Some find simplicity makes their lives better

By Juliet Leyba Daily Planet Staff
Thursday November 16, 2000

Three years ago Jan Cecil’s life was full of stress. She was working as a systems analyst for two medical centers and was frantically driving back and forth between them. She was suffering from chronic back pain and her life was full of clutter. She wanted out. 

“One day while recuperating from a back injury I began reading a book on how to simplify your life,” Cecil said. “After that I found a Web site that led me to a simplicity circle in my area and I was on my way.” 

Now, Cecil says she is living a healthy life. She works four days a week as a senior analyst – in one location, has more fulfilling relationships with her family and friends and has time to do the things that really matter to her. 

Cecil said these changes could not have come about without the help and support of her simplicity circle.  

“I’ve been in a circle for three years and it really helps. It’s nice to have a forum and get support.” 

Simplicity circles began in 1985 as a way to help people live more fulfilling and simple lives with low environmental impact. The movement claims to help people live a richer, fuller inward life through simplifying their outward lives. The circle consists of a small group of people who foster reflection, conversation and genuine dialogue relating to ways of simplifying life with awareness that the well being of people is directly connected to the well being of the earth. 

“Many of the people involved in simplicity circles have said that the main reason they are in them is to learn to live a more simple and environmentally friendly life,” Cecil said. “It’s about learning that you don’t need 100 gadgets to make you happy. You can live a simpler life with fewer unnecessary material things.” 

The Web site, www.simpleliving.net, states that simplicity circles are loosely based on Swedish and Danish educational models, Native American  

wisdom and Quaker spiritual practices. The movement uses the book: “The Circle Of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life” by Cecile Andrews as a guideline for the circles.  

The book offers various formats for the circles and suggests that a “circle” meet 10 times for a minimum duration of success and work its way through nine suggested topics of conversation. Andrews asserts that the circles can lead to both personal and social change. 

Jan Cecil said that she has felt the change in her life. 

“I live a simpler life. It’s amazing . . .the feeling of a huge a weight being lifted from your shoulders and being able to get rid of all the things in life that are not necessary.” 

Author Cecile Andrews will speak at the Third Thursday Simplicity Forum held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave. The topic will be how to simplify and resist the commercialization of the holidays.