Tread Lightly on the Earth

Lotus  Tread Lightly on the Earth! What does this mean?

A simple explanation of treading lightly on the earth is to have a light eco footprint or to reduce/lighten your eco footprint. And an ecological footprint is a method for calculating your impact on the natural environment by assessing how much land is required to produce the resources you use in your everyday life. It is about the demand humans make on Nature and Earth to supply the lifestyle they live.

Most ‘developed’ industrial countries are consuming more than the earth can provide. Many cities and towns are struggling to maintain a reliable water supply.

To tread lightly on the earth means to respect the earth, and respect our position as caretakers of this land for future generations, but so many of us think it is our right to pillage and plunder as our shortsighted greed dictates.

If we do this to a business how long do you think it will last? What if one or all members of a household do this, how long would it last? Doing this to our Earth home, how long do you think it will last?

Aboriginal people taught themselves thousands of years ago how to live sustainably in the earth’s fragile landscape. But this is something we’ve forgotten in hundreds of years of striving to achieve more, to produce more, to build bigger and better things.
We have forgotten to walk lightly, and instead mine the earth of its natural resources, clear cut forests, pollute water ways and oceans, alter the landscape to fit our needs, pollute the air, turn the rain acidic and the ozone holed, to name but a few.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the inhabitants of earth as All things are connected.

Treading Lightly takes us on a unique journey back to living in balance and harmony with the Earth, and Life

Make a pledge to do something today!

Be an Example! Help, show, share, teach; talk to children, friends, neighbours, about treading lightly. Let them know why and what you do to create a smaller eco footprint, and share how you do it.

Recycle! Even young children can keep an eye out for items that can be recycled and they can help get those items into the recycling bins. Make it a family challenge to decrease the amount of trash your family sends to the dump. Rather than always using new materials, use recycled materials and items. Giving handmade gifts not only saves money and resources, it is special to those who receive it.   Click and go to the post on recycling. 

Get unplugged! Our world is one of electronic connectivity. Try connecting with your children, family and friends in ways that don’t involve plugging in (even wirelessly). Go for a walk, or try out a board game. You can even make getting unplugged a family challenge. Try spending a day or weekend without connecting electronically. Get resourceful and creative. It can be fun.

Buy locally! Not only will you be supporting your local economy and neighbors, you’ll use fewer resources to get your items home. In many cases, it takes more energy to transport, store and display food than the food provides. What do you think the actual cost on the environment is of a lettuce grown in a large crop of lettuce’ (mono cropping ) in soil that is heavily sprayed with herbicide and then pesticides, then when large enough harvested and transported to a shed for packing and selling, to then be transported up to thousands of kilometers in heavy vehicles to be stored and displayed in a large factory/supermarket/artificial environment to then be sold again. And then transported to its final resting place and the unused parts are then transported to a dumping ground/landfill area. Actually there are even more steps than that in the life of a commercially produced lettuce. Phew, was life really meant to be that complicated, environmentally costly and toxic?

Travel Lighter! Walk more. Start cycling. Carpool. Consolidate trips. Stay home more. Leave your car at home for shorter trips, and make the journey by foot or bike instead. There was a time when people kept fit in their daily life. Now we are lazy and wasteful in our daily life and then pay a gym to keep us fit.

Conserve water! Researchers note that as fast as the demand for clean water increases, so does water pollution. Keep water conservation in the forefront of your mind as you go about your day. Fix leaky taps and toilets, use your laundry rinsing water on the garden and keep your showers short. Only use what you need, not what you greed. When there is no more clean water left, the ability to pay for it will have little value.

Dispose of disposables! Use (multi-purpose) reusable items whenever you can. In our disposable throwaway society what we are throwing away is a Happy, Healthy future; or possibly any future at all.

Live a life of less quantity and more quality; become more sustainable and Tread Lighter on the Earth.

Live Lightly

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Simply Living Simply

ThoughtsLiving Simply reminds us that we are much more capable, and less needy and dependent than we think. Living Simply is not only about living with less but is about living a more natural and authentic life. It is about living true to what we love most and our inborn values.

