Importance of living simply, part 1
We all go through cycles in life. Our country is presently in a cycle of too much — too much debt, too much stuff — resulting in too many distractions and living an unbalanced life.
Admittedly, I fell prey to the desires of acquiring more, but at what expense? Time away from family and friends nurturing inanimate objects rather than nurturing relationships? The fact that I am awake at 2 a.m. writing this speaks to an example of how not to live simply.
Whenever we have a garage sale, I am amazed how important we felt these things were for us to spend our hard earned money on and now how we are willing to let go them for pennies.
How many of us have stuff cluttering our closets, garages or — even worse — are paying to have stuff sit stagnant in a storage unit? Ultimately, all of these things are cluttering our lives, our relationships and creating distractions.
Over the past few years, when looking at making a purchase (other than food), I have tried to ask myself first: Will this inanimate object of my desire be in a garage sale or landfill in a few years? If the answer is yes, then I try to resist the urge to acquire the item.
I now make a game of this when I am out shopping with my kids. In fact, I don't even have to ask the question of my kids. Simply saying "landfill" or "garage sale" is usually enough to thwart the purchase, if I am lucky.
I love the cleansing feeling of having a garage sale or donating items to charity. To me, it's a freeing feeling that lifts the burden from having subconsciously to keep track of things that I really never needed in the first place. It clears my mind to think about more important things in life — time to be in the present moment.
By allowing time to nurture myself, I can then ultimately allow time to nurture personal relationships and, in the bigger picture, the community. For me, at the end of the day, all I am really looking for is to have shared experiences that support family and friends, time to travel and live a healthy life. One thing feeds another. I no longer want to have to keep track of things. Arguably, I can barely keep track of myself.
The older I get, the more I really appreciate the little things in life. Tucking my kids in at night, helping folks eat better, taking time to smile and acknowledge someone in the world.
Look for a garage sale sign out front soon — it's time to purge and start living again.
Is the root of our happiness derived from things, more money and a bigger house, or is it sustained from developing long-lasting connections with people and our world? The less we want may allow us to live with less than we need.
In part 2 of this column, I will discuss the notion of a living a minimalist lifestyle.
Kevin Cotter is managing general partner at New Earth Market in Yuba City.