The Key to Simple Living

Cover of "The Simple Living Guide: A Sour...

Cover via Amazon

While browsing book reviews on Amazon for the Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs, I came across one I absolutely loved, so I’m reprinting it verbatim. I have no way to credit the author. Sorry, whoever you are!

The key to simple living is to simplify your life.

I don’t think the author has really figured that out yet, because this book tries to cover sooooo much information and sooooo many ideas that it just misses the whole notion of simplicity. It made me tired just to try to read it (and I am a very avid reader!).

While the author means well, and has some good advice for those just beginning to try to find a simpler way of life, she tries to retain ALL the facets of life you may possibly want to ever consider trying to “simplify”. It reminds me of those alternative “light” recipes for overly rich foods: the real point isn’t to create less caloric forms of the recipes, the point is to stop eating that kind of food.

Simplify, simplify! I am afraid as an old practitioner of voluntary simplicity I was confused and depressed by this book, which seems to offer very little in the way of true simplification and much in the way of things-I-didn’t-know-I-should-be-worrying-about.


  • Get rid of anything you haven’t used within the past year.
  • Pay off your credit cards and just keep one or two for real emergencies.
  • Be monogamous.
  • Give your time instead of money to those you love.
  • Turn off the TV.
  • Think about how to live with only half of the possessions you have and then DO IT.
  • Eat fresh, simple, whole [organic] foods. Drink water.
  • Create a garden and spend time in it (instead of watching TV).
  • Let other people worry about “getting ahead”, status trips, newer cars and bigger houses, trendy clothing.
  • Read: How To Make Your House Do The Housework.

If your kids don’t like it, they can complicate their lives all they want when they grow up, but at least they will know how to LIVE first.

Oh, yeah. Read ‘Walden’ By Henry David Thoreau – often.

I agree. Mostly. I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on the accuracy of the review. Anyway I don’t think we really need books to tell us how to simplify. Only blogs. Like this one. 🙂

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  1. Maybe you should write a one page book about simplicity. Wouldn’t THAT rock the world? By the way, I read this book as well and I couldn’t agree more. It left behind the true point of simplicity and rambled with thrown together ideas. You are right. Simplicity is simply less.

    • I think this whole blog’s about trying to clarify simplicity and synthesize it, whittle the concept down to a page. Or a sentence. Or a word. I haven’t got it yet, although I’ve got pages full of false starts and aborted attempts. I’ll get it eventually. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I disagree with the reviewer about the key to living simply being to simplify your life. That’s just the outward manifestation of an inner process. I see the keys of voluntary simplicity (as I read them in Duane Elgin’s classic) to be consciousness, compassion and living your values. Simplicity follows naturally (although not necessarily painlessly) if those things are in place.

    While I agree that there’s more information in this book than one can really use, it gets the wheels turning. It isn’t a typical “here’s how to live simply” book that flippantly presents just one way of living simply and leaves out the internal process that precedes the external changes involved in living simply. Rather, it says something more along the lines of, “Here’s the philosophy. Here’s what some people have done to live that philosophy. Maybe something here will work for you.” Identifying one’s values and discovering ways to live them is a very personal and often very difficult process, and while I, too, find the scope of information in the book overwhelming, I appreciate that Luhrs isn’t just giving the same old, “It’s simple, stupid,” suggestions that shoot down would-be practitioners of voluntary simplicity for not doing it the one “right” way rather than inspiring them to find their own path.

    And thanks for the post, by the way. It’s (clearly) gotten me thinking about how I view voluntary simplicity.

    • Having not read the book I can’t offer an opinion. I just liked the review. But your description of the book certainly puts it in a better light than the reviewer I quoted. I tell everybody who’ll listen there’s no single path, you’ve got to forge your own path. And that’s what’s so hard. We’re raised to be lemmings, to stand in line, to follow the leader, to listen to the authority figure on CNN or CNBC or wherever and for God’s sake don’t trust yourself! Bucking the trend and thumbing your nose at conventional wisdom is hard. Following the herd is easy. I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I turned the TV off and listened – to nature, to silence, to my own inner-voice, I heard something totally foreign to the way my peers were living their lives and the way I’d been living my life to that point. So I changed. But, it took a long time. Years. And it was painful sometimes. And it’s still painful sometimes.

      Thank you for commenting. Now I’ll have to get the book.

  3. Thoreau ROCKS !!


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