Simplicity is about clearly defining the values that are most important to us, and eliminating that which doesn’t fit.

Are you happy with the amount of unnecessary ‘stuff’, consumerism, clutter, stress or waste in your life?

There is a cost to having too much unnecessary stuff in your life. Other than the hassle of finding, organizing, maintaining, and caring for it all, other costs are the lack of free time and the visual clutter that interferes with the Feng shui and harmony in the living environment and therefore life. I believe a cluttered life leads to or reflects a cluttered mind.

At the end of our life, do you think we will be wishing we had a third garage or the 109th pair of shoes or more stuff around us or more tweets, commitments or emails?

Having more in our lives or buying into the concept that more is better and better is best can mean we miss out on understanding what is of value and important. Society tries to tell us that having more in our lives should be the goal and is the answer to whatever the problem is.

We need more because we don’t feel we have enough – money, children, cars, shoes, space, entertainment. . . . .
And also even when we do have enough, we often decide that if we like something, more will be even better.

So whether we have or don’t have, the answer is to have more. But is more really adding value to and improving the quality of our lives?

I can attest to the fact that you can actually have too much of a good thing. As much as I love chocolate and can eat it like bread, too much of it does not feel good at all. Actually it can make me quite sick, temporarily and more permanently.

The saying goes more, better, best. But what is best. Someone or something is always being deemed better or best. The latest idea, technology or ideal is always changing; it’s always something else; the grass is always greener somewhere else, where there is a newer version or something else that is the latest ‘best’. The best never lasts, it’s impermanent like all of life.

“Knowledge is learning something new every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day” ~ Zen Saying

The quality of my life has improved since I have sought to intentionally live more simply and naturally. It is more personally meaningful to me, because it reflects more of who I am, what is important to me and what I believe in. I live more ‘naturally me’ rather than more ‘normally’, as everyone else does.

Real change comes with doing rather than just reading and thinking about it. So the first important decision to be made is to start and then to continue on your unique journey.

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Gratitude v’s Over Consuming

ContentmentDiscontent opens us to many unhealthy and unhelpful habits in our lives. Our culture encourages discontent through marketing/adverising, competition, education systems, hierarchy etc. Advertisers foster this sense of dissatisfaction and discontent, promising greater satisfaction with whatever it is they are marketing.

Discontent creates a feeling of insufficiency and emptiness within us that needs satisfying and filling up. Wanting more, more, more, better, different; we look to ‘stuff’ to fill us up. Over consuming resources is a result.

But it’s not the conditions of our lives that make us unhappy and discontent, but our choice of thoughts about it, our attitude and behaviors. When we are discontented and unhappy, we are focused on all that isn’t right, all that is missing, all that needs to be Better for us to experience contentment and happiness. We are predominantly focused on the seeming lacks and things that aren’t good enough or right enough in ourselves and our lives.

Gratitude is the path to contentment.

Gratitude is an Attitude. An attitude of gratitude is the best attitude to have. It has little to do with circumstances.

Gratitude is the feeling and expression of thankfulness. While being grateful, our attention is on what we already have and helps us appreciate them more. It reminds us of all the good things already in our lives, no matter how small they may at first appear. And at the same time our attention is away from the idea of things not being good enough, right enough, just not enough! or missing in ourselves and our lives.

Gratitude Turns What we Have into Enough.

Gratitude has the power to turn a negative into a positive, a problem into an opportunity, or a lack into an asset. By finding a way to be thankful for our troubles, they can become our blessings. We are reminded that every cloud has a silver lining. And that the sun never stops shining, it just hides behind the clouds for a while, so we can appreciate it even more when the cloud has moved on.

There is always something to be grateful for, even if it is only the fact that there is air to breathe. Gratitude reminds us what’s important. The simple act of saying “thank you” can help create happiness and contentment in the giver and the receiver.

Gratitude costs little and gives much. Think of all the things, experiences and people you’re thankful for, and thank them silently. The more you practice this, the more you will find to be grateful for. Practice telling yourself positive, empowering things about what you are doing and who you are. The change in how you feel and your life will amaze you!

