Stories of Simplicity

by Simon Ussher and Samuel Alexander on July 14, 2012

The Simplicity Institute invites you to tell your ‘story of simplicity’ for our new book.

Living simply in a consumer culture involves heading in the opposite direction to where most of society is moving. At times this can produce feelings of social isolation, so it is very important that those of us who choose to live simply both connect with each other and share our experiences. Not only does this provide support and information, it can also show the world that consumerism is not the only way to live.

The Simplicity Institute has just launched a new project called ‘Stories of Simplicity’ which aims to provide more insight into the various ways people are living simpler lives – and we’d like you to be involved. If you are currently exploring a lifestyle of reduced or restrained consumption, please consider telling your ‘story of simplicity.’ The world needs to know!

Telling your story would involve writing a short summary of your experience living simply – it might only be one page. Topics to cover could include:

  • how you came to live simply, why you live simply, and how you live simply.
  • the difficulties or delights of simple living.
  • one experience in particular that best expresses your understanding of ‘the simple life.’
  • if possible, please also send 2 or 3 photos related to your story.

Over the next few weeks and months we will be gathering as many ‘stories of simplicity’ as possible.

These stories will eventually be published on the Simplicity Institute website as a free e-book, and possibly as a not-for-profit physical book as well.  Therefore please only send material you are happy to have published.

Telling your own story can be fun, and reading other people’s stories can be affirming and uplifting. We hope that you tell your story of simplicity.

Together we can tell the story of a movement.

Please email your story and photos to

Warm regards

Samuel Alexander and Simon Ussher

Directors of the Simplicity Institute

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda August 21, 2012 at 12:03 am

Hi there,
Just wanted to thank you for your work…I have thought of jotting something down for you but I must focus my thoughts first, I have a lot to say, not much of which is coherent. We are very involved in the local Permaculture scene as well as trying to get transition off the ground so we are on the same page there. I agree whole- heartedly re the social isolation so would like to see your work take off. I love reading the essays on your site, they are excellent!
All the best, sing out if you need anything or plan to travel through West Gippsland at any stage.

Guenter October 4, 2012 at 3:45 am

Hi Samuel,

I just read your paper Radical Simplicity and the middle class.

I think the section about electricity is missing one of the most important problems though it would not directly affect Australia.

I am living in Australia, but I am staying in Europe for some months, and around here, especially in Germany after the shutdown of several NPPs, there is a real danger of a grid break-down which has just so been avoided in February 2012.

There are many warnings from specialists, and officials are getting more and more nervous, since a complete black-out of more than one week would not only mean a break down of the infrastructure but also a break down of the cooling for all nuclear power plants, even the ones that have been shut down.

France has around 70 NPPs, and there are many more in central Europe. No cooling would mean melting cores everywhere, and central Europe would become uninhabitable within weeks. The same is true for other countries like the USA.

This week the German magazine SPIEGEL published the results of a stress test for nuclear power plants, and it turns out the almost all of the 145 plants failed the test. Several will get out of control after only one hour of cooling.

In your paper you say: (without electricity .. ) “Life would go on, albeit very differently”

While that might be true for Australia, for much of the developed world life would not go on at all.

Regards, G.

Umesh Chandra, India November 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Hats off to Simplicity. Gandhi, is glaring example of simplicity. His principles non-violence and no-tobacco are still working the magnificent way. Umesh Chandra, India

Anita M November 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm

It appears that you are focusing on simplicity in relation to consumerism – “stuff.” Yet an attitude of simplicity also affects one’s commitments and way of living everyday life. For example, I am “overcommitted” according to some friends, and certainly I don’t seem to have time for some of the things that are important for my own mental welfare. I am too busy doing stuff for other folks, with no time for myself. The solution was to analyze and eliminate some commitments. How to do that? I wrote down my goals on one side of a sheet of paper, and wrote down my commitments. Then, for each goal, I matched what commitments related to that goal. When I was finished, I found 2 commitments for which there was no goal. That is where I started eliminating. It’s a first step of many, but certainly is progress along “decluttering” my life.

John Ashworth November 20, 2012 at 3:26 am

I have been concerned all my adult life about the world’s exponential population growth, growing use of finite resources and pollution of the atmosphere, oceans and soil. However, I must say, I have been singularly unsuccessful in influencing my friends and family to take an interest in these pressing issues.
It seems to me that people are on the whole, reactive rather than proactive. Getting them to move out of their comfort zone by warning of impending dangers does not work.
Most people will respond well when the disasters arrive, but taking a long term view is hard for them when the information they receive is so confronting. They are suspicious of people using spin to achieve hidden agendas. They don’t respond well to people asking them to have faith in a message they have no way of proving for themselves.
I am impressed by what I found on your website. I believe we need a practical model for the future to which people can turn. They will do this once they are persuaded that business as usual is no longer an option.
I am delighted that you have David Holmgren on your team because I believe the biggest problem of all is how to feed the world as peak oil takes its inevitable effect.
I have spent my time since retirement working towards self sufficiency in my small suburban home in Melbourne. Apart from my organic vegetable garden, I have a special interest in Worm Wicking Beds, which are raised garden beds with built-in water tank and built-in worm farm. They use very little water and are carbon neutral once built since the worms process kitchen and garden waste to maintain the fertility of the soil. (For more information Google “Wicking Worm Beds”).
The point is that change will come as viable alternatives appear and information about them is readily available through the internet.

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