This week I started reading Joshua Becker’s eBook Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter their Home and Life.
Right from the get-go, it made me realize how different the aha moments are that inspire us to change the course of our lives. In this post, you’ll see that the tipping points can range from something as simple as a conversation to something as complex as a life-changing health diagnosis.
Everybody has a “why.” Even global leaders weren’t necessarily born into simple living. Gandhi’s “why” happened when he was 23 years old. Believe it or not, he wasn’t always the simple living Gandhi you’ve seen in pictures.
The “Why” Behind 11 Slow & Simple Living Leaders
Joshua Becker | BecomingMinimalist.com
Joshua’s “why” happened while he was frustrated cleaning out his garage. He had a conversation with his neighbor who said her daughter was a minimalist:
Our story begins in suburban Vermont while I was cleaning the garage, my wife was cleaning the bathrooms, and my 5-year old son was playing alone in the backyard. I struck up a regular conversation with my neighbor who commented, ‘Maybe you don’t need to own all this stuff.’ The juxtaposition was striking. My possessions piled up in the driveway… my son in the backyard… my day slipping away… I immediately recognized something needed to change. My belongings were not adding value to my life. Instead, they were subtracting from it. We began donating, recycling, and removing our unnecessary personal possessions. We embarked on an intentional journey to own less stuff. — Joshua Becker
Courtney Carver | BeMoreWithLess.com
If you are overwhelmed and under-inspired, I know how you feel. I’ve been there. I’ve worked too hard, spent too much, and slept too little. I spent much of my adult life tired, full, stressed and sick. I always wanted more or thought I needed more to be happy, but I’ve changed my ways…I’ve been making big, and small changes to live my life on purpose…In 2006, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. While it doesn’t define me or this blog, it has had a huge impact on my life. Sometimes I share the lessons a life changing diagnosis delivers. I created Be More with Less and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 in 2010. The past few years have been an incredible journey of love, health, and simplicity. I’m so grateful to be on this path. — Courtney Carver
Leo Babauta | ZenHabits.net
Leo decided to make changes in his life beginning in December 2005. He started Zen Habits to chronicle and share what he’s learned while changing a number of habits. And, it all started with quitting smoking.
Really the change that set all the other changes in motion. Quitting smoking taught me a lot about changing habits and accomplishing goals, and all the elements needed to make this successful. I had tried and failed to quit smoking before, and when I was successful this time, I analyzed it and learned from it and was inspired by my success. Success can breed success, if you take advantage of it. — Leo Babauta
Cait Flanders | CaitFlanders.com
I haven’t always been smart or made the best decisions. In fact, when I was in the middle of finishing my degree, I realized I was maxed out with nearly $30,000 of debt. I had a really unhealthy relationship with alcohol for 14 years. I also have a few tattoos that I would happily remove. Fortunately, I made one great impulse decision in 2011, which was to start this blog. Here, I have written about all the ways I continually challenge myself to change my habits, my mindset and my life; this includes paying off my debt, completing a two-year shopping ban and doing a year of slow living experiments. — Cait Flanders
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus | TheMinimalists.com
For us, it all started with a lingering discontent. Nearly a decade ago, while approaching age 30, we had achieved everything that was supposed to make us happy: six-figure careers, luxury cars, oversized houses, and all the stuff to clutter every corner of our consumer-driven lifestyles. And yet, with all that stuff, we weren’t satisfied. There was a gaping void, and working 80 hours a week just to buy more stuff didn’t fill the void. It only brought more debt, stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, guilt, overwhelm, and depression. What’s worse, we didn’t have control of our time, and thus we didn’t control our own lives. So, in 2009, we took back control using the principles of minimalism to focus on what’s important. — The Minimalists
In late 2009, my mother died and my marriage ended in the same month, which caused me to question everything: finances, freedom, the future. That’s when I discovered minimalism. — Joshua Fields Millburn
I was living the American Dream until I was laid off, but that’s actually one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. Now, since my Packing Party in 2010, I’m focused on living a meaningful life with less stuff, and I’m pursuing my passions. — Ryan Nicodemus
Brooke McAlary | SlowYourHome.com