If you find yourself unhappy and discontented with someone or something, Stop, take a slow deep breath or three, gently turn the corners of your mouth up, soften your gaze and relax. Just Breathe and Smile for awhile. When you take the time to breathe, and smile, it can change how you feel and your outlook on life. Try it and feel the difference.

Grateful People are Happier, more Content People.

Grateful people consistently report increased feelings of well-being, better health, naturally healthier lifestyles, increased optimism, and a more positive outlook on life.

And that being the case, maybe Gratitude is the only thing we really need more of.

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Become Mindful – Stop Over Consuming

Mindful-ConsumingI haven’t heard it honestly said anywhere that the secret to a joyfully meaningful life is to buy a lot of stuff and consume as many resources as possible.

But still people are tempted to mindlessly over consume, creating stress, debt, long work hours, and a lifestyle they often don’t even recognize as their own anymore? If you are one of these people, consider using mindfulness to help make some changes.

Here are some points to consider:

Have you noticed – That people who are at ease and content within themselves, have fewer needs, are more able to enjoy what they have and naturally appreciate the simpler things in life.

You don’t need to be a ‘sheeple’ – Just because your neighbors, friends and so many others are chasing a certain lifestyle and even encouraging you to do the same, doesn’t mean it is the best choice for you. You are too unique to live like everyone else and your dreams and talents are too important to be wasted.

Stop and evaluate – Stop for a minute and look at the life you have created. Have your possessions come to feel more like a burden; a liability rather than an asset? Are you time poor, and not sure any more if what you have traded your life time for is worth it? Are you happy? Are you heading towards or living the life of your dreams? Are you living your life, or is your life living you?

“Too many people spend money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t want or need, just to impress people they don’t even like much.”

Notice what you have – Learn to enjoy and appreciation what you have. Find pleasure and contentment in the often overlooked ‘smaller’ things in life. Notice what you love about yourself and your life and spend more time and energy there.

Take care of what you have – If you take good care of the things you have, you will be able to enjoy them, problem free, for longer. If you take care of your health by eating seasonal, locally grown foods, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and reduce your exposure to toxins, you are likely to enjoy good health into old age. If you maintain your car and appliances regularly they too should remain problem free for longer.

Research rather than impulse buy – Look for the best quality product you can buy for the best price available. Look into pre loved purchases where you can end up with better quality for less. And what can also often happen, is that once the impulse of instant gratification has passed, you may no longer have the same interest in the purchase. Stop and Think before you purchase – you may already have more than enough.

Count the hidden cost – Henry David Thoreau said, ”The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Too often, when we purchase an item, we only look at the purchase price. But this is rarely the full cost. We forget about the ongoing cost in dollars, time, energy, and focus (cleaning, organizing, maintaining, fixing, replacing and finally removing the item).

Try a no-shopping challenge – How often is shopping entertainment or a short term fix! Consumer spending has been exalted to a virtue in our society. But I can assure you it is anything but a virtue. Experiment with a no-shopping challenge of going 30 days without purchasing anything new that is not totally necessary.

Give more things away – You will be making others happy by sharing what you have, but also you become more comfortable with letting stuff go. Your life will feel lighter and brighter.

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Less Money, More Freedom

RidingHave you ever heard it said or written that, “Money is an illusion, who’s only value is that which we agree to.”

Other than the value we give it, it really is just coloured bits of paper and tiny metal disks.

That being said, most of us are tied to the ‘game’ of money (me included) and the financial economy, so we are bound by the rules of the game, but we don’t need to be a slave to it.

Here are some steps we can take now, that will allow us to loosen these ties and gain more freedom, balance and control in our lives.

Create a Freedom fund – or a semi-retirement fund, or a moving off-grid fund – Put the money saved into a bank account or somewhere safe and leave it alone. Forget it’s there.

