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How to Adopt Amish Principles in Your Life

The simplicity and regularity of the Amish life offers appeal to outsiders caught up in the rush and digital intensity of modern life. While this article isn't advocating forgoing all things modern and turning Amish, it does seek to highlight the ways in which some Amish principles could improve your approach to life, such as restoring a more family-oriented outlook and pursuing a more sustainable, "back to basics" way of living. Discerningly applied, certain Amish principles may help you to remember to smell the roses and enjoy the true reason and basis for loving your family life and way of living.


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    Be more of an outdoors person. Modern life has many of us sitting inside all day, in front of computers, TV sets and game machines. Forgoing outdoor pursuits has seen an increase in obesity and diseases related to a lack of adequate exercise. By embracing an outdoor lifestyle as the Amish continue to do, you can restore health of mind and body, as well as gain a greater appreciation of nature.
    • Involve some form of outdoor exercise into your life every day. From taking a stroll around the neighborhood, to getting dirty doing some hard core yard work, find a way to burn some calories while being productive outside.
    • Get a pedometer and walk more. The Amish walk more than car-owning people do, and it benefits their health greatly. Amish men are thought to walk about 18,000 steps a day, while Amish women walk around 14,000 steps; this walking translates into very low rates of obesity.[1]
    • Invite the entire family to join you. Make outdoor play time one that involves every member of the family, even the youngest child and the most reluctant teen. Teaching children to appreciate being outside is important to helping them form these habits into adulthood.
    • Take time each day to notice and recognize nature’s bounty. Whether it be harvesting a new crop in your garden, to simply appreciating a new bloom on a flower. Make a concerted effort to notice at least one of nature’s gifts each day to bring peace and balance to the mind and spirit.
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    Be less self absorbed with your personal grooming. While it's important to look presentable and neat, being obsessed by the latest fads and spending a ton of money on beauty products is a sure-fire way to keep you dissatisfied with your appearance and to leave you hungering for more consumerist "solutions". Instead of being stuck on the treadmill of plastic surgery, Botox and faddish clothes, try a more simplistic Amish approach (although this isn't to suggest you don a simple smock and tie your hair in a bun every day!).
    • Invest time in finding what suits you rather than constantly chasing after fashion gimmicks and must-haves. Be budget-conscious when buying clothes––select quality over quantity and make your good clothes last through good care and maintenance.
    • Be modest. While the Amish women may wear very long dresses and the men wear dark suits and braces, you're not being asked to adopt their exact fashion. Rather, adopt the principle that modesty is more becoming than flaunting everything––wear clothing that isn't too tight, too flashy or too revealing. Wear clothes that fit your lifestyle and that are comfortable while still looking stylishly presentable.
    • Choose a hairstyle that suits you at your current age and maintain it. Avoid chasing the latest fad in hair styling or dyeing it until you can't even remember what your original hair color was.
    • Keep accessories and jewelry to a minimum, or not at all. Bling is definitely not in when adopting the Amish style and you'll save money, time and have less worry about losing it or having to match it all with what you're wearing.
    • Consider following one current hipster trend to dress simply and eschew accessories like the Amish––the simpler and less adorned, the better.[2] Avoid wearing buttons, stick to black and white basics and keep all tailoring simple. A simple broad-brimmed hat completes the look and keeps the sun's rays from tanning your face.
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    Rediscover the rewarding feeling of putting in a hard day's work, both physical, and mental. The Amish regard a hard day’s work as one of the most important contributions you can make in life and believe you reap what you've sown, so any notion of "getting rich quick" would never fly in Amish country.
    • Work hard, but also efficiently. Working harder doesn’t mean that you have to actually do you job the hard way. Integrate efficiencies in your day such as organization and planning in order to maximize your time in order to accomplish more tasks. Read books and websites about working smarter rather than harder while still applying yourself fully to achieving a good day's work, every day.
    • Don’t be afraid of hard work. Some people shy away from getting their hands dirty or putting in the extra effort because it could take a lot of additional exertion on their part. Instead of shying away from having to push yourself, embrace and welcome it. Consider hard work to be one of your most important contributions to society.
    • Switch off all distractions that cause you to avoid working in a focused manner. TV, radio, music, games, etc. can all be a source of distraction that can prevent you from getting things done. Either turn them off, or put them away for the allotted work time.
    • Commend and thank others for putting in a hard day’s work. If your child has gone above and beyond what was expected of him or her at school or on the soccer field, make sure you recognize these efforts with kind, reinforcing words.
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    Make your own and do your own. Rather than relying on the world of processed food and ready-made everything, start making, baking and nailing together your own lifestyle products.
    • Learn how to sew and knit your own clothes and share your sewing and knitting know-how with friends and family members. Once you're good at this, extend the sewing and knitting skills to soft furnishings, quilts, sheet sets and anything else sewn or knitted that you'd have bought in the past. Use scrap materials when possible, to make the most of everything.
    • Bake your own bread, cakes and cookies. You'll have the benefit of knowing what's going into them, as well as the reward of making something delicious and healthy. Plus, kneading dough is a great way to relieve stress!
    • Grow your own vegetables and fruit. Start digging up the lawn and turning it into your own edible garden. The work and effort will be worth it when you get bumper crops of organic, diverse and tasty fresh food. If you live in a small space or an apartment, investigate growing plants indoors, on your kitchen windowsill, or on a balcony.
    • Preserve your harvest. Get into canning, drying and preserving your harvest so that you can continue to enjoy it through the leaner months of winter.
    • Make your own take-out meals. Instead of purchasing take-out meals from various stores, save your pennies and make your own fast meals in bulk, then store them in the freezer for easy meals. You could make and freeze pizzas, macaroni and quality cheese, curries, stews, stir-fries, etc.
    • Make or conserve your own energy. Make candles, install solar energy panels and feed excess energy back into the grid, turn newspaper into logs to burn and challenge yourself to find as many ways as possible to keep energy consumption low in your household.
    • Make your own entertainment––you can make lots of things yourself, including toys, puzzles, books, board games, beanbag games, quoits, etc, Consider recycling and re-purposing items where possible.
