Waiting for yoga at the hostel in San Cristóbal de las Casas last week, I met and spoke with a woman from Switzerland. We share a mutual passion for… guess what? A simplified life—yes!
She’s fully on the Voluntary Simplicity path (she didn’t call it that and I didn’t ask her if she was familiar with Duane Elgin’s book of the name), i.e. she has downsized her life such that she’s happy with her ratio of work/leisure time.
In order to have the time for herself that she desires, she works 2-4 days a week. To live within her scaled back income, she has adjusted her lifestyle accordingly.
For her this means: no TV, no car, a one-room studio (downsized from a 4-room place that she shared with one other), and she got rid of almost all of her furniture.
She told me that she’s sad to see that people are in a much more disposable mindset (buy and throw away), that they aren’t questioning how much they are working, and that gratitude seems to be non-existent.
My kind of conversation! I told her that I work with small business owners to bring more organization, simplicity and authenticity into their work.
Organization, sure, but she pushed back on the others, clearly unconvinced that they were practical pursuits, saying things like: “People aren’t ready,” and “They have too far to go,” and “There’s no room for that in business.”
Hmmm, interesting. She has completely reworked her life around these impulses and yet doesn’t believe that there are enough other people out there for it to be a worthwhile business concept.
Finally I asked her if she knew anyone else in her area who thought like she does. She said the punks—though while they are also attracted to the work-less and question-the-status-quo mentality, they are more chaotic while she appreciates more calm.
So no, she doesn’t really know anyone who thinks like her.
Wow and ouch. Kudos to her for being a pioneer!
The conversation reminded me that 1) I live in an aware community in progressive California, a state which tends to be a leader in this kind of conversation, 2) I gravitate to online websites and conversations that appreciate and seek authenticity, and 3) I think, live and write about these ideas every day—which is all to say, my perspective is skewed, for which I am so grateful!!
Do you see what else this means? The very fact that you are interested enough in these ideas to receive Natural Professional emails means that you are on the cutting edge. Yes, the wave is getting ready to crest and you are surfing it!
Check it out: from the mid-20th Century, we’ve been on a trend of rapidly raising our quality of life. We hit serious pursuit of materialism in the 1980’s.
Within a decade, we began realizing that our stuff obsession had gotten out of control, hence the rise of the Professional Organizer profession and the beginnings of the desire to simplify.
If “Green” was the politically correct term of the 1990s, “Simplify” became the p.c. term by the end of the first decade of the 21st Century as people became evermore fed up with stress and over-commitment to managing and maintaining their lifestyle. (My first business, Project Simplify, was begun in 2005 and not all that many people were using the term.)
The next wave, post-Simplifying, is just beginning to crest. The more you simplify, the more space you have to cultivate your authentic Home, and the more you enjoy your personal place of power.
This quest isn’t merely a luxury resulting from making more space in your life (though it may feel like it!) With the rapidly growing numbers of entrepreneurs, expressing your authenticity is one of the best ways to set you apart and reach your tribe (hint hint—more clients!)
Authenticity cannot be fabricated, contrived or kicked down on command. It comes from your core, through honest connection with your Self—an exploration that requires time and space. Hello, Natural Professional!
When I assured my new friend from Switzerland that there is a lot going on in the United States around simplifying and the desire for authenticity, she conceded that trends from the US definitely influence them.
For example, the US’s work-a-holic and materialism ethics have certainly taken root in her country. She remarked that hopefully the simplifying trend will cross the ocean, too and soon. Let’s hope so!
Does this mean that everyone is going to chuck their TV, car and furniture and move into a one-room place? Of course not. Simplifying looks different for each person and family.
Reaching peace in how we spend our time and direct our energies can be achieved in as many ways as there are unique individuals.
While you may balk at changing our lifestyle—let’s face it, change is hard—knowing that the change is a means to creating something even more groovy for yourself is quite helpful.
If you feel and desire more satisfaction in your life, know that it’s completely attainable!
Becoming re-aquainted with your deep place of Home within is a major step toward this intention and thus, making space to do so is a most excellent endeavor.
Take a moment to breathe. And another. Then, what’s one thing you can simplify to make more space in your life?