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the problem with simplicity


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There is a problem with simplicity.

We all know it exists; it is the elephant in the room on this blog, in my books and with its sister practices of minimalism and frugality.

We try not to talk about it. We dance around that critter with his stinky poo and pretend he doesn’t exist. Like the ostrich we think it isn’t real if we refuse to acknowledge it and hope like crazy that it will just go away.

It’s NOT going to go away so let’s examine this sucker:

Simplicity is boring.

It is exciting to buy a new gadget; is it not exciting to use what you already have.

It is thrilling to explore something novel but boring as hell to keep doing the same thing day after day.

That is why so many simplicity blogs choke and die. That is why Everett Bogue quit and why so many blogs and books and websites regurgitate the same crap over and over.

It is boring to do the same things over and over; to stay at home while your buddies are out carousing, to watch your friends play with new and better stuff while you’re stuck wearing the same old ratty underwear your grandma gave you in the nineties.

Seriously, there is no fun in that.

Why bother then? Why even make the effort to save some money and live with less if you aren’t going to enjoy it?

Because you don’t live with less just to do it, you live with less because it helps you to do what you really want.

For me, minimalism and frugality allow me to be a stay at home single mother. It frees me from the burden of cultivating a boyfriend or working a public job.

It enables me to wake up every morning and do something I love instead of something I hate. It enables me to share the knowledge that no matter where you are in life right now you can improve on things and make them better. It gives me the opportunity to share my experiences and inspire you to reach for your dreams, no matter what they may be.

Simplicity soothes the rough edges, providing a calm background so that I can focus on what is important to me without the constant consumerist chatter driving me crazy.

Minimalism, true practical minimalism, along with the sisters of simplicity and frugality are not gimmicks or trends to be talked about, passed around and forgotten. They are tools that will enable you to change your life.

They will never be exciting. Achieving your dreams – that’s the exciting part. Simplicity is just a tool that makes it possible.

How have you used simplicity, frugality and minimalism to achieve YOUR dreams? Please share your stories in the comments below.



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15 Comments

  1. Kim wrote:

    Thank you for your words of wisdom. I discovered your web site recently and enjoy your thoughtful postings. After struggling with debt my entire adult life I finally paid off the last penny and have socked away a decent enough pile of cash to quit my job and pursue self- employment as an artist. Frugality and minimalism equal freedom. There is little risk in self-employment when one’s fixed expenses are minimal. This is a choice I never could have made back in the days of bondage of a car note, credit card bills, etc. Yes, minimalism may be boring at times but the freedom it affords is priceless.

    Friday, March 29, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Erin wrote:

    I think the problem people get into is being too extreme. We love being downsized and owning much less ‘stuff’ but hospitality is important to us. We have a place big enough for a party and lots of dishes, glasses and flatware so people can come by to have a visit and be fed. We do have a pull out couch in case someone wants to sleep over but that almost never happens so we don’t bother with an extra bedroom. It is just a matter of living within our values.

    Friday, March 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  3. sheila wrote:

    I’m like you an (almost) stay at home single mom. I work as little as I can get by with and some weeks that is just like 6 hours, other weeks more like 15 hours… It lets me be here for my kids and have the down time that I personally need.

    I have to admit tho- I do get excited when I can fix something myself or do something that I otherwise would have had to pay to have done. I love to find a bargain, and I enjoy cooking so that I can keep our grocery budget at $240 a month… I have to find the enjoyment in these things or it would be too boring. But when I sit back and know my kids are well fed and we can relax in our very own house, it makes me really happy.

    Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  4. Lois wrote:

    I’m not sure I agree with your premise of simplicity being boring, maybe to write about but not to live.

    I have been living simply for the majority of my adult life and find rather than boring, it has opened my world up to having a larger life.I’m sure I never would have had enough to write about in the last 2 years if I hadn’t found hobbies I loved to fill the hours.

    Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  5. Kathy wrote:

    Hmmmmm…to many people my family’s life would be simple. We don’t take trips, we don’t buy many new exciting things, only the occasional splurge purchase. Even things some people might find exciting were really business purchases so it takes some of the fun out of it to a lot of people, but we make it seem like it’s fun and enjoyable.

