Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to be Happy with Less

I can imagine people saying "But I can't give up my _________!", whether it be TV, computer, iPod, cell phone, or anything you think you need but that no other generation before you considered a necessity. They lived without all this STUFF, so can you.

Tell me, do you really need to interrupt a meeting to tell a friend that you're in a meeting and can't talk now? Wouldn't you leave the same message by not answering your cell phone? Do you need to divert your attention from driving and use up one hand to tell someone that you're on your way? Won't you be there in a few minutes anyway?

I think we feel so tired, over-worked, emotionally drained, and fiscally poor because we're working to support all these "necessary" mechanical devices.

My parents didn't have a dishwasher. We washed dishes by hand. We didn't have remote controls. We operated things by hand. If we wanted to turn the fan on or the garage door open, we got up and did it ourselves.

But I promised to talk about how to be happy with less. I've already showed that we can do with less, if we change our mindset, and separate what we NEED from what we WANT. We NEED the dishes to be clean. We WANT a dishwasher to do the work for us, so that we can rush over to the next machine (computer, television, etc).

I propose that we get rid of some of those machines, and simply do it ourselves. If you have an electric blanket, get rid of it. Buy a regular blanket or quilt. You'll be just as warm, and these days they're so lightweight that chances are, you'll not notice the difference in weight. Or buy a pair of pajamas.

It may be hard to live with less at first. There are times when I still miss my microwave. The microwave was so fast, so convenient! Toss something in and it's done in 90 seconds!

But now I use my stove top, oven, or electric grill to cook. It takes longer, forcing me to slow down and accommodate longer cooking times. But it also seems to add flavor (especially if I let my soup/stew slowly simmer for an hour or four).

We don't need a gadget for every purpose. We don't have to cling to our fast paced life. We can choose to slow down and savor homemade meals, handmade crafts, and do-it-yourself activities, just like every previous generation.

We can leave our heartless gadgets behind and rediscover the home, the family, our humanity. Is it really so important that everything be done with mechanical precision, or to say that we did it ourselves? Anyone can buy something. But it takes time, effort, and skill to make something.

And when we do have less; fewer machines beeping and flashing as they do everything for us, when we get rid of them and do for ourselves, we find that we actually have more rather than less.

More peace, not worrying if it will break down and how are we going to fix/replace it. More pride, that we did it ourselves and it didn't cost us anything. More time, to actually enjoy the things that really matter.

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