Mindfulness And Attitude

It may seem strange to discuss ‘mindfulness and attitude’ on a website dedicated to the practice of simplicity. Isn’t this supposed to be about actually doing things differently, not just thinking differently? Yes it is, but it is very important to understand that the Simpler Way is first and foremost a frame of mind, a set of attitudes. If our minds are not in order, the Simpler Way will not make sense. Below are some important things to think about – to think seriously about – as you undertake your practical transition to a simpler life.

  • Affirm life: Everyday we are faced with a fundamental choice about how we approach life. Choose positivity. If we do not begin each day by saying ‘yes’ to life – even in the face of adverstity – then all else is lost. Attitude matters.
  • Take a second look: Dissatisfaction with our material or financial situations can sometimes be the result of failing to look properly at our lives, rather than the result of any genuine ‘lack.’ Take a second look. When we understand that genuine wealth does not depend on having the latest consumer products, we might discover that we are much richer than we sometimes think we are.
  • Do not confuse ‘standard of living’ with ‘quality of life’: There comes a point when pursuing a higher ‘standard of living,’ in terms of material wealth, adds absolutely nothing to ‘quality of life,’ in terms of overall wellbeing. Pursuing material wealth can even detract from quality of life if we aren’t careful. If you focus on ‘quality of life’ you will discover it doesn’t depend on being materially wealthy. So step out of the rat race. Seek true abundance – sustainable abundance – in the Simpler Way. ‘There is no wealth but life.’
  • Ask yourself: ‘How much is enough?’ Consumer society is defined by the ethos that ‘more is always better.’ The Simpler Way is defined by the ethos that ‘Just enough is plenty.’ As Henry Thoreau once wrote: ‘Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only.’ Don’t waste life on superfluities. Know how much is enough.   
  • Overcome status anxiety: Many people today work jobs they don’t like, to buy things they don’t need, so that they can impress people they don’t like. But at the end of life these people will deeply regret spending their lives trying to impress other people. Be humble and seek to impress yourself only. Let other people worry about chasing status. This perspective is extremely liberating.
  • The ‘Deathbed’ thought-experiment: If you were lying on your deathbed, reflecting on your life, how would you want to have lived? How important will material possessions seem to you on your deathbed? You might agree that ultimately it’s not the possessions that will matter. It’s the people and the experiences. So live life for the people and the experiences, not the stuff. Privilege ‘being’ over ‘having’.
  • Be Grateful: Be grateful for what we have. Do not always demand more. Let us embrace sufficiency, moderation, and frugality. Less really can be more.
  • Live Deliberately: Escaping the mindset of consumer culture takes effort. Re-read these points slowly everyday until they take root in personal experience.

If you are interested in some more elaborate ‘thought experiments’ on the Simpler Way, please download our Meditations On Simplicity.

14 Comments

  1. Consider that: If we are all one, then does the collective unconscious include the feelings of everything from us, too Gaia, trees and factory chickens? Maybe it does and many of our fears reflect the panic and despair of the living things we treat so badly. Now ask: is our cheap food and other stuff worth the price paid in suffering?

    Then read the Japanese story: The Ten Square Foot Hut, (available on the net) and ask yourself how much you need; especially when your old.

    Remove your life from complicity in inflicting suffering and you will feel the difference; look for it, its quiet but it is there.

  2. Learning from Jesus will definitely help. The sermon on the mount in Matthew 5 – 7 would be a start.
    http://www.diigo.com/user/neuwirthk/bible

  3. I’m excited to find this page. Today, in an effort to be more mindful of my actions and to keep track of my thoughts along the way I started a blog about simpler living. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences and learning from those others share

  4. Nice one, I don’t think I’ve read an article that is so comprehensive in offering practical alternatives to a mainstream lifestyle. Reducing ones footprint, downsizing etc is only part of the equation as only doing this could create a sense of deprivation so consideration of creative quality living is essential otherwise the familiar will most likely reinstate itself.
    The fundamental question is what is life all about? If we don’t respond to this question ourselves then somebody else will answer it for us and maybe the reply doesn’t suit but whatever the response it has to be (in my view) under the canopy of of Overarching Natural Law as we come from nature and in fact are a manifestation of nature (though sometimes I wonder)
    I have been living an earth based lifestyle for at least 40 years and I feel that the experience has only just begun, it’s a bit like the layers of an onion the deeper you go the more is revealed and the mystery of life gets deeper and more enthralling

  5. Mindfullness aids Willfulness (the willingness to do what you truly intend), and Attitude leads to Altitude (your own esteem increasing as you achieve it)!

  6. I’ve found the ideas associated with Tai Chi really inspiring. Even if you don’t practise the exercises, the philosophy behind them (Tao) makes so much simple, practical sense. It emphasises living in harmony with the seasons of the year in terms of activity, nutrition and health, developing awareness of your body’s needs and understanding your own “chi” or natural energy.

  7. For me, this mindfulness started about 1985, maybe a little earlier. I am in the Baby Boom generation (born 1959.) What I felt I needed (when I came across it, luckily, but also by the design I pursued) was PERMISSION. I needed someone (even tho it wasnt my family or friends I knew in person) to tell me this was really happening, I felt support for my own ideas. From there, practical advise and tips were shared…

  8. Yes, and it is very liberating. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be catching on. I think it needs some high profile celebs to catch on as people tend to follow them for some reason.

  9. Just love this website and was wondering if anyone else has noticed how ingrained a consumer life style can become. My husband and I have downsized and simplified. After raising 4 children, followed by caring for an elderly parent, we are now free to put in place all these life style changes that we have been talking and planning about. We moved into a property less than 5 squares (and that includes the court yard), got rid of debt, I cook from scratch, make our clothes, bread, what ever and our court yard is big enough to grow all the greens we need. I even organized my own little 12volt solar energy system which enables us to (practice) living off the grid. The plan is to do a tree change once we retire. At the moment we live within walking distance to work and all I need is within a walk, ride or a tram trip. We are continually having to pinch ourselves to make sure we’re not dreaming, as this lifestyle really does bring freedom and true joy. YET, I am continually surprised at myself, thinking that I have to go out and buy something. More than once I find myself walking down isles of shops with items ready to purchase, realising that I don’t need it or that I can make or grow this myself. It seems to be a default position. Does this happen to anyone else?

  10. Try living in an Ashram for a while. I did this and saw many people dumping their synthetic cosmetics and toiletries quickly in the Ashram environment. I learnt a lot about what time of the day is best to do certain things and there is something to be said about routine.

  11. Well said, Faerie. I prefer to take stock in the evening but oh, what a difference gratitude makes. Fabulous fresh food for dinner, my loved ones are safe, beautiful white snow on the ground, flannel sheets on my comfy bed,…We are very lucky.

  12. I’ve recently started each day by actively being grateful or thankful. Try starting lying in bed (how good is it to lie in bed?!) when you first look at loved ones in the morning be thankful they are in your life, my daughter creeps into my bed in the mornings and falls back to sleep, she’s too gorgeous!

    There are so many luxuries we take for granted and when you practice thankful feelings you start to realise how luxurious life is: tap water upstairs and down? Hot showers and baths? luxury! A fridge full of food? A radio with music all day and night? Internet? luxury! How lucky we are! xx

  13. Probably worth noting that all the world’s religions and spiritual traditions have recognised the importance of simple living. Must be something important here that is relevant to the human condition.

  14. Gardening is good for the soul.

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