What do we refer to, when we talk about a life of voluntary simplicity?

For us, it means shoving away the veils of distractions to experience the greatness of life itself. When we use the word ‘Life’, we refer to consciousness of the interconnection of the whole. To reach that place, we have to unchain ourselves from ingrained patterns of inattentive consumerism and time consuming on auto pilot. I’d like to share in this blog eight insights, that help my partner and me on the journey to a less complicated, materially more modest and spiritually rich life.

My partner in this life, Arno, and I had some deep conversations on our journey to try coming up with shared insights that can lead us in our simple living journey. My purpose of sharing our principles with you is not to convince you about the legitimacy of them. It’s my invitation to you to start conversations in your own circle of people who you share your time of life with.

1st principle: Abundance is already here

We’ve been looking around in our life, and we’ve discovered: everything we need for a fulfilling life is already there. We don’t need to focus on material growth anymore. We are blessed with a save and warm home, warm relationships, healthy food and lots of public resources we may enjoy to fulfill our needs for education, health, mobility, information. We feel blessed that we can concentrate our attention on taking care for and share what is already in our lives.

2nd principle: Taking care for what there is

We choose to dedicate our time and attention to cherish and sustain this existing abundance of warm relationships, comfort, safety and opportunities to enjoy the resources of our community. If we choose to life this way, we need less money to spend on more material things to uplift our experience of comfort. And if we need less money, we become more free to choose where to spend our life-energy on. We can choose to cherish our relationships more than we did until now. We can choose to grow our own food and to volunteer in the realisation of aims that we think are important for us and for the world we live in.

3rd principle: Money is life-energy

We dedicate life-energy to earn a living. So the money we get for work is the materialisation of dedicated life-energy. It becomes life-energy transformed into purchasing power. ‘Power’ is an important word in this concept. The question then is: what do we want to support with this power, earned by dedicating our life-energy? We choose to dedicate this power to a human economy that takes the regeneration needs of nature in account.

4th principle: Inviting Kairos in our lives

We love the time concept of ‘Kairos’, the other side of ‘Chronos’. Kairos brings us to an experience of open time, not filled up with things to do, places to go, experiences to have. In Kairos, we can discover a more fluid experience of time, where the clock doesn’t matter. In Kairos, delayed time or time as experience, we re-establish the connection with profound values like being together, feeling ourselves part of nature, deepening our spiritual awareness.

5th principle: Honouring the natural rhythm of life

If we look very carefully, we can experience that the specific energy of every season, every time of year also flows through us, human beings. Instead of holding on to our own agenda and expectations, we choose to surrender to the specific energy of every season. Life is not only about taking all our idea’s seriously and running around to establish new projects. Autumn and winter for example invite us to be grateful for the harvest, take rest, be still, reflect and see what new seeds find fertile soil for spring and summer.

6th principle: A safe future lies in relationships with other people

If we look carefully to what is happening in the world and with our Earth, we think we better anticipate on crimp instead of growth, on less instead of more, on slow instead of fast. We think that safety for our family is much more based on the reciprocity of relationships rather than on the accumulation of possessions. A fat savings account will turn out to be less future-proof than a warm network of close relationships with people and place.

7th principle: We can start doing something

We believe in the power of initiative, entrepreneurship and self-steering in relationship with other people. Yes, we have criticism on the way our leaders steer the country and our communities. And yes, we hope that one day we will have a progressive and sensitive government. But we don’t choose to wait for that moment or give our right to take initiatives away to our political leaders. We choose for small experiments and for finding allies in our local community to start taking initiatives that can make a change.

8th principle: Small is also beautiful

For a very long time, we’ve been thinking that it is our call and obligation changing the world by dedicating our time and energy to large projects, major shifts. We felt a responsibility that maybe is too big for us. And we found ourselves exhausted by this endless trying and working very hard. We now turn towards the idea of ‘being the change we want to see in the world.’ Yes, we can change the world by giving shape to an authentic life, starting in and around our own house, in our own family and community. Small actions can also be beautiful, rewarding and contributing to a worldwide shift.


Our eight modest principles are born in deep conversations between my life-partner an me. These make sense for us. They help us shaping our thoughts,  considerations and actions.  It all comes down to re-establishing our relationship with life and Earth, to go back where we belong: our place in the mystery of interconnectedness with mother Earth and everything she gives life to. There, we can replace old patterns of pollution and depletion of the environment we so strongly depend on and are part of.

Your chain of principles can be very different. How do you envision a life of voluntary simplicity? What principles would help you on this life-changing path?

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Griet Bouwen

Would you enjoy some more inspiration?

  • A good reading experience is given to us by Samuel Alexander & Amanda Mc Leod in the book ‘Simple Living in History: Pioneers of the Deep Future’; Simplicity Institute Publishing, 2014. Info: simplicityinstitute.org