Why We Choose to Live a Simple Life

in Coaching, Simple Living - 7 min read

A slow life lived well, is one way to experience a beautiful existence here on Earth. It’s not the only way to live a good life, but it’s our way. One that we can’t seem to shake ever since we found it.

Or, rather, a simple life found us. It’s been so long that it’s really hard to tell.

Here’s a little backstory for you, one that you’ll probably find very much unlike your own.

Roland and I got married more than twenty years ago. All I remember is him getting down on one knee in his apartment, with me sitting on a vintage couch which was handed down from worker to worker at the tree nursery where we met in Oregon. I replied, “Yes, but not now.” A few months later we eloped in Las Vegas.

I suppose that’s where the adventure started, at least on the map, but it took us a couple more years to find our bearings.

As we got to know one another, gradually our everyday habits changed. We started reading labels, concerned, if not horrified, by some of the ingredients in the food we took for granted. Food dyes, genetically modified ingredients and food miles all entered our consciousness.

We bought organic whenever we could afford it, which wasn’t as often as we would’ve liked, but we had to start somewhere.

More important than eating organic is that we learned how to cook for ourselves with basic ingredients – cuts of meat, vegetables, home-baked pastries and breads, etc. Being from different cultures, our diet fused into something with Hungarian-American accents.

At some point in Seattle we joined a CSA and started a garden on a small plot of land that was offered to us for a growing season. But, like the rest of society, we still went out to eat at The Cheesecake Factory and walked the mall for things we didn’t really need; on days when we weren’t hiking out in the North Cascades Wilderness areas, that is.

It wasn’t until we moved to Hungary in 2006 that things really started to change.

On a whim, we decided to move east, far east. No, not all the way to Asia… all the way to Ópusztaszer, Hungary. We bought a 13-acre isolated farm (called a tanya in Hungarian) with several cob buildings on it. Each was in its own state of despair. We were young and in love with the idea of living life on our own terms. We got what we asked for, in more ways than one.

It was there, in the quiet of a flat land, that the concept of living a simple life really entered our minds.

Moving from Seattle to Hungary wasn’t so much of a culture shock (for me), as it was a lifestyle shaking up.

Besides having no running water on the property, we also had no potable drinking water. We had to carry artesian water, by bike, from three kilometers away, eight liters at a time. In the beginning we also had to quickly learn how to heat and cook with firewood which we sawed and chopped by hand. The cob buildings (we soon learned we overpaid for) were in great need of repair. It was yet another skill we needed to learn in a short period of time if we didn’t want our home to melt away, clay into clay.

Not to mention finding a way to feed ourselves. We didn’t have much money for going to the store, so we had to grow, forage and raise what we could, all with university degrees behind our backs.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve learned far more from life than I ever could surrounded by four walls.

And this was all before the internet! Back then it was books and neighborly advice, which being for free was biased and unreliable at best.

Somehow we scraped by, learning skills, mostly self-taught in canning, preserving and dehydrating our crops under the hot Hungarian sun. With the sun being downright roasting, we had our difficulties in maintaining our no-dig garden, but something in both of us didn’t want to give up. We just wanted to get it right.

And then Csermely came along.

Her birth was a blessing in every way, an experience we had waited nine long years for. Before her arrival, we knew we had to do more. So, for the first four years of her life she only wore handmade natural-fiber clothes. Her toys were the same. She had no plastic to wear or play with whatsoever.

To some this appeared to be a harsh childhood, though we always received compliments on how happy and healthy she was – and still is, thirteen years later.

That’s the background on how we stumbled upon a simple life.

Here’s why we continue to pursue it, in simple terms.

