What Living in Germany Taught Me About Simplicity


Apparently simplicity is the path to Zen. At least that is what millions of people and Buddhists claim. I, on the other hand, just think it is a wonderful lifestyle that takes amazingly less effort than the conventional Rat Race and makes me a happy person. So that being said, I am speaking here as someone who chose to slow down and simplify her life in order to more freely live a more nomadic lifestyle. However, it has been a process; it was never a purge.
“What did I change,” you ask? Well, I may not be old and wise, but I have learned many things along the way to my Zen. So here’s a list of things that make it into my books as important and worth noticing.

So bonne route and here’s to your journey!

Good Bread

I believe it is the French who are known for the saying, “good food, good sex, and good wine.” However, I am here to tell you that the Germans will give them a run for their money.

I know, I know. It is an earth-shattering concept to think that German food culture can rival the French one, but that is because you have not savored a slice of freshly baked German bread.

Now, you can ask anyone who has lived any amount of time in Germany and I am sure they would tell you that the eating the bread there is like a religious experience every morning. Its nutty flavor coupled with its dense texture and complex grains is a transcendent experience.

Seriously, there is nothing better than bread and butter. It is simplicity at its finest.

Sometimes you have to forego your green smoothies and avocado kale breakfast tacos and opt for more traditional fare. (I am saying this being an enormous fan of green smoothies so I’m not preaching to you, I am just suggesting that something so simple and easy can be tastefully, soulfully, and bodily satisfying.)


You know that saying, “Stop and smell the roses?” Well, why not try actually smelling them next time you go outside?

Walking is one of the best medicines that have ever been prescribed. Whether you are suffering from anxiety, frustration, boredom, or a full stomach, taking a turn around the park may just be the thing to set you back to rights.
Besides having great health benefits, learning to love walking lessens your dependence on cars making you freer to explore your surroundings and it gets you in shape even if you give up your gym membership. I know it sounds too good to be true, but if the option to walk is available to you, try it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t always walk. Just adding walking in as an alternative method of transportation is a plus.

Not only will it save you mountains of money, but it just might slow down your life just enough that you begin to notice life blooming and transforming around you instead of just zipping through blurred colors and shapes en route to your next destination.


I have no philosophical way to comment on the American love for commercials and consumerism. All I can say is, “WHAT?!”

In 21st century in America, media flows continually into our houses with relentless speed and unknown consequences. Don’t get me wrong, of course German media has commercials, but for starters they occur less frequently since they are relegated to designated blocks of time that occur at regularly spaced intervals rather than being peppered throughout a show.

Secondly, and more importantly, the content of the commercials varies wildly between Europe and the States. While here in the USA we have innumerable commercials about food and slashed prices, in Germany ads tend to remind viewers about upcoming series, events, and Ikea.

So while shopping is a common theme that spans the Pond, in Germany, food does not seem to be a priority to have food shoved down your throat. I know that correlation does not equal causation, but I wonder why is it that when food is not a fixation in the media there are so many more balanced people to help nourish treasured, delicious, and simplistic culinary traditions?


The mall crawl. The favorite past time of many American teenagers, and not even on the radar for Germans. Ok, maybe that is a wee bit of an exaggeration. They do shop in Germany, promise.

It could have been that my lifestyle that limited my exposure to commercial indulgences, or my lack of a car restricted my purchasing power. However, not being constantly pushed to buy, buy, buy was so liberating. Suddenly, I had so much less stuff to “organize” and so much more time to fill with activities that truly interested me.

Pro tip: when you have less stuff you waste a lot less time cleaning and organizing it because everything you have you want and use. So wonderful.

Whatever the case, by not shopping I found that I had so much more time, and remember: time is the one commodity that we can never buy more of so spend it wisely.


Maybe these differences have to do simply with cultural values. However, I am not an anthropologist to tell you this as a definitive statement. Maybe they have to do with the different natures of our advertising, but I do not claim to be a marketing or psychological expert that can back this up with statistics.

So I will offer these observations as a question for you to ponder. All I can tell you is what my five senses sense and how, with my experiences, I choose to give this input meaning. I leave it to you to take my words with a grain of salt and base your own conclusions upon your own experiences.


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