Suggestions for Simple Living

(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.

– 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.

– 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.
– Pray.
– 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)

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  1. Thanks Becca, I love all of these principles! Jeff and I are trying to simplify more and finding joy in doing this. I especially like the ones about saying no (ha ha) and sharing possessions without “owning” them. We are working on making it a game to live on less and find deals and do things free and just enjoy each other. Funny, our TV broke 2 weeks ago, so we are doing a TV fast, but we honestly have barely missed it. Elijah only asked for “Elmo” one time, I’m proud to say. Thanks for being an inspiration on finding joy in the simple life!

    • Your TV fast made me smile :-). I think God does that stuff on purpose sometimes, in a good way.

      In some ways I feel like we’ve simplified a lot (living in community has helped, especially with the sharing part; we’re sharing groceries for the first time since Lewis House…and it’s great :-D) but then in other ways, I’m aware that we own more stuff than ever before (moving is a reminder of that. Ha!), so I guess it’s a work in progress. But I really like these principles, too, and it’s nice to be reminded of the vision that we want to move towards.

  2. I love it! It seems to be that many young people are done with consumerism and trying to live a more simple life. Not just to live simple but to make room for the will of Jesus and have time to focus on investing in people. Thanks for your post!

  3. abbie

     /  August 12, 2010

    I think this list is a great set of guidelines! And it’s awesome that you posted this just as my bible study is getting started on a book called “Becoming a Woman of Simplicity” by Cynthia Heald. I’ve been working on loosening my grip on possessions (and “busy-ness”) for a while now but God just keeps reminding me that I still have a lot of distractions to get rid of.

    • That sounds like a great book! You’ll have to let me know how it is. But yeah, simplicity is something I want to live, but I’m still working on it. Richard Foster has a great chapter about it in his book “Celebration of Discipline”, too.

  4. i’m about to re-post this on my blog. so good.
    might also print and keep on the fridge in the new house. :)
    thanks for sharing!

    • I’m glad you liked it :-). I remember really liking it when I first read it, but it’s been a while, so when I re-read it I was struck by it all over again!

  1. Repost: Suggestions for Simple Living « first the kingdom

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