Simplicity does not mean sacrifice. On the contrary, simplicity allows us to indulge in the things that are truly important to us by minimising the meaningless, and therefore superfluous, baggage we encumber ourselves with.

Simplicity or sacrifice

Simplicity does not imply any sort of sacrifice. Indeed modern produce-and-consume lifestyles lead to much more sacrifice than people are aware of. Simplicity that is voluntary – consciously chosen, deliberate, intentional – delivers a better quality of life in many ways.

The following table has been adapted from the updated introduction to Duane Elgin’s seminal book called Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich which was first published in 1981 and was updated for reissue in 2010. It provides a list of ways in which living simply compares to the sacrifices of modern consumerist lifestyles.

Simplicity or sacrifice

Simplicity

Sacrifice

Simplicity keeps our eyes on what matters most in our lives— the quality of our relationships with family, friends, community, nature, and cosmos.

Sacrifice is investing long hours doing work that is neither meaningful nor satisfying.

Simplicity fosters the sanity of self-­discovery and an integrated approach to life.

Sacrifice is feeling divided among the different parts of our lives and unsure how they work together in a coherent whole.

Simplicity yields lasting satisfactions that more than compensate for the fleeting pleasures of consumerism.

Sacrifice is a consumer lifestyle that is overstressed, overbusy, and overworked.

Simplicity cuts through needless busyness, clutter, and complications.

Sacrifice is the stress of commuting long distances and coping with traffic.

Simplicity enhances living with balance – inner and outer, work and family, family and community.

Sacrifice is being apart from family and community to earn a living.

Simplicity increases the resources available for future generations.

Sacrifice is carrying more than 200 toxic chemicals in our bodies, with consequences that will cascade for generations ahead.

Simplicity blossoms in community and connects us to the world with a sense of belonging and common purpose.

Sacrifice is the absence of feelings of neighbourliness and community.

Simplicity reveals the beauty and intelligence of nature’s designs.

Sacrifice is hiding nature’s beauty behind a jumble of billboard advertisements.

Simplicity fosters a more harmonious relationship with the Earth – the land, air, and water.

Sacrifice is being cut off from nature’s wildness and wisdom.

Simplicity promotes fairness and equity among the people of the Earth.

Sacrifice is the lack of opportunity for soulful encounters with others.

Simplicity responds to global shortages of oil, water, and other vital resources.

Sacrifice is global climate disruption, crop failure, famine, and forced migration.

Simplicity helps save animal and plant species from extinction.

Sacrifice is the massive extinction of plants and animals and a dramatically impoverished biosphere.

Simplicity is a lighter lifestyle that fits elegantly into the real world of the twenty-­first century.

Sacrifice is a meaningless lifestyle that is made up for with fleeting, shallow consolations.