Break Free from Consumerism and Live Simply
Whether it's money, luxury cars, or designer brands serving as status symbols, the accumulation of products and wealth as the primary goal in our consumer society has lead us astray from a culture of humanity and happiness. Imagine what life would be like if we removed ourselves from the comparisons of what others have, rid ourselves of the ideas of ownership, and worked only to provide basic necessities. This year let's look within ourselves and ask: What impacts do our consumerist habits have on our health, our relationships, and our planet. Do things and money really equal happiness? What are we sacrificing to have it all? Listed below are some simple ideas to help you break away from consumerism and live more freely.
- Find comfort in owning less. Living with fewer things will allow you to actually live more freely and with less stress.
- Avoid the middleman, chain, convenience, department stores, and brand names. Learn to make what you need, borrow or share with neighbors, and buy local. This creates community and relationships as well as a culture of art and individual expression, not to mention saves lots of money!
- Resist the urge to have the newest and shiniest electronics, toys, and apparel. Ask yourself if this is an absolute necessity or if it’s just a temporary want. You will be surprised how quickly your needless desires will fade.
- Don't compare yourself and property to those around you. Instead, find happiness in what you already have.
- Create a sharing economy. Participate in a community garden, build a neighborhood library, or form a children's clothing and toy swap as children grow out of things quickly. This saves a ton of money allowing you more time to do the things you love.
- Gift experiences instead of products. Nothing is more valuable than creating memories with the ones you love.
- Buy refurbished, longer lasting reusable products that can be easily upgraded or fixed without creating waste. Invest only in things that will last and not depreciate in value.
- Place more value in people, experiences, and nature. Without these things life is arguably not worth living.
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
Achieve Maximum Productivity
Some of of us work well under stress, but stress kills. We are all guilty of putting tasks off until that last minute. Buying a gift on the way to a party, staying up all night to finish a project by the deadline, and paying late fees on bills are all different ways that we procrastinate. This is a stress-inducing habit that is both common and hard to break. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with what is in front of us that it’s difficult to see the big picture. Sometimes it’s fear of failure or success that causes us to put things off. This year let’s overcome unproductivity in both life and work. create an environment for success, and reach your goals with these simple steps to overcome procrastination:
- Write it down. Make a to-do list with dates for completion. Set it out in a place that you will see it daily. Let this be your advertisement to yourself.
- Begin. Don’t set a date to start working on your task, let that be now!
- Stay positive. Focus on the feelings associated with completion of the task successfully instead of the feelings of failure.
- Reward yourself. Highlight each step in the process of accomplishing your goal and provide a feel good moment after each accomplishment. None is too small.
- Prepare for obstacles. Avoid behavior or actions that might hamper completion of your goals, and don’t allow mistakes to bring you down.
- Stay focused on the big picture. Imagine the benefits of completing your goal on time, and remind yourself what it is all for.
“Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not A Lot”
- Michael Pollan
Celebrate Real Food
You are what you eat. Yes, this is certainly true, but when you eat, how you eat, and why you eat are nearly just as important as what you eat. In today's society it's rare to find the time to sit down and enjoy a home cooked meal, much less grow the food yourself. The detachment that has grown between us and what we eat, eating poor quality foods, on the go, and always in a hurry affect not only our physical health, but our mental health, and our relationships. With so many crazy diets being marketed today it's difficult to know what to eat as well. Healthy eating guidelines are not one size fits all. It's important to have balance, so start by setting small goals for yourself, and build from your successes with these suggestions:
- Eat real whole foods. Stick to the outside aisles of the grocery store. Avoid processed and packaged foods; It's important to see your food as nature made it.
- Know your food. Become aware of the origins of your food. Avoid mass produced meats and veggies. Reduce your carbon footprint and gain a higher level of nutrition by eating local foods that are picked fresh or raised healthy without pesticides or antibiotics.
- We prefer organic. Organic foods are known to contain a higher level of important vitamins and polyphenols (antioxidants) than non organic food. Nitrogen in the organic soil allows for vegetables to grow at a natural rate, keeping their nutrients in balance.