Reduce Your Expenses
– Cut out the bills that are not really needed or essential.
– See where utility bills can be reduced, by being more aware of their usage.
– Make a point of only spending what you have the cash for. If you don’t have the cash for it, you probably don’t need it. If you do feel you need it, be creative and think outside the box.
– Let go of satellite or cable TV. There are many other things you can do with the time that will be even more rewarding.
– Drive less by combining errands into one trip or car sharing.

Save Money on Food – You can save money by not eating out often, and that includes those small items which add up over the course of a month ie coffee at your local coffee shop, candy bars, snacks, fast or convenience food, and drinks. Not only are they bad for your health and well-being, they cost you more money than you first think. Learn to think ahead, prepare and cook your own nutritious food.

Sell what isn’t necessary to your life now – You know, that shed out back, spare room or closet that’s full of stuff you no longer use. If you haven’t used it in six months to a year, chances are you aren’t going to use it and so it is just clutter. Even if you can only sell the item for a dollar or five, that money can add to savings or go towards something you need now. That is better than collecting dust and using up space.

Grow Your Own Food – Read up and learn how to grow your own food in pots or in your own backyard. Start small, increasing as your skills and successes increase.

DIY and BYO – From herbal remedies, safe homemade cleaning products, changing your own tap washers to cutting your family’s hair or changing the oil in the car, learning to DIY can save you more money than you expect. There are plenty of free resources (ie YouTube and the internet) to show you how to do many different things yourself. Bringing your own (BYO) wine to a restaurant or thermos of coffee and sandwiches on an outing can mean you get more for your dollar.

Trade time and Skills – Acknowledge or brush up on your existing skills or learn new skills that you’ve always wanted to learn. You can then share or trade skills with others. If your main skill is time then you can share or trade that. These are all valuable commodities.

Slow down in the Laundry – It seems so normal these days to throw clothes in the wash after one wear, whether they need it or not. And then to just put them in the dryer, rather than hanging them out. There are great freshening and sanitizing qualities in hanging clothes outside to dry in the sun and wind. Plus it saves lots of money.

The less money you need to live your life, the less you are tied to the money ‘game’.

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The Hippie Legacy

images5The counterculture, labeled “The Hippie Movement”, radically shaped the world we have today and made everyday life more colorful, diverse, open and accepting. Hippies embraced change faster than society could integrate, which caused many tensions and much conflict.

The Hippie Culture began in the 1960s as the Baby Boom Generation was maturing into their teens. Often those who became a Hippie came from ‘well off’ families, but were tired of the oppressive restrictions put on them by society and their conservative parents. They were tired of conforming and began to express themselves in radical ways. They expressed disillusionment with the growing commercialism and by a world being poisoned with chemicals and obsessed with consuming. They often even rejected wearing shoes preferring the freedom of bare feet and the connectedness to the earth this bought. Hippies didn’t care much about money and worked for the ‘establishment’ as little as possible. Instead, many of them shared what they had and lived together in groups, while others just lived naturally & frugally by choice.

Hippies sought to free themselves and find new meaning in life. In their quest for the most natural way of living they tended to reject manufactured food, clothing and products, preferring healthier, more natural alternatives. Hippies believed the dominant mainstream culture was corrupt and inherently flawed and sought to replace it with a Utopian society.

The culture of Hippies was unlike anything people had seen before. They focused their lives around the ideas of peace, love, freedom, and living life to the fullest. To heighten their experiences spiritually and physically, many hippies used hallucinogenic drugs and sex.

There can be no discussion about the Hippie movement without a mention of drugs and free sex. Drug use and illicit or ‘free sex’ were common behind closed doors prior to the Hippie Movement, the Hippies didn’t invent them, they just bought them out of hiding and secrecy, and into the open.

They lived peaceful lives and believed that living together in harmony was possible and necessary. Because of this, they strongly opposed violence, and in particular, the Vietnam War; opposing the lack of freedom to choose to go to war or not.

images4Hippies experimented with living in new ways together. The idea was to live a simple, more natural life. Not because you had to, but because you wanted to. They used candles, saved water, played music, experimented with many art forms, grew their own food and sold or shared their resources. Hippies did not want to be in a job they hated for 40 years to pay off a mortgage or to keep up appearances.

