The Year of Living Simply

Welcome to a new year and the second year for the Environmental Warrior blog. Last year was a time of trial and error, exploration and discovery. We took a broader view of the issues and challenges we might face on the Environmental Warrior path. This year we focus on the finer details and put into practice what we’ve learned. The less energy we spend on accumulating stuff, the more energy is available to us to bring forth and nurture our inner gifts and qualities. More importantly, if we focus on simplifying our lives, we reduce our impact on the Earth.

Do you remember the book ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ by Jules Verne? Re-arrange the word ‘earth’ and you get ‘heart’. This year we travel to the centre of the heart, our own hearts. We discover what brings us joy, create a compact lifestyle by simplifying our material possessions, build an inner foundation so we can move out into the world, and live a meaningful life with an awareness of how our choices impact others and the Earth.

When we know what makes us happy, we can eliminate unnecessary stuff. We don’t own anything that isn’t a reflection of our deepest desires. Living simply isn’t about lack and deprivation. It’s about creating a space and expanding our inner lives to fill that space. As Sarah Ban Breathnach affirms “The simpler we make our lives, the more abundant they become.” This year involves a series of challenges, and I’ll share my results along the way.

Challenge #1:  Show Gratitude          

This year we resolve to show gratitude for what we have. Instead of being preoccupied with living in the past or future, worrying about what we don’t have, we focus on the present and find happiness in what we already have. We break the cycle of endless consumption that may temporarily fill a void (but doesn’t make us feel better), and may be masking a deeper unfulfilled need. Non-material assets, inner qualities and expressing our unique gifts are worth more than material objects. Our challenge is to regularly take inventory of our blessings.

Challenge #2:  Embrace Simplicity

This year we resolve to live simply, with less stuff to clutter our space and consciousness. We break the cycle of accumulation by refusing to buy anything we don’t need this year, until we figure out what we truly need. Apart from the essentials we need to survive, say no to purchasing anything new. This challenge will be broken down into a series of mini challenges over the course of the year, where we simplify one area of life at a time. Every month we tackle a different area, clean it up and pare it down.

Challenge #3:  Grow Within

We resolve to invest in the self. We nurture inner growth and development through education, exploration and experience. Material objects make our lives easier, but they’re the backdrop, not the goal. We all have financial responsibilities we need to honour, but we can’t deny what spirit calls us to do. What will our lives be worth if we spend them in the sole pursuit of the material? Our challenge involves mind mapping to discover what we would like to pursue and how we can make our chosen career or area of interest sustainable for the Earth.

Challenge #4:  Master a Craft

We explore the areas of interest we uncovered in our mind mapping exercise. We develop the necessary skills to assist us in becoming masters of our chosen craft. I believe each of us has natural talents and particular gifts to offer that are unique to us. It’s important to have a creative outlet to channel our energy and our ideas into. The world needs artists, healers, builders and entertainers. Our challenge is to develop an action plan to master our chosen craft that includes regular practice to develop technique, proficiency and consistency.

Challenge #5:  Build a Strong Foundation

We resolve to create exceptional health on all levels – physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological. Our health is our number one asset. If we are fit, strong and healthy we feel better and look better. We retain a youthful energy, a sense of wonder at the world, an optimistic outlook, and we are active, engaged and present every day of our life. Our challenge is to design a unique program of nutrition, movement and pampering that fits our particular lifestyle, needs and health issues, and to achieve great health with minimal impact on the Earth.

Challenge #6:  Give Back to the Earth

We resolve to donate a portion of our time, experience, expertise, knowledge or financial resources to the greater good. This is a central idea on the Environmental Warrior path. The Earth supports us and provides resources so we can live, and it’s important to give something back, by reducing our impact, offsetting that impact, and sharing our good fortune with others. We take responsibility for our choices and we consider how these choices impact the environment, other people and the Earth. Our challenge involves setting in place a regular schedule of giving back.

Challenge #7:  Focus and Define

We resolve to discover and define what is important to us and we actively work to create a life that is uniquely ours. I believe the more stuff we own, the less defined we are as a person. The less we own, the clearer the picture about who we are. We focus our attention on the skills and qualities we want to develop in ourselves and we only have around us that which reflects our true self. Our final challenge involves going back to basics and bringing together all of the information we have gathered.

This year we have a clean slate, we can make a fresh start, we have new potential to tap, to create and manifest a simple, uncluttered life, where our outer expression matches our inner vision. Instead of accumulating more possessions, we focus on cultivating our inner qualities and non-material assets.

© 2015 Environmental Warrior
Photo by Julia Revitt on Unsplash

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