- Buy fresh and shop for food often. This cuts down on food waste and helps you save money. Fresh food tastes better, and is healthier!
- Celebrate your food! Let dinner be the evening. Take the time to cook your meal and enjoy it slowly. Step away from your distractions and sit down at the table when you eat. Invite friends or neighbors over for a healthy dinner and share a bottle of wine with some laughs.
- Listen to your body. Figuring out what diet suits you best is challenging. Become aware of your body and gut after you eat. Stay away from foods that make you feel less than ideal.
- Eat often. Don't let yourself get too hungry because this can lead to overeating and bad food decisions. Keep raw nuts and fruits handy when you are on the go and need a snack.
- Drink mostly water. Avoid sugary drinks and excessive alcohol consumption. Fruit juices are not a whole food. When the fiber is taken out, the sugar is digested differently. Blended smoothies are a better option.
- Indulge! Allow yourself a cheat meal every now and then. It's important to reward yourself for being good. Try and stick to the 80/20 or 90/10 rule: eating clean and healthy most of the time, and allowing for a small splurge without the guilt.
“I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” - Albert Einstein
Spend More Time Living
It's easy to admit that most of us spend way too much time in front of screens. Over the past 20 years our society has become extremely reliant on technology. Sitting in front of a computer all day attributes to poor posture, muscular imbalances, and a decrease in metabolism. In order to live a healthy life we must be able to balance the real world with our virtual world. This new year, let's turn off the t.v.,put down our smart phones, look up and start living the real life around you! Below is some great advice on how to stay focused in the real world instead of the virtual one behind your screen.
- Keep technology out of the bedroom and bathroom. Fall asleep after a few chapters of a good book or a nice conversation with your partner. Get a better night's sleep and wake up less stressed.
- Cut back on t.v. time. Try going a week or longer without watching television. Imagine how much more productive you might be without the distraction. You might even be inspired to get rid of your cable subscription.
- Remove social media apps from your phone. Build relationships with the people that are around you. Focus on maintaining yourself instead of the image of yourself online.
- Get rid of those mindless computer and smartphone games. That time is better spent learning a new skill or going outside to enjoy nature.
- Live in the moment. Instead of constantly updating your facebook status with comments and photos, live each of life's moments when they happen, and enjoy it while it lasts.
“ Great Minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt
Find Greatness in Yourself and the Ones Around You
It’s easy to get caught up in a culture of negativity. Gossip columns, political gridlock, and violence on t.v. have the ability to taint our thought processes and poison our minds. We all hold greatness and the ability to spread that positive energy. This year is the perfect time to turn a new leaf by building up your community. Start supporting your peers with encouragement and gratitude, love and respect. Hold positivity within yourself and spread it around with these ideas:
- Open up a judgement free dialogue with your friends. Make them aware that you love them for who they are, flaws included, and that you are not there to judge them.
- Show empathy. Put someone else's shoes on, acknowledge your shortcomings, and gain the respect of your peers.
- Practice consent. Some people have different limits to displays of affection and touching. Always ask for permission before reaching out for a hug or giving a kiss. This will establish trust when first meeting.
- Listen. Invite your peers to share their feelings with you openly and avoid negative reactions.
- Show honesty and respect. Being clear with your intentions, expectations and boundaries is vital in forming a solid relationship.
- Tell someone that you are proud to be their friend. A simple show of appreciation can mean an incredible amount.
- When out in a social situation, invite others to join your group. Inclusivity is a wonderful trait that carries many possible benefits.
- Show tolerance for opposing viewpoints and beliefs; your tolerance will beget tolerance in others, leading to a more peaceful community.
- Do something selfless. You will find great satisfaction in the unintended benefits of helping your community.
- Become a leader. Bring out the goodness in others by finding it in yourself.
Be grateful for what you have, find greatness in yourself and others and share it with the world around you. We only have one life so starting this year let's devote it to simplicity, real food, productivity, real world happiness, and community. Happy New Year!