Five Steps Towards A Simple Lifestyle.....Installment One
What do you think of when I say simple living? What does that mean to you? How would you go about doing that?
To answer those questions you need to first identify why you feel you need simplification. What is it about your life that seems unmanageable? Are you working too much? Are your finances out of control? Do you not have enough time for family or relaxation? Only you can answer those questions, but once you do have an answer then you are well on your way to simplifying your life.
This whole process boils down to one important question: what is most important to you? For most of us, the answer would most likely be family and friends. Once we have established that as the Ground Zero of our lives, it then follows, logically, that anything else can be eliminated.
Oh, I can hear the screams from here! How can I live without my current job? How can I live without the house I currently own? How can I? How can I?
But the simple fact is that most of what we own and most of what we do is window dressing compared to that which is most important to us.
As we continue this series, I will be giving you simple steps that, if followed, will lead you on a path of simplicity. Some of these steps may not apply to you. There are, after all, seven billion of us roaming this planet, each with a unique life and lifestyle. That’s fine; take what you can use and leave the rest for someone else. There will be more than enough suggestions to go around.
Shall we begin? Here, then, are five steps you can take towards a simple lifestyle.
It is time to get rid of the detritus of life, all those things that are taking up space and leaving you with clutter. We all have clutter so please, don’t deny it!
Have a garage sale! What do you really need three sets of dishes for? Why do you need three televisions and rims for a ’89 Chevy that you haven’t owned for ten years? Clutter is an interesting phenomenon! In truth, 90% of what we own we do not need and yet we cling to it, as if our self-worth is tied to the knick-knacks and riding lawnmower. WHAT DO YOU NEED? That is the number one question for anyone attempting to simplify! If you don’t need it, get rid of it! Seems very simple and yet oh so difficult, and I suspect it really does have to do with self-worth. Possessions signify value in our society today. Stated like that, any rational human being would say yes, that is true and yes, I should end that game now. Still, look around your home, and decide for yourself if you aren’t playing that game right along with many others.
Skip the garage sale and donate to charity! Now we are really getting into this living simple concept. When taking this step we not only simplify our living environment, but we also help someone else who is needy. Remember, living simple also means getting back to some old-fashioned values, like love thy neighbor.
And yes, the donation is tax-deductible! J
Living Simple Is About Lifestyle Choices
- Lifestyle Choices: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
Lifestyle Choices: William D. Holland: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
Limit the Media in Your Life
Television hit the scene back in the 1950’s, and it has grown exponentially in our society. Let these statistics play with your mind for a few minutes:
· 99% of American households have a television
· There are 2.24 televisions in each household
· 66% of American families have 3 or more televisions
· The average American watches 4 hours of television per day, which computes to 2 months non-stop per year.
· During a 65 year life span, the average American spends nine full years watching television.
And that is just television! Now let’s toss in the social media like texting, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Now, there may still be people who, after reading those statistics, will say SO WHAT? What’s the big deal? Only you can answer that, but I can give you a very logical statement to think about. Every hour spent watching television, texting or tweeting is an hour that could be spent with family and friends, or finding a way to improve your life.
This author does not own a television. I haven’t owned one in six years. I am amazingly happy and contented. Do I miss it? Only when the Olympic Games are being held but not even the London Games were enough to get me to buy a tv and pay for cable.
My life has never been fuller!
I’ll tell you another thing television has done for our society: I believe it has become a leading factor in obesity. Currently 35.7% of Americans are obese and 25% of kids 19 and under are obese. When you consider the amount of time spent watching television, scanning Facebook and playing online games, is it any wonder that obesity is such a problem? Toss in some abysmal eating habits and you have a recipe for poor health for decades.
It is time for change! If you are not willing to eliminate television from your life then limit it. Allot yourself a certain number of minutes per day and then stick with it….and that is total number of minutes spent watching television, playing around on Facebook, and all the rest. You just might gain back part of those nine years you are wasting.
A Look At Television Use Statistics
Gotta love it
Cut up Your Credit Cards Now!
Quick, tell me the number one reason for using a credit card! If you said to buy something that you do not have cash for, you would be correct. We aren’t talking bank debit cards, which automatically deduct from your checking account; we are talking about credit cards which, in effect, loan you money and charge interest on that loan.