A simple life:

just feels right – between the two of us adults, one growing up under a Communist regime in Romania, the other in the consumerist suburbs of Chicago, we managed to find a lifestyle that felt good together. One that embraces the aspect of less is more, only with limitations set by ourselves, not by the government.

makes perfect sense – I hear a lot of social media “make it make sense”. So, here it goes. A simple life follows the guidelines that you set. You don’t need to follow a carbon footprint calculator to tell you if you are doing it right, or wrong. In fact, we’d advise you to skip the miscalculating calculators altogether, for they are based on assumptions, not facts. Living a simple life on your terms will bring challenges for sure, yet it will also bring you joy, purpose, meaning and skills beyond what you can ever grasp if you blindly follow the societal norms.

is good for the earth – it’s time to set our learned selfishness aside and live in a way that honors the land we come from – Mother Earth. Without the vast rocks, water, soil and fungi we are nothing. And yet there are still plenty of humans who insist they can take as much as they want without giving back.

Living a simple life allows you to give back to nature every single day. You do want that, don’t you?

Currently, and for the past seven years, we live in a 2-room traditional wooden home without indoor plumbing. There’s a faucet in the yard where we can fill our stainless steel buckets with water for washing, bathing and drinking – sometimes the water even has tiny living crawfish in it. It’s living water, no chlorine or other chemicals added.

We still heat and eat/cook/bake with wood – 18+ years in the doing. We’ve long had a rhythm of who gets to start the fire each morning. It’s no longer a chore, it’s part of who we are and how we live. It’s a choice, one that we are all too happy to make.

As with cutting wood, or bringing in buckets of water, a daily task is more than just a physical act. In order to love living a simple life, you need to approach it with a new mindset. Ask yourself, is this a blessing or a chore? If it’s the latter, you are probably trying too hard and the novelty will wear off very quickly.

Is convenience a blessing or a curse?

I have the feeling that most people would rather choose convenience over a lifestyle their grandparents may have endured. But let me be clear, then and now are not the same. They do have overlapping similarities, yet the differences can be huge.

You don’t have to go without running water to live a simple life, nor do you have to give up electricity. And you don’t have to grow all of your own food to live simply either. You don’t have to choose one thing over the other and you don’t have to work hard to survive.

Let that sink in for a second. No matter which lifestyle you choose, you don’t have to make it more difficult than it has to be – though most of us are great at doing just that.

What you do have to do, is to be resourceful. If you trust the homesteading knowledge of your friends and neighbors, great! Use that to your advantage. If you don’t, the internet can still be a great place to start.

Look up a recipe on how to can pickles or preserve salsa. Learn about no-dig gardening. Read about raising chickens or ducks. It’s all there for the taking, just be sure to have some offline reading material too.

Why we choose to live a simple life.

Living a simple life gives us the freedom to do as we please.

It gifts us with the opportunity to grow what we want, and to eat what we want, when we want to eat it. For us that means two meals a day, not three, with one full day of fasting a week.

A simple life presents us with as much time to spend outdoors as we wish, in all sorts of weather. It also gifts us with plenty of time spent together as a family, working from home both online and offline, with a random digital detox day in between.

You also get to choose to live a simple life.

After all, you are an adult with good reasoning skills, if not homesteading ones (those can be learned at any time).

Your reasons for living a simple life may be different than ours, yet we are all striving for similar goals:

  • a favorable work-life balance
  • enough free time to relax and explore nature, hobbies and passions in life
  • peace and quiet
  • a time and place to think for and be yourself

If it’s a simple life you need, but aren’t sure where to start, see if our Simplify coaching services are right for you.

From baby steps to large leaps of faith we’ve been through it all. We can help you make the transition to a simple life far less complicated than you think it should be.

No one ever said it was going to be easy, yet a simple life is definitely worth living. So, do it well.

Where do you think a simple life will take you? Journal that.

Cheryl Magyar

Cheryl is a freelance writer and content creator on all things related to simple living, ecological minimalism, organic gardening and foraging. She is the co-creator of the Earth Gratitude Journal, a monthly downloadable journal that focuses on having greater appreciation for living on this incredible planet.

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