Taking care to reduce distracting superfluities from your life so that you can attend to what is important.

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • clutter
  • complexity
  • extravagance
  • pulled in too many directions
  • sophistication

Virtues possibly in tension

How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere

Inspirational quotes

  • “From time to time I meet people who live among riches I cannot even imagine. I still have to make an effort to realize that others can feel envious of such wealth. A long time ago, I once lived a whole week luxuriating in all the goods of this world: we slept without a roof, on a beach, I lived on fruit, and spent half my days alone in the water. I learned something then that has always made me react to the signs of comfort or of a well-appointed house with irony, impatience, and sometimes anger. Although I live without worrying about tomorrow now, and therefore count myself among the privileged, I don’t know how to own things. What I do have, which always comes to me without my asking for it, I can’t seem to keep. Less from extravagance, I think, than from another kind of parsimony: I cling like a miser to the freedom that disappears as soon as there is an excess of things.” ―Albert Camus
  • “The very trimming of the vain world would clothe all the naked one. If thou art clean and warm, it is sufficient; for more doth but rob the poor, and please the wanton.” ―William Penn
  • “The luxurious receive no greater pleasure, from their dainties, than the peasant does from his bread and cheese; but the peasant whenever he goes abroad, finds a feast; whereas, the epicure must be well entertained to escape disgust.” ―William Paley
  • “When people speak in a very elaborate and sophisticated way, they either want to tell a lie, or to admire themselves. You should not believe such people. Good speech is always clear, clever, and understood by all.” —Tolstoy
  • “Real goodness is always simple. Simplicity is so attractive and so profitable that it is strange that so few people lead truly simple lives…. No one looks less simple than those people who artificially strive to seem so. Artificial simplicity is the most unpleasant of all artificial things.” —Tolstoy
  • “If you have chosen a simple life, don’t make a show of it. If you want to practice simplicity, do so quietly and for yourself, not for others.” —Epictetus, Enchiridion
  • “We believe that self-sufficiency is a great good, not in order that we might make do with few things under all circumstances, but so that if we do not have a lot we can make do with few, being genuinely convinced that those who least need extravagance enjoy it most; and that everything natural is easy to obtain and whatever is groundless is hard to obtain; and that simple flavors provide a pleasure equal to that of an extravagant lifestyle when all pain from want is removed, and barley cakes and water provide the highest pleasure when someone in want takes them. Therefore, becoming accustomed to simple, not extravagant, ways of life makes one completely healthy, makes man unhesitant in the face of life’s necessary duties, puts us in a better condition for the times of extravagance which occasionally come along, and makes us fearless in the face of chance.” —Epicurius, Letter to Menoeceus