Choosing Less

February 9, 2010

Choosing less is a daily challenge for everyone, regardless of where we are. We all have a lot of stuff. We all have the same challenge, whether we are living in a city or on the countryside. We are living in a culture that values “More is Better”.

To be honest, I sometimes hesitate about what to do next. Why? On the one hand it is rather tempting to turn my back on everything and start all over again. I am dreaming of a simple life on a sailboat and exploring the world, traveling all over the place or residing on a tropical island, away from civilization. Not the way Tom Hanks lives in Cast Away, but rather a modest beach shack in Samoa or Tonga, like “Big Z” in Surf’s Up.

Palms line Lalomanu Beach in Western Samoa. Photo:lonelyplanetimages.com

On the other hand, it’s probably easier to follow the hurdle and give in to the world of excess. And it’s probably true that a century ago it really was easier to step away from civilization and live in the woods or in some remote location. On top of that, in our modern society, it becomes harder to say “NO!” to all these great restaurants, luxury shops, new cars, gadget hypes, second homes, etc. The need for more is winning more supporters everyday. Even in remote locations they are dreaming of our western lifestyle.

Is it really possible to choose for less and to simplify our lives?

Yes, it is possible! Although I admit I sometimes even like the excess and luxury, it is a conscientious choice to choose less. For me it’s about Living Simply and Less is More. I know we can change in different ways and that one of my goals is to Slow Down. It is also clear to me that choosing less is not about plunging into poverty. What I am really longing for is a better quality of life. Remember, eat the chocolate first πŸ™‚

I want to focus more on the fun in life, rather than on being inspired by the “More is Better” way of life. I deliberately choose simplicity and more meaning in life instead. And you know, saying “no” to some of the excess, means saying “yes” to other opportunities that have more and lasting value. Or to put it in the words of John C. Maxwell: “Learn to say ‘no’ to the good, so you can say ‘yes’ to the best”!

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We Change

January 6, 2010

“Things do not change, we change.”

– Henry David Thoreau –

What if I would invite you to a “Walden”-vacation, where you recreate Thoreau’s world famous 19th century retreat? You’d have to survive without your mobile, computer, internet, tv, car, Twitter and to make it worse also without electricity or indoor plumbing (sic!). Of course, you’d be carrying your own luggage, preferably a backpack. The planned excursions include starting a camp fire, sleeping in a tent, enjoying the beautiful scenery around you, getting closer to nature, creating friendships for life, contemplating on your life, setting up an action plan and doing nothing. Also enjoying the silence is an all-time favorite! πŸ™‚

Would you sign up? Thoreau did. And he enjoyed it. When I walked my camino to Spain, I enjoyed it too! I came a lot closer to nature those days.

Anyway, all this to tell you that Thoreau longed to simplify his life, free himself from distraction and find more meaning in life. He believed that by changing his environment, he would change something inside of him. A couple of weeks ago I changed my environment also. And it worked! More flow, more results and I started 2010 as a happy camper πŸ™‚

As you know, we sold our house and we’ll change our environment again. I am looking forward to it!

So, are you ready to simplify your life? What are your next steps to change your environment?


Living Simply

December 27, 2009

Almost every day I have a conversation with someone onΒ simplifying our lives. For most people it is very hard to understand that we do not want to continue in this “rat-race”. Of course, we still want a full life, but sometimes it is getting ridiculous. We have tried more and more of everything, only to find that life has not become easier, better or even what we hoped for. We are continuously running from one thing to another. More people, more fun, more money, on and on. We sometimes long for the day that it won’t be so busy. And who’s planning all that? Right, we are!

During these last months Tonia and I had several discussions on where our lives are going. Especially during her walk to Santiago. We came to the conclusion that we are making it too difficult for ourselves. Our lives are too complicated. There must be a simple way to change all that. Where is the Genius Shortcut here? πŸ™‚

So, it all changes now! We are committed to simplify our lives. How do we simplify the details that make up our lives? And aren’t those details important? Not anymore…We are thinking in a different kind of abundance now. We are downsizing and reorganizing our lives towards a continuous process of joy, freedom and contribution. To give you one example: with the extra money we are saving on our (new) house, we can travel more, explore more cultures and enroll for extra trainings. We are spending the same amount, but in an optimized way. Another example: some of the extra money we make on our house will be donated to a charity. Third example? While our monthly running costs are downsized, we can easily take another time-out or sabbatical when we feel like it. We no longer need months of savings to cover for us, while we are somewhere else enjoying more.

You see, we are looking at things in a different way now. We are living simply and at the same time achieving more. Less is more!

So, what could you do to simplify your life? Have you thought about that? Now would be a good time πŸ™‚