My husband and I always notice how most dog owners are friendly, outgoing people. It is quite unusual (at least in our part of the country) to see anyone walking a dog who doesn’t have pleasant demeanor and a kind word for anyone passing by.
Our theory is that dog owners:
- Are drawn to the fun loving attributes of dogs because they exhibit those traits themselves.
- Are less stressed because dogs provide stress relief in their lives by way of closeness and silliness.
The same goes for minimalists.
Well, not exactly…..but sort of.
Minimalist are also friendly, outgoing people. And it is also for similar reasons to dog lovers. In fact, minimalist often ARE dog lovers.
Stay with me here…..I’m going somewhere with this……I promise.
You see, being a minimalist allows you to strip away all the things in your life that are not important. And believe me, there are lots more unimportant things in our lives than most of us realize.
When you get rid of the things that are not important and only the good things remain, then you will become a more relaxed, happier person. Your joy will begin to overflow. Then the most amazing thing will happen. You will suddenly be super nice to everyone around you…..even complete strangers!
So you really shouldn’t ask why you must be kind to be a minimalist, but rather, how can you be a minimalist and not be kind?
As for dogs, as a semi minimalist (I’m still working on it) I find that a dog (or in my case 2) are essential to my happiness. When I strip everything away, my fur babies are on my top ten list of things that make me happy. They are a part of our family, and they bring joy to everyone in our home. (It’s like having two more kids that you don’t have to start college funds for.)
Besides, I truly believe that way deep down, even the meanest, nastiest person really wants to be kind to other people. When we take away all the clutter and see our lives clearly, then love and kindness stand above all else.
And, really, nothing else truly matters.
I’m going to warn you now. Some of you will find this sexist. It will make some of you very angry.
That’s okay. I don’t mind. Because I am angry.
You are entitled to your opinion. Just like I am entitled to mine.
Here’s a little story:
Many, many years ago, on what seemed like another planet, there lived these families that were very different from ours. The men went off to work every day and provided for the families, while the women took care of the homes and children. Everyone had clearly defined roles. The end.
Now, I think everyone can agree that the above story is completely true. It is not skewed in any way. However, some people will interpret that story as good, while some will interpret it as evil.
Why is that?
This is a story about how feminism ruined women’s lives.
Historically speaking, women have been dependent on men for security in almost every way – including physically and financially. Now, if you were married to a man who held you in high regard and treated you well, then you had it made. He listened to your opinions, took care of all your needs, and your life was quite pampered.
However, if you did not marry well, or became stuck in a bad situation, then, admittedly, things did not go well for you. And in a time when divorce was quite taboo.
But, things were about to change….
So along came the women who called for equal rights. And who can blame them? Some women were in bad situations and had no recourse for making them right.
HOWEVER, things are taken just a little too far.
Some women went to work. Then more women. Then even more. Pretty soon more women were working than those staying home.The prices of household items started going up to accommodate these new two income households. So did cars and houses. Pretty soon everything cost more.
Over time the standard of middle class living could not be sustained without both parents working. (What about those women who didn’t want to work?) This lead to generations of children being raised by day care centers (which is not natural) and latch key kids (also not natural).
By the way, notice when the youth suddenly became so rude and riddled with behavioral problems? Doesn’t take a rocket scientist the figure it out.
Divorce rates went up. (I realize women could now leave mean husbands, but it was also super easy not to try to work it out.) Families started falling apart.
Mom was no longer that warm, loving person who gives you homemade cookies and talks to you about your day after school. She’s a busy, tired working person, just like Dad, who barely has time for you.
If fact, there’s little difference between Mom and Dad now. There are no defined roles. They both cook and clean (what little of it that ever gets done). They both pay bills, go to the store, cut the grass, dress practically the same…
There’s hardly any evidence Mom is even a girl…….
Oh, yeah…..she does still wear a LITTLE make up. (Remember when Moms were really pretty?)
The Work Is Never Done
Back To No Defined Roles…….
Since no one has defined roles, no one is ever done with their work. Men can’t say, “I worked all day and now I can’t sit and read the paper.” Nope! There’s still homework to check and baths for the kids and dinner to fix and the kitchen to clean, etc. And the same goes for Mom. It doesn’t matter that she worked all day like Dad. She still has to help do all those things too.
You see, she traded in one prison (having to stay home and work) for another prison (having to leave the house to work and STILL having to come back home to do more work).
All we did was DOUBLE our work load!
And women who want to stay home with their children usually can’t now because of our two working adult economy! (Newsflash: some women – and men – still value the benefits of a stay at home wife and mother.)
Before we couldn’t work, now we can’t stay home with our children! We traded one thing we couldn’t do for another!
