You Don’t Need Permission to Live a Simple Life

Did you know you don’t need permission to live a Simple Life? Let me assure you. You don’t.

vintage green metal first aid kit box; decorative cardboard box, assorted cigar boxes

I have a fascination with boxes. Don’t ask me why, but for some weird reason I am drawn to them. Not the plain cardboard type. But those that hold fishing tackle. Plastic boxes that have storage compartments. Decorative boxes that look pretty on the shelf. Vintage metal boxes that once held first aid supplies.

But what I don’t like are the figurative boxes that are designed to hold me back. The lids are latched, the walls are solid, and the bottom is taped so tight nothing can escape. In order to get out of the box, I am supposed to get permission from society, family, friends, or other ‘experts’.

cloth jack-in-the-box wearing a harlequin designed dress in blue, green, read and white

Think about that old toy, the Jack-in-the-Box. It was a cloth or plastic puppet which was pulled over a taut spring. To get him in the box, you had to push and stuff him inside, then quickly close the lid to hold him in. Sometimes, you had to try more than once, as his dress would get caught and mushed between the lid and the opening.

When the handle was turned, you heard a few lines of the tune ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’, and then suddenly, the latch was disengaged, and Jack popped out of his box.

Even as a child, I knew that Jack was an inanimate clown. But I always felt sorry for him being stuffed in that box, just waiting for someone to give him permission to come out to play.

Asking Permission Can Be Respectful

white permission form with the tip of a pen on the side

I am usually a very respectful person. I understand I need for permission to walk across someone else’s property. I need ‘permission’ (which comes in the form of payment) to remove an article from a store. And as a kid I always asked permission to leave the dinner table (may I please be excused?)

There are times you should ask permission to do something. It is a sign of respect. If you need to leave work early, you should first ask your boss. A child should ask for permission before helping themselves to cookies or candy right before dinner. You should always ask before taking something that doesn’t belong to you.

It is also important in a conversation to ask permission to offer your opinion. There are times when a person just needs to vent. They aren’t looking for advice. So before just tossing your thoughts out there, ask them if it is okay to share your thoughts.

Why Others Won’t Give You Permission to Live a Simple Life

wooden stamp; red word 'denied' stamped on paper

But when you ask for permission to lead the life you want and need, be prepared to get a refusal. In many cases, your decision to make changes in your life can be viewed to some degree as a threat.

Those who know you and love you see you as they think you should be. They see you as an overachiever, not a tired woman who is miserable with her current lifestyle. They believe you need to ask permission to live a Simple Life. Or to do anything else outside of the expectations they have for you.

In many cases, a person feels they can relate to you better as a busy person, because they live the same lifestyle. The very idea of you shifting to a slower pace may bring up feelings of envy. They believe they can’t have it, so they don’t want you to have it either.

card that says 'ask the expert' with a stylized head filled with gears

Many people in our lives think they are the ‘expert’ on who we should be. It’s a given that in society, we defer to the experts when doing research. But one thing we usually fail to remember, they are ‘experts’ in their field, partly based on their viewpoint. Some experts claim they are, but in truth don’t have all the facts.

It can also bring up feelings of fear. Many people are so adjusted to the ‘status quo’ that any sign of change is scary. They may feel your new lifestyle will pull you away from them. It might be they only look for the downside of your choices, instead of seeing the positive aspects.

Others may believe they are ‘saving you from yourself’. What you are proposing to do is so far out of the acceptable societal norm that ‘it just can’t and shouldn’t be done’.

Sometimes, it is you that creates the fear. We worry if people will still like us. Is there a chance you will no longer be accepted in some social groups? Will people laugh at us, sneer at us, or just think we are ‘going through a phase’? Is living a Simple Life so unattainable that you will fall flat on your face in a big nasty pile of failure?

Why You Don’t Need Permission to Live a Simple Life

Let me reassure you. You don’t need permission to live a Simple Life. And You. Won’t. Fail. Yes, you may make mistakes. In the beginning, you may choose one path, but end up needing to change courses. And that is perfectly okay. You are on a journey, which means you will run into obstacles, roadblocks, and a dead end or two.

But when you live a Simple Life, you have the freedom to explore where you want to go, what you want to do, and eliminate those things that no longer fit.

You don’t need permission to live a Simple Life. To ask and accept permission from others can be stifling. In some cases, it can be restricting and almost suffocating.

When you ask permission to be who you are, you are allowing someone else to shape you into the person they think you should be. Here is the problem with that. You end up being someone different to whomever you are with at the time. You never have the opportunity to show your true colors.  

What Happens When You Ask Permission to Be Who You Are

green chameleon sitting on green leaves

Think about a chameleon. Their true color is a dull greenish brown. However, they can change colors to adapt to their environment, or to avoid predators. Their coloring can go from black, to leaf green. They can also have more drastic changes to bright pink, turquoise, or orange.

We aren’t chameleons. Yes, we can be multi-faceted. We have a tremendous number of talents and skills. And we can be all of these things. But we can’t be exactly the person others need us to be.

A parent may expect you to be quiet, responsible, and have a job that produces a huge income. A friend wants you to be outgoing, the life of the party, and ready to go at the drop of a hat.

Can you be both? Yes. When you are in the presence of a parent or friend. But is that who you truly are? Instead of being a doctor like your parents want, you may prefer teaching or being a homemaker. Instead of grabbing your purse and running when your friends beckon, you really don’t like crowds and would prefer to stay home.

turquoise, orange, green and black chameleon sitting on a branch

However, at what price do you change colors? What physical, mental, and emotional costs does it take to be dull green and brown to one person, yet bright pink, turquoise, and electric yellow to someone else? And be assured. There is a price.

These are some of the ‘costs’ it takes to be someone other than who you are:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Unhappiness
  • Frustration

The Beauty That Happens When You Don’t Need Permission to Live a Simple Life

woman in a red dress and straw hat standing in a field of sunflowers with arms outstretched

Let me remind you. You don’t need permission to live a Simple Life. Yes, you have read this same reminder several times in this post. But repetition is one of the ways we learn, and I want you to truly learn this:  You don’t need permission to live a Simple Life.

Rather than waiting for permission, the key is to not ask for it in the first place.  And when you turn that key in the lock then open the door, this is what you will find:

  • A sense of being ‘in the right place’
  • Curiosity for what could be
  • Excitement when you begin to dust off those old dreams
  • Fulfillment as you pursue your passions
  • Contentment with who you really are
  • Free, since you have escaped the ‘box’ and no longer have to wait for that dreaded music
  • Relaxed, because you are no longer tangled in the crazy rat race
  • More colorful than a chameleon because your true self, talents, and skills are beginning to shine

You Don’t Need Permission to Live a Simple Life

gray heart laying on its side that says laugh and be happy

Find me a fun box, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Stuff me in a box and get ready – I will be popping out of it like a Jack-in-the-Box!

Don’t be Jack. Don’t live your life just waiting for someone to crank the handle and free you – only momentarily, mind you – from the box you have been living in. You don’t need permission to live a Simple Life.

Just take the first step and spread your wings. And just in case you still think you need it:

You now have permission to live a Simple Life.

Now. Go. Grab that glass of refreshment, pull up a rocker and sit down to Afternoon tea. It’s time you started learning how to relax and enjoy your life!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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