Voluntary Simplicity is a lifestyle designed to focus on living and veer away from material possessions by subtracting the unnecessary and adding the meaningful. The rejection of consumerism arises from the recognition that ordinary Western-style consumption habits are degrading the planet; that lives of high consumption are unethical in a world of great human need; and that the meaning of life does not and cannot consist in the consumption or accumulation of material things. Extravagance and acquisitiveness are accordingly considered an unfortunate waste of life, certainly not deserving of the social status and admiration they seem to attract today. The affirmation of simplicity arises from the recognition that very little is needed to live well – that abundance is a state of mind, not a quantity of consumer products or attainable through them.
According to this philosophy of living, personal and social progress is measured not by the conspicuous display of wealth or status, but by increases in the qualitative richness of daily living, the cultivation of relationships, and the development of social, intellectual, aesthetic, and/or spiritual potentials. As Duane Elgin has famously defined it, voluntary simplicity is ‘a manner of living that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich, … a deliberate choice to live with less in the belief that more life will be returned to us in the process’.
It should be noted that voluntary simplicity does not, however, mean living in poverty, becoming an ascetic monk, or indiscriminately renouncing all the advantages of science and technology. It does not involve regressing to a primitive state or becoming a self-righteous puritan. And it is not some escapist fad reserved for saints, hippies, or eccentric outsiders. Rather, advocates of simplicity suggest that by examining afresh our relationships with money, material possessions, the planet, ourselves and each other, ‘the simple life’ of voluntary simplicity is about discovering the freedom and contentment that comes with knowing how much consumption is truly ‘enough’.
Buy Experiences (research shows that material purchases are less satisfying than vacations or concerts);
Make it a Treat (limiting access to our favorite things will make us keep appreciating them);
Buy Time (focusing on time over money yields wiser purchases);
Pay Now, Consume Later (delayed consumption leads to increased enjoyment); and
Invest in Others (spending money on other people makes us happier than spending it on ourselves).
“One of the most common things people do with their money is get stuff,” explains Norton, an associate professor of marketing at Harvard Business School. “But we have shown…in research that stuff isn’t good for you. It doesn’t make you unhappy, but it doesn’t make you happy. But one thing that does make us happy is an experience.”
It’s not just individuals who should be thinking about investing in experiences when making purchasing choices. Policy makers should also keep this reasoning in mind for their communities. When there are plenty of parks, bike and hiking trails and other recreational opportunities available in the community, you can expect to have a happier population.
Age is a fascinating concept. When I was 17, I felt more like a 100 year old. However closer I get to a 100, more I feel like a 17 year old.
As psychologists note, chronologically, you may be 30, 40, 50, 60 or 70 years of age, based on when you were born. There is no arguing that unless you’ve embraced some new alternative way of doing math. The real question is how old do you feel – what is your psychological age?
Your psychological age is determined by you, not anyone or anything else, so you can actually feel as young as you want. You may think you should act a certain age, but that is more than likely your desire to fit into some conventional notion of how a person of your age should act. Regardless of how you feel right now, recognize that you have within you the ability to change how old you feel today.
A smile is cheer from you to me, the cost is nothing its given for free. They console the weary and gladden the sad. And can make someone happy when they are mad. Unlike blessings in which we pray its the only thing you keep when you give it away.
All communication has two parts: a sender and a receiver. The sender has a message he or she intends to transmit, and she puts it in words which, to her, best reflect what she is thinking. But many things can intervene to prevent the intended message from being received.
If the communication is verbal, tone of voice can influence interpretation. Nonverbal cues also are important. Is the sender’s posture open and friendly, or closed and cold? Is her facial expression friendly or accusatory? All of these factors influence how the same words will be received.
In addition to how the message is sent, many additional factors determine how the message is interpreted by the receiver. All new information we learn is compared with the knowledge we already have. If it confirms what we already know, we will likely receive the new information accurately, though we may pay little attention to it. If it disputes our previous assumptions or interpretation of the situation, we may distort it in our mind so that it is made to fit our world view, or we may dismiss the information as deceptive, misguided, or simply wrong.