    But the past 2 weeks to us have been anything buy simple and boring! Right now I BEG for simple and boring!! We have spent a large part of the past 2 weeks running to multiple vets and doctors, mending fences and barns that animals tore up, completely stripping out and sanitizing a barn due to a sick animal with an unknown illness, the list seemed endless this week. But if we didn’t have what others would consider a simple and boring life, it wouldn’t allow my husband and I to both be self-employed, we wouldn’t have been home with the freedom to care for our livestock when they needed us. Honestly though, I’d give nearly anything for the upcoming week to be boring.

    Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
  6. Liquid wrote:

    I love simplicity :D I don’t find it boring though but maybe that’s just me. Whenever I feel like I need to do something I just open a book or go on the internet. There’s an endless supply of interesting articles to read on the web :)

    Monday, April 1, 2013 at 1:26 am | Permalink
  7. Yvonne wrote:

    Simple is of course a relative term and it is perhaps problematic because it can be confusing. In my quest for a level of simplicity that is beautiful to me, I’ve purposed to save money in some areas of my life by doing things and making things myself. This has started perhaps the most complex journey of my life next to being a wife and birthing into a mother. It would be simple for me to purchase a chair. What is not simple is building one from reclaimed wood that I had to hunt for, albeit excitedly, in a Re-Use lumber yard. Often times, I think beautiful simplicity takes so much thought and energy that it becomes a quest more than something you can just choose or be. Just my sophomoric two cents. =D

    Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink
  8. I lived frugally while my girls were young so I could stay home with them. Now I’m single and retired and live on a very small income and still have been able to do all I want and wish for and give to my Grandson. I live like this so I can give like I want to.

    Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Permalink
  9. EcoCatLady wrote:

    Hmmm… well, much like one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I think that one man’s “new and exciting” is another man’s “pain in the friggin’ arse!” :-)

    Seriously though, I think we often confuse boredom with anxiety. It seems to me that the main purpose of all the “New! New! New!” and “Do! Do! Do!” is to distract us from having to deal with ourselves.

    I also agree with your other commenters… my days are filled with multiple challenges – all vastly more rewarding than pushing paper for “the man.”

    Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 11:47 pm | Permalink
  10. wendy wrote:

    I used to think my life was boring BEFORE I started doing this, now I don’t have time to be bored. I am enjoying my life instead of rushing through it with no time to smell the roses. In two weeks time I will be finishing work because we can afford to lose my wages by doing what we are doing. I guess by other people’s standards my life might appear boring but I’m loving doing what makes me happy and my husband is the same.I like looking through thrift stores etc as my retail therapy, I like buying old, cheap tatty things and making them look loved again. I don’t think I could do minimalism but simple and frugal are me.

    Friday, April 5, 2013 at 4:52 am | Permalink
  11. Bethany wrote:

    I agree. Simplicity for its own sake can be boring. But, when it has meaning, it is incredibly exciting. For example, we’re working toward living aboard year round and eventually sailing around the world. THAT is anything but boring!

    Friday, April 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  12. bio filo wrote:

    Hmmm, wheres My comment? Censored?

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink
  13. Annie wrote:

    Bio, I just checked the spam filter and it didn’t get caught in there so I’m not sure what happened. Your comments are set to post automatically though. Please try again!

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink
  14. bio filo wrote:

    Golly gee gilkers, thanks, sorry watching ” the Donna reed show ” will do that to Me, hehe.My comment was how simplicity has helped Me reach lots of My goals. I spend My life, as I wish rather than “bending and a stoopin for My betters at the minimum wage” , or as HTD, said “making ones self sick saving for a sick day.”

    Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink
  15. Karen T. wrote:

    Hi! I just found your site and am enjoying your very honest, practical, and inspiring approach to minimalism. I too find minimalism “fun” because it allows my family to live on one income so that I can raise our children and make a home for all of us. We only own one car, don’t take fancy vacations, live in a small home, etc., but that feels fine to us. When my husband and I “splurge” to go out for a latte together or buy tickets for a classical symphony concert, we appreciate the indulgence all the more because it is fairly rare, and because it’s what makes us happy. I looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    Monday, April 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

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