After being diagnosed with severe post natal depression in 2011, I embarked on a one-woman mission to cut out the excess in my life and reconnect with what was really important. I learnt about minimalism and simplicity, immersed myself in the Slow Living philosophy and discovered the beautiful benefits of living with less. Over 2 years I decluttered more than 25,000 items, created a Slow Home and rediscovered my health, my passion, my energy, my spark. Since coming to understand the huge benefits of living a slower, simpler life, it’s become my mission to help others define and achieve their slow living goals. — Brooke McAlary
Colin Wright | ExileLifestyle.com
I graduated from university, moved to LA, worked for a production studio for a year, then started up my own multidisciplinary practice. I did design, web, and UI work, then refocused on broader branding projects. Things escalated quickly and the branding studio was a professional success. After taking a step back, though, I realized my lifestyle wasn’t aligned with what I actually wanted out of life. I decided to make a change. In 2009, I got rid of everything I owned that wouldn’t fit into a carry-on bag. I scaled down my studio so I could run it from the road, and started a blog called Exile Lifestyle. I asked my readers to vote on which country I should move to first, and they decided I would call Argentina home for the next four months. — Colin Wright
Francine Jay | MissMinimalist.com
I started this blog in 2009, when I was a carefree nomad with all my possessions in a suitcase…When I began writing about minimalism, I never expected to have more than a handful of readers—but the response has been incredible, and this blog has grown beyond my wildest dreams…It gives me great hope for a kinder, gentler, more sustainable future. — Francine Jay
Carl Honoré | CarlHonore.com
Honoré traces his ‘Aha’ moment to his son’s bedtime, when Honoré would race through storybooks — skipping pages, reading portions of paragraphs — to move things along. (He’s since reformed.) (Source)
Anthony Ongaro | BreakTheTwitch.com
After years of impulse spending on Amazon and elsewhere, I realized that my one-click purchase habits were more of a physical Twitch than an intentional action. It turned out, this Twitch wasn’t just limited to online spending. It applied to social media, impulsive smartphone usage, and more…Through my own exploration of intentional living, I’ve embraced a philosophy that can help break the twitch while continually moving us towards a lifestyle that aligns with our values. The heart of the philosophy is doing more of what matters through minimalism, habits and creativity. With small daily actions within each of these pillars, you’ll experience greater clarity and make more meaningful progress on the things most important to you. That’s what I hope to help each one of you do through sharing my thoughts on minimalism, habits and creativity with the world. — Anthony Ongaro
Liz and Nate Thames| Frugalwoods.com
In 2012 we both landed what we considered our dream jobs–professional positions as managers in offices at desks under artificial lights. We thought we’d made it. But a strange thing happened. Here we’d achieved everything we’d set out to and yet, we weren’t fulfilled. We found ourselves working for the weekend and counting down the hours to 5pm every single day. Neither of us felt true passion for what we did on a daily basis. We spend so much of our lives at work and we started questioning why we were doing it. In examining our peers, we realized they were working to survive–spending to the point of living paycheck to paycheck on white collar salaries. We couldn’t relate to that in the least. Neither of us is driven by a desire for professional notoriety, fame, a fancy-pants lifestyle, or wealth…We were working to earn money that we weren’t spending and coming home exhausted and stressed. And so, we made the decision to navigate our way out of the cycle of consumerism and materialism that our society seemed trapped by. We now live a simpler, more creative life closer to nature, where we work together towards our future and our shared goals. Mr. FW and I had a shared quarter-life crisis in March 2014 at age 30. We realized that all of our creative energy and our best ideas were funneled into doing work for our employers—not into endeavors that we find personally rewarding. And we had a sneaking suspicion that, if we didn’t change something, we’d wake up in 40 years having simply worked in cubicles for the bulk of our lives. — Liz and Nate Thames
What’s Your “Why?”
There’s no right or wrong — too big or too small — reason to start your slow and simple living journey. It will be different for all of us. For some of us, it will be part of our purpose. For others, it will be the philosophy you apply to your life so you can free up time and money to do what’s most important to you. If you’re having trouble with your “why,” just start questioning things. The important thing to remember is that you have a choice. It’s the journey of a lifetime.
If you’re ready to start your slow and simple living journey, start by downshifting.
Already into minimalism? Use that as momentum into slow and simple living.
Like these bloggers? Here’s a list of slow and simple living forums online.
Also published on Medium.