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    Avoid modern day items that don't improve your life. There's no need to forgo modern technology just because it's modern. However, it is important to reflect over what is really important in your life and what is either a massive distraction or isn't enhancing your life. For example, having three television sets may be causing your family to split up rather than spend time together, while encasing your foodstuffs in plastic may be causing plasticizers to leach into your otherwise healthy food. Become a conscious consumer and be aware of how products define or regulate your behaviors––if you let them.
    • For every item in your household, ensure that it is serving a useful or beautiful function. Clear out the junk that is just taking up space and giving you more things to worry about.
    • If your motto is "he who dies with the most toys wins", then use the Amish approach to having less to change your hoarding ways. Simplify and exist simply, discovering the greater depths in the company of others as well as allowing more time for self-reflection. Adopt the mantra that less is more––in your home and your life generally, you'll find that this will help you to live with greater clarity and happiness.
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    Increase the opportunities for more peacefulness in your life. The ultimate goal in the Amish culture is to be a peaceful, hardworking community. Although it may be difficult to find peace in a world with 24/7 news coverage, electronic gadgets at every turn and over crowding, you can take a few steps to help yourself find your own peaceful space.
    • Turn off the electronics. Spend the evening without having the television blaring or sitting in front of the computer and consider either meditating or curling up with a good book.
    • Reject violence. The Amish are forbidden from partaking in violence of any form. From turning off the television during violent shows to walking away from a situation that may become too heated if you keep pressing your point, you can adopt the same principle.
    • Practice techniques that encourage peace. Try meditation or yoga to set your body and mind at ease and open up to peace and tranquility. Learn and use non-violent communication techniques. Learn mediation or negotiation skills that help to keep the lid on frayed tempers.
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    Marry for life. Although in the Amish culture the roles of the man and wife are more traditional, you can still implement some principles to a modern day relationship. In particular, view your marriage as a partnership that requires both of you to work hard toward maintaining the love and persevering through hard patches in which you may be tempted to call it quits or stray. Be prepared to stay together for the long haul and to use good communication techniques to work through your troubles together.
    • Have clearly defined roles established on terms that suit both of you. Even if you both work outside the home, sit down with your spouse and determine who will handle which area of the home in order to avoid communication breakdowns. You could also allot household responsibilities according to who enjoys them most or has the aptitude for them, rather than assuming old-fashioned gender divisions. Or rotate household responsibilities if neither of you much cares for them!
    • Take time to appreciate each other. In a fast-paced and busy modern world, couples can find it hard to take time for date night if they have a brood of children. However, just like the Amish, set down a daily time to show each other love and appreciation, whether it’s a quiet dinner at home or an evening by the fire. Always seek to eat one meal a day together, whether it's just the two of you or your family.
    • Avoid aggressive fights. While this may not work for everyone, when the Amish have a disagreement, the fighting volume is typically done at a whisper. In fact, some Amish will just not speak to the other spouse for a few days until he or she can resolve the conflict on his or her own. Before you consider trying something like this, discuss this technique with your spouse as this could possibly lead to further trouble and resentment if your spouse doesn't understand what you're doing. Alternatively, use skills of assertiveness and non-violent communication to clarify what you want and how you intend to help resolve challenges in your relationship.
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    Love unconditionally but don’t spoil your children. Many children in modern society equate parental love with receiving material items or having privileges they did not have to earn. The Amish demonstrate their love through consistency and discipline in order to shape their children to become productive members of society. Many Amish also let their teen children enjoy a period of freedom in their lives before making a final commitment to the Amish way of life––while you won't necessarily be asking your child to adopt your beliefs and/or profession, if you do want your child to be more invested in your values, give your child the freedom to explore values separately from you as he or she goes through adolescence, while reassuring yourself that the good modeling you have shown through deed and word as your child grew up will be well remembered.
    • All privileges must be earned. Instead of just giving your child a cell phone upgrade because he or she wants it, make it a privilege that must be earned. Aside from food, shelter and clothing, make all material items something your child can earn through good behavior, finishing chores or completing schoolwork. Not only will earning material items teach your child that nothing comes for free, your child will most likely be more appreciative and take better care of the item he or she had to earn.
    • Teach children to have respect for all people, including adults. Adults in particular are held in the highest regard in the Amish culture. Banish back talk and bad behavior around adults and teach your children to appreciate and give others the kind of respect he or she would hope would be delivered in return.
    • Discuss morals and values with your children. Find a lesson to teach your child each day. Whether it’s learning about how to be a better friend, or doing the right thing when someone needs help, teach your children the difference between right and wrong in order to bring more harmony and peace to their lives.
    • Show by example. Whatever you want your child to observe and learn from, ensure that you're modeling it at all times. The lessons best remembered are those done in the showing rather than the "do as I say, not as I do."
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    Practice humility. In a gregarious modern-day, “super sized” society bigger or more is considered to be better, as well as exaggerating claims about yourself around others. However, the Amish practice just the opposite. To be a more humble person, start seeing your role in the world as one of facilitating the talents and stories of others, not always just about yourself. Ultimately, remember that you are not the only one around and that you belong to a community.
    • Never gossip. Gossip is looked down upon and is actually considered to be an offense against the Amish community.
    • Don’t brag. Although you may be thrilled that your child received straight A’s on his or her report card, bragging to the neighbors about how smart your child is would be considered to be too brash and negative.
    • Avoid being “showy.” The glitz and glamour of Hollywood would be a “no no” in Amish country. Avoid calling attention to yourself by wearing “blinged” out clothing, driving expensive cars or living in huge homes.
    • Don't avoid the labor of constant questioning and self-renewal. What you know is not be all there is to be known. Realize that others can always teach you something new.
    • Practice more gratitude. It is hard to big-note yourself when you're busy noticing what's worth feeling grateful about in life, especially for the people who help and support you. Take nothing––and nobody––for granted.


