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    1. We can't use a clothes line at my dad's and it's driving us nuts. Rarely use the dryer at home.

      You are saving, living better and more sustainably. No suffering involved.

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  5. We've simplified, but I did get re-hired after 3 yrs out of work in const (after 30 yrs) about 18 months ago, and now we have virtually no payments, it's nice to stack a little cash.
    Trying to break free and move 500 miles to our little tin shack in the desert where there are NO jobs, is a big step...but we are trying to get to that point before we get too old to enjoy life out west.
    Never worked anywhere that had a pension plan, and no 401K since I cashed out 10 yrs ago.
    Good post, you always make good sense, sir.!

    Bigfoot in TX

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    1. Thank you Bigfoot. No payments makes the simple life much easier. I'm not a desert person, but I hope you enjoy it.

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  6. You gave good advice to your friend - you can never hide or run from problems. You have to solve them first or they will follow you wherever you go.

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    1. If I gave bad advice, the blog would be more popular. :)

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  7. Voluntary simplicity is much preferred over being forced into it.

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    1. It sure goes better when you can pick and choose what to simplify.

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  8. Such good advice you gave your friend! It is understandable how overwhelmed he was and it was good to slow down for a minute and make his decisions a little slower on this one....you are a good friend, Sixbears.

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    1. Well, he's been a good friend to me too.

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