Thursday, September 18, 2014

Voluntary Simplicity

There is a chapter in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book titled Wherever You Go, There You Are about voluntary simplicity.  Most people think that voluntary simplicity is simply about having less stuff.  That is certainly part of it.  It is also choosing a less complicated life and learning to say no.  A simple life also has a Zen element to it because one is able to be more present to their life because there is less life in which to be present.  When one attempts to live a simple life one strives to avoid distractions.  When you eat a bowl of cereal, you simply eat the bowl of cereal.   A distracted life is when you eat a bowl of cereal and while you are eating it you are also reading the list of ingredients listed on the side of the box.  The challenge of a simple life is to discern what is truly essential and what is not.  Think about all the things to do each day.  Many of these things are done in a mindless, not mindful way.  What is truly essential in life often gets out of whack because much of what we do is not really essential.  Much of what we do is the byproduct of our personal agendas which may or may not have any real meaning for us and, most certainly, not for others.  Today I challenge you to think about how you can simplify your life.  Pay attention to what you are choosing to do.  Is it really essential?  Does it have a meaningful purpose?  I understand that many of us have to do things that are created by other people’s agendas and we often to not have a choice about it.  Sometimes we just have to accept this.  However, as much as you can, minimize your own life by choosing to live simply, without clutter, and without unnecessary complication or distraction.    

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