I realize that the old system was bad for the minority of women who lived in bad circumstances, but you will never find a system that works for everyone when you are looking at a large group of people. There will always be a minority that it doesn’t work out for. I know it doesn’t seem to be the American way, but the outcome should rest with the majority, not the minority. Things should always benefit the most people possible.
And anyone who ever said it was less than desirable to create a warm, comfortable home and raise children to be upstanding human beings is a complete fool. There’s not a more important job on the planet.
The Financials of Feminism
We have already covered how women almost have to work in most instances now in order to live the standard middle class lifestyle.
But let’s talk about how unhappy everyone is. Doctors are prescribing more antidepressants than ever and people are in more debt than ever before. Why?
Because people are filling the void of unhappiness with stuff. The spend money to get the temporary feeling of happiness, when, really, the thing they need is more down time together as a family. If one parent stopped working and stayed home the pace of life would slow down and everyone in that home would be happier.
When both parents went to work things went haywire.
So here is what feminism has accomplished:
- All mom’s weekday work has to be done on the weekend
- Houses are dirty
- Children are rude & unruly
- Children are raised by other people
- Mothers feel guilty about neglecting children
- Parents are overworked and stressed
- Parents have no couple time
- Divorce rates are up
- People are generally unhappy
- People are in debt to try to fill the void
- Women don’t have time to look like women
(feel free to add to this list)
Life before feminism was not perfect, but neither is this.
This is going to be short and sweet.
Having memories will always be better than having stuff. Always.
Over the years people have decided to rebel against the so called “American Dream” and define their lives with a new set of values. The Great Recession, as it is now labeled, has become a driving force for this.
The Millennials have one thing in common with survivors of the Holocaust. They have figured out that some things can’t be taken away from you.
Holocaust survivors learned that possessions could be taken away, but educations and vocations for individuals, such as doctors, lawyers, and scientists, couldn’t be taken away. This is why so many of these survivors encouraged their children and grandchildren to educate themselves in this way so they could always have a certain level of security in their future no matter what might come. (They could always go somewhere new and start over. They sort of carried their security with them, so to speak.)
Fast forward a few decades and a different generation has learned a similar lesson although from entirely less traumatic circumstances.
Houses can be foreclosed on and vehicles can be repossessed, but experiences can never be taken away from you.
Just think on that one for a moment.
I know lots of people right now who wish they had spent their money on dream family vacations instead of over sized houses that were repossessed during the financial crises. Or luxury cars. Or boats, Or expensive jewelry. Or designer clothes. Or ______________. (You fill in the blank.)
Now, instead of having lovely family vacation memories, all they have are regrets over bad choices and digging out of a financial hole.
So buy a nice house that suits your needs, not your wants. Buy a a good, dependable car (if you live where you need one). Take care of your basic needs and make yourself happy. Having memories is better than having stuff.
Don’t do anything to impress anybody. Only do things to make yourself and your family happy.
Then go have some experiences and make some memories.
The Art of Being Happy
Happiness can sometimes feel as elusive as the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The art of being happy is actually big business these days with books and other forms of self help flying off the shelves. So there is obviously a shortage of happiness out there.
But as someone who has chased happiness for most of my life, I can tell you that is really boils down to just four things.
- Give Yourself Permission To Be Happy
- Be Grateful For What and Who You Have
- Ignore the Past and Future
- Learn to Truly Not Care About What Other People Think
I know this sounds a little too simple, but it can be quite difficult to change behaviors and ways of thinking that have become our habits. Sometimes our thinking patterns are engrained all the way back from our childhoods.
That’s why the first step is to give yourself permission to be happy. Everything else hinges on that one decision.
Give Yourself Permission To Be Happy
Everyone deserves to be happy. EVERYONE.
Sometimes we feel like we don’t deserve happiness in our lives for various reasons. Maybe someone else we know if a better person or does more charity work than us. Maybe we were treated badly as children and made to believe we were less than. However, there will always be someone “more deserving”, like Nobel Peace Prize winners, which most of us are not. That does not mean that you don’t deserve happiness too.
Think of it this way, if you become a super happy person, then you will spread that happiness to others and improve the world around you. Other people will be happy because of your good deeds, kind words, and general goodness toward all.
If nothing else, you could be a force to change the world just by being happy. That alone should be enough to give yourself permission.
Right now you are giving yourself permission to UNHAPPY. How much more energy would it take to change that?
Be Grateful For What and Who You Have
This can be difficult in the materialistic world we live in, but it completely doable when you change your perspective on things. I find that watching and reading a lot about minimalism and the simple life helps me stay focused and know that I am not alone in my quest. Other people are trying to close out all the noise of the world and work toward a simpler, happier life too.
This always leads back to being grateful. ALWAYS.
When you appreciate what you have, and I mean TRULY appreciate it, then you just don’t want as many other things.
