Treading Lightly; My Thoughts on Simplifying

[Guest blog post from Kelli Caballero Doussan & Jennifer Caballero of Sprout New Roots.]

 

Treading Lightly; My Thoughts on Simplifying

 

 

 

The quieter you become, the more you hear. -Ram Dass

 

I took the picture above last Friday after work when my family decided to take a little evening ride on my mom and step-dad’s boat. Isn’t life just simply beautiful? All we need is clean food and water, shelter, sunshine, and some good love-and if you know someone with a boat-even a dingy, take advantage :) . And if not, find yourself a body of water and have a seat . Which brings me to this post. I struggle with the urge to live simpler; to appreciate the small things-which are actually the big things.

I feel like I constantly have this tendency inside of me that needs to break free from so many of my physical attachments. The idea seems like a relief, and also, natural and more meaningful.

 

Sometimes, I’ve thought, if my house burned down, would I truly miss everything in it? Would I even be able to know what was missing enough TO miss it? I bet I could wear a different shirt every day of the month-or even 2 months. And yet I still want more clothes? I realize the game in all of this, and it is definitely fun to buy new trendy things. I guess I’m just trying to take a step back and see things as they really are and gain some perspective. And why do I need so many different shirts?! And who cares?!

 

We’re constantly bombarded with commercials for new products, the most current fashion, the latest technology, cheap quick food, and more, more, and even MORE things. We’re bred to be consumers, and this idea of what life is supposed to look like is imposed on us.

 

The competition to have more possessions than others, or to have the best and latest products, or even being embarrassed when you don’t have these things is so stressful and uncool. I hate when I find myself judging someone else based on whether they have a smart phone or not, or something similar. That’s insane! Whose thoughts are these that have been put in my head? I am not that person.

 

I have been a good consumer and have bought more than my share. The thought has even crossed my mind thousands of times, “If I just buy THIS, I’d be happy and satisfied and won’t need anything else!” Talk about the feeling of an addiction…just ONE more time…. But that’s where I’ve started to question myself more and more, “Do I need or want this?”, and then I think, “If I really want this (thing) for my home, I’ll find a way to make it myself-which is more rewarding anyways” or just simply, “Nah”-realizing this was a fleeting, impulsive feeling. I can’t kid myself any more.

 

The small “fix” of satisfaction or joy that I get from buying things simply because I’m just used to buying is short-lived and then I’m back to square one-needing to fill that void again with something else.

But why?

Why do we need to accumulate so much stuff in order to move through life? Or rather, to keep us stuck… Why do I need so much, when so many can live happily with so little? This is what I’ve been working on. It has been a little journey unfolding inside of me that has gradually become something that I think is important in my life and my understanding of life. And maybe some of you feel this way too.

 

Once you have so much stuff surrounding you, your life can become cluttered. And maybe that physical clutter is blocking other real and good things from coming into your life. I believe that what you put into the universe is what you get back. So maybe by removing some of the clutter in your personal universe, you’ll be open to accepting a new experience, a new friend, or new idea. REAL things. The stuff of life. These are just my thoughts.

 

Something that has grounded me in this whenever I feel like I am needing more stuff is the exciting idea of living more minimally. I imagine that a lot of people in New York City have to do this since their spaces are so small. And that’s always seemed like a fun challenge to me.
 
Something else I think about are so many people around the world, who just live simply on this earth. They tread lightly. Every thing they own has a purpose or some special meaning-or else why would they want it? Because it’s a popular designer brand purse? No way. That sounds laughable when I think about it from the perspective of someone who is really here to live life. These thrills are cheap in the grand perspective. So maybe, if you are feeling this way too, or not, try to think of some things in your life you’re truly grateful for.
 
Some of the happiest people on this planet live in modest homes and don’t have very many possessions, and yet they want for nothing. Some of the most miserable people can be considered “rich”. It’s just about perspective. Being truly rich in life doesn’t come from owning things. It comes from being grateful for and enjoying whatever it is that you do have-whether you have a lot or a little. Stop stressing. Start living. As the saying goes, the best things in life are free. Sometimes I have to remind myself of this-and other times, well, there’s that sunset.
 


Here are some tips to help you tread more lightly:


    1. Donate clothes and things you no longer use. Goodwill. Vietnam Veterans of America. Salvation Army. Local Churches.
Your stuff will help someone else in need, and you’ll be free of it.


    2. Think about what you’re buying and where it came from and who might have participated in making it. Buy second-hand more often. Our society demands new stuff constantly and it burdens our people, animals, and planet. Just step back and think more before buying.


    Check out www.fairtradeusa.org and www.lovingeco.com for cruetly-free and fair trade brands and items. Where you put your money matters.


    3. Recycle and Reuse. Instead of buying a new, for example, headboard-you may be able to find some old shutters you can paint and mount behind your bed, or you can find a used one you can refurbish and make your own.

    4. Find garage sales and take notice what people are putting out for the trash. If you’re in New Orleans, check out www.thegreenproject.org .

And, last but not least, here are a few quotes that have inspired me in trying to simplify my life.

 

I am learning…that a man can live profoundly without masses of things.  Richard E. Byrd

 

Live simply so that others may simply live.  Mahatma Gandhi

 

Happiness only real when shared.  Into The Wild

 

See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence.  Mother Teresa

 

All real and wholesome enjoyments possible to man have been just as possible to him since first he was made of the earth.  John Ruskin

 

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.  Hans Hofmann

 

The quieter you become, the more you hear. Ram Dass




Read more about Kelli & Jennifer's journey to a plant-based diet on Sprout New Roots.

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