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April 20, 2010
tags: consumerism, home, simple life, simplicity
by Hannah


When I wrote this post on TV watching, I knew I wanted t o soon write a post, or even a series of them, devoted to simple living. It’s something that has been on my mind lately. I subscribe to a few blogs about minimalism, such as Rowdy Kittens and Mnmlist, and many others that value simple and eco-conscious living. The wisdom they deliver daily to my google reader has been very valuable and caused  me to really examine how I live and how I relate to stuff. Watching Annie Lennox’s The Story of Stuff was really a huge eye-opener for me about our consumer culture. It is sort a of difficult paradigm shift- I grew up in the nineties, when American culture was really becoming more and more obsessing with stuff. I buy and own so many unnecessary things, telling myself that they are completely necessary because my culture tells me they are, because my culture’s collective mentality is controlled by corporations that thrive on us all believing that we need more and more and more stuff.

I am trying to rethink, reevaluate, and train my mind to stop believing that I have to go to Target and get ______. I am looking at whether or not I really need the things I think I do. Before every purchase I am asking myself if I could be just as happy without it, or of I could find it secondhand or handmade, or at least made sustainably rather than mass-produced. Or if I can make it myself or re-purpose something I already have. I am going through the things I own already- the stuff that clutters the corners of my living space, and evaluating everything based on this William Morris I recently read at Simple Mom: “Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

{source: Simple Mom}

I want my life, and my son’s life, to me rich with experiences rather than things. We all know that stuff doesn’t make us happy, but do we really believe it? Do we live like we believe it?

I still have a long way to go. I still regularly convince myself that I have to have some silly thing I don’t really need. I still make impulse buys sometimes and later look at the thing wondering why I chose to spend our hard-earned money on it. But I am trying. It is a process and a journey- one that leads to a more fulfilling existence and a happier planet- definitely worth it.

Here are some related links that have really made me think lately:

On buying handmade, and quality over quantity/convenience:
(Obviously we need to buy things sometimes, but when we do we can make better choices about what. Handmade, pre-loved, fair trade and sustainable produced are all great options. Sometimes they are more expensive, but they will last longer because of that and will not contribute to unfair labor practices and earth-destroying production methods. I would rather have fewer things of higher quality and ethics than lots of junky things that will soon break and sit in a landfill!)
3 Reasons to Pay More for Your Stuff
The True Cost of Handmade

An interesting article about the cost of constantly buying new cars

On consumerism and happiness:
How to Find Happiness Without Shopping for It
Conspicuous Consumption
12 Steps to Achieving Happiness

Another great article:
Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Kids

Living simply isn’t only about what we buy or don’t buy- it’s just that for most Americans that is an excellent place to start. We would also be much happier in general if we tried living in the moment rather than constantly multi-tasking and being so busy that we forget to just live. Spend more time with people- face-to-face, more time outdoors, more time being creative and learning through experiences and good old-fashioned books. Less time in front of various types of screens, less time shopping or thinking about what we’d like to shop for.

I like this little poem, via Becoming Minimalist:

When sitting, just sit.
When eating, just eat.
When walking, just walk.
When talking, just talk.
When listening, just listen.
When looking, just look.
When touching, just touch.
When thinking, just think.
When playing, just play.
And enjoy the feeling of each moment and each day.

~from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting

I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on this sometime soon… for now I’ll leave you with one more thought- I quote I’ve liked for quite some time, and yet am only now truly realizing what it means ( I even have it on a bumper magnet on my car- how cliche it that?!):

“Live simply, that others may simply live.”

(note: I looked up who this quote was by, and there seems to be debate as to whether it was Gandhi or St. Elizabeth Seton. To me they both seem likely candidates, and I doubt either would care who got the credit.)

Dear Planet, →
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One Comment leave one →
  1. Evelyn Michaels permalink
    April 26, 2010 9:24 am

    I read your comments on a blog about my daughter’s photography (Kaelyn Michaels)
    and decided to see what the people who commented were like. I love your approach to living more simplistically and the way you portray it here with the poems. Thanks for the links to the other sites that support that mindset, too.
    E Michaels.

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