Currently, the average American has over $5,200 of debt. That includes every single living human being in the country. The average American over 18 is over $10,000 in debt, and the biggest debt-owners are those between the ages of 50-59, who owe a whopping $20,000 per person.
This is insanity of the highest order; it is consumerism run amuck and it has to stop.
To a certain extent it is understandable. With a crumbling economy and shrinking job market, people are turning to credit cards for relief. Unfortunately, that relief comes back to haunt you in the not-so-distant future. However, the state of the economy is only part of the problem. Americans have always loved their credit cards. Since the 1920’s we have been buying on credit. Buy now, pay later, is the American mantra and it is somewhat manageable as long as times are good.
Unfortunately, times are no longer good, and paying the Piper is painful if not impossible.
Conservatively speaking, 75% of buying habits are psychological. We not only buy what we need, but we also buy what we want.
Cut up your credit cards….NOW!
Write a “living Simple” Memorandum to Yourself
What do you want your living simple life to look like? Envision living simply and put it on paper. Refer to it daily! Tape it to your bathroom mirror and staple it to your forehead. This simplicity memorandum needs to be where you can see it so you can constantly remind yourself of what is important.
You see, we humans have built-in forgetters. We start out with great intentions and then life gets in the way and before you know it, we forget our goals. We all know people who have done this with New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight, eat better, stop smoking, exercise more, and on and on we go, and usually those resolutions last about a month. Why?
Because life gets in the way! Living a simple life is too important to be forgotten. Sit down now, write your memorandum, and then start living it daily. This is one goal that needs to be achieved.
Spend Time with People Who Are Important to You
You just cut out television and Facebook; might as well spend those extra four or five hours with the people you care about and love.
If you are a parent, then your children should be your number one priority! Spend time with them! Do more family activities and that doesn’t mean watching television as a family. Go for a walk; go for a picnic. Do fun activities and enjoy the time you have with each other because I guarantee you, the time we have left on this planet is dwindling as we speak.
When are you going to die? It is a valid question and one that demands an answer! When are you going to die? If you answered I don’t know, and you should have, then the next question that needs to be asked is this: if today is your last day on this Earth, then why are you wasting time on non-essential activities? Why not spend more time loving those in your life who are most important to you?
You see, here is the problem as seen by this man. We all assume we have tomorrow! We work hard, building a financial foundation for tomorrow. We spend hours out of each day taking care of superfluous stuff because there is always tomorrow when we can spend time with friends and family. We keep counting on a tomorrow that is in no way guaranteed.
Live for today! Say I love you and say it often. Set aside more time, each day, to spend with loved ones and friends. This author is acquainted with quite a few people who have changed directions and begun this process, and they are infinitely happier because of it.
- Living Simple: A Manifesto For Change
The beginning of the Living Simple series; in this article the author discusses his reasons for writing this series and the steps he has taken.
What Is the Bottom Line?
Living simple is not for everyone! I know, it seems like it should be, but truth is it is not. I know a couple who owns six cars, so it’s safe to say that living the simple life does not appeal to them. I know others who work 50 and 60 hour weeks to pay for their lifestyle, and that lifestyle is not a simple one.
However, I am guessing that there are a great many people in today’s world who want desperately to embrace a simpler lifestyle, but they just don’t know how to do it. Still others who may be approaching the end of their spending days because of debt, and living simple will become a necessity to them all too soon.
These are tough times and for 99% of us they are going to get tougher….unless….we step up to the plate and hit a homerun. We are the only ones who can do it, and it requires conscious decisions on our part. There are no pinch-hitters in this game, and we can’t call time out for a reprieve. All we can do it change our approach at the plate.
If the game of life does not change, then we need to learn how to change. For a few of us, the madness has ended. We have embraced living simple and we are now happier for it. For others, the solutions are out there. It is my hope that these suggestions will, at the very least, begin you thinking about possible changes you can make to improve your life.
I wish for all of you a simple life. Be well, be happy, and do all things with love!
P.S. My apologies to those living in America but not the United States. The statistics used are in reference to the United States only, although I suspect they apply quite well to other parts of America.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)