Diamond-Cut Life

More Joy, Less Stuff

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Twenty Ways to a Simpler, Happier Life, Part I

March 31st, 2009 by Alison · No Comments · food & drink, health & well being, home & garden, lifestyle, simplicity, sustainability, transportation

My pursuit of the Diamond-Cut Life (a life rich in joy and low in consumption) still leaves me plenty vulnerable to the excesses of U.S. culture. I love finding little inroads to simplicity and happiness like the ones I’ve listed here. I’ll publish the second half later this week.

  • Gracefully end memberships that are no longer a fit. A member who is no longer interested is not doing the organization much good. And a membership we’re no longer honoring is a constant little drain on our integrity. Whenever I end something I experience a boost in energy, and an openness to where I’d like to next be giving myself.
  • Let the phone ring in order to stay focused on what you’re doing. You can return the call later if it’s a conversation you need to have. Some people (I’m one of them) feel better about leaving a voicemail than being rushed through a conversation the caller is experiencing as an interruption.
  • Drink less (or even don’t drink at all, at least for awhile). I love a pre-dinner glass of wine or a cocktail. Yet when I have one while journaling it’s amazing to see how quickly my handwriting deteriorates. What is it doing to my thinking? I like to see alcohol as a treat, rather than a given. And it takes a lot of resources to produce.
  • Consider having one car-free day every week. For me this is usually Saturday or Sunday, or one of the two weekdays that I teleworkfrom home. This keeps me centered, reasonably paced, and away from the pitfall of trying to do too much. If I go somewhere it’s on the bus, on foot or on my bicycle.
  • Eat less meat. Meat tends to clog our colons and is expensive (at least, good-quality meat is). It also is responsible for about 25% of the world’s carbon emissions. Build your meals instead around vegetables, whole grains, fruit, beans and legumes. Thor and I notice how light and clean we feel after dinners that are 3/4 vegetables
  • Limit email and other screen time. We sit way too much. Stage a healthy rebellion, and get outdoors, walk, garden or socialize in person instead. Train people to not expect lots of email from you.
  • Follow the 80-20 rule and reduce your possessions by 20%.  Pareto’s Principle and various studies show that 80% of the time we only use 20% of our possessions. Most of us not only won’t miss 20% of our current possessions if we get rid of them, we’ll better appreciate and use all the things we keep.
  • Plant only edible plants, native plants (they are hardy and self-sufficient), drought-tolerants that need little watering, and perennials (ideally ones that stay green year-round),
  • Get a programmable thermostat. These are great tools, cheap and easy to use, paying for themselves many times over even within the first year because they let us heat the house only when needed. And fossil fuels are expensive and will only become more so.
  • Clear out your rented storage space. I know a woman who spent almost $6,000 over the years for a storage space in New York City after she moved back West. When she finally cleared it out, she saw the items in it were barely worth $500. She realized she had been clinging to the idea of someday returning to NYC — yet she could have enjoyed several trips there for the cost of all that storage.

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