(One of my favorite books, The New Friars, by Scott Bessenecker, includes this list of suggestions for simple living, some of which come from another one of my favorite books, Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster. I re-read this again today and was struck again by the practicality of this list and the heart behind it. I think it describes pretty well the kind of life we want to live)
Simplicity is voluntary, free, uncluttered, natural, creative, authentic, focused, margined, disciplined, diligent, healthful.
Simplicity is not easy, legalistic, proud, impoverished, ascetic, neurotic, ignorant, escapist.
– Cultivate a closeness with God.
– Practice regular hospitality.
– Help each other, emphasize service.
– Always speak the truth. Develop a habit of plain, honest speech. If you consent to do a task, do it. Avoid flattery and half-truths. Make honesty and integrity the distinguishing characteristics of your speech.
– Don’t judge.
– Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
– Consciously seek to identify with the poor and forgotten. Start by visiting hospitals, prisons, and nursing homes.
– Schedule “simple” dates with your spouse.
– Teach your children
– Make your commitments simple.
– Don’t overwork.
– Fast periodically from media, food, people
– Elevate reading, go to the library
– Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you. Cut down on the use of addictive, non-nutritional food and drinks such as alcohol, coffee, tea, soda, sugar, chocolate
– Simplify Christmas and other holidays. Develop the habit of homemade celebrations.
PACE AND ATMOSPHERE:
– Slow down.
– Do not exhaust your emotional bank account.
– Lie fallow.
– Say no.
– Restrict/eliminate television watching. Turn off or mute advertisements.
– Learn to enjoy solitude.
POSSESSIONS AND FINANCES:
– Cultivate contentment, desire less.
– Resist covetousness and consumerism.
– Buy things for their usefulness, not their status.
– Learn to enjoy things without owning them. Benefit from places of “common ownership” (parks, museums, libraries, rivers, public beaches).
– De-accumulate. Develop a habit of giving things away.
– Offer others the use of your possessions.
– Develop a network of exchange.
– Avoid impulse buying.
– Don’t buy now, pay later.
– Avoid credit cards if they are a problem.
– De-emphasize respectability.
– Simplify your wardrobe – give away excess.
– Learn how to make do with a lower income instead of needing a higher one.
– Be grateful for things large and small.
– Emphasize a joyful life.
– Appreciate creation.
– Send cards of encouragement and appreciation when others are not expecting it.
– Make the Word central.
– Meditate and memorize Scripture.
– Encourage simple worship.
– Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God.
(from The New Friars, by Scott Bessenecker, p. 181-183)