We don’t generally get too philosophical on the blog, but we can’t help but remember the teachings of the Greek philosopher Epicurus when thinking about this month’s theme: Living Simply. A co-opting of his name by certain culinary trends has incorrectly made some associate him with hedonism and excess, but Epicurus’ teachings actually emphasise a life full of appreciation of the simple things, which he believes is the key to maximising pleasure.
We’ll end the exposition of his philosophical beliefs here, but we won’t disagree with the idea that appreciation of simple things helps us find an inner tranquility. There’s a lot of confusing ideas out there when we think of simple living—it is often equated to minimalism or with frugality or asceticism—but for the purposes of this post we’ll focus on anything that will save time and attention and reduce consumption or waste.
Here’s a short list of resources or ideas that align with this month’s theme. We’ve tried to capture the spectrum of ways to manifest living simply. Hopefully some of them make you laugh or provoke some deeper thought.
Living simply for some is about reducing waste. One really easy way of starting this is by no longer peeling your vegetables! No waste (like our notebooks), and even more nutrients. If you're still not convinced, read this. If you like to peel your carrots, maybe you can look into composting?
There's very few of us who haven't heard of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo, but there's many of us who haven't taken her advice. One thing to remember: unless an item brings you joy, you shouldn't keep it. Sentimental value is often just sentimental clutter. Her approach can be too drastic for some, including the ladies of By the Book, a podcast where two friends live by the rules of various self-help books for two weeks. Their frustration but simultaneous commitment to the new lifestyle is both hilarious and relatable.
If simple living for you aligns with frugality, perhaps this infographic will catch your attention. It breaks down the average American's yearly expenditure by percentage of income after taxes. We chuckled at how the categories of 'entertainment', 'reading' and 'alcoholic beverages' are distinct. We like to think of them as one in the same. The /r/Frugal subreddit is also a great resource, check the sidebar for a place to start.
Many of us find that a spot in our homes with lots of clutter is our closets. In the age of treat yo'self, it's easy to accumulate lots of garments and jewelry that spend more time sitting in the dark than out in the world. The Every Girl provides a great guide on how to build a Capsule Closet. Despite the site's name, I'm sure any gender can find some helpful tips from their guide. We have to say, the decision making process for clearing the closet is quite similar to Marie Kondo's method which we mentioned above.
We'd like to provide a reminder to some of our readers, who like us, can feel a nagging sense of guilt for wanting to set aside some time for ourselves to get everything together. There are so many deadlines, responsibilities, and other important things happening in our lives that it is hard to carve out the time necessary to plan our a more frugal lifestyle, or clean out our closets, or enjoy reading a book. Our reminder is that, sometimes, "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation." We read this in a moving article in the New York Times, which in turn quoted from the great Audre Lorde's book "A Burst of Light: and Other Essays".