The Simple Life

What follows is the Introduction to Rhonda Hetzel’s excellent little book The Simple Life. Our journeys have been very similar.

If you’d asked me 12 years ago if I could see myself living the kind of gentle, simple life I have now, I would have thought you quite mad. Back then, when my days were focused on the almighty dollar, deadlines and stress, most of the time I believed I was living the dream.

I think I slowly realized that there was little time for my family or for myself and my career took all my energy and most of my time. I don’t know if it was just sheer luck or the hand of fate that stepped in, but at a certain point I hit a brick wall and couldn’t go on with that kind of life. I knew I needed to do things differently. I wanted a simpler way of living. So I closed down my technical writing business and embarked on a new journey. Since then I have discovered happiness right in my own home. And now that I have found true joy and fulfillment, I can see that I’ve been looking for that kind of satisfaction all my life.

With the benefit of hindsight, I can see why I was so attracted to this simpler way of living. My husband, Hanno, and I now have a lot more control over our lives. Our way of life offers us the freedom to live alongside, but separate to, the minefield of materialism that has become a large part of today’s culture. We’re living on much less than we ever did in the past, yet we have more independence. Above all though, we have become much happier and more confident, we smile a lot more and we have hope for the future. And that is a good thing because in the past couple of years, our grandchildren have been born and for them, and for all of us, there must be hope.

My hope for my grandchildren-and indeed for all children–is that they will learn many of the traditional skills that we are using in our home now and will use those abilities in their future. I hope they will see the value in doing that because unless there is a significant shift away from commercial convenience toward sustainable lifestyles, I wonder what their future holds.

My husband and I took a big leap in making the decision to change our lives, but we got to where we are now in small steps. Whether you are 20 or 50, whether you have kids or a partner, whether you have a mortgage or rent, you can make small or big changes that will allow you to slow down and work out how to live a simpler life and maybe even thrive.