January 13, 2010

Changing Your Life Via Downsizing, Anti-Consumerism, Slow Movement, Simplicity, Frugality, Going Green - What Are They?

Changing your life to a simpler lifestyle can be achieved in many different ways, for many different reasons.  And there are lots of different names being tossed around the web these days as lifestyle options: e.g., downsizing, downshifting, anti-consumerism, the slow movement, voluntary simplicity, going green, being frugal, or simple living, to name a few: 

Political and moral stance against consumerism and materialistic societal norms.  Activist outlook on living in a way that does not promote consumer-driven marketplace goals.  Conspicuous consumption is rebelled against by anti-consumerism, and lifestyles are changed accordingly. 
Considered by many to be a precursor to full Voluntary Simplicity, a.k.a. "simplicity lite."  Downshifters alter their lives to a more managable lifestyle without taking drastic measures of change.  For many, this is a transitional period where there is a commitment to "the best things in life are free" before more the drastic steps found in voluntary simplicity are undertaken.  A mother who changes her job to part-time so she can have more time with the kids is downshifting; parents who go to one-income and accordingly, sell their house to avoid their high mortgage are voluntarily simplifying (see below). 

Commonplace among empty-nesters, lifestyle attitude isn't changed so much as physical environment is altered, i.e., moving to a golf course condo from large family home, etc.  Ecological concerns, cost-cutting measures, political stance are not motivations here so much as increased free time, less responsibility for material things, preparation for retirement.

Cheapskate isn't necessarily a derogatory term in frugal living.  Here, making the most of every penny is considered a very good and admirable thing.  Thrift is the main goal here, and reusing material items as well as spending as little cash as possible are the driving forces. 

Going Green
Changing one's footprint on the planet so that your impact is minute drives those who change their lives as part of the green movement.  Going green includes educaion on solar energy, living off the grid, and may become a very expensive lifestyle change in the short run as homes are converted to maximize energy efficiency, etc. 

Simple Living - a synonym for Voluntary Simplicity (see below).

Slow Movement
Getting its start in Italy as a protest to the opening of a McDonald's restaurant, the Slow Movement is made up of many sub-genres:  the Slow Food Movement, Slow Travel Movement, etc.  Here, the focus is on time and limiting one's daily schedule to maximize the appreciation of life.  Slow Travel means taking one's time during a journey. Slow Food, eating local food with friends after you prepare it together.  Slow Parenting, more time with one's children and little if any activities scheduled for the child (extracurricular activities are strictly judged by Slow Movers for their value). 

Voluntary Simplicity
Voluntary simplicity, or simple living, considers time as currency.  Work and material possessions are carefully reviewed for their contribution to the enjoyment of life and the fulfillment of purpose.  Followers may undergo severe lifestyle changes as they pursue a simple life, think of Thoreau's life on Walden Pond as an early example of the simplicity movement.  Usually, followers are voluntarily taking charge of their lifestyles rather than having change thrust upon them (as happens in job layoffs, etc.) and do so for a variety of reasons: spiritual, political, love of family, etc.  Someone opting to live in a Tiny House is a seasoned voluntary simplifier.

If you've got some to add to this list, please let me know!!
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