15 Ways Life Was Simpler In The Past (Nostalgia Alert!)

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Many people look back on the past with great nostalgia.

And with good reason!

Sure, there were a heck of a lot of problems back then just as there are now, but things were just…simpler.

Don’t you think?

So, while we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking the 60s, 70s, or 80s were some sort of utopia, there are plenty of things to celebrate about those times.

Let’s take a look.

1. There was a greater sense of community.

Imagine walking down the street and greeting everyone you encounter by name. You chat, exchange stories, and share upcoming local events. These small conversations and personal connections helped create a sense of unity within the community, where neighbors felt like an extended family.

Back then, people relied on one another for support and practical help, like borrowing a cup of sugar or watching each other’s children. This interconnectedness fostered a genuine sense of belonging and a stronger community bond.

You lived in a world where local businesses thrived, and shopkeepers knew your favorite items. The economies of smaller towns were maintained by the very essence of community spirit. It was common for you to participate in local events, such as town hall meetings or street fairs, which helped cultivate relationships and a sense of civic involvement.

2. Information wasn’t available at your fingertips

Once upon a time, you couldn’t immediately satisfy your curiosity by reaching for your smartphone and having answers in seconds. Life moved at a slower pace, and people had to rely on libraries, books, and face-to-face conversations to gain knowledge.

In the past, news and information were primarily spread through print media, radio, and television. This relatively limited access to information meant that people were less likely to be bombarded with multiple conflicting or misleading stories.

Additionally, gatekeepers, such as journalists and editors, played a greater role in verifying the accuracy of information before it reached the public.

3. Your ‘social network’ was more manageable.

Back in the day, your social circle was primarily limited to people you interacted with directly, such as friends, family, and coworkers.

You didn’t have to worry about the constant influx of notifications, updates, or the constant desire to keep up with hundreds or even thousands of online connections. Instead, you focused on nurturing a smaller group of relationships that held more profound meaning and substance.

Stories were shared directly through conversations, rather than being conveyed through hastily composed online posts. The sense of human connection you felt when hearing a story in person and witnessing the emotions drawn from recounting the experience made these interactions memorable and enduring.

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4. You weren’t instantly available 24/7.

Before the era of smartphones and social media, people were not burdened by the expectation to be available around the clock.

Messages were not as instant and required patience. Letters could take days, if not weeks, to arrive, and phone calls were often reserved for special occasions or emergencies.

This slower pace of communication allowed you to have more meaningful and deep conversations when you did connect with others.

Not being instantly available 24/7 also meant you had more time for yourself, to engage in hobbies and activities without being tethered to a device. The outcome was often a better work-life balance, less stress, and less priority given to superficial interactions.

5. There was less choice when buying things.

In the past, shopping was a simpler experience. You didn’t have to deal with infinite options or agonize over selecting the perfect item. Instead, you had a limited choice, which made shopping faster and more satisfying.

You relied on your local stores for all your needs, which were catered to by shopkeepers who likely knew you by name. This familiarity created a sense of trust and loyalty toward the local businesses that supplied your necessities.

For example, let’s say you needed a new dress for an upcoming event. In days gone by, you would have visited the local dress shop and the owner might have shown you a handful of options in your size and preferred colors. You’d have tried them on, selected the best one, and been done with your shopping. Today, however, you’d be browsing through seemingly endless online clothing catalogs, shops, and influencers’ recommendations, spending hours or even days just to find that perfect dress.

With fewer choices, life was less complicated and you could devote more time and energy to the things that truly mattered.

6. Jobs were often for life.

In decades past, job security was much higher than today, and people could focus more on their work and less on the fear of losing their jobs. Layoffs were less common, and a stable career had a profound effect on the lives of employees and their families.

Many professionals followed a predictable career trajectory, working their way up the ladder and retiring with very healthy pensions and benefits.

Imagine the peace of mind you would experience knowing that your job was safe and secure. That’s a rare thing these days.

7. You repaired things that broke.

When something broke, you often took the time and effort to repair it. There was a sense of satisfaction and pride in fixing a broken item, knowing your hands brought life back to it.

Consider your favorite childhood toy, worn and battered from years of play. Instead of discarding it, your parents would stitch up the torn seams or glue together any broken parts. They were giving new life to something that held meaning, teaching you important lessons in resourcefulness along the way.

Clothes were not as disposable as they are today. A small tear in your pants or a missing button on your shirt would not be considered the end of its usability. Instead, you would sit down and mend it.

The very act of fixing things around the house fostered a sense of self-sufficiency and independence. If your kettle broke down or your chair lost a leg, you would assess the damage, gather the necessary tools and spare parts, and fix it yourself.

For more complicated fixes, there was likely a professional in your town who could have the broken thing back up and running for far less than the cost of replacing it. The opposite is often true these days.

8. The 24/7 news cycle didn’t exist.

In the past, you didn’t have to worry about FOMO or “Fear Of Missing Out” on the latest news. The focus was on family, friends, and work, with news consumption limited to specific times of the day (you probably remember the theme tune to the nightly news!)

