Sunday, February 3, 2008

Simpler Living

Simpler Living is the mouse under the feet of battling elephants.

One elephant wants to build nuclear power plants. The other wants to shut down all the nuclear power plants, force everyone to ride bicycles, and run the world with windmills and solar panels.

Lost in the noise and dust is a program that has accomplished wonderful changes by lowering the strain on the world's natural resources and saving huge amounts of energy and allowing people to live fuller, richer lives.

For years, Simpler Living has been saving people from the rat race: too many people work long hours to earn money to spend in the futile hope it will make them happy. It's usually not hard to convince people that a simpler life will do them a lot more good. Simpler Living shows them how to achieve it.

It sounds much like the first three parts of Buddhism: Life is full of suffering; Suffering comes from attachment (in this case, to spending); Freedom comes from giving up attachments. Buddhism then teaches that you have to live like a monk to give up attachments. Simpler Living teaches that you just have to make thoughtful choices.

As in Buddhism, there's a whole discipline involved here. Having spent your adult life spending as though you were cleaning out your pockets, you probably won't change just by announcing to yourself that from now on your spending will be thoughtful.

To do it right, you have to follow the program. It's a little troublesome, but very enlightening. The standard text for this subject is Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. Amazon has it; in line with your new philosophy, see if your public library has it before you buy it.

I'll outline the process here so you'll understand what's involved. Please don't shortcut the process.

First, you keep track of everything you spend. Actually, you might do this for a long time. JD Rockefeller did it his whole life and claimed it was the reason he became rich.

Next, you analyze where your money went.

Then, you redesign your life, imagining how you want it to be.

After that, you base all your money decisions, even small ones, on how they fit your target.

It doesn't mean that you don't spend money, only that you do it consciously. For most people, their spending shrinks and their carbon footprints shrink along with it.

This is the attitude environmentalists have been advocating for as long as there's been an environmental movement. If the executives who run the organizations will catch onto this, we'll make some real progress. It will reduce environmental damage, including global warming, more than all the pamphlets Greenpeace hands out could ever do.


Charles Barton said...

Excellent blog. I have linked to you.

Red Craig said...

Thank you, Charles. I am pleased to return the compliment.



Perfect blog!