Living Naturally

In the developed economies of the world, people are living lives that are increasingly artificial, abstract and dissipated. These are unnatural lives, but the question is what does it mean to live naturally? It is a life that is obviously the opposite of the above, in other words: it is natural, real and connected; but what does this mean in practice?


Natural living means not artificial. There is an optimal balance where there is enough of the artificial that we can thrive, but not so much that we harm ourselves and nature.

Using basic artefacts and technologies such as clothes, shelter, furniture, cookware, and hand tools, we are only one step removed from nature. However, humans are increasingly indoor animals, much further removed from nature, spending hours sitting in front of screens or driving cars or on our phones, in an artificial reality.

Whilst an artificial life has too much artificiality, a natural life is literally grounded in nature and the natural. This includes people, animals, plants, food, outdoors, weather, exercise, natural products, and so on.

Being natural is about the experience of living and not about money and material wealth; in other words it is about being and not having. It is about knowing ourselves and paying heed to our human nature. Henry David Thoreau wrote that he “…wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life.”


Real living is the opposite of abstract living, meaning that life is concrete and authentic. It is living life first-hand and is the opposite of Thoreau’s ‘what is not life’. Further to that, real life means to be vital and not bogged down in irrelevant trivialities. It is getting out of the zone of hedonistic and material comforts and into the eudaimonic zone of good challenges and achievement. It is about being true to yourself and not just executing the programme that your culture expects. It is becoming who you can potentially become. 


We may feel separate, but we are much more connected than we often think. Connected (not dissipated) is about relating to, and integrating to, your context. As Fritjof Capra said, meaning is the experience of context. Our connection should be natural to us, and real. 

We really should feel at one with the universe. People are an integral (integrated) part of the process we know of as the real world. Humans are connected to all humans through our common experience and natures. As a form of life we are connected to all life, in a kinship, since we all evolved from the same common ancestor. As a form of matter we are connected to all material things. Matter is energy which means we are connected to everything. Everything is one. It’s called Universe.

How to live naturally

In practice, how can we live more naturally? Of course, no-one lives completely naturally (without artefacts and the artificial) or completely artificially (without connection to nature). However, as mentioned, there is an optimal balance between these two extremes where we can thrive by living more naturally as grounded and genuine human beings. Here are a few ideas for living more naturally:

Get into nature

This is the most obvious one. Go to the woods, or the river or the mountains. Get out in bad weather, and enjoy the forces of nature. Lie on the grass and look at the stars or the clouds. Sit on the beach and watch the waves and birds go by. Go for a swim in the sea. Go camping with family or friends. Do gardening and grow your own food.

Do more for yourself

Instead of paying others to mow your lawns, do gardening, cleaning, cooking and dog-walking – do them yourself – and you will be more connected to your life and less alienated. Self-sufficiency is a very important way to decrease your net ecological footprint. The notion of bread labour is that you do labour to produce your food.

Walk instead of drive

Walking gets you outdoors, it lifts your mood, it provides exercise, it saves you money and it reduces your carbon footprint. Sounds perfect!

Eat real food

As the author Michael Pollan said: “if it is a plant, eat it, if it is made in a plant, don’t.” Artificial food is not nutritious in the same way that real food is, it can be harmful to people and it also harms the environment.

Be active not passive

Instead of spending so much time in front of computers and smartphones, read a book, or do a hobby instead. It is proven that active use of mental energy provides more well-being than passive consumption of entertainment.

Get face-to-face

Similarly, a good conversation provides more well-being than skimming social media. Instead of social media, meet your family and friends face-to-face. Socialising and social consumption is good for people and for the planet.

DIY entertainment

You could sing, or dance, or learn and play a musical instrument. Try doing some art or nature photography. Play board or card games with your friends and family.

Dim the lights

Bright lights at night are unnatural and can affect your natural rhythms. It is best to use muted light at night.


Your community needs you. There are many ways that you can help others, and in so doing help yourself.