Think Outside the Box

We spend 90% of our time in a series of temperature controlled boxes… from our homes, to our cars, to our cubicles, to our gyms, to our big box retailers and then back to our homes to eat convenience food from a box.

Let’s break this pattern! Here are simple tips for a greener, cheaper, healthier lifestyle.

– Try to spend more time on leisure activities outside the house. Except in hazardous weather, temperature swings are very important for a healthy metabolism.

– Try commuting by foot or bike or literally try to ‘run’ your errands.

– Try to get your boss to embrace occasional mobile work. With the right coordination, you can be very productive working on your porch, at a park or a coffee shop. I have even worked at the beach!

–  Work out in nature instead of a gym. You will get far more benefit both physically and mentally. Better yet, if you commute by foot or bike, and spend more time outside you might not need a gym! Just remember to acclimate to temperature swings properly.

– Eat more whole, one ingredient foods. Farmers markets, bulk bins and grocery store perimeters are great ways to avoid packaged foods!

How about you? Do you spend too much time in a box?

What Will You Do Today?

If you haven’t ever watched “Six Feet Under”, I will give a brief intro. It is a drama about a family who runs a funeral home after the father, Nathaniel Fisher, dies. Nathaniel, however, still ‘comes back’ regularly in the episodes to talk to the kids as a spirit. Here is a great excerpt from Season 4, Episode 12:

Nathaniel Fisher: You hang on to your pain like it means something. Like it’s worth something. Well, let me tell you – it’s not worth shit. Let it go! Infinite possibilities, and all he can do is whine.
David Fisher: Well, what am I supposed to do?
Nathaniel Fisher: What do you think? You can do anything, you lucky bastard – you’re alive! What’s a little pain compared to that?
David Fisher: It can’t be that simple.
Nathaniel Fisher: What if it is?

When I started living simply, I realized that I truly can do whatever I want. I am grateful and lucky to my health. I try to count my blessings every day, not count my stuff.

We can all do little things everyday that make us feel good. It doesn’t require spending money or even going out of our way… give up a seat, pick up trash, smile at others.

Maybe it really is that simple.

What about you? What will you do today?

Flooding Victim: “God said, You have too much stuff”

Below is an excerpt from this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/29/us/texas-storm-floods-clean-up-even-as-rain-still-falls.html?partner=msft_msn&_r=0

“I guess it’s just a sign that it’s time for a change in my life,” said Ms. Sweat, the publisher of a monthly community magazine, The Canyon Lake Views. “God said, ‘You have too much stuff.’ ”

I was a bit taken aback by this statement when my husband first read it to me. If taken literally, I infer that this woman thinks that: (1) God causes intentional harm to make a “statement” and (2) anyone with too much stuff (how is that defined anyway?) is something of a sinner.

However, like many things we say, I doubt this victim’s statement was meant to be taken literally, especially with the preface of: “it’s just a sign that it’s time for a change in my life”.

My interpretation is that she is just feeling that she wants to have more meaning and purpose in her life, besides just accumulating stuff, which unfortunately, is an escalating problem from an environmental, social and financial standpoint.

I once watched TV footage from the aftermath of the tornado and one victim couldn’t stop talking about how upset he was that his stuff was not salvageable, even though others lost their own lives or family members.

So, even though this statement will probably cause her backlash and will likely insult some people, it is still very encouraging to see that, in a disaster, instead of mourning lost ‘stuff’, people are valuing their lives and building community support.

Heartfelt thoughts to those who didn’t survive. :(

Simple Is the New Green

It has been awhile, but I read a couple of books by two different Journalists: Thomas Friedman, “Hot, Flat and Crowded” and Bill McKibben, “Eaarth”.

NOTE: These are not exact quotes, just what I remember.

Thomas Friedman says something to this effect: It would be great if we had smart grids with solar power and wind energy. And we had smart houses on those grids with smart appliances in those houses. Then, when you are doing laundry and you put your clothes in the dryer, it turns on when it senses there is free, clean energy, because the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.

Bill McKibben then responds with something like this: Well, if the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, why wouldn’t you hang your clothes out to dry?

While I recommend both books as excellent reads, Bill McKibben won the debate in my eyes. True “green” is to reduce first, whenever possible… change mindsets, change behaviors… then substitute with alternatives.

Green consumption is still consumption that comes with many tradeoffs and green technology still provides too much comfort, promoting a rise in obesity, urban sprawl and too much time spent managing, organizing, cleaning and paying for our green products.

Everyone’s lifestyle is different and there is no ‘one size fits all’, but small, continuous changes toward a reduction in consumption, by the mass population, will go much faster and farther than waiting for policy changes and technological advances.

