The words we speak to ourselves have power. They are like a seed planted in our heart, and the more we water it with good words, the stronger we grow. There is so much beauty in every day. Even when there’s rain pouring down, and the days are cold, there is always something to be grateful for. It’s often those small, simple things that give us the greatest amusement. A sparrow taking a bath, a little snail slowly making its way on the path and the Tui singing on the Kowhai tree. Yet, we live in a fast paced society that encourages to live with the want of more.
Reading the article from Womankind, it really reflects the importance of living slowly. In one excerpt it reads “Happiness has been associated with the commercial – ads telling us that we will be happier if we have lots of nice things, if we are wealthy and powerful.” It continues saying “After 40 years of studying happiness and its causes, Norberg-Hodge is convinced that true human happiness comes from being part of a small, tight-knit community […] So part of the key to happiness is to feel connected to other people and to nature.”
Observing when technology wasn’t so prevalent in our lives, the sense of focus and attention on our surroundings and environment was much more pronounced. Growing up, there was a connection with nature and being out in the grass, trees, rocks, sand and water. Lying on the deck, and watching the milky way and all the stars in the sky. The only kind of clear night you can see in the countryside. There is so much beauty around us. We miss out on a lot of things, if we draw too much of our attention and time on our screens or on superficial things.
Gratitude There is so much to be thankful for every single day. Food, water, sunshine, rain, clothes, family, shelter, books, nature, health. When we are grateful, truly grateful from our heart, we realise there is so much that we have. The lack of gratitude, ties in with the feeling of always needing to fill ourselves up with something. It can create an empty feeling. It can make us compare in ways that are detrimental, rather than helpful or beneficial. Gratitude makes us more calm, kinder and loving.
Relationships Friendships are quality over quantity. We can know a lot of people, but to have those close friends that we can wholeheartedly trust and be ourselves around are precious. The ones where we can be there for one another in times of need, lift each other up, be honest yet non-judgmental, allow one another to grow and enjoy new experiences with. Nurturing our relationships with ourselves and with others can give our lives more purpose. It connects us with one another.
Materials We live in a consumer society, and are encouraged to constantly purchase something new. There is no amount of materials in the world that can buy true happiness. We are sold a lifestyle and an image of happiness, that is said to be attainable through certain products. However, these are all temporary, instant gratifications that are not a guarantee of long-term satisfaction. Our value as a person is not dictated by the type of car we drive, or how big our house is. Many of us have more than we need.
Words The words we speak to ourselves have power, as I previously mentioned. How we talk to ourselves, is the truth we feed our heart and mind. Speaking words of love and kindness, means that you can also spread the love towards those around you. It means thinking before you speak, being wise in what you express and being considerate and empathetic of people. We can so often fill our minds with endless noise and words that serve no purpose, and lies can creep in that try to pull us down. One simple kind affirmation repeated can really be food for the soul.
Phone The moment I leave my phone at home, or make a conscious effort to not check it for a period of time, it creates a space where interruptions and distractions cannot occur. Productivity rises, and there is a more prolonged focus and flow in the task. Phones have become such a prevalent part of our lives, that virtually anywhere we are, there is bound to be a phone present. However, it’s important to minimise, moderate and maintain a balance in our use of technology in order to enjoy other activities, and be present.
Living slowly The Minimalists always share really thoughtful insights, and the article on More is Less? I love the part where they say “Owning less stuff, focusing on fewer tasks, and having less in the way has given us more time, more freedom, and more meaning in our lives. Working less allows us to contribute more, grow more, and pursue our passions much more. Having more time causes less frustration and less stress, more freedom adds less anxiety and less worry, and more meaning in our lives allows us to focus far less on life’s excess in favor of what’s truly important. So, more is less? Yes, more or less.“
Life is enjoyed when we are present and we can take a step back to soak in the moment and enjoy the scenery.
Art by Yelena Bryksenkova
We live in a consumer society that tells us that more is not enough, and that we are always constantly needing more. We need to update our technology, buy this product to be happy and wear this to fit in. There is so much clothing, technology, food and so forth that are disposed of in land fills every year. It makes me think about how much do I really need to live an abundant life? and the answer I really feel is: not a lot. Materials can give us short term satisfaction, but the true things that sustain long term peace in our lives are the people we surround ourselves with, our environment, our friends and family, positive self talk and being grateful for what we have, from the water, food, electricity to the sun, moon and stars.
