As the world spirals ever onwards into unimaginable complexity, there is a big move to pull back into a more simplified mode of being. This is part of the eternal balancing act that goes on at every level. If you have too much of one thing, you tend to then get pulled towards its opposite. Too much food? You stop eating for a while. Been around people too much? You want to get away and spend some time alone. Once you’ve spent enough time alone, you want to be around people again. So as the availability of information allows the human race to collectively realise the hyper-complexity of the world, there are naturally going to be those that see the forgotten value of a simple, un-extravagant approach. I am definitely one of them, but it is a work in progress. When I think of simplification, I imagine getting rid of unnecessary possessions, eating a more healthy and less extravagant diet, cutting out habits and behaviours that either do not help you or are just no longer needed.
I see simplification as one of the core elements of a spiritual practice. For me, it seems a very worthwhile pursuit to purify my life, to strip away the dead wood and disentangle myself from the complicated network of desires, thoughts and emotions that constitute my worldly personality. Somehow, this move towards simplification that I see both in myself, people I know and even culture at large (think of the rather nauseating trend of hygge, for example), contains an element of de-urbanisation (at least in my case) . Getting out of the highly elaborate lifestyle that I see and experience in the city, to a more materially simple space in the countryside is a vital method.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that we, as humans, are still operating on the programming that evolved for when we were living in small groups, hunting and gathering: humans are thought to have been like this for tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of years. While life would properly been as complex in its own right ‘back then’ as it is now, I think we are struggling to catch up with and adapt to the type of complexity that exists today, and the higher degree of consciousness with regard to it.
Fewer possessions, fewer but more invested and meaningful relationships, more reflection and more time spent on individual moments, instead of rushing from one thing to the next. That to me is a good model of a simplified life.