Furthermore, reducing consumption and getting out of our comfort zone doesn’t mean that we are depriving ourselves. The terms “minimalism” and “simplicity” are on the rise because people are finding that simple living is the opposite of deprivation… it can drastically improve health, wealth and happiness.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Plus, when you consume less and consume mindfully, you can spend more money on quality products that are long lasting and that provide real value to your life and your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Now that is sustainable.

What are your thoughts? Who do you think won the debate?

Enough

Here is a great story found on the internet:

At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut tells his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.

Heller said, “Yes, but I have something he will never have: Enough.”

This is so telling of our modern society. We are just driven to accumulate well past what satisfies our basic human needs, both physically and mentally.

In the documentary, “I AM”, Thom Hartmann talks about this also. He says that our consumer economy is based on a truth and a lie. The truth is that if you are alone in the woods, hungry, naked and cold and it is raining, you are unhappy. We can all agree on that. Then, you find someone in a cabin who let’s you come in, gives you warm clothes, a blanket and a bowl of soup while you sit by the fire. We can all agree that we go from “unhappy” to “happy”, in an instant, with very little stuff, but it’s the stuff that matters. So, the lie then, is that if that much stuff will make me that much happier, then 10 times as much stuff will make me 10 times happier, or 100 times as much stuff will make me 100 times happier… you get the point.

But that is not what the statistics show. The statistics show that once our basic physical and emotional needs are met, then more money and more ‘stuff’ doesn’t necessarily correlate with more happiness. Many people have experienced this first hand, where too much stuff makes a person less happy. For most people, spending time cleaning, maintaining and organizing their stuff, doesn’t provide the same satisfaction as spending time with friends & family, reading a book, taking a walk or doing something creative. Especially when they are maintaining stuff that doesn’t provide real value to their lives.

It is also very saddening that many people in the world really don’t have enough… Not enough clean drinking water, or food or a safe place to live… and then many of us have more than enough… even us hard core minimalists!

Once people start downsizing and purging, many will actually notice a huge increase in happiness, as well as their bank balance! People all over the internet are talking about selling their cars, getting rid of cable and moving to small spaces. And there are many other versions of enough as we are all in different circumstances.

There is a growing awareness that with a simple life people are free to pursue passion and purpose. This is true prosperity.

Maybe wealth can be redefined as a person having everything they need to thrive and bring value to their life and then stop wanting more. In other words, they have “ENOUGH”.

How about you? Do you feel you have enough? Or maybe too much?

What DO the Joneses have?

It is very easy to look at our neighbors and see things that we don’t have.

Young children are especially susceptible to the idea of “It’s not fair that they have more.”

I once read a comment that the only time we should look to see what our neighbors have is to make sure that they have enough…

Enough food.

Enough warmth.

Enough love.

Tis the Season for Fast Food… Seriously!

Well, it depends on your definition of fast food.

This post isn’t about food that comes in Styrofoam containers from a drive through window. Even though I have done that more times than I like to admit.

It is also not about ‘healthy’ convenience food such as organic, non-GMO, dye free, made-in-a-lab mac ‘n cheese that can sit on a shelf for years, but only takes 3 minutes to cook… Although it is fun to eat on a rare occasion as a cheat food, setting the claims of health food aside.

I’m talking about the original fast food… good ole fruits and veggies. Granted, they take awhile to grow… hence the Slow Food Movement. But Big Ag, CAFO meats and lab made food takes awhile also… and a ton of resources.

I’m not advocating a 100% locavore diet, or any other diet for that matter. Every person has different dietary needs and most of us like to indulge from time to time. I’m just saying that this time of year is ideal to get the original fast food that is super nutritious and very tasty. Not to mention a fun day out!

It is spring time and Farmers Markets are starting to pop up everywhere.

If you can, try to walk there. Or, maybe take your reusable bags. But, most important, take your time. Talk to the purveyors. Ask questions. Revel in the community. Eat some fruits or veggies right there, or on the walk home. Bite into that cucumber, pepper or tomato. Grab a handful of berries. No cutting, dicing, cooking or cleanup needed.

Simple? Yes!

Fun? Yes!

Green? Absolutely!!!!

And folks, this is NOT the time to be frugal! Enjoy yourself. Revel in the physical and emotional wellness of Farmers Markets. We all deserve it.

Go out and support your local farmers. Our long term sustainability of the food system depends on it. Or maybe just grow your own! Your digestive system will thank you and you will be money ahead in terms of real WELL-th!

Cheers!