Tonight Crystal and I were having dinner with my folks when we came upon a wonderful conversation. Now I may be biased but I tend to think this happens quite often in our house. My folks have great insight and my dad is always up for challenging me mentally, academically, and socially. They have had such a hand in shaping me both by what they do and what they don’t do. They have always encouraged me to communicate and to write and because of them I find myself writing quite often. I write to expunge myself, to free myself, to enlighten others, to hopefully help others, and to constantly reevaluate (aloud, if you will) my own thoughts, beliefs, and place in my community. Tiny Revolution came out of a need; a need to connect with those who were seeking to live more simply and who were on a journey to do so. Crystal and I are on our journey via building a Tiny House. Others do it by switching to bike commuting. And yet some do it by turning to their spiritual nature. My goal with it all is to inspire change withint myself and within others to change our society; to participate in dialogue and to cultivate relationship that will allow for simpler, more authentic, and less cluttered lives!
Allow me to clarify one thing though. By writing this blog I am not giving myself permission to wag a finger or to scold or even to make anyone feel bad. We each have our own path. There are no real right or wrongs. My hope is that we can cultivate community that will effect positive change; socially, economically, spiritually, and globally.
Thus the reason I write on topics ranging from our latest progress on Tiny House to how we can vote using our dollar bills. I am a systems thinker in that I understand how things influence one another within a whole. I tend to focus more on the equifinality side as I do truly believe we all have our own paths but will eventually reach the same objective.
Today I want to zoom in on just simple living – why I find it to be an important lesson, and how it can change our lives for the better.
1. Just say “NO” (to consumptive behavior)
I have a lot of stuff. I have less stuff than I used to but despite what some may think, I do have stuff. In fact, I like stuff. I like postcards of places I’ve been. I like art created by friends and colleagues. I like a good kitchen gadget. I am just not against stuff. What I am against though is consumption for consumption sake. Oh, and I don’t like then that stuff turns from “stuff in my house” to “stuff in the landfill.” I literally preach that our dollar is a vote. Every time we plunk down a dollar we are, in essence, casting our ballot. When I buy a soda for $1 I am saying that I believe in an over-sugared, overweight, poor oral hygeinated, and over-marketed society. We must always weight convenience and cost against potential benefits and disadvantages. We need to learn to appreciate every ounce of our stuff. We should be concerned with who makes things, where they are manufactured, what the life expectancy is, etc. And instead of consuming the item and then discarding it we should care, share, and repair.
What it boils down to is do we know the true definition of “enough” within our own selves and what we need -vs- what we want. I firmly believe that once our basic needs are met, more stuff doesn’t bring us happiness. Instead it leads to a form of depression and a raised “tolerance” of consumption. We need to practice saying no and getting away from the never ending cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat. We need to find happiness and falling off the cycle will help us do so.
2. Find the key to happiness
Everyone of us has a door to our happiness. Most of us have thrown the key away though and don’t even care to look for it. Let’s stop being that person; stop being complacent. Each one of us has the capacity to make a difference in our own circumstances. Even if our days find us passing hours in a cubicle doing work that seemingly doesn’t matter. Somewhere in those tasks though is a little tiny door wherein we can walk through to make a difference and help others along the way.
If not, do something about it. It can be as minor as writing in a journal or on a blog. You can reevaluate your time off and how you spend it choosing time volunteering or time spent with friends and family as a way to combat the work doldrums. There is joy in all things; especially the little things!
3. Find your connection
Without slaying ourselves with numbers and statistics we know that the world around us is slightly imperfect. There are people suffering and hurting in all walks of life and sometime focusing so much on our personal lifestyle change can seem like meaningless drivel. But living a simple and authentic life allows us to focus more on helping others. There are real people all around us who need help. Simple living is about more than tiny homes or learning how to live without clutter. It is also about making a difference in the world around us; socially, politically, artistically, etc. Everything is connected.
4. Enjoy what you already have
I ask this, without your stuff, who are you? If you lost everything this very moment, what would you have? Would you have peace of mind? Job satisfaction? Rich relationships? Can you look in the mirror at yourself and honestly say you are happy with who is looking back? Or is change the only constant in your life and on your mind?
Perhaps it is time to strip away some layers then. Human beings by nature are complex. But so much complexity is piled on by ourselves. We add dimension where we should be transparent. We can no longer avoid coming to terms with out own interests and disinterests. We need to be happy with what we have and, by extension, who we are.
5. Turn on. Tune in. But don’t drop out.
I have yet to pick up a book whose 18-page chapters are interrupted by 14-page commercials. None of my books are brought to be my “the latest, greatest.” Because of this I am very seldom tempted by marketing genius or commercialization. When I watch TV though the graphic designer in me gets very caught up in commercials, advertising intelligence, and consumeristic lust. I like a good commercial and a seemingly perfect product as much as the next guy. But when I turn the TV off and turn on my mind to books I am far less tempted.
I am still privy to amazing stories, deep romances, swashbuckling adventures, brilliant minds, perplexing mysteries (and the occasional crossword) but without the to-and-fro I often have with myself during a commercial break.
6. Getting connected will save the world
We are a tribe, by nature. The human seeks to live in harmony with his brothers and sisters. We want to belong. We want to associate with like-minded and similarly habitual creatures. So why fight it any longer? Get connected. Certainly there will be moment of disagreement. That is so healthy though. Learning to respect others’ opinions and have them accept yours is part of the dynamic in life and such dialogues will ultimately allow us to save our own world. It is time for the conversation to start and time for us all to listen.
By connecting with each other we can overcome our differences and begin to see real change in the world around us.
6. There is peace in potential
I believe I was created in the Lord’s image. I am a Christian and while I don’t thump Bibles or even feel the need to judge others, I am unabashed in the fact that because I was created in His image I am to strive for that potential. He gave me gifts that I am called to share. Keeping them to myself is self-righteous and self-serving. So I also believe that everyone else on this Earth has similar talents and strengths. We are all called to our potential; to the use of those strengths. If we all unleash those talents and bring them to the community discussion, there is no telling how beautiful our world will become – with or without a marketing strategy!