Who cares what the neighbors have? They probably also have huge payments to go with it. While they are working all those extra hours trying to keep up all those payments, you can sit on the porch sipping a latte and reading a good book.
How can that NOT be better than having all that “stuff”?
It’s not the number of things/friends/achievements you have that makes you happy. We know this for a fact.
It’s the quality of the things/friends/achievements that matter. And how much you appreciate them.
You could be the President of the United States and it wouldn’t make you happy if that was not your thing, right?
Everyday, make a point of thinking through all the good things and people in your life and remembering why they are so wonderful. Your perspective will automatically change with no further effort on your part. It’s awesome!
Ignore the Past and the Future
For many years of my life I was guilty of living in the past and/or future. And I didn’t even realize it.
I alternated between thinking about stressful things from the past and dreading possible outcomes in the future. Or sometimes I was just planning for the future. (I am a huge planner, so it’s hard for me to just let things happen on their own.) But either way, I was never enjoying the moment that I was in.
Can you see how this could bring down loads of stress in a person’s life? In short, nearly all of my thoughts were stressful and caused tons of anxiety in my daily life.
I almost NEVER lived in the present moment, even though that is where happiness truly lies.
When I finally realized what I was doing to myself, I decided to make a point of living in the present. I started meditation (half the point of meditation is to keep you in the present moment), increased the amount of time I spent outside, started taking more walks, and I also just started reminding myself throughout the day to enjoy what was going on right then.
You can’t change the past. No matter how much you worry about it. No matter how much you replay it.
The future will come and you will usually find that no matter how much you planned for it – well, things just don’t go like we planned most of the time.
This does not mean that you don’t plan for your future. That would be crazy. It does mean, however, that you make a plan and decide what to do each day to work toward it and then put it out of your mind.
So give your brain a rest and only think about today for a while.
Learn To Truly Not Care About What Other People Think
Try as we may, most of us have a very difficult time with this one.
Society and nature have both programed us to care – and care big time! (What would the neighbors think????)
We often get our own self worth from what others think of us. If they think we are successful/smart/attractive/lovable, then we think we are too.
There are so many problems with that I don’t know where to start.
But …..let’s think of it this way. People around us are actually picking up signals from us. Not the other way around. So if we think we are worthy, then everyone around us will too.
And I don’t mean that superficial “I have more toys than everyone else” sort of mentality. I mean if you are a good person who does good things in this world, then you will feel like a worthwhile person and others will pick up on that.
People actually see us the way we see ourselves. It’s that simple.
So stop caring about what other people think and do what makes you happy and is important in life. You will be so happy and fulfilled in life that you will forget to care about what other people think.
(Although I’m sure it will be all good stuff.)
That’s it. Practice these four things everyday and your life will begin to change. It costs no money and is painless.
But if you would like some further reading, I recommend this book:
I was thinking of how to take life less seriously for my own purposes and decided it would make a great post to share with everyone.
Life can really drag you down with hectic schedules and loads of responsibilities, but ever notice how some people seem to be having the time of their lives while others of us are barely making it through each day?
What is their secret?
Actually, it isn’t a secret, and if you Google “how to take life less seriously” you will find lots of suggestions that really do work.
The key here is that you must change your habits. If you are super serious all the time, then you simply cannot continue down the same path if you want to change your outlook. Below are four habits you can incorporate into your life today that will begin to affect you before bedtime.
Seriously…..ok, bad choice of words.
For our purposes here, I am going to focus on the things that work for me personally. These are the methods I can personally endorse, although many others might work wonderfully for you as well.
1. Be in the Present
If you live in the past or the future all the time, then you will probably be in a constant state of worry about things that have already happened or might happen in somewhere down the line. Try to be present in the moment and let everything else fall away. Yes, you must plan for your future and learn from your past, but give these things some consideration and then put them away.
2. Include Funny Books and Movies in Your Life
Nothing raises your spirits and gives you a light feeling better than some good humor. You can also seek out any other activities that makes you laugh. (I also like to spend time with people who make me laugh.)
3. Imagine Stressful Situations Differently
I know this is an old one, but imagine mean people in their underwear. That can actually make you laugh rather than get angry. Another good one is to imagine them as a small child throwing a fit. Or even better….imagine both at the same time.
4. Don’t Overthink Things
I am SO GUILTY of this one! I overthink EVERYTHING!
However, the biggest problem with overthinking is that it leads to worrying. In fact, overthinking and worrying go hand in hand and are sometimes difficult to separate.
In order to stop overthinking (a.k.a. worrying) you will need to first make the decision to stop and then stop yourself every time you realize you are doing it. I know that sounds painstaking, but most of us can do it through practice if we work at it. Remember, all that practice is what made you an overthinker in the first place.
In conclusion, I would like to close with this quote by Abraham Lincoln:
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
This is So TRUE!