Last month Thom came across an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) with a headline that said, “Everybody Says You Should Downsize. Everybody May Be Wrong.” We both found that statement to be so incredulous that we had to reread it. And we weren’t alone in our surprise. Most of the other comments online also questioned many of the negative points offered in the article. Clearly the author herself had not downsized and it was also obvious that her focus came from an outdated definition of the concept. Naturally that got me thinking that maybe most of us approach the topic from the wrong direction to begin with. Instead of thinking of it as “down” sizing—maybe we should consider it to be “right”-sizing. And once we get the label right—it is much easier to consider the real benefits that come from living a lifestyle that is right-sized from the beginning. [Read more…]
At the end of every year I have a habit of going back and reviewing things that worked well in my life in the last 365 days. I think it’s useful to explore the actions, mindsets and understandings that have enhanced my well-being and happiness—and recognize those that didn’t, so they can be modified And because a big part of living SMART 365 is staying conscious, awake and aware—this practice might prove valuable for all of us. I’ll start by sharing a few ideas that increased the quality of my life in 2012. [Read more…]
Several months ago I had the pleasure of doing my first live interview around the subject of simple living. A website named Midway Simplicity.com made it a regular practice to talk with a number of simplicity and minimal living bloggers about his or her version of minimalism or simplicity. I was honored to be included. [Read more…]
Thom and I just returned from a vacation. Spanning 12 days, we attended a wedding, visited with family, stayed in six different hotels, drove over 1,600 miles, hiked in three national parks, and explored parts of five different states in the Southwestern United States. To accomplish this our trip was an orchestration of coordination and planning—as well as an ongoing intention of the Taoist principal of wu wei. While most people lean one way or another when taking a vacation, I believe that the best of them include a delicate dance between the two. Much like the Tao symbol of yin and yang, wu wei and planning blend the two aspects of action into a harmonious whole. In fact, including wu wei in your travel plans just might be the best way to travel on vacation-–or through life itself. [Read more…]
This morning I was surprised to see a blog post on the Internet titled something like, “It’s not easy to be a minimalist.” Then when I thought about it, most of the articles I read these days about simple living or minimalism focus on the struggle to de-clutter or reduce one’s debts—as though this new lifestyle was a chore instead of a pleasure. But at the core of how I define simple living are the opulent gifts of freedom, rest, peace, time and contentment. A great outcome from any one of those is a good night’s sleep. While seldom mentioned when listing the benefits of minimalism, I think most people overlook the fact that sleep, and sleeping well, is one of the most luxurious aspects of a richly contented life. [Read more…]
It’s been over two years since my father made his transition*. I still think of him regularly and miss him more than I actually expected. With Father’s Day (in the US) being just around the corner, he’s been on my mind more than usual. But who says you can only celebrate Father’s Day when your Dad is present and available? Besides, if the true sentiment behind Father’s Day is to honor fathers and paternal bonds, maybe the holiday is a good excuse for all of us to acknowledge the care and guidance our father provided—and to celebrate the fathers among us who take the time to nurture and encourage children in many different ways. [Read more…]
Happy SMART Day Everyone!
The World Happiness Report is hot off the presses and critics are lining up to take shots at its diversion from the GDP and the economic status quo. Commissioned for a United Nations Conference on happiness and published by The Earth Institute at Columbia University, a major focus of the report suggests the outrageous idea that seeking the well-being and happiness of individual citizens is much more important than the growth and health of that country’s economy. Using statistics from over 150 different countries and three prominent world studies, the report offers ways that governments can develop public policies to support and enhance the quality of life for its citizens, and create a more sustainable foundation for happiness for everyone. What does that mean for you and I? And why are the critics so worked up about it? [Read more…]
Happy SMART Day Everyone!
I just read a short interview by author and activist Gloria Steinem. In it, she was asked to offer three words that have guided her life. They were: Hope, Ideas and Friends. And while I think all of them are indeed valuable and important in my life as well, it made me ask myself, what three words do I feel enrich my life the most? Whether you agree with Gloria, or me, it may be worth the time for you figure out three words that bring value to your life and help make them more prevalent in your life today. [Read more…]
Over the weekend, Thom and I had dinner with a friend whose lifestyle changed dramatically in the last couple of years. Our friend, Tami* was single for most of the 30+ years we’ve known her. Then a couple of years ago she married a very wealthy man. Although Tami was always financially secure in her life, she now admitted how great it was to never have to worry about bills or finances ever again. Unfortunately, her joy was short-lived. Within five minutes, she began complaining about the high amount of taxes she and her new husband would be paying for 2011 along with the drain her new husband’s adult children were on the family. Later she grumbled about how unfair it was of the current political administration to even consider raising her tax rate. The conversation was a great reminder that it is easy to forget that our sense of well-being, comfort and peace of mind has less to do with how much money we have—and everything to do with how we think about it. In most cases, regardless of how much we actually have—we only have enough when we think we have enough. [Read more…]
This weekend Thom and I attended our first Dzogchen Buddhist Retreat. As seminar junkies, we’ve taken tons of spiritual classes and workshops of an hour or two here or there that focused on Buddhism or meditation. But this was our first official “retreat.” And while an evening and one day may not appear to be much of a retreat, it certainly served to get us out and away from our usual lives. More importantly, it pulled the focus of our attention away from our usual thoughts and concerns, and placed it instead on the experience of “mindfulness” or inner awareness and spiritual compassion. That switch of focus is a SMART thing to do every now and then, regardless of who you are or what you call it. [Read more…]