Since writing my post last week about curing my addiction to “more,” I’ve continued on by dwelling on the idea of success. Gradually I’ve come to the conclusion that success is another one of those things that many of us waste much of our lives pursuing, without being fully aware of what it really means to us. Like Lily Tomlin says, “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.” With that in mind, maybe it’s time to stop striving for success at anything—anything that is—except for being the best “me” each of us can be. [Read more…]
“Living simply is not about living in poverty or self-inflicted deprivation. It’s about living an examined life where one has determined what is truly important and enough…and then just let go of all the rest.” ~Duane Elgin
While I don’t consider myself an expert or authority on minimalism or simple living, I do recognize the value of focusing on aspects of the practice. That’s right, I consider minimalism or simple living to be practices that lead to a more happy, balanced, and meaningful life. But because there are so many rewarding aspects to the practice, and so many juicy benefits to share—I’ve decided that a focus on each one as an individual “tip” would be helpful for myself—and perhaps you as well. So to start with, I wanted to come up with best benefit of them all. And I couldn’t do it! The truth is that since I started practicing a more simple approach to life—the benefits keep showing up. That’s when I decided that the primary SMART Minimalist tip is to let you know that simple living offers more benefits than you can imagine—and the only way to start experiencing them all is to just begin discovering them for yourself. [Read more…]
Like it or not, most of us are familiar with the idea that much of life is a trade-off. Like to live in the city? Then you’ll likely have to put up with noise and people. Hate exercising? Then you may gain weight and lose muscle mass. Want to live in the country? Then you might have to drive miles to find a Starbucks for your morning latte. But even if you are aware of the trade-offs you’ve made in your life on a regular basis, you may not have considered them in terms of the “opportunity costs” involved. What I’ve recently discovered is that when faced with trade-offs, calculating what are called “opportunity costs” is a great way to stay true to your values and focused on the benefits of a simple and happy life.
“We get too soon old and too late smart.” ~Pennsylvania Dutch proverb
I read many online blogs and a large portion of them are about minimalism and simple living. That’s wonderful because I believe there is richness to simple living that goes far beyond having less stuff. I also think that since I’ve been embracing it more and more, my life has become happier, less stressful and far more meaningful. But something I’ve noticed is that the vast majority of blogs about minimalism are written primarily by those in their twenties to thirties. And while I’m psyched to know that young adults are embracing the lifestyle, I also believe that maturity offers a perspective that should not be overlooked. In fact, it is often those who have lived through multiple choices and experiences that have the most to offer others. That’s why I thought a few perspectives from midlife should be included in any discussion about minimalism or simple living.
“The only thing that really matters in life are your relationships to other people.” ~ George Vaillant
Those of us into simple living or minimalism knows that identifying and eliminating any thing superficial and nonessential in life is critical. In fact, the television show “Hoarders” illustrates weekly the extreme burden that too much stuff can bring to a person’s life. But I’ve just come to realize that there is something that actually should be hoarded—and that “thing” is a friend. Actually, an abundance of research now shows that finding, keeping and appreciating friends is good for our physical and mental health, good for our occupations, good for our creativity, will add years to our life, and enrich our experience in every way possible. If we are willing to accept that as true, then understanding the science of friendship is one of the most important actions each of us can take to create a life of happiness, meaning and purpose during our time here on earth. [Read more…]
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…]
Something about Buddhism always bugged me. Of course, it wasn’t Buddhism itself, but what I heard. What stood out and bugged me was essentially the statement made by the Buddha that, “Life is suffering.” Not only did I not believe it, I thought the whole of Buddhism revolved around that negative idea. Rather than look deeper, I resisted the thought as though I could control the Universe and keep suffering away from either myself, or those I love. Flash forward about 30 years. Now I not only understand a great deal more about Buddhism, but I also agree that suffering can and does happen every day to scores of people all around the world. In fact, after a tragedy like what happened at the school in Connecticut or recently in Paris, how is it possible to think for a minute that suffering isn’t real? Of course, the lesson taught by the Buddha doesn’t stop there. Instead, the Buddha explained that freedom and peace lie in a space beyond suffering, and that liberation is available to us all. [Read more…]
For those of you who follow the ancient Mayan Calendar, the world ends on December 21, 2012. For those of you into end-time predictions of any sort, a planet named Nibiru (sometimes called Planet X), supposedly discovered by the ancient Sumerians, will pass close to the Earth and wreck havoc and devastation on us all. Theories ranging from a super massive black hole at the center of our universe, a global geomagnetic reversal, or a formula named “Timewave zero,” each holds claim to be the singularity of infinite complexity that will change the world as we know it. And let’s not forget many of the world’s religions that predicted an apocalypse for several millennium. While it may be easy to dismiss these theories as nothing more than “end-time hoopla,” is it possible there is something deeper going on? Perhaps if we take a minute to look as the reasoning behind them all, we may find a SMART perspective that offers both hope and opportunity. [Read more…]
Before we get too close to Christmas I thought it might be SMART to remind myself (and anyone else who is paying attention) to not get sucked into the holiday frenzy. You know what I mean. Ever since the beginning of September the retail outlets here in the U.S. have been pushing Santa and all things related. Just like any drug, the pushers make everything seem so harmless, tantalizing and attractive. However, the truth is what makes the season special has very little to do with stuff, and everything to do with experience. That’s why remembering why we do what we do and using our money, time and resources in the service of that which we say we support, is especially critical this time of year. [Read more…]