Miscellaneous

It may be helpful to address a few miscellaneous subjects just to introduce a few more ideas about how to continue simplifying your life.

  • Meditation / Yoga: Attaining peace of mind in a hectic world can be a great challenge. Consider taking a course on meditation or yoga. Alternatively, find fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day to just sit comfortably with your eyes closed and concentrate on your breathing. It’s good for the soul.
  • Keep a journal: It is surprising how useful, enjoyable, and enlightening it can be to keep a journal. Find some time each day to sit down and write about your day, your thoughts, your state of mind. What situations would you deal with differently if you had your time again? This exercise in self-reflection can clarify our minds and help us all live more consciously and deliberately. Have no expectations – just write. See what happens.
  • Read about the Simpler Way: Borrow a few books on voluntary simplicity or downshifting and read them. This can be very affirming.
  • Google it: If you have any questions about anything in this document, google it. There is a wealth of detailed information on the internet about the practice of living simply, but read broadly and critically (because there is lots of rubbish).
  • Christmas: The materialistic orgy that is Christmas is but an exaggerated normality for Western societies. Show some enlightened material restraint at Christmas and celebrate without consuming excessively. Give thoughtfully.
  • Exercise for free: Many of us can probably admit that we don’t do enough exercise. But being physically healthy is an important part of being psychologically healhy. There is no need, however, to spend hundreds of dollars a year subscribing to an expensive gym. Go for a short run a few times a week, and do a few press ups and star jumps. It‘s easy to exercise for free.
  • Cleaning Products: Television adverts selling cleaning products give the impression that our homes are crawling with bugs that are going to make us sick unless we buy their product. As a rule, this just isn’t so. It’s good to be clean, of course, but generally you don’t need to buy any cleaning products. A mixture of baking soda and vinegar provides a substitute for most cleaning products.
  • Raising children: Be aware that you are an example for the younger generation. Be an example of the Simpler Way and raise children according to the post-consumerist values of the Simpler Way. There is much more to life than possessions and status.
  • Give some money away: If you are reading this text, there is a good chance you are in the richest 10% of the world’s population. Try to give to charity often.
  • Other things to think about: Slow down; dream; be organised; trust thyself.

6 Comments

  1. Hi Charles, thanks for your comment. The radical nature of Trainer’s essay flows from an honest look at the overlapping social and ecological problems we face today. Stopping at the lights and not buying or receiving xmas presents ain’t going to solve any of those problems. Our planet can’t sustain one billion consumers, let alone seven billion, let alone nine or ten billion. So we need to start envisioning what a sustainable and just way of life would look like.

    If interested, I’ve outlined the “limits to growth” analysis in my paper Samuel Alexander, “The Sufficiency Economy: Envisioning a Prosperous Way Down” here and here.

  2. The second half of The Simpler Way is so way over the top, so primal, it distracts from the possibility of adaptive simplicity in a modern suburban life. Frontier farming, while still the nostalgic ideal at the turn of the last century (and in the 60′s in California), is a very hard sell at the turn of the 21st century. A more moderate and modern list might have gone a lot further toward holding attention. Like:

    Obey the traffic laws; you’ll save gas and money, for better quality food maybe, and free the cops up to catch bad guys who aren’t you.

    Or, really do just say no to Christmas present exchanges. Folks will be glad to get you off their gift list; twice the benefit!

    Or, get a motor cycle and ride it most of the times you would otherwise need a car.

    Or, don’t go to town more than once a day.

    And, have your own estate sale when your 50. Memorializing through keepsakes is second cousin to nostalgia, flirts with melancholia, at 40, and ages out as grief. When your past the halfway-mark look to the future because the past will bury you.

    And, ask if you really are so insecure that you need a cell phone. I never had one so I guess that question isn’t fair.

    Charles Huddleston
    Soquel, Ca. USA

  3. Children are so important – they are the future of this world and the ones who will live their entire lives in the simple way, inspiring others as they grow. As a single mother of 2 boys I must say that it is challenging to raise children with alternative values in such a consumeristic environment, they find it hard to understand at first why other kids have and get so much stuff. This became much easier when we stopped watching television and now we devote most of our time together to playing games, cooking, exercising and hopefully soon gardening. Even if you don’t have children, talk to and encourage the children you know. Children have a much more established sense of right and wrong and are less burdened by the demands of life – take the time to plant the seed of simplicity and watch it grow.

  4. LAW
    Let us use the law for good environmental purpose; follow Equador with rights for nature in the constitution. Let us give nature her rights. Writing from Australia, I would love to see us honour our Indigenous People by including their laws for nature/spirit in our constitution and law.

  5. “Slow down;dream” good advice. hard to do. funny I should just have read it because I was telling myself the same thing about 10 mins ago as I worried about getting all my work done – ‘Don’t rush, this is supposed to be the work I enjoy so just enjoy it!’ xx

  6. The point about Christmas could be developed, or expanded to include ‘gift’ giving more generally. It is customary to give at birthdays, xmas, celebrations, etc. But mostly we give each other stuff we don’t need, and it all adds up. My partner and I only give each other gifts we have made. (Occasionally when we actually need something, we make an exception, but we live simply and pretty much have everything we need).

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