Tim Longhurst's Blog

Simplicity Quotes

April 28th, 2005 · 2 Comments

When I backpacked around the world a few years ago, I discovered the benefits of simplicity – less things to carry, less to lose, more time for conversations, stories and people. While in the United States I became interested in the Voluntary Simplicity movement. Around the world, throughout time, the link between simplicity and contentment has been recognised. Here are some quotes celebrating simplicity:

– Graffiti

“To be content with what we possess is the greatest and most secure of riches.”
– Cicero

“How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea… All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness, is a simple, frugal heart.”
– Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Zorba the Greek [1946]

“Property is not essential. But happiness, a love of beauty, friendship between all peoples and individuals, is life itself.”
– Laurie Stockwell

“The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on the water, but to walk on the earth.”
– Chinese Proverb

“There is great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere.”
Krishnamurti 1895-1986

“I think that a person who is attached to riches, who lives with the worry of riches, is actually very poor. If this person puts his money at the service of others, then he is rich, very rich.”
– Mother Theresa

“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”
– Goethe

“To be without some of the things you want is an indispensible part of happiness.”
– Bertrand Russel

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! live the life you imagined. 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.”
– Thoreau

“He or she who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”
– Lao-Tzu

“Nothing will content those who are not content with a little.”
– Greek Proverb

“I have learned to have very modest goals for society and myself; things like clean air, green grass, children with bright eyes, not being pushed around, useful work that suits one’s abilities, plain tasty food, and the occasional satisfying nookie.”
-Paul Goldman

“If you don’t enjoy what you have, how could you be happier with more?”
– Anon

“One day there springs up the desire for money and for all that money can provide – the superfluous, luxury in eating, luxury in dressing, trifles.
Needs increase because one thing calls for another. The result is uncontrollable disatisfaction. If you have to go shopping, pick up the simplest things. We have to be happy with our poverty. Let us not be driven by our small egotism.”
– Mother Theresa

“The tipi is much better to live in: always warm in winter, cool in summer; easy to move.
The white men builds big house, cost much money. Like big cage, shut out the sun, can never move, always sick.”
– Chief Flying Hawke 1852-1931

“Do nondoing, strive for non-stiving, savor the flavourless, make much of little, repay enmity with virture; plan for difficulty when it is still easy, do the great while it is still small.”
– Lao-Tzu 6th Century BC

“To awake each morning with a smile brightening my face, to greet the day with reverence for the opportunities it contains; to approach my work with a clean mind, to hold ever before me, even in the doing of little things, the ultimate purpose toward which I am working: to meet men an women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done – this is ow I desire to waste wisely my days.”
-Thomas Deekin

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.” – E. F. Schumacker

“Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu

“Be wary of any enterprise that requires new clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.” – Lin Yu Tang

“Desire – for Gardeners The art of contentment is the recognition that the most satisfying and the most dependably refreshing experiences of life lie not in great things but in little. The rarity of happiness among those who achieved much is evidence that achievement is not in itself the assurance of a happy life. The great, like the humble, may have to find their satisfaction in the same plain things.” – Edgar A. Collard, 1974

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

“Good heavens, of what uncostly material is our earthly happiness composed… if we only knew it. What incomes have we not had from a flower, and how unfailing are the dividends of the seasons.” – James Russell Lowell

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

“Happiness depends, as Nature shows, Less on exterior things than most suppose.” – William Cowper

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

“However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.” – Henry David Thoreau

“I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.” – Oscar Wilde (1854 -1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

“I believe we would be happier to have a personal revolution in our individual lives and go back to simpler living and more direct thinking. It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature. There are not hothouse blossoms that can compare in beauty and fragrance with my bouquet of wildflowers.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

“I have come to terms with the future. From this day onward I will walk easy on the earth. Plant trees. Kill no living things. Live in harmony with all creatures. I will restore the earth where I am. Use no more of its resources than I need. And listen, listen to what it is telling me.” – M.J. Slim Hooey

“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.” – Pablo Picasso

“If you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.” – Annie Dillard, Seeing, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, 1974

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Cicero

“If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, This is the best season of your life.” – Wu- Men

“If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy. GOOGLE” –

“In the hope of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.” – Albert Schweitzer

“Jesus saw a man use his hand to cup water from a stream and Jesus threw away his cup. Jesus saw a woman comb her hair with her fingers and Jesus threw away his last possession: his comb. ” – Daniel Deleanu (from The Islamic Jesus.)

“Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires.” – Lao- Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“Maybe a person’s time would be as well spent raising food as raising money to buy food.” – Frank A. Clark

“My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions but in the fewness of my wants.” – J. Botherton

“Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Our affluent society contains those of talent and insight who are driven to prefer poverty, to choose it, rather than submit to the desolation of an empty abundance.” – Michael Harrington

“Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify, simplify! … Simplicity of life and elevation of purpose.” – Henry David Thoreau (Where I Lived and What I Lived For Walden)

“Part of the problem today is that we have a surplus of simple answers and a shortage of simple problems.” – Syracuse Herald

“People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.” – Albert Einstein

“People say, “I want peace”. If you remove I (ego), and your want (desire), you are left with peace.” – Satya Sai Baba

“Poor and content is rich and rich enough.” – William Shakespeare

“Precisely the least, the softest, lightest, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a flash, a moment – a little makes the way of the best happiness.” – Frederich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.” – Edwin Way Teale (February 4 Circle of the Seasons)

“Simple pleasures are the last refuge of the complex.” – Oscar Wilde

“Simplicity involves unburdening your life, and living more lightly with fewer distractions that interfere with a high quality life, as defined uniquely by each individual. You will find people living simply in large cities, rural areas and everything in between.” – Linda Breen Pierce, The Simplicity Resource Site

“Simplicity is the nature of great souls.” – Papa Ramadas

“Simplicity is the peak of civilization.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817 -1862)

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” – Henry David Thoreau

“So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.” – Wendell Berry Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, 1973

“Straightforwardness and simplicity are in keeping with goodness. The things that are essential are acquired with little bother; it is the luxuries that call for toil and effort. To want simply what is enough nowadays suggests to people primitiveness and squalor.” – Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

“That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.” – Henry David Thoreau, 1856

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann, Introduction to the Bootstrap, 1993

“The aspects of things that are most important to us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The day, water, sun, moon, night … I do not have to purchase these things with money.” – Plautus, 160 BCE

“The greatest truths are the simplest: so likewise are the greatest men.” – Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

“The happiest heart that ever beat Was in some quiet breast That found the common daylight sweet, And left to Heaven the rest.” – John V. Cheney

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” – Thomas More

“The trouble with simple living is that, though it can be joyful, rich, and creative, it isn’t simple.” – Doris Janzen Longacre

“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

“To know you have enough is to be rich.” – Lao- Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers

“Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more.” – John Kabat- Zinn, Wherever You Go There You Are, p. 69

“We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it.” – Donald Horban

“You can’t force simplicity; but you can invite it in by finding as much richness as possible in the few things at hand. Simplicity doesn’t mean meagerness but rather a certain kind of richness, the fullness that appears when we stop stuffing the world with things.” – Thomas Moore, The Re- Enchantment of Everyday Life, p. 293

“You can’t have everything; where would you put it?” – Steven Wright

“You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” – Vernon Howard

“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 (American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher, 1817-1862)

“Simply the thing that I am shall make me live.” – William Shakespeare (English Dramatist, Playwright and Poet, 1564-1616

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Category: Guide to better living

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