I don’t know exactly what has led to my shifting ideas of happiness – is it because I am in my 40’s, is it a reaction to the technology soaked life I have led, is it the state of the economy or the environment? Maybe it is all of these things but, I have had a growing and persistent urge to change my life. I want to be more present in the everyday moments – step off the hamster wheel and go smell the roses – or in my case the orchids and gardenias 😉
It is not a new idea and I know I am not the only, or first, person to think it (there are a million books and blogs on the subject of voluntary simplicity) but this constant striving for the next thing – the better car or bigger house or shiny new gadget is getting old – all the people and things that clutter up my life and make it hard to breathe have got to go.
Its time to simplify…
Growing up back in Ireland in the 70’s – there were a couple shows I loved to watch. The Good Life was a sitcom about a suburban couple who decided they wanted to drop out of corporate life and live simply – the planted a garden and had pigs and chickens much to the bemused horror of their friends and neighbors who where very much still part of the cocktail party culture – it was a cute show with funny characters and the notion of doing things so differently resonated with me even then. I am no Felicity Kendall wanna be – I still want to shop for shoes – but I really would like to have chickens in the yard so I can have fresh eggs and we have long planned on buying acreage so I can have my horse with us not boarded 30 minutes away.
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin was another favorite – all about a man who can’t stand his corporate life and the rut he and his family have fallen into so fakes his own death and reinvents himself in a series of hysterical attempts to do something different and non conformist. If you like offbeat comedies with dark overtones – then you should do yourself a favor and rent it – dated but still funny.
Reinventing yourself and trying to find what truly makes you happy is an old idea – once we have enough to cover our basic needs, then humans start thinking about what fulfills them. Maslov’s hierarchy of needs is, of course, the standard here. But in our consumer driven culture we often confuse having more as being the goal – when really we need to understand the concept of enough. There comes a point of diminishing returns. Not having a thing might be a problem but having 10 of a thing likely doesn’t bring your more happiness than just having enough of a thing.
Don’t get me wrong I am not about to discard all my belongings and live in a cave on a mountain top, writing a manifesto or anything, but I have slowly come to the conclusion that I need to turn the volume down on all the chatter so I can listen to what really makes me happy and focus in on that.
So this is the beginning. I am going to declutter my life and home, I am going to unsubscribe from the spam, I am going to spring clean my friends list on Facebook, I am going to do more of what I love – sketch, ride my horse, travel with family, enjoy my friends, plant a garden, walk the dogs.
And I am going to pay more attention to the quote from a poet I had never heard of till I came across it many years ago. I turned it into a piece of calligraphy and hung on my wall as words to live by – many years ago when I was 19 years old. It has been on my wall, wherever I have been ever since, but sometimes we lose sight of important things even if (or maybe because) we see them every day.
“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”
― Nikki Giovanni
Here’s to a new beginning….