Monday morning, I was on the hunt. You know how sometimes you get a bee in your bonnet and you can't stop thinking about something until you put it to rest? Sometimes I think I do it because I'm bored and looking for adventure or drama. But it's often worth something, some small nugget of knowledge, recognition or wisdom, and this is one of those times.
You know I like to dabble in minimalism, so I was tooling around the internet reading my favorite minimalist blogs, and I came across this video posted by ARTivism, of the "World's Poorest President."
"Either you're happy with very little," he says, "because you have happiness inside, or you don't get anywhere! ... We have invented a mountain of superfluous needs. Shopping for new, discarding the old...That's a waste of our lives! When I buy something, when you buy something, you're not paying money for it. You're paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing money can't buy. Life only gets shorter. And it is pitiful to waste one's life and freedom that way."
It really struck me. I get that we have to buy food and medicine and the basic necessities to get from point A to point B, but he's right — we live in a consumer-driven society, and the want — the feeling of NEED — to buy and consume more and more and bigger and better is now second nature. So I ironically typed in the Google machine: "how to want less"
And I was led to this article on Tiny Buddha. I skimmed it — only half paying attention, another sign of the times — but I took the following notes as they relate to the author's broad explanation of how to want less money in particular. This is what I wrote in my notebook (one I saved from 1998 — one point for me!):
I want to have more money so I don't have to:
- Feel shame
- Feel "bad"
As much as I try not to worry, I think I can speak for the majority when I say it's another thing we often do unconsciously. And the feeling shame and feeling "bad" sometimes follow closely behind — I "should" have more money. I "should" spend less. I'm bad because I went over budget. I'm bad because I can't say no to my kids. Kicking ourselves and wishing things were different is another human condition. But of course I wasn't satisfied with that as an answer; I wrote this down shortly thereafter:
Maybe if I stop:
- Feeling shame
- Feeling "bad"
I will have more money.
Followed by a big bracket and squiggly arrow pointing to this:
"What's really causing these issues?"
I searched again:
What is the opposite of shame?
(My favorite answers were honor and approval.)
What is the opposite of feeling bad?
Well, I thought, knowing your own goodness, of course.
What is the opposite of worry?
I was led to this article by Psychology Today, and I was blown away by the answer I found.
The opposite of worry, it reads, is "being held in loving arms." The opposite of worry is "cultivating a soothing inner voice." The opposite of worry is befriending ALL of the emotions.
"To sum it up in a word, the opposite of worry is mindfulness."
Now you know how my brain operates. I go around and around; I search for answers; but I always already know all the answers deep inside. Isn't this how we all operate? Why can't we just get quiet and listen? Take honor in what you do. Approve of yourself, your worthiness, no matter what. That is the opposite of feeling ashamed and like you're "bad" or wrong. Trust in your goodness. And when you forget, when you start worrying and swirling instead, hold yourself in loving arms. Talk to yourself in a kind, tender, gentle inner voice. Welcome joy, depression and meanness at your door like unexpected visitors. I find it almost funny. Of course mindfulness is the answer. What else could it be?
Most often, we find the answers we expect to find, even if we don't go into it with that knowledge. I know the "mountain of superfluous needs" feeling — another movie, a different snack, a pair of boots, a bigger car — that go-go-go vibration, as if you're being propelled forward to consume by a force much greater than you — but I also know what it feels like to be mindful. Lacking nothing. Listening and noticing the silence, the golden hues of the trees, the way the leaves barely flicker in the breeze.
I put my little puzzle together as only I could. Minimalism makes it easier to listen, I typed into my phone a bit later. Minimalism feels small and humble to me, and I like that because I equate that with quiet. All of the stuff, all of the noise...it just drowns out what's really important:
It is a beautiful fall day.
I am watching the leaves turn purple, red and yellow.
They barely flicker in the breeze.
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