The pace of life was slower, allowing you to form your own opinion on important issues without being constantly bombarded by other people’s thoughts, opinions, and perspectives. Heated online debates and disputes regarding every news item were unheard of in this simpler time.

Breaking news was reserved for only the most significant events, unlike today, where the term has become ubiquitous.

Overall, the absence of the 24/7 news cycle allowed you to savor life’s moments without distractions from your smartphones or computer screens.

9. There were no digital footprints for others to follow.

Imagine a time when your every move, purchase, or interaction wasn’t tracked and stored somewhere in the digital world. In days gone by, people had the freedom to navigate their lives without feeling constantly monitored by various online platforms.

You could enjoy anonymity, as your actions wouldn’t be linked to a vast database or analyzed by marketing algorithms.

There were no GPS trackers or geotags on the photos you took with your film camera; your vacation memories were private or only shared with family and friends through physical photo albums.

10. You were exposed to less advertising.

The limited number of television channels and radio stations meant that advertisements were fewer and less intrusive. This made your life less cluttered with commercial messages trying to persuade you to buy new products, delight in discounted offers, or adopt an advertised lifestyle.

As a result, your decisions and preferences were influenced more by your own experiences, family, and friends. You relied on word-of-mouth recommendations and personal observations for making choices, instead of being swayed by catchy slogans and glossy images.

This lack of constant exposure to advertisements allowed you to experience life without the added pressures of keeping up with commercial trends or constantly comparing yourself to others. It created a space where your thoughts and decisions felt more authentic and less manipulated.

11. Media and entertainment were less sensationalized.

In the past, you could genuinely trust the information being presented, and news outlets focused on delivering accurate and unbiased reporting. Cable news was absent from the equation, leading to a calmer, more well-informed public discourse.

Without the constant barrage of clickbait headlines and exaggerated reporting, you had more time to focus on the stories that truly mattered.

Entertainment was more straightforward, too. Without endless streaming services and a constant need for content, movies and TV shows had a greater focus on quality over quantity. Films were released at a slower pace, giving moviegoers a chance to savor and discuss them in-depth before the next blockbuster hit the screens.

12. Consumerism was less of an issue.

Back then, the consumerist mentality hadn’t taken root as strongly as it has today. You didn’t feel the constant pressure to buy things just to keep up with your friends, neighbors, or colleagues. Buying decisions were primarily based on necessity and utility rather than the desire to impress others, own the latest gadgets, or follow trends.

In those simpler times, people valued quality and craftsmanship over myriad options and disposable goods. You would invest in items that were made to last, rather than dealing with the planned obsolescence of modern products.

13. No selfies, no filters, no photo effects.

Back in the day, you didn’t have to worry about finding the perfect angle, applying a beauty filter, or tweaking photo effects. Cameras were more of a way to capture moments than a tool for self-worship. You simply aimed, clicked, and cherished the prints later.

Imagine a time where you didn’t have to compare yourself to the digital, flawless version of someone else. Authenticity was the norm, and the pictures told stories that were genuine and unfiltered.

Without the pressure to always present the best version of yourself, you could be in the moment and enjoy life as it unfolded.

14. There were fewer distractions from technology.

Picture a time when your thoughts and conversations were not interrupted by the ping of a notification on your phone. It seems unthinkable in the current day and age, doesn’t it?

You would leave work and not be bombarded by emails and messages after hours. You could enjoy a meal out without your smart fridge warning you that the chicken you put in there 4 days ago should be disposed of. You could enjoy some alone time without getting notifications of a friend’s latest vacation snaps or your favorite influencer’s new TikTok video.

And with fewer distractions came better focus. You would be able to sit down and concentrate on one thing and not have your mind sidetracked by digital interruptions.

15. It was generally a slower pace of life.

In days gone by, life was generally slower-paced. Communication, for example, often took more time and required face-to-face interaction or handwritten letters. You’d experience the joy of waiting eagerly for the next letter to arrive or the anticipation of an upcoming in-person visit. As a result, relationships and social connections were often richer and more personal.

Without the constant bombardment of information from the internet or social media, your focus would be directed toward your immediate surroundings and the tasks at hand. This simplicity allowed for increased mindfulness and appreciation for the present moment. You’d enjoy a walk in nature or spend your evenings sitting on the porch, chatting with your neighbors, and watching children play in the streets, absorbing the simple pleasures of life.

Daily activities, such as gardening, cooking, and reading, took on an almost meditative quality, as there was no rush to move on to the next activity or worry about missing out on something else.

While the past had its own set of challenges, embracing a simpler, slower-paced lifestyle had its rewards. Such a life would offer you greater opportunities for meaningful connections, introspection, and appreciation for the simple things that brought happiness and contentment.

By looking back, you can rediscover the value of slowing down, embracing simplicity, and focusing on the things that truly matter.

About The Author

Steve Phillips-Waller is the founder and editor of A Conscious Rethink. He has written extensively on the topics of life, relationships, and mental health for more than 8 years.