"The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao.
In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don't try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.
When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everybody will respect you."
- from the Tao Te Ching, chapter 8
Lightly adapted from Cecile Andrews, www.cecileandrews.com
More and more, people feel that they are working too much, consuming too much, rushing too much. There is little or no time for friends and family, no time for community and creativity, no time or energy to experience or nurture a sense of depth, spirituality, or connectedness. Simplicity, or Voluntary Simplicity, is a response to this dilemma. It is about living consciously in order to live more fully, thinking through the effects of our behaviors in terms of the consequences for the well-being of people and the planet. It’s about setting intentional priorities, asking first, “What’s important?” “What matters?” It’s about redefining the “good life.” The concept of Simplicity doesn’t mean self-deprivation. It is more of a turning away from activities that have failed to deliver satisfaction— activities such as shopping and scrambling up the career ladder — in order to embrace activities that bring true joy and meaning — creativity, community, and the celebration of daily life. Simplicity is "the examined life" in which we explore not only what creates fulfillment in our personal lives, but we ask which public policies create societies of justice and environmental well-being. Simplicity touches all aspects of our lives, including the issues of time, work, vocation, community, spending, consuming, health, social justice, and spirituality.
Do you feel like you work too much, rush too much, consume too much? Give an example.
Describe “the good life.” What’s important? What matters?
For most of us there is a distinct tension between what we know is important and how we actually live. Why is that? Why is it so hard to overcome?
If shopping, climbing the career ladder, or other trivial pursuits fail to bring happiness, what does bring happiness? Tell of a time when you were truly happy.
Simplicity is about living simply, but it’s also about simplicity of intentions, of actions, of desires, of faith. What could you do, tomorrow, to move your life in this direction?
Likes and Wishes
"Some say that my teaching is nonsense. Others call it lofty but impractical.
But to those who have looked inside themselves, this nonsense makes perfect sense.
And to those who put it into practice, this loftiness has roots that go deep.
I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world."
- from the Tao Te Ching, chapter 67