Monday, May 16, 2011

Two words that can simplify your life.

I recently learned two words that can simplify any life from a very wise, wonderful patient that I had the privilege to care for. She was in her late 70's and lived a very colorful, very happy life. She was well educated, well traveled, well read and well loved.

Her home in Cambridge was lovely, but also quietly simple. It felt calm just being there. The walls were quite bare, except for one wall that had, in large, scripted handwriting, two words: Consume less.

She told me that they embodied her philosophy of life. And how these two words could help anyone if they just followed its simple wisdom.

It rang true.

Think about it. These two words are powerful. And these two words could solve most of life's problems.

Want to save more money? Lose weight? Cut down on all the hard working hours you are forced to put in to make ends meet? Do you want to spend more time on meaningful things like family and friends? Want to help the earth? Want to teach your kids valuable lessons?

Well, consume less. That is the answer to all of the above questions.

But could it really be that simple?

Yes, it really could. But it doesn't mean that it is easy to do.

The trouble is, we are a nation of consumers. We like stuff. We like things super-sized. We waste a lot. We judge each other not by the compassion that we show or the love that we give, but by how much we have. How much we can consume. How much we spend. Bigger is better. The one with more toys wins.

And none of us are better off for it, not really.

We think we need so many things. We think we will be happier. But if you really stopped and took an inventory of what you already have, you