Putting this out there to see what everyone has to say about this subject. I've been thinking about this alot lately while trying to get the clutter out of my life. To me it comes down to prioritizing what is important to you in your own life and minimizing the stuff that isn't important. What does Simple Living mean for you?
For me, it means having less 'stuff' and staying out of debt. Fortunately, I'm not married and don't have any children. I rent the downstairs portion of my friend's house and have very few bills. I'm always trying to 'streamline' my life. I still buy stuff, but I've implemented the 'buy one thing and get rid of two things' rule. Now I just have to figure out a way to get rid of some of my books.
(1 wife + 1 son) x (2 stepsons + [1 ex husband - hers, not mine]) = nothing simple about it.
HOWEVER...you do what you can. I'm trying to reduce the number of TV's and gaming platforms in the house, as well as build an outdoor gym when I have a bit of money (will document it - monkey bars, etc..) and then a garden next year, with the canning that goes along with it.
I hear ya, Joseph. My girlfriend has a daughter and an estranged husband - they've been separated for four years but are still friends. And the daughter is not his. So, nothing simple about that, but that's her deal - I stay out of it as much as possible. However, the 'husband' and I get along well together - have similar interests, etc. In fact, we all had Thanksgiving dinner at the gf's brother's house last year - had a great time. We're all adults.
Simple living, now that I'm married, is no longer a goal of mine. For one thing, it's not a goal of hers, and I don't want a struggle on it. For another, what we really need to do is build up a nest egg. For another...I already love throwing things out! Although I know there's more to simplicity than that.
I lookup to musicians a lot- maybe its a good thing, maybe its bad. Either way, there's this certain quality that I see in people like Bono, and Bruce Springsteen, and Lil Wayne. They all have an image in their mind of the people they want to become- and they're focused on that goal alone. For me, thats the mark of a simple life. I think you can live in an elaborate mansion, with gaudy art and furniture, but still live the "simple life" if your goal is to live life in that way. Simple living, for me, is about directing your the energy of your life towards whatever goals you have, whatever your sense of purpose is, and disregarding the rest. The "stuff" that keeps us from living a simple life is usually material, but it can also be emotional, or physical- we can own a lot more things with our mind that arent good for us than we can with our bank account.
A Simple Life can not be confused with a simplistic life or a monastic life. It seems to me that avoiding acquisition of the "item of the moment" is a great simplifier. That keeps you from having a bunch of "stuff" that you need to keep track of (and in the case of electronic toys, the chargers, batteries, game cartridges, connector cables also have to be "tracked").
While not going to the Thoreauvian extreme of wearing patched clothing everywhere, one's wardrobe can be far more extensive than necessary.
A simple way of achieving a Simple Life are three rules. "Put it away when you're done with it." "A place for everything and everything in its place." "Think before you buy." Following those will cut more stress and heartache out of family life than anything else.
It's not even throwing clothes on the floor. It's the not putting the homework in the backpack and not putting the backpack by the door type of stuff that challenges one's sanity. My son went through several months of not being able to find his shoes in the morning...and I went mildly insane trying to figure out how one 7-year old could lose the left shoe out of four different pairs, every evening.