Be grateful for what you have in your life. There is an endless plethora of things we can be grateful for. Most of us have everything we need in our lives to live contently. Food, water, electricity, shelter and clothing are just some of the basic things that not everyone in the world are able to have. When we practice gratitude, we place the focus on all the things in our life that we are fortunate to have, and we acknowledge it.
Buy with intention and invest in your items. Buy with the mindset that you are purchasing something you’d like to keep for a long time, rather than wear or use a few times and throw away. I do truly feel that there is only so much we can have, and that especially within the fashion industry, we are told by the media to always be buying and keeping up with more and more of the new styles and trends each season.
Live with things that have value and purpose. It’s better to have one thing that is of high quality, than several things that break easily or don’t last very long. Something that I think of is my laptop and smart phone. I’m someone who uses technology until it breaks down, because I can’t justify buying a new phone because it’s an updated version. When we use what we own to the fullest, we give it purpose and value.
Make friends with positive and kind people. This is so important to our well being and the bubble of energy we create in our life, because the people we choose to surround ourselves can be influential to a degree. It’s better to have a few genuine friends, than a crowd of people that you might not feel a deep connection with. Surround yourself with people who are beautiful inside and out.
Focus on what is important and practice gratitude. In many situations, we realise what is important. In our everyday life, we breeze through yet we are so blessed to have good health, breathe in fresh air and have family and friends that love us and who we love dearly. If you fall sick or face a tough situation, those are moments that emphasise the blessing of good health. I think one of the most important things in life are our relationships with people.
Discover your interests and implement them into your daily life. One of the things I love to do is take long walks. Doing what you love takes your focus off things that are surfaced level, and really takes you into focusing on the things that matter. Whether that may be writing, singing, exercising, gardening or cooking. In the last link below, she mentions “I feel like we waste so much money when we’re bored, unhappy or feel like we should treat ourselves…We don’t have to shop to be happy.”
This is so true, because there is often the mindset that buying will make us happy, but in the long term it simply is not the case. It’s okay to treat yourself once in a while on a chocolate or a delicious meal, but if we are always buying things that we know we won’t really use, then they lose meaning and can be a waste of money. By embracing our interests, we can save more money and time by doing those activities rather than buying.
Know that you are truly beautiful because of your heart. As we are told that this and that will make us beautiful, living an abundant life is accepting yourself for who you are and knowing that you were born into this earth for a purpose. You are beautiful not because of the clothes you wear, the makeup you apply or the shape of your body. You are wholeheartedly beautiful just the way you are, because of your kindness, compassion and light.
Articles on Consuming Less:
It was a cold Spring night and the streets were beginning to feel deserted. The air feels icy and you can’t quite feel your nose or ears. I was outside in the quiet hours of the night with my boyfriend. Ahead of us was an ambulance and we saw them assisting an old man that we regularly see. He is homeless and has a pet dog, who is one of the most loyal dogs I’ve ever seen. The dog sat still and calmly, but the dog’s face looked full of sadness. The old man had fainted from starvation and the ambulance workers looked very sad. He was awake now, and as we walked by I could feel a wave of warmth that I wanted to send his way. A feeling of comfort in the blanket-less nights that he was sure to endure. There are many things we see or hear in life that puts things into perspective. That the problems we feel are hard in our lives, can seem so incredibly small to someone else.
Be grateful for when you wake up in the morning to your soft pillows and comfortable blankets. Be grateful for the delicious meal you had for lunch as well as the banana smoothie you drank. Fill your heart with all the things you are deeply blessed to have. Then you will realise just how much wealth you have. We often think of wealth and riches in terms of money. But wealth also means having valuable belongings, a healthy well-being, eating to a satisfied stomach and the loved ones who surround you and make your life far richer and colourful. The inner world inside of you that imagines and creates. There is far more we have, if we just take the time to remember to count them.
Remember this when you feel life is hard: You are blessed to have the things in your life. You are far stronger than you know and you have the ability to make a positive difference in the world. All you have to do is believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t and most of all – don’t believe them. We are our greatest judge, but we are also capable of being the kindest souls. It’s all within us. I do not believe that anyone is born to be bad. That is something that is learned, influenced or adopted over time. When you feel it’s getting tough – don’t give up. Keep going and know that each breath we have is precious, each new day we live is a blessing.