  • Integrate Amish principles into your life that will work well for you and your family. If working in the garden isn’t for you, try to find other ways to appreciate and interact with nature. This article isn't about all-or-nothing approaches, you still need to adapt the principles to your life and what works best.
  • Consider the Amish principles to be a collaborative effort within your family. According to the Amish culture, the family functions as one unit so make sure you include all members of your family in your initiative.
  • You may like to read “Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life”, (2011) by Suzanne Woods Fisher. This book was aimed at helping modern families apply old fashioned, Amish principles to their busy lives and has plenty of examples for you to draw from.
  • The Amish values are all based on Christianity, therefore to be Amish, you have to be Christian. They are people who do things the old way to keep less temptations in their life. However, you are free to adopt Amish principles whatever your beliefs, as a guidance for how to live life. Just realize the distinction.
  • Take time out for walks in the park, talking together and being with family.


  • Don't ever think that life for the Amish is easy, it is different.
  • Although the Amish may use corporal punishment with their children, never hit or strike your child.
  • Avoid romanticizing Amish culture. As with any culture, theirs must be taken in context, with the realization that there may be certain undesirable elements in the Amish lifestyle as well, such as (in Old Order Amish) minimized rights for women, physical and verbal abuse used as discipline, low standards of education, etc.[3]

Things You'll Need

  • Pedometer to encourage more walking
  • Simple clothes and less accessories
  • A gratitude journal (optional but helpful)

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