My life is simple, I’m not afraid to confess that.
In this life where things are complex -the world is far from simple- how can we lead a “simple life”?
ALL YOU NEED IS LESS
It all began three years ago when my love and I moved to the Spanish island, Ibiza. We wanted to live our lives more slowly and free under the Mediterranean sun. The long Dutch winter months we started to detest and going abroad, where the sun wasn’t hiding under layers of thick, grey clouds for many months of the year, had been on our minds for several years already. We loved to live our lives in Amsterdam and it certainly was a beautiful and abundant life, but we felt it was time for some change. A sabbatical year ended and now after three years we still feel very much committed to stay on Ibiza. Our lives have become simpler here on the white island as we experience we need less than before. We have a roof over our heads, a little beach-studio which we rent from an Ibizian family. It has the tiniest kitchen – in a closet! – and no bedrooms, but enough space for us. Actually, the terrace with a dream-view at sea is the reason why we fell in love with this place.
We work and earn way less, but meanwhile we experience more freedom, for example to do things we love: to be outside, bike in nature, to write poetry and start that novel, to become an eco-builder and start building a tiny house. We don’t need to work and earn money for buying the stuff we think we need. Besides, we are together without kids. I guess that makes the difference, although I have seen couples with kids leading a minimalist life on Ibiza too.
LESS STUFF, MORE TIME AND CONSCIOUS CHOICES
I’m honest when I say that I feel happy without having many things. I don’t need them to be happy. I’ve never been a material girl anyway, that has made it probably easier too. I still have my old iPhone, never replaced it, and yes, I enjoy having a new laptop (granted by my employer :). It gives me possibilities, like doing one of the things I love most (to read & write). I think I have become more selective in what I buy and keep. You have to declutter and make choices what to bring or not when you move house or in our case emigrate to another country. I found that both hard and relieving. Especially the boxes with books I had to give away was hard and something not to dwell on for too long. Anyhow, I find very much comfort in the thought that somebody else is enjoying them now!
That I call my life simple is not only about having less things, it’s also about having more time by having more control over my time. Before we needed to earn money to be able to pay the mortgage of our house and bills and to save some part as well. Therefore we had to work more hours without enough time for other important things in life. Furthermore a simple life for me means lifestyle choices and making them more consciously, like buying local food, use the bike instead of the car (our van) and by doing this supporting the miserable oil-industry as less as possible, say goodbye to television and learn more about philosophy and spirituality and other subjects that enrich my soul, add happiness and meaning in my life.
Last weekend we watched the documentary “MINIMALISM” http://minimalismfilm.com on our laptop at home. Yes, we can call ourselves minimalists.. I recognized much of it (never made the 6-figure salary before having started my minimalist life though 😉 ). Yet the documentary was a bit of disappointing, didn’t hear anything new and the price (15 US dollars) to watch it was quite overrated too, but I do believe this documentary has an essential message of truth. It says we don’t need all the things we consume in order to lead happy lives. We don’t need so much stuff in our lives and to believe owning so many things makes us happy is a misconception. We live in a material world where we over-consume and on top of that the media are feeding that material desire in us big time. Don’t we need that new dress, trendy bag or beautiful sofa in our lives to feel (more) happy? Didn’t we work so damn hard for this and don’t you think we earn it? Of course we do! And we got to have it, the sooner the better. The famous scene where you see hundreds of people waiting in line to be able to buy the newest iPhone and running across the store like maniacs to get one is quite sad and embarrasing, but shows the greed in us which, I believe, characterizes modern life.
THE POWER OF CHOICE
However, we have a choice. Always. We can choose ourselves to do it differently and if you want to, step by step. We can choose to become more aware of the consequences of buying certain things, like, for example, clothes which are made under unworthy circumstances. The fashion-industry is huge, especially fast fashion, and we all need something to wear, don’t we? So supporting fair trade and ethical clothing is already an important step. I have bought just a few new clothes the past three years. It absolutely doesn’t mean that I don’t care about clothes anymore, but what I have bought most I bought second-hand at a market here on the island so these clothes get a second life. In summer you hardly need any clothes anyway as the sun don’t let you wear that much; having less clothes works absolutely fine here. On top of that, I work from home and nobody sees what I’m wearing so most of the time this results in wearing a few favourite pieces over and over again. I suppose being “nonchalantly” dressed in a modern office in Amsterdam like I am here on Ibiza would be less simple and possibly not appreciated.
Yes, I believe we can choose to experience more freedom and happiness in our lives by making our lives simple(r). It works for me and I’m still learning.
Don’t be afraid to make your life simple(r)!
Stay tuned for “A Minimalist Life – Part II -”!!