Back in our twenties, Thom and I wanted to be millionaires. TV shows like Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? fueled the desire to amass our fortune. Then somewhere along the way someone really SMART asked Thom, “Why a millionaire?” and forced him to consider what he meant by that idea. For the first, time Thom began listing experiences and feelings that he hoped to achieve if and when he/we became millionaires. To which his friend said something like, “So it’s really the feelings and experiences you want—not the money itself?” From that moment forward, we began realizing that the labels of being rich, poor or somewhere in-between had little to do with the actual quality or experience of our lives. In fact, the things we thought most important could be realized with far less income than we ever imagined. That’s why through the years we’ve come to believe that “right-sizing” is a much better way to describe the unique and priceless lifestyle that brings you happiness, purpose and peace of mind regardless of your age. Once you have that clear picture of what brings you a happy and quality lifestyle, you can begin to figure out the second step of where money fits into your life. [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…]
I’ve been interested in sustainability, minimalism and simple living for a long time now. But one topic I’ve seen very little written about is the impact that having children has on both the practice of minimalism and the environment. Like a big elephant in the room, this enormous, but highly emotional issue is almost completely ignored on most simple living blogs. Yet when you think about it, until we are willing to talk about it and examine it from a state of awareness and conscious choice, bringing kids into the world becomes just another cultural norm that the majority unconsciously accepts out of habit and societal pressure. For that reason alone, the big question about whether or not to have children (or add to an existing family) should be on every serious young minimalist’s list of important issues to decide.
Do you consider yourself a minimalist? Do you even know what minimalism means? Lately I’ve been excited by a number of blogs and websites devoted to the topic. That interest signals a reverse in the over-consumptive tendencies and consumer lifestyle so prevalent during the last couple of decades here in the U.S. But often when I read the posts and comments on such sites, it seems that those who are involved have differing views of what minimalism is and why it can be beneficial. Perhaps before we start calling ourselves a minimalist we should describe what we mean in the first place. [Read more…]
by Kathy Gottberg
Last week Thom and I spent six days at The Esalen Institute on the Big Sur coastline of California. Esalen, as it is more commonly known, has existed for the last 50 years as a world-renowned sanctuary/retreat center perched on an eye-popping coastline in the central part of the state. Started in 1962, some of the world’s leading philosophers, educators, activists, artists and thought leaders gathered at this site to explore the boundaries of human potential and consciousness. Besides that, the facility structures itself as a model for sustainability, permaculture and organizational transformation. Its vibrant and lush 5-acre garden and farm burst with flowers, plants and vegetables that feed and sustain both the visitors and staff. Besides offering stunning landscapes for rest and rejuvenation, Esalen also features a fresh water creek, roaring ocean-side cliffs, and natural hot mineral spring baths. Clearly, something for every seeker exists at Esalen. Thom and I came to see for ourselves—and to take a workshop called, “Experiencing the Esalen Farm and Garden.” [Read more…]
Most of us are familiar with the pain of heartburn. And if you check you’ll find that news sources say close to 40% of all Americans suffer from it at least once a month. But what about cash-burn? Chances are the same numbers of Americans suffer from this common affliction as well. But what is cash-burn and how does it happen? Even more important—what’s the cure? [Read more…]
Happy SMART Day Everyone!
Quite by accident, Thom and I started watching a show on TV call “Restaurant Impossible” on the Food Network. In the show, a failing and desperate restaurant owner somewhere in the country contacts Chef Robert Irvine. Chef Irvine flies in with a designer, a contractor, ten thousand dollars and two days to totally transform these dismal eateries and provide the last hope for these owners to remain in business. It’s fun to watch the transformation of the interiors—but even more fascinating to watch the transformation of the proprietors. In just about every case the owners have gone years without any income and are deeply in debt, while their restaurant and its business deteriorates around them. It’s hard to imagine why they didn’t do something about it or at least they cut their losses long before they hit bottom. But are they unusual? Probably not. Maybe “Budget Impossible” happens to all of us if we wear blinders when it comes to our finances or our lives. [Read more…]
Happy SMART Day Everyone!
After I completed my first article about why people continue to try to buy happiness—even when knowing it won’t work—I realized there was plenty more to say. As I mentioned in the part one post, author James Roberts says that most of us have “short-term amnesia as consumers and could use a lot more self-control.” What he avoided saying was that many of us have what could be considered an all-out addiction to spending. Is that why we continue to spend even though it is but a short-term high? What does such an addiction look like? And if people are addicted to consumption, what can be done about it?
Just over three years ago, Thom and I bought a new home in the “village area” of La Quinta, CA. We called it an experiment because we weren’t sure if we could live in a house that was nearly a 1,000 sq. feet less than the one we had before. Never mind that the new house had 1,400 square feet with three bedrooms, two bathrooms and was plenty large enough based on comparables around the world. But with huge changes happening in the economy, and our personal growing awareness in the “green” movement, Thom and I felt it was time to discover if the American obsession with size was just a habit we’d adopted or a true necessity. What we’ve come to know during the last two years is that smaller is plenty big enough, especially when it fits perfectly within your needs. [Read more…]
Happy SMART Day Everyone! Today is a great day to talk about the “R” in SMART Living—even if I am temporarily skipping a couple of letters to do it. That’s because the R stands for “Responsible” and one way of being responsible is being “response-able.” That’s right folks, although there are a couple of ways we believe that SMART Living asks us to be responsible…when it comes down to it, unless we are consistently able to respond in a way that creates peace and happiness we will always be susceptible to circumstances, events and other people. Once we take full responsibility for our actions, and yeah it isn’t always easy, then we can decide how we will proceed.