In this fast-paced, 24/7 world, many adults who have spent their careers rushing from pillar to post, constantly plugged in to electronic devices, are looking for ways to simplify their lives and reduce stress.
Simplification can include growing and preserving food, downsizing living accommodations, reducing debt and eliminating extraneous “stuff” by giving away non-essential possessions.
Cherokee County Oklahoma Home and Community Education Club members could be considered experts in simplification. Many not only grow and preserve their own food, but they also make their own clothing and teach the younger generation their methods.
Wednesday, several members met for a workshop about drying foods, another preservation method. Ann Lamons, Park Hill OHCE member, said she was raised on a farm, and has always preserved her own food.
“I’ve done it all my life,” said Lamons. “We’d pick the vegetables from the garden, bring them in and can them. What I enjoy about it is I know exactly what my canned goods are; I know where they came from. I don’t have to worry about what they’ve been sprayed with. You know what you’ve got in your jars.”
Lamons said canned vegetables in the supermarket often have preservatives and chemicals added, which are unnecessary.
“And so much salt added; the canned beans are too salty,” said Lamons.
OHCE member Wilma Baldridge doubts the validity of many “diets” that recommend scaling back on meats, particularly beef and pork.
“My mom and dad grew all their own food,” said Baldridge. “My dad lived to be 90 years old and my mother will be 90 in January. And my dad loved his bacon and beef.”
In addition to growing, canning and preserving food, many OHCE members are accomplished seamstresses.
“That’s why I enjoy the 4-H camps we have in the summer,” said Lamons. “We share the joy of making something with our own hands with a younger generation.”
According to Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute of New York, about 5 to 7 percent of adults in the U.S. are pursuing some form of voluntary simplicity. The trend is reported to have begun in 1981 with the publication of Duane Elgin’s book, “Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich.”
Mental health professionals have also joined the movement, focusing on how simple living can help alleviate tension-related reactions, such as insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, neck and shoulder spasms and chronic fatigue.
Roderic Gorney, clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, participated in the university’s conference, “Mental Health and Simple Living: Countering the Compulsion to Consume.”
“The message that we get is that without this complexity of ‘things’ in our life, we are not lovable and not worthy,” Gorney said in an interview with WebMD.
“[The purpose of the conference was to] help the person shake off the addiction to too much, and with it the distress of excess.”
WHAT YOU SAID
The Daily Press polled its online readers, asking which statement most closely mirrors their opinions of the trend to simplify life by giving away possessions, growing and canning their own produce, sewing their own clothes and trading down for smaller houses and cars. Of 146 respondents, 38 percent, or 56 voters, said it sounds good in theory, but could be more trouble than its worth, and that they’d just keep doing things the way I’ve always done. Twenty-eight percent, or 41, said they are already part of the movement to simplify their lives. Fourteen percent, or 21, said they’ve come to the point in their lives where they can afford nice things and want to buy them. Another 14 percent, 21, said they plan to simplify their lives in the future, but not yet. Five percent, or seven people, said they are undecided.
The final in a two-part series on simplifying life will examine how a few area residents have put the theory of simplification into practice.