DEFINITION of Voluntary Simplicity

Voluntary simplicity is a  lifestyle that minimizes consumption and the pursuit of wealth and material goods. Individuals choose voluntary simplicity in order to attain a simpler but more meaningful life. Voluntary simplicity is quite different from those who are forced to spend less and live a more simple life involuntarily, such as those who lose their job and cannot find work.

Also known as "simple living."

BREAKING DOWN Voluntary Simplicity

In our modern-day society, people often seek to buy happiness and find that materialism often does not satisfy. Some of these people will choose to leave the "rat race" and live a simpler, less stressful life. A simpler life is less costly, so people can work less and have more time for themselves and family. Voluntary simplicity is not just about living with less of what money can buy, but about wanting less. Some people call voluntary simplicity a type of philosophy.

Voluntary simplicity as well as the minimalism movement have come in and out of popularity for decades, but both philosophies appear to be growing in popularity today in the U.S. and abroad, and there are many websites, articles and books dedicated to these lifestyle topics. 

Aspects of Voluntary Simplicity

The reduction of consumption puts a focus on family, time spent in nature, and free time. Downshifting is when you move from a hectic, stressful, consumption-focused lifestyle into voluntary simplicity. 

Living a life of voluntary simplicity can mean downgrading from a large house to a small cottage, using conscious consumption to decide what to buy, and it can relate to food and eating patterns, from choosing to grow vegetables in your garden instead of buying from grocery stores, to cooking at home versus eating out. Taking a job with shorter work hours but less pay is a way to practice voluntary simplicity, and gain more time outside of work to be with family, friends, and yourself. 

Voluntary simplicity is an individual choice and there are many ways to incorporate it into your life. Spending less, reducing clutter, and mindful consumption are three easy ways to begin to explore voluntary simplicity.