It was a time for questioning the status quo, and questioning the way our culture was being guided to go – not something that was greeted with open arms by a conforming conservative culture. They believed that the government was at the root of this and many other evils in society at the time. Due to this belief in particular, many officials and authorities felt threatened by the presence and radical ideas expressed by the Hippie culture and saw them as a danger to society as they wanted it. Many authorities felt threatened by their presence, so spent a lot of time and effort publicly discrediting them and squashing them as soon as possible. The ‘straight’ culture saw them as a freak of society, and reacted strongly to this defiance of the status quo as well.

By the 1980’s the Hippie culture was all but reduced to a few. The pull of conformity, commercialism and dependence over all seemed to have won the day.

But many aspects of the Hippie Culture were assimilated into the mainstream culture. The Hippie movement did change the way many people viewed life, even if they decided against wearing flowers in their hair, going bare foot and handing flowers out as symbols of peace. The Hippie Movement morphed into the peoples personal ‘Green Movement’, environmentalism, sustainability, nonviolence and social justice concerns.

People’s memory and experience of that time may differ, but we can’t deny the good that came from it. I for one loved it. I have fond memories of the colour, the music and free spiritedness. I loved the vibrancy and the acceptance of life as a whole. I didn’t feel the need to experiment with drugs but did enjoy the feelings of hope and the freedom to express an inner aliveness.

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A Personal Journey

Rainbow-ParrotLiving Better with Less is a personal journey, just like any other Life experience. What is important to and valued by each one of us, is unique. That’s what makes Life such a colorful tapestry. How much or how little is needed for each person to feel enough and meaningfully fulfilled, is unique.

It is all about choice. The freedom to choose one thing over another, one thought over another, is the power of our lives.

Society tries to tell us that we aren’t enough as we are, and that having more and better in our lives should be the goal and is the answer to Everything! But does it Really add value to us and our lives?

Does always wanting the latest gadget/technology really improve the quality of our lives? We have more, bigger, better, faster than we had 10, 20 or 30 years ago and we are even more dissatisfied, stressed and time poor than we ever were. There is more theft, violence and unhappiness in the world with each passing decade.

Buying into the concept that more equals better can mean we miss what we have at this moment. We’re constantly waiting for our lives to be complete with more/better, and striving for a day that can basically never come. If now is not enough, how will we ever recognize what Is enough. We only know and experience ‘not enough’. It is the continual drive for more that is the driving force rather than what we have or don’t have. We can’t enjoy today if we have labeled it inferior, lacking and not enough.

Too often in life we are focused on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. And we all know that what we focus on grows.

If we can focus on and are grateful for what we do have, then what we are grateful for grows.

Spend Less, Have More

When we spend less money on what really is unnecessary, we have more to spend in ways that are more meaningful to the uniqueness of who we are. As an example, having long showers means less to me, has less value to me than having to earn more money to pay for them. So I choose to take fewer and shorter showers and can live on less money. In my case, the money I save buys me more freedom and time to myself, but for someone else it might mean the ability to travel more, or to get closer to living freehold off-grid.

Start noticing what you need and value most and start to eliminate what doesn’t matter so much or that which feels more like a ‘have to’ or a burden.

We can recognize what is most important to us by the gratitude and appreciation we feel for it – Love. If we don’t really love something, it is not necessary to us. It needs to make us feel good, happy and excite or enliven us, or it is just clutter.
It is normal to feel fear at changes and letting go. But if something makes us feel sad, lifeless, burdened and like we ‘have to’, then that needs to be looked at first to see how necessary it really is to our happy, meaningfully fulfilled life.

Remember the words of Joseph Campbell, ” Follow your Bliss”. That’s where our purpose and passion is.

Quality rather than quantity

Less is More: More You, More Life, More Freedom, More Joy . . . it just is more meaningfully valuable to the Uniqueness of who you are.

What adds to your special, unique quality of Life and what takes away from it or buries it under a pile of clutter?

Ask yourself what is hindering you on your unique path to Living Better with Less.

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