If the message is ambiguous, the receiver is especially likely to clarify it for herself in a way which corresponds with her expectations. Our expectations, based on our life experiences, work as blinders or filters that distort what we see so that it fits our preconceived images of the world.
Below are a few tips for resolving misunderstandings and overcoming communication barriers:
1. Use ‘I’-statements
‘You-statements’ put people on the defensive and often lead to a hostile response. On the other hand, ‘I-statements’ have the opposite effect. For example, ‘I feel disappointed that you cancelled at the last minute’ rather than ‘You’ve let me down again’.
2. Clearly express how you feel
Mind-reading and assuming that others know what you want can create all sorts of problems. When you hint rather than make a clear statement, people don’t always get the message. Similarly, when you ramble on rather than state your thoughts clearly, people may not get the message. So, if there is something that you need to say it’s helpful to tell it as it is – don’t hint.
3. Do it now
If there’s an issue you need to raise or a situation that needs to be resolved, try to deal with it as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it gets, and the more tension builds up. The only exception to this rule is if you feel very angry, and you can’t trust yourself to stay calm when you talk about it. In this situation, it’s often a good idea to have a cooling off period before you raise the issue. Doing this prevents conflict and reduces the likelihood that you’ll say things you’ll regret. Take as long as you need.
4. Ask for clarification
Just as people can’t always read your mind, sometimes it is difficult to interpret what someone else is thinking or feeling. If you’re confused about the message you’re receiving, the best thing to do is check it out with the other person. Asking for clarification helps to prevent misunderstandings.
For example, a friend seems withdrawn and you suspect they are angry with you. You say: ‘You seem quiet – have I done something to upset you?’ or ‘Is everything OK?’ Checking it out with them can help bring the issue to the surface (if there is one), then you can talk about it.
On the other hand, if there is actually nothing wrong, talking about it will ease your concerns.
5. Acknowledge your discomfort in raising an issue
If you feel uncomfortable raising a particular issue, it can be helpful to let the other person know this, for example: ‘Look Sam I feel really awkward about bringing this up but…’ or ‘Alex, I need to talk to you about something and I’m feeling nervous about it. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but if I don’t say anything, I think I’ll continue to feel upset.’
By honestly referring to your discomfort, you lower the temperature, reducing the likelihood that the other person will become hostile or defensive.
6. Be aware of your body language
The way you speak – including the volume and tone of your voice, your physical gestures, and facial expressions, all have an important impact on how your message will be received. If you fold your arms in front of your chest, have a stern expression on your face or speak in an accusing tone, the other person is likely to feel defensive even before they have heard what you have to say.
On the other hand, an open posture, a calm voice, and relaxed body language helps the other person to feel at ease. This allows your message to be delivered in a non-threatening way. Here’s an acronym that might help you remember good body language:
S – face the person Squarely
O – Open Posture, no crossed arms or fidgeting
L – Lean towards the person, not too much but just enough to show interest
E – maintain Eye contact, without staring
R – be Relaxed, don’t fidget and be comfortable
7. Communicate positive feelings
Developing good relationships means being able to express positive feelings at times. We often assume that people know that we like them or appreciate what they do for us, so we don’t tell them. However, people aren’t mind-readers. If we don’t tell them they don’t always know (even if they do know, it’s still nice to hear someone say nice things every now and then!)
Communicating positive feelings towards others lets them know that we value them and helps to strengthen relationships. Warm feelings can be expressed as a whole message. For example: ‘Jo, the other day when I was upset you asked me if I was OK. It was really good to talk to you. I just wanted to say thanks – you’ve been a good friend.’
8. Over to practicing these points
Hope these tips will help all of us to resolve problems and disagreements in a reasonable and helpful way.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
You see a smile And look away. “She’s not depressed.” I hear you say. “She’s smiling, laughing, full of fun.” Believe me, I’m not the only one Who’s sad inside, But brave of face, Trying hard not to embrace The Demons lurking just within, Stretching, poking at my skin. They want to make their presence known, And make me feel quite alone, With Demons as my company. That mustn’t happen. Not to me. So full of hate, despair and bile, I’ll wear my mask And force a smile.