Balance Requires Simplicity

My earliest memories of a simple life exist with the Amish. I grew up on a dirt road in lower Michigan with three Amish families living within a ½ mile of me as well as having the entire community within a 5-mile radius.

The closest Amish neighbors frequented our house, usually to use the telephone but sometimes to ask for rides to somewhere further than they wanted to take their horse and buggy. The Amish made their own clothes, grew and raised most of their own food and attended church in one another’s houses. They read books and played games in their leisure time, and they worked hard almost every day. Their lives created my early definition of simplicity.

When I was 18, someone very close to me went through a painful simplifying of her life. I didn’t realize it until many years later, but her life illustrated how busyness and complication seemed to happen by default. Unfortunately, not until many years later, I realized that simplicity must be deliberate; otherwise, neither it nor balance will happen consistently in a person’s life.

Since that realization about 15 years ago, I’ve learned that our lives constantly search for homeostasis, both within and without.

Homeostasis: the tendency of a system… to maintain internal stability; a state of psychological equilibrium obtained when tension or drive has been reduced or eliminated.

Our minds and bodies constantly fight for this state of balance, and if we wish for it to happen on our own terms,  we must be an intentional member of that fight. Otherwise, painful choices and an out-of-control life will one day either force us into this state of balance, or being unbalanced will be the source of our demise.

We also must come to truly understand that simplicity plays a key role in establishing and maintaining homeostasis in our lives.

Even after seeing examples at both ends of the spectrum early in life, my life still came fraught with battles for balance because it lacked simplicity. In fact, I still constantly exist in some level of that struggle as I seek to maintain some semblance of simplicity in order to live a relatively balanced life even in an unbalanced and complicated world.

The following posts reflect my struggle with maintaining simplicity with the goal of achieving balance, and I pray they help others maybe struggle just a bit less and find victory a bit sooner.

DISCUSSION: What are some examples of simplicity that you have witnessed in the lives of others that may help the rest of us in our own struggles?

11 thoughts on “Balance Requires Simplicity

  1. The Amish always fascinated me in a way. I remember working at a hotel and we had a bunch of Amish pass by. I guess they were some variant of Amish that used cars. They came up to me and asked me a question as if they had a bet riding on my answer. They asked me which way west was. I looked at the rising sun, pointed in the other direction, and they all laughed hardily. I've always wondered what was so funny.

    I've never really thought of homeostasis as it relates to simplicity, but that makes sense. Looking forward to this series! 🙂

    • The people you met at that hotel were probably Mennonite, which are close to Amish but not quite as conservative and are technically not Amish. Both were a part of my childhood but the Amish definitely more so.

  2. I must admit I don't live a simple life. At least it doesn't feel simple. Yet, when I look at those around me, and see that my focus is God, family and friends, suddenly I feel very simple. I don't go out partying, I'm committed to my husband, and I am a stay at home mom. Hard days at times, but a simple life.

    • Simple does not mean easy, that's for sure. Sometimes, perspective helps us see the simplicity that was there all along. Sometimes, that sense of life not feeling simple is an indication that we need to make adjustments. Maybe not though. Just some extra thoughts.

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  5. About the only thing I have in common with the Amish is I ride a bike. I don't have a horse. I don't have a buggy (unless you consider a truck my buggy). I have a phone. I like to watch movies. But at times I do envy their simplistic approach to life.
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