I was fortunate enough over the past couple weeks to gain some perspective on the philosophy of minimalism. I spent the better part of a week away, cultivating relationships with family friends. During this time, I needed to choose what I would do with my down time in the evening. I brought a couple minor things…a tablet to continue with my writing, some kitchen cotton to crochet some dishcloths-a minimal mental task that keeps my hands busy when I’m feeling tired, and my aromatherapy studies.
During the course of the week I discovered a couple things: The space I was spending time with was peaceful with minimal items in the room. It simply allowed the mind to rest. I spent more time with people, interacting instead of spending time in front of distractions. The tablet never came out until everyone was settled into their beds. It was a good exercise in being present.
A valuable lesson came out of this experience for me. I discovered that even though I hold on to the ideals and philosophies of minimalism, I am still finding that there is a lot of stuff that lives with me in my house. After returning home, I looked at my house with a refreshed minimalism lens and began going through things to donate or discard as needed. It was quite satisfying to shred fifteen year old documents, and provide a new home for clothing items that were gently used, or not used at all. In the kon marie way, these items had served their purpose at the time, and now they needed to be thanked and sent on their way.
I still have a way to go, but it is a journey. I am still ever grateful for the experience to refresh my determination to live a simple life.
Doing things for others isn’t just a selfless act. It is a selfish act also.
I’m not referring to the you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours mentality. When we do things for others out of the goodness of our hearts, we receive gifts back in the form of good karma that we get to add to our buckets. This good karma comes back to us in a multitude of ways. Perhaps it is that unexpected settlement cheque that comes in the mail after a minor accident, or the person in the drive thru ahead of you who decided to pay it forward and covered the cost of your pick-me-up mid-afternoon latte.
Beyond that, we also also experience that whole neuroscience of giving part of ourselves to others. When we help others, we also help ourselves. We experience an increase in endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in our brains. Yes, science actually backs up being a good person. When we have a surge of endorphins, our bodies actually feel healthier. So there is the selfish part of it. When we help others, we are helping ourselves too.
The best part is, that helping others is contagious. Going back to the pay it forward idea in the drive thru, where I live, this has become a bit of a thing that goes on from time to time. Maybe it is the Canadian kindness mentality, maybe not. But, when this begins, it can often continue on for a dozen people or even more. This positive energy leads to more positive actions which means more goodness in our world.
So, keep adding karma to your kindness bucket. Let it grow and overflow. Because it’s good for the world around you, and it is very good for you too.
I have enjoyed my Sunday ritual of sitting at my computer and writing my weekly blog. To those of you who follow along weekly, and for those who have popped in today or once in a while, I want to thank you for joining me.
Recently, the Canadian government released a draft of the new version of Canada’s Food Guide. I was interested to read that under the Guiding Principle 1, there has been a shift from “meat and alternatives” to “protein-rich foods – especially plant-based sources of protein”.
Now, those who know me well would tell you that while I have a predominantly plant-based diet, with the odd bit of seafood and a little cheese once in a while, I do not force my diet or opinions on anyone. I do believe that everyone is free to choose for themselves, and the same is true for my children. My older son is the same as I am in his choices. We have plant-based milk to enjoy. I like soy milk in my coffee, and he is crazy about coconut milk. Conversely, my younger son still enjoys dairy milk, and so I buy that for him to consume.
What the current draft of the dietary recommendations has done for me is reinforce what I have been doing. It will also help to bring along a shift in the thoughts of the general public. Plant-based diets are highly nutritious, providing all the essential components needed, particularly when it is a diet with a variety of different plant foods.
I know there are some people out there (my ex-husband for one) who would say that you need to eat meat in order to gain the proteins and amino acids required for a healthy body. I am not going to argue anyone’s opinion. But I do encourage people to do the research for themselves and choose the diet that meets their needs. There is no one perfect diet for every person. We are all individuals with individual needs.
For myself, and for the positive environmental impact that these changes will produce, I am quite excited to see Canada taking the bold step forward so far with these recommendations. While it is still in a draft form and there are many changes that could still take place, I am proud to see that the steps are being taken to recognize how plant-based nutrition is advisable for the majority of people. I would like to congratulate the Government of Canada for taking these steps, and I hope to see this movement expand beyond borders and move into other countries to create a global movement.
Heritage locations that showcase how life used to be lived can be a great reminder of just how far we have come. It’s also a reminder of how much simpler life used to be. People didn’t have computers, smart phones, or even robotics to help do their jobs. They used good old muscle power.
I spent the day at one of these such sites this week. I like to visit places like this alone and truly immerse myself in the sense of what it was truly like at that time. Why? Because I hope that the reminder will help me to appreciate what we have now. Also, to remind me that we don’t need everything we have in this modern life we live. It helps reinforce my minimalistic lifestyle and appreciate what I have and use daily even more.
We live a good life. We don’t plow the fields with a horse drawn plow anymore. Most of us don’t even have a need to grow our own food, so if we do, it is more of a hobby than a necessity. Imagine the wonder that our ancestors would have had if they were told that growing food would become a hobby!
We are beyond fortunate. We are spoiled with having immediate gratification. Taking time to remember this perspective is grounding. I am grateful for the reminder.
Everyone walks a different path. Some people have a need to be in a partnership, and others tend to go from relationship to relationship searching for whatever it is that they need. Then there are the other people who seem to do well on their own. These are interesting people. They depend on themselves and are content to be alone.
This doesn’t mean they don’t have friends or want to go out and have a good time. They just don’t have a need to be in a relationship to define themselves or feel complete. I admire this quality. And as time goes on, I feel that I fit into this group more and more. I find I need to weigh the pros and cons of relationships with being single every time someone tries to set me up, or I am asked out on a date. For the last few years, the single me continues to win.
I used to be afraid of growing old and dying alone. I don’t fear that any longer. It seems to me that once you get to know yourself truly as just you without outside influences, it becomes easier to live your life as a single person.
Will I stay single forever? I don’t have the answer to that, but I know that for now, it feels right to be alone, and that it is perfectly ok.