I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms …
Simple living in natural surroundings. You can and must design a lifestyle that consumes less resources. On the surface, it is not difficult to imagine that you could create a satisfying, culturally rich lifestyle while consuming less fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources.
There are significant roadblocks to sustainability and simple living as a national ethic. One is a socially transmitted anxiety that changes will require sacrifice. While the idea of simple living is appealing to many, others dismiss it as ‘having less’.
When you think about having more or less in life, you tend to focus on money. Money itself is neither a good nor a bad thing; its real value depends on how it is earned and spent. A person’s skills and talents often result in monetary as well as other types of rewards.
That is great. But the real value lies beneath the money, in the essential assets that are often in short supply, such as the respect of other people, fresh ideas, time, health and citizenship.
If money becomes the central focus in your life, the resulting imbalance will create poverty in other areas, reducing your odds of being truly happy. You may be poor in available time, or have lots of time but not know what to do with it.
You may lack meaningful connections with people, be culturally clueless, or lack vitality and playfulness. Natural systems may be less abundant as a result of your decisions and excessive purchases.
Simplicity can be thought of as a tuneup of priorities, habits, skills and values. So many of us are too exhausted from a lifetime of physical and psychological detours to get what we need.
Rather than just being consumers, we are being consumed! Far too often, things that are not alive intervene in your life, competing for your attention. But maybe this kind of stuff is not worth your energy.
By understanding why your health is out of balance, you can meet many of your own health needs, using preventive approaches such as eating healthy food, getting plenty of exercise, and practicing meditation or yoga.
These practices require some effort, but that effort and knowledge are precisely what makes you feel that you are participant rather than just spectator.
To simply but genuinely live, you need to actively create your experiences and your life, rather than passively letting media and marketers create it for you.
The pathway to life goes beyond mindless consuming to the heightened, enlightened realm of mindful challenge – a realm where you are engaged, connected and alive.
The most basic human needs are a sense of belonging, healthy food, clean air and water, and stronger connections with people and nature. You want to have satisfying sex and restful sleep.
You want to feel relaxed, yet engaged, and you want your life to have a sense of purpose. Basic needs such as these are common across all cultures and historical eras – what changes is how we meet those needs.
Humanity has amazing potential. You have a maturing understanding of biology and its limits. You are hard-wired for cooperation. You are blessed with the ingenuity to create devices and policies that get more value from each unit of energy and each unit of material.
You have the ability to transform our societies. You just have to learn to perceive ‘value’ in a different way, and muster the courage to change.