Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Developing the capacity to enjoy less

I read a blog post today that got me thinking:  littleecofootprints started a very interesting discussion about enjoying what we have, living with less, and living simply.   I love the quote she started with, I cannot find absolute proof that Socrates wrote it, but whoever did write it has encapsulated the way I would like to live my life.
"The secret of happiness, you see,
 is not found in seeking more,
but in developing the capacity to enjoy less."
Socrates wrote this 2500 years ago.

Wow!  how come we still have not got it?
One of my neighbors made me this little chime/hanging made with scallop shells.  Its little tinkle is very calming, reminding me to stop and smell the roses - Oh wait! I don't have roses :).
I know that this weekend with the grandkids, when I asked them on the way home what they had enjoyed the most, it was planting seeds.  We had talked about it for weeks.  There was a lot of anticipation, and I made a point to do the whole process slowly, to enjoy the ride, to not hurry over decorating the labels, to slowly plant each packet, picking out the seeds from their little hands, seed by seed.  Slooowing down.
My peace lily is starting to flower, it has taken a lot of patience, but now it seems happy in its chosen location. Peaceful.  Slow. Content.

We went to an open house for Sustainability day on Sunday, and the thing that struck me the most was the amount of literature available for more things we could buy to make our lives more sustainable. The definition for Sustainable in the American Heritage dictionary is: Capable of being continued with minimal long term effect on the environment. We cant afford solar panels at the moment so in the meantime we can use as little power as we can.  Here in Australia we get a graph that shows our electrical use-age over time, and we are very proud to be way down at the bottom compared to other households.


Every day I am going to make a point to concentrate on enjoying something I have.  I want to tread lightly on this earth, and leave it a better place for my presence.

PS:  I just read this wonderful post and accompanying magazine -   soil to supper -    pleased to know I am not the only one thinking along these lines!

21 comments:

  1. I agree so much with Socrates. I'm loving living with less. It is so much more rewarding enjoying the things we do have rather than hungering after more and spending more time and energy collecting more. Which of course leads to little or no time to enjoy the more we do get. Just a vicious cycle of more to get more. Slowing down has been the best thing that ever happened to us.

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  2. This is something I think about a lot lately. You are so right.
    With John's illness and me struggling to keep everything going while working long hours I know we would both be happier with much less income and possessions and more time for what we enjoy. We've been making small changes to live sustainably for quite some time but I think big changes may be needed soon.

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    Replies
    1. Roz,
      An illness often makes one step back and assess the priorities we have in life. I have been thinking about you both and pray things start to go a bit smoother from now on.

      Delete
  3. I've never been one for a 'fast paced' lifestyle but living where I do and how I do is exactly where and how I want to be. It's not the life for everyone but it is right for me so I am very much happy with what I have without a desire for new gadgets and clothes etc. I think I am a salespersons/ marketers worst nightmare.
    Though I'd like to get some solar panels too. We have solar hot water and plenty of sunshine to spare. perhaps it is something I should make a priority.

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    Replies
    1. Tracy,
      Lucky you - I am always tempted by bright and shiny new things :) Hopefully the prices will come down to make it more affordable, we need to be making use of the sunshine we have.

      Delete
  4. What a lovely post...words to live by. Socrates was a very wise man.
    I've never been one to hanker after all the newest gadgets and styles, and I seem to be happier than most, because I'm contented with what I already have. I also care my stuff and thus they look as new as the day they were purchased.
    I am a minimalist. I really don't like clutter and the concept of amassing lots and lots of stuff turns me off. I could never be a Hoarder.
    I guess we who are treading softly on this earth are making up for all the others who just throw their weight around using up as many resources as they can without sparing a thought for their actions and its effects..

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    Replies
    1. Virginia,
      I dont like clutter either, but somehow things do accumulate around me!

      Delete
  5. Great thought provoking post!

    I have reached a point in my life where I want to have less and less. But the thought of achieving this is somewhat overwhelming. I have collected too much stuff.

    I enjoy a slow and gentle life, although sometimes it does speed up a bit, but I am quick to remind myself to slow back down. I am always thankful for the little things.

    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tania,
      Just the other day I got rid of a bunch of fabric and within weeks I thought of a project that would have been perfect for some of it. I think that is always the fear that we will get rid of something and then need it later!

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  6. You are bang on the money with "buying sustainable things"...lets try to make what we need out of what we already have instead! You would be amazed at how many incredibly clever people are out there showing us how to make what we need with items that are already here. There is a massive greenwash surrounding the production of "sustainable" items...they are still being manufactured and no matter how clean and green there are still resources being used to produce them adding to the wear and tear our poor earth is having to sustain to keep us "fed" with new toys. Do we really need a new eco t-shirt made from bamboo with a picture of a tattoo on it or can we make do with one we already have (albeit not as trendy...) or go to the thrift shop and buy something there to prevent it going into landfill...do you need a new rug? What about turning some of those old t-shirts (that aren't trendy any more ;) ) into t-shirt material and making your own rug? You will learn a new skill AND feel accomplished and satisfied to boot...THAT is where the satisfaction is in doing things for yourself and recycling/reusing and repurposing...you are not only doing your bit for the planet, but you are feeding your need to be part of it all and to have a reason. At the moment there are so many free tutorials out there for anyone to find for how to do just about everything. I even found one for how to make your own solar collectors from soft drink cans... there are tutorials for how to make rocket stoves and how to build eco houses out of cob and for just about everything a person could want and most of them cost peanuts and only involve some available resources and a lot of your own effort. Isn't living as sustainably as you can wonderfully rewarding? :) As middle aged penniless student hippies Steve and I don't have a lot of cash to splash around but we live well within our means and we lead a very comfortable happy life with "less". I am NEVER bored and there is always something to do out there to make our home a better, more sustainable place to live. We can't afford solar panels or a massibe big water tank (like I lust after) BUT we can save up what we can towards what we need by being incredibly careful with how we live. The best part about the new movement towards slow living and living with less is that everyone can do it and that is what forms an active and vital community, when everyone has a place and all of the community is important.

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    Replies
    1. Serendipity,
      Solar collectors from soft drink cans? wow! I agree though, we are lucky to have all this information at our fingertips, but sometimes I feel a bit of information overload and have to step back a little.

      Delete
  7. I enjoyed the quote, so true.

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  8. Sustainable living is a wonderful concept to have. Though I'm moving to a bigger house and with a bigger garden right smack in the city, I'm determined to practice minimalism. No more unnecessary new stuff, just making do with what we already have.

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    Replies
    1. Stiletto,
      Oh - I look forard to seeing what you do in your new garden - all in a sustainable way of course!

      Delete
  9. A friend shared a similar quote with us before. It is not about getting what you want but wanting what you have. It is really not about living with less. The real key is finding contentment with whatever blessing were shared with you. We concentrate on relationships and well-being so much more than material things. Time well spent with grandchildren, bonding, making memories. So much more important in the greater scheme of things isn't it?

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    Replies
    1. Bom,
      Oh so true! That word contentment is key to everything isnt it?

      Delete
    2. Contentment is more positive than "living with less". The former sounds more blessed while the latter sounds more sacrificial. Really, once you find contentment, every additional thing, whether big or small, is a blessing and you view it as a bonus. You become more thankful and I think it just opens you up to so much more.

      Delete
  10. Lovely and thought provoking post Gill. I love the shell chime.

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    Replies
    1. Sami,
      Thanks yes I am lucky to have neighbours that show up with gifts :) It is a bit light, so I am thinking of adding something a bit heavier at the bottom of each string to weight it down a bit.

      Delete

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