Voluntary Simplicity Step 4: Being Kind To Others and The Planet

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God's kindness:  kindenss in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile".
- Mother Teresa

What if, instead of measuring success by the amount of money we make and/or by the number of things we own, we measured it by how we treat others, ourselves and the planet?

The process of simplification helps to develop even more appreciation of others, the relationships we've formed and the natural beauty of our surroundings.  It frees up time to take a breathe, actually see the world, and focus on those things that are really important.  Once the cycle of needing more money and more things is broken, we realize those things don't equal happiness.  The things that truly bring happiness don't cost a thing monetarily, but they do take time to appreciate and nurture.

As you aren't so rushed in your day to day life you'll have time to stop and appreciate your surroundings.  A natural by-product of this is you start to become more aware of how your life directly affects the planet. 

More and more studies show that supportive friendships with positive and energetic people is essential to good health.  You have to determine for yourself how big your circle of friends should be.  Does a sense of community bring you happiness or would you rather be surrounded by a small group of friends?  Whichever you choose, when you unburden some of the stress from your daily life, you will have more time for nurturing these genuine friendships. 

Our lives tend to be so busy, that much of the time it's as though we're on automatic pilot.  How many times have you found yourself at the end of the week not realizing where the days went?  Make a conscious decision to savor the small moments - take the time to make eye contact, really listen to others and smile from the heart.  Although each of us is only responsible for ourselves, we can certainly influence people and the choices they make by both our actions and words.

This applies not only to friends and family members, but complete strangers as well.  Have you ever had someone treat you unkindly and found yourself in a foul mood as a result?  That shows you the powerful influence our actions have on each other.  Let's say you go to the store and the salesperson is rude to you.  When you start to feel yourself tensing up in response choose instead to stop, take a breathe and consciously react with kindness.  Rather than judging that person, remember you don't know what has happened to him or her to leave them in this state.  Don't take it personally - it's not about you, they don't even know you. 

Take some time to really feel grateful.  Grateful for what you have, grateful for your surroundings, grateful for who you are and grateful for the path you're on. 

To read more about our path to Voluntary Simplicity, click {HERE}


mountain mama said...

very well spoken staci! great points to ponder! money certainly does not bring happiness.

have a great week~

Leontien said...

Great post and yes your're right!

Thanks for sharing

Hazel said...

Great post, Staci. I identify with these ideas very strongly. It is hard when you are working to think about much more than what is coming next,...the next minute, the next day, the next document, the next project, the next evaluation etc. It makes it difficult to be in the moment. Simplification of one's life certainly leaves lots of lovely time to just be. Ironically the 'simple' life is busy..but different. The very act of living makes me stay in the moment.

I was also very lucky, I had a dad who was cheerful and friendly and spoke to people where ever we went. As a teenager it made me cringe...but I do it myself. It is interesting to see a stranger's body language when I make a comment to them or start up a conversation...they sometimes look a little startled, or suspicious, but when they realise I am harmless they relax and smile and laugh and we both move on with a spring in our step.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks Mountain Mama and Leontien! Hazel - you are so right. People really do seem suspicious when you are kind or friendly out of the blue. It's sad really. And how true that the "simple life" is not necessarily simple as in non-productive. It definitely is busy, but in such a rewarding and healthy way.

Meg said...

Oh this is so true. I meet people sometimes (the grumpy ones) and I want to tell them everything you just said.

About the 6 months box - good idea! I do this with kitchen things, but never thought of doing it with clothing!

Mary Ann said...

I am going to think about this post for a few days.... I am at the point in my life where I realize I have been pushed around a lot... by co-workers and by family. The buck is starting to stop here. Instead of meeting it with rancor, I'm going to try a smile and friendliness. It is certainly more disarming to meet pain with a smile!

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks Mary Ann. You are so right about meeting pain with a smile!! Sure does shock them. :)

Janet @ My Miniature Donkeys said...

fabulous! Just forwarded it on to my yoga friends.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Thanks so much Janet - that's very nice.