Words have so much power. They move us, inspire us, and can even motivate us to make changes in our lives. I so often feel as though my own words fall sadly short of communicating what is on my heart. I’m thankful for so many gifted writers who can say it better than I! It’s my hope that this collection of live simple quotes will inspire you, move you, and perhaps even motivate you to simplify your own life!
What is Simple Living?
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”Hans Hofmann
“Life is as simple as these three questions: What do I want? Why do I want it? And, how will I achieve it?”Shannon Alder
“Simplicity boils down to two things: identify the essential and eliminate the rest…”Leo Babauta
“Do the work of naming the highest, eulogy-worthy priorities in your life. Then do the work of putting them at the center of your life, every day.”Brooke McAlary, Slow
“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”Victoria Moran, Lit from Within: Tending Your Soul for Lifelong Beauty
“A person who knows who they are lives a simple life by eliminating from their orbit anything that does not align with his or her overriding purpose and values.”Kilroy J. Oldster
“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”Lao Tzu
Why Live Simply?
When making our lives simpler is actually really hard to do, why go to the trouble? The word “simple” can be deceiving. Pursuing simplicity requires a lot of effort and purpose. These quotes speak to why it’s all worth it.
“Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are.”Courtney Carver, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More
“If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.”Dalai Lama
“I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.”Albert Einstein
“A quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.”Albert Einstein
“Think how joyous each and every day could be when you are making the most of what you have.”Chrissy Halton
“Escape from complicated life! Take refuge in simple life! You will find three treasures there: Healthy body, peaceful mind and a life away from ambitious fools!”Mehmet Murat Ildan
“That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”Steve Jobs
“Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.”Thomas à Kempis
“Ask a bird how to fly, and it might tell you to remove the weight from your wings.”Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow
“There is more joy and fulfillment in pursuing less than can be found in pursuing more.”Joshua Fields Millburn, Everything That Remains: A Memoir by the Minimalists
“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”Isaac Newton
“The greatest challenge in life is to be our own person and accept that being different is a blessing and not a curse. A person who knows who they are lives a simple life by eliminating from their orbit anything that does not align with his or her overriding purpose and values. A person must be selective with their time and energy because both elements of life are limited.”Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls
“The aim should be to obtain the maximum of well-being with the minimum of consumption. The cultivation and expansion of needs, is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the antithesis of freedom and peace…”E.F. Schumacher
“The Shire at this time had hardly any ‘government’. Families for the most part managed their own affairs. Growing food and eating it occupied most of their time. In other matters they were, as a rule, generous and not greedy, but contented and moderate, so that estates, farms, workshops, and small trades tended to remain unchanged for generations.”J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
“Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.”Paramahansa Yogonanda
“It is the sweet simple things in life which are the real ones after all.”Laura Ingalls Wilder
“A simple life gives birth to more clarity, inner peace and meaningful relationships.”Margo Vader
“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.”Leo Tolstoy
“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“My choice of a lighter lifestyle has brought me a greater sense of well-being. In a world that often seems stressful and chaotic, that’s a feeling I cherish.”Lisa J. Shultz, Lighter Living: Declutter. Organize. Simplify.
“My new deliberate and slower pace has created a higher quality in my experiences.”Lisa J. Shultz, Lighter Living: Declutter. Organize. Simplify.
“When you acquire less stuff you will actually get more of what you really want—more money, greater security, peace of mind, more time, more energy, and deeper relationships.”Peter Walsh, Lighten Up
A Return to Nature
When I started homeschooling my oldest, I was a confirmed indoor girl. I didn’t like going outside. It made me itchy, and I couldn’t sit in a comfortable chair. Ugh. But as a kid, I LOVED playing outside.
As I was researching popular educational philosophies used in homeschooling curricula, I came across Charlotte Mason. Nature Study and time spent outdoors was a major focus of her method. I chose her method for many reasons, but one of the main ones at the beginning was to hold me accountable to getting my kids outside more.
We live in a suburban apartment, so any time spent outdoors needed to be supervised – so I couldn’t get anything else done during the time they were playing. So that was really hard. But I knew that their connection to the outdoors was so important – to connect them to the cycles of nature, ground them, stimulate their creativity, and nourish their bodies. Vitamin D you guys!
And you know what? Every time we’d spend that time outdoors I knew that I needed it too.
“The troubles of modern life come from being divorced from nature.”Isaac Asimov
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”John Burroughs
“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
“People no longer live by sun and moon, by wind and stars, but by some slyly contrived conventions known as clocks and calendars.”Matthew Goldman
“I discovered all over Ireland is that people living simple lives by the sea or in the remote countryside seem a lot calmer than city folk with their iPads and their Android phones.”James Nesbitt
“I’m just delighted to be living, to be able to have a simple conversation, to feel a ray of sunlight on my skin and listen to the breeze move through the leaves of a tree.”Ryuichi Sakamoto
“I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days, and spent them lavishly; nor do I regret that I did not waste more of them in the workshop or the teacher’s desk.”Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”Lao Tzu
The Importance of Time
Time is something that we can’t ever get back once it’s gone. Even so, I waste so many hours! I keep myself so busy most of the time, and these quotes are such good reminders to use our time wisely and carefully.
