Fact or fable: Increased wellbeing in voluntary simplicity

Stacey Ann Rich, Sharon Hanna, Bradley J. Wright, Pauleen C. Bennett


The value of a simple life has been espoused by writers and thinkers throughout time. In the modern era, it has been proposed as an antidote to modern stressors and as a path to wellbeing. The simple life — or voluntary simplicity as it has become known — is a lifestyle whose hallmark is reduced consumption. Personal growth and ecologically responsible behaviours are also integral components. If voluntary simplicity is a path to increased wellbeing, then society stands to benefit if the lifestyle becomes more widely adopted. This review asks the question, is there empirical evidence for an association between voluntary simplicity and improved wellbeing? Using a systematic approach, peer-reviewed literature regarding the wellbeing outcomes of simplifiers was located, resulting in four studies containing a total of 3,233 participants. A comparison of the four studies is given and the strengths and limitations of the present state of research in the area offered. It is concluded that the putative association between voluntary simplicity and improved wellbeing does exist, although important questions remain to be resolved by future research.


voluntary simplicity; wellbeing; review; low consumption lifestyle

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v7i2.589


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