Simple living means different things to different people. To some it just means reducing clutter; to others it means living a holistic and intentional life. I really like this definition from the Frugal Village: “making the most out of what you have and not letting anything go to waste.” To me, simple living is about being a responsible human and building a life based on the values, relationships, and activities that matter most to you.
While that in itself sounds great, some may still be hesitant. Isn’t “simple living” just another phrase for giving up a lot of things and making the bare minimum work? Yes, you are giving up some things, you aren’t giving up what truly matters to you. Need some more convincing? Here’s 12 surprising benefits of simple living you may not have thought of.
1. Less Clutter
Yes, this benefit isn’t too surprising, but what is surprising is how good you’ll feel with a clutter-free home. Without tons of things to take care of, you’ll spend less time cleaning, organizing, and remembering if you already have that thing or need to go out and buy one. You also won’t have to rush to clean up before guests stop by or feel embarrassed when they do unexpectedly.
2. More Space Inside
Less possessions means more floorspace. So long to the full shelves and storage solutions, the crowded garage, and the guest room that’s become a catch-all for extra stuff. Turn that extra space into something beneficial: a play space for the kids, an exercise area, a home office, or back into the guest room it was supposed to be.
3. You’ll Lose Things Less
Like I said, with less clutter around, you’ll have less to keep track of… and less places for things to hide from you. It will be harder for things to get lost or to remember what you own. Simple living will save you time, hassle, and potentially money because you won’t get frustrated looking for something just to give up and buy a replacement and find the original when you get home.
4. Less Stress
Just being around mess can cause you stress. It can be hard to relax when you’re stuck thinking about the kids’ toys strewn across the floor. When you cut out the clutter, you’ll be able to feel more at ease. Owning less makes it easier to stay organized and on top of things. Plus, you’ll have extra time to relax without wasting your weekends cleaning up.
Most people’s main stress trigger is work, but simple living also means spending more time with family rather than at work. Imagine how much better you’ll feel without working all those extra hours!
Simple living and slow living are very similar in that you take time to rest and use time intentionally on what makes you happy. By having time to take a break and removing extra items on your to-do list, you’ll be less stressed throughout the day.
5. Better Physical Health
Mental health and physical health are linked together. When you feel good, you’ll make better choices for your health. Where before, you may have felt too beat at the end of the day to exercise, now you may be more motivated. By choosing to walk places instead of driving to save on carbon emissions or live slower, you’re already exercising more than you used to.
Simple living usually extends into mealtime by eating a whole foods, organic diet, possibly with ingredients you grew yourself. Eating well along with exercise will also improve your physical health.
6. More Money
Simple living not only means getting rid of clutter. It also means keeping it out. People who live simply are not “keeping up with the Joneses” and buying the latest and greatest. Many stick to a budget, which is easier when you’re choosing to cut the fluff and make only necessary purchases. These practices will help you pay off debt and save up for other purchases (whether they are big purchases like a home or a fun vacation).
Need some extra help avoiding over-consumption? Check out my post on the subject here. While it’s specifically related to avoiding consumerism while going zero waste, it has loads of tips that apply here as well.
7. More Freedom
This next surprising benefit might need a bit of an explanation. Living simply means having a clearer schedule so it’ll be easier to say yes to impromptu get-togethers with friends or family. Less overtime hours at work and fewer chores at home will open up your calendar.
Many children are enrolled in multiple different activities, sports, or clubs. By paring down to one or two favorites, evenings and weekends won’t be a rush from place to place. Both you and they will have more freedom for other things even if that’s just doing nothing for a while to recharge.
8. Easier Decision-Making
This benefit ties in with more freedom. The week only has so many hours. It will be easier to schedule events and appointments and say yes to the things you really want to do instead of having to disappoint the other party.
Simple living reduces options but in a good way. You won’t struggle as much with choosing between things. Decisions based on your budget are easy to make. By keeping your priorities in line, decisions become easier too. For example, family first or buying only organic groceries or limiting the amount of work you take on are rules that basically make the decision for you.
9. Higher Confidence and Self-Esteem
Exercise has been shown to not only reduce stress but also increases self-esteem. When we feel good and look good, we’re more confident in social situations.
With simple living, sometimes you’ll have to speak up. One of the best ways to gain confidence is by doing. Practice makes perfect after all! It’ll be easier to say no to excess the more times you do it. When you have time to slow down and decide what really matters to you, you can make these decisions more confidently as well.
10. Increase Attention Span
Technology is great, but we’ve become addicts to extreme amounts of quick content. A study by Microsoft found our attention spans have reduced to just eight seconds! By cutting down on our screen time and preventing our kids from getting addicted to tech, we can raise that number back up.
Simple living activities are mainly focused on intentional reflection (journaling, meditation), connecting with nature (gardening, outdoor exercise), or attentive family time (playing games together, having meaningful conversations). None of these require a screen, and in fact, they’d be inhibited by including one.
11. Better Relationships
As I just mentioned, attentive family time is important for those simplifying their lifestyles. Taking time to have conversations with others helps build strong relationships. Fights will be less common with less chores, activities, and stress. I also mentioned having the freedom and time to meet with friends. You’ll be able to finally set dates for grabbing a coffee together instead of just saying you should sometime.
12. Teach Children Good Values
Children learn by example. By being brought up to live simply, they’ll be taught the importance of relationships instead of materials. You can teach them how to successfully keep a budget, eat a healthy diet, and be stewards of our planet. Since simple living includes self-sufficiency activities, you can also teach them valuable skills like cooking, gardening, or sewing (and have the time to do that in the first place!).
As you can see, there’s loads of benefits to living with less. You’ll have a clearer mind, more time and money, and better relationships. Simple living brings us back to our roots and what matters beyond possessions. What benefits have you found by simplifying your life? Let me know in the comments below!