“We’re so caught up in trying to do everything, experience all the essential things, not miss out on anything important… Life is better when we don’t try to do everything. Learn to enjoy the slice of life you experience, and life turns out to be wonderful.”Leo Babauta
“When we focus more on fitting it all in instead of making time for what counts, we lose sight of how to create a meaningful life.”Courtney Carver, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More
“After a while, I wasn’t saying no because I was so busy, I was saying no because I didn’t want to be so busy anymore.”Courtney Carver, Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less Can Lead to So Much More
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”Steve Covey
“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.”Emily Dickinson
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”Annie Dillard
“…there are often many things we feel we should do that, in fact, we don’t really have to do. Getting to the point where we can tell the difference is a major milestone in the simplification process.”Elaine St. James, Living the Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More
“My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.”Francine Jay, Miss Minimalist
“Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what TO do.”Steve Jobs
“There is only today, with holes in our pockets, with time spilling out. We cannot keep it for tomorrow.”Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow
“Say NO to all meaningless activities, so you do not need a calendar to remember when is the next really fulfilling event in your life.”Rodolfo Peon
“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”Socrates
“One of the best things you can give your kids is actually free: your time.”Peter Walsh, Lighten Up
I wouldn’t classify myself as a Minimalist. This is basically because, like anything, it can be taken to extremes and be more damaging than helpful. But in my own life with young kids, I’m doing the daily battle against clutter accumulation. The struggle is real folks! I see how when we have more things, my workload is heavier – or if I don’t clean it up, my house is a more stressful environment for everyone.
Simplicity in my home is beneficial for everyone. My kids see their toys more easily and actually play with them, and my husband and I have less to do each day to restore peace after a day of fun and play. Less inventory equals less to manage!
Joshua Becker is the author of The More of Less, Living with Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness, and Things That Matter – among others! He writes a lot about the benefits of minimalism to the mental, emotional, and physical health of us and our families. Some of my favorite quotes of his are below:
“Have the courage to build your life around what is really most important to you.”
“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”
“Minimalism isn’t about removing things you love. It’s about removing the things that distract you from the things you love.”
“A home with fewer possessions is more spacious, more calming, and more focused on the people who live inside it.”
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
“You don’t need more space. You need less stuff.”
“Minimalism is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.”
While Joshua Becker is a favorite of mine, many other people have had valuable things to say about minimalism too:
“Minimalism is about creating space to live simply and meaningfully; it’s about living intentionally.”Laurie Buchanan
“Clutter smothers. Simplicity breathes.”Terry Guillemets
“Your home is living space, not storage space.”Francine Jay, The Joy of Less
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
“We should be choosing what we keep – not what we get rid of.”Marie Kondo
“Imagine your dog retching on your belongings, and if you wouldn’t find them worth salvaging, you might as well do everyone… a favor and donate them now.”Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow
“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”The Minimalists
“Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It’s your masterpiece after all.”Nathan W. Morris
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”William Morris
“Living with only the bare essentials has not only provided superficial benefits such as the pleasure of a tidy room or the simple ease of cleaning, it has also led to a more fundamental shift. It’s given me a chance to think about what it really means to be happy.”Fumio Sasaki
“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.”Edwin Way Teale
“It is desirable that a man live in all respects so simply and preparedly that if an enemy take the town… he can walk out the gate empty-handed and without anxiety.”Henry David Thoreau
“Having a simplified, uncluttered home is a form of self-care.”Emma Scheib
“Clutter is not just the stuff on your floor – it’s anything that stands between you and the life you want to be living.”Peter Walsh
Many of these quotes are ones that could apply to Minimalism as well – but they focus more on the heart of the issue behind needing to downsize.
“It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.”Henry Ward Beecher
“Ask anyone what makes them truly happy, and they won’t say their stuff.”Peter Walsh, Lighten Up
“Material goods rarely alter our levels of happiness, unlike emotional experience. Having can never replace being.”Lisa Crawford
“The only wealth is life.”St. Francis of Assisi
“Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself to it.”Benjamin Franklin
“Joy comes not through possession or ownership but through a wise and loving heart.”Buddha
“Lead a simple life. First reduce your greeds. Then reduce your needs.”Ritu Ghatourey
“Stuff has gotten a lot cheaper, but our attitude towards it hasn’t changed correspondingly – we overvalue stuff.”Paul Graham
“While you are alive collect moments not things, earn respect not money and enjoy love not luxuries.”Aarti Khurana
“There are two ways to be rich: one is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.”Jackie French Koller
“I think of all of us, weary in our suburban coffee shops, amassing everything my friends in Ethiopia need but having nothing they want. They have joy. Gratitude. Love. Community. Forgiveness. We have wicker basket organizers, SUVs, and backyard fire pits.”Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow
“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.”Plato
Gratitude is an essential part of letting go and simplifying your life. When we are focused on what we have instead of what we want, we can stop chasing and pursuing more. It quiets our lives and our hearts so we can be more intentional about the life we’ve been given.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.”Melody Beattie
“Learn to live with less so that you appreciate more.”James Ryan
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”Socrates
“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness.”Charles Spurgeon
“I was rich, for there was nothing else that I needed or wanted.”Mark Warren, Two Winters in a Tipi: My Search for the Soul of the Forest
“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.”Oprah Winfrey
I hope that these quotes about a slower, simpler lifestyle have been inspiring for you. For more ways to simplify your life, check out my post on Simple Living.