“ I would like to live a SIMPLE and QUIET life!" It sometimes boggles my mind as to why these words are decoded as 'being lazy' or 'having no goal or purpose in life' or 'not doing anything meaningful' or 'being an escapist’. We speak so highly of freedom. But are we really free to choose how we want to live? It is a sad fact that a majority of our societies around the world would willingly or unwillingly vote for a super busy life, with a lot of hustle-bustle going on in day-to-day life, as the ideal. I would not say they would be completely wrong in making that choice. But to judge those who would want nothing more than a quiet life, as being lazy and with no purpose is something completely irrational. Such judgements sometimes give me the feeling that it is somewhere rooted in a sense of jealousy, a sense of ' I am suffering for a cause and these people are just sitting around enjoying without any purpose in life’. This is not to blame anyone, and at the same time, to blame everyone. Because such perspectives have been brewed by 'We, the people’.

There are scenarios where the negative judgements would make some sense. For example, if someone with a simple life is actually living off of someone else without contributing anything in return. Or when those living a simple life are constantly spewing hate for those who are living a busy and complicated life and blaming their lifestyle for their miseries. In these cases, I would say the advocates of 'simple and quiet life' are being equally judgemental. But, this is a rare case, because a majority of those who live a quiet and simple life deliberately try and get rid of hatred and negative judgements towards others.

None of these lifestyles, be it a super busy one or a quiet or calm one, is devoid of challenges. At the same time, there is something to envy about the lifestyle which we oppose or are afraid to pursue. A person working round the clock may envy the calm and relaxation that a quiet life offers. A person living a simple and quiet life may not have riches in terms of money and may sometimes envy the material luxuries enjoyed by those having a corporate life with great salaries. However, those who find meaning and purpose in whichever lifestyle they have chosen, will be at peace with the challenges that come along with it.

The fight should not be about imposing a certain way of living on everyone, but to offer and respect the freedom to choose whatever life one wants to live. I personally vote for a simple and quiet life; one which is not dominated or driven by material wealth. But I am yet to fully live that kind of life because my thoughts seldom resonate with people I am surrounded with. At least not all of them. If I am asked to justify the choice of living a life of simplicity, it would include a number of different explanations:

1. Having enough and being content would bring back a sense of satisfaction with what we have.

2. Living in a peaceful environment will help us connect with ourself and be mindful of our existence.

3. Such a lifestyle can be an immense contribution to world peace.

4. Living on less and simple things would produce less waste which would be a huge service to our planet.

5. A mindful existence can help us connect with nature and other people with kindness and compassion.

6. Simplicity often paves the way to the elimination of unfounded worries, stress and anxiety.

No matter how powerful these words might seem, it is sometimes very difficult to convince others that such a lifestyle can be achieved only if we are willing to. That to pursue such a goal would be much easier if we worked towards it together or at least let people pursue it out of their own free will. This is not to say that we must give up all worldly pleasures. This is more of a request to 'offer' the freedom to choose our way of living as much as we 'demand' it.

Modern-day, technology-driven, highly individualistic societies have proved to be an immense boon to solving a lot of our problems but they did bring in their share of other problems as well. I always thought that machines and technology were supposed to make our lives easier, with us having to do lesser and lesser work, and offering more free time to engage in activities of our interest. But I don’t see it has quite turned out that way. The extra time that was offered with the advent of high-speed technology, we have crammed it with more work, sometimes with a false sense of arriving at a station of 'SUCCESS' only to find out that this station almost always has a location way ahead of where we have arrived.

There is nothing wrong in being heard or seen, but to make it the sole and superior goal creates havoc in the lives of those who are happier to be making contributions while staying away from the limelight. These 'hidden figures' are often termed as 'losers'. But what we forget is that human life is rarely marked only by losses or by victories. We all have our balance sheets of losses and achievements and the fun part is no one is sure when a loss can turn into achievement and achievement to a loss. A parent who has lost a child to cancer can start a campaign and reach out to hundreds of such children and parents thus turning the personal loss to achievement in the form of working for a cause. Whereas a workaholic entrepreneur who makes it big in the marketplace may ultimately find himself coming back to an empty house with no one to share his success with.

We should all strive to live the kind of life we want to while letting others live the kind of life they want to, without labelling or judging them. I cannot think of a better alternative to this to make our world a better place to live in.

Psychology researcher at Indian Statistical Institute