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The Ethics of Simple Life

The documentary by Happen Films (2016) tells a story about a group of people who experimented in their way of life and decided to live a year in a rural community trying to use only natural or recycled materials and products. The film demonstrates how people can respond to global crises by refusing to exhaust the planet and indulging in a simple, minimalistic lifestyle. The pros of the idea are that it practically demonstrates how people can manage to live a life in a community and that people need less than they think they do. This idea resonates with those of Buddhist philosophy that encourages people to care more about the peace of their mind rather than material prosperity (Bhar, 2018). Similarly, Lyon and Jackson (2018) argue that sustainable prosperity and individual happiness are closely interrelated. Also, the documentary educates about a sustainable nature-friendly mindset as opposed to “the bigger, the better” philosophy that has led to the crisis. As for the cons, such a way of living might be particularly challenging for people who struggle to live in a community and communicate effectively.

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However, the authors of the film underline that individualism in the contemporary world has led to destructive isolation (Happen Films, 2016). In the modern world, people are mainly egotistical consumers who underestimate communication and co-living with others (Wilson, 2017). Thus, the stakeholders that are targeted by the film are big city inhabitants whose income level and consumer activity are estimated as high-income.

The opponents of this position might claim that in the twenty-first-century world, humanity has reached such a high level of development in all areas that it is the personal choice of every individual to decide what way of life to live. It might be either living in material prosperity and excess or in rural ascetic conditions. However, to defend my position, I would say that such a mindset that shields the freel and freedom of choice can only be applicable on an individual level, but it is unsustainable and destructing on a global scale. The future of the planet depends on the choices of every individual. Therefore, it is important to modify people’s attitudes to life and react to the observed crises in an efficient way.


  1. Bhar, S. (2018). Consuming with mindfulness: Import of Buddhist philosophy for an ethic toward consumerism. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 26(3), 1563-1578.
  2. Happen Films. (2016). A simpler way: Crisis as opportunity (2016) – Free full documentary [Video]. YouTube.
  3. Lyon, F., & Jackson, T. (2018). Alternative enterprise and Gross National Happiness: An agenda for sustainable prosperity. In D. K. Ura & D. Penjore (Eds.), GNH: From philosophy to praxis (pp. 33-41).
  4. Wilson, D. (2017). For richer or poorer in sickness for wealth: what price consumerism? In Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business (pp. 169-180). Emerald Group Publishing.

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