Sunday, July 17, 2011

Poverty or simplicity?

I would like to write down some thoughts, today, on two matters which are often a subject of confusion: simple living and poor living. Where do we draw the line?

Generally speaking, I think the difference can be pointed in the way that living simply is living well, even when it is done within the scope of the same budget which draws another family into the pit of poverty.

In many ways, this is also a matter of attitude. It is possible to have an income which could provide for normal life – good food, reasonable housing, proper healthcare, etc – and yet be dissatisfied and feel poor, if one thinks oneself entitled to all sorts of fancy things which cannot be afforded on that small income. Or worse, the modest but steady financial resources are squandered on luxuries which “must” be had, and not much is left for the true necessities.

Simple living, on the other hand, is voluntarily and cheerfully going without things you know you don’t really need – either foregoing them completely or taking it as a challenge to make the best of all you can have right now.

For example, if right now your budget prescribes that you go without new clothes, you can either feel “poor” (or worse, buy that which you cannot afford) or you can take it up as a challenge to go through your closets and look for things you have forgotten about, and how they can be combined with what you do have – or look through second-hand shops to look for items in excellent condition, or learn to sew, etc.

Simple living is making small steps towards sustainability – cooking and making what you can from scratch, growing some of your own food and/or swapping with families who are doing so. It’s not that you “can’t afford to buy”, but you are delighting in the blessings of abundant health, resourcefulness, and an easier burden on your budget.

Simple living is making the best of all the pleasures of life which cost nothing or next to nothing. If you can’t afford costly travel abroad and staying in hotels, you might feel poor and deprived; or you can put your effort into vigorous, extensive exploration of the area near your home, and it is almost certain you will make fascinating discoveries of wonderful spots you haven’t visited yet.

Simple living is shedding the time-consuming pursuits which stand between us and what is truly important to us.

Poverty is deprivation, while simple living is fullness of beauty in everything that is available to us. No one wants to be poor, but many can and do find true delight in simple living.


Anonymous said...

Hello Mrs. Anna, As usual, you have written a lovely and thoughtful post. So much of life has to do with your attitude. I am reminded of a quote which is well known from American president Abraham Lincoln: "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." So much of what we feel has to do with our attitude!
Another favorite quote which I thought of as I read your very wise post is from a country song that I enjoy listening to by Dolly Parton: "one is only poor only if they choose to be" It really has so much more to do with HOW one looks at their circumstances than what the circumstances ARE!!
Thank you for writing such lovely posts filled with so much truth!
Karen ~smile~

Mrs. Hyde said...

I love this post. It is so timely for me personally since my husband is starting a new job with a small income. I love the idea of stretching what we have and being content with it. Thank you!

Mary said...

Beautifully written and SO true. So many people today believe that it is not possible for a family to live on one income and allow the wife to have the privilege of staying home and caring for her home and her family. All 4 of my married daughters have been very frugal and made the very most of one income.

My oldest daughter has sewn, refirbished furniture from thrift stores, painted rooms herself, raised gardens, picked fruit with her children and frozen it and also made jam.She taught her daughters to knit and crochet and they would take turns reading classics out loud while the others worked on their projects.

She homeschooled for 16 years and has raised deeply religious children. I believe that all of them would consider that their lives were rich and full. Three are now married and the fourth is engaged to a very fine young man.

I know that some mothers MUST work outside the home due to difficult circumstances. However I think many more could stay home if their wants were fewer.

Lena Michalev said...

I agree with the point that a lot of it is about perception. But that's assuming that you can still afford the basic things in life. If person is at a point where he can't provide food or shelter for his children, I would consider it poverty.
Also, living simple sometimes means choosing to live simple even if you have the means of living a more luxurious life. Just depends on the situation.

Leah Brand-Burks said...

Wonderfully stated, Anna.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Of course I don't mean situations when people really go hungry. But you know all those programs about people "living at the edge of poverty" yet you see they are well-fed and often even have money to waste on things such as cigarettes and alcohol. Makes you wonder whether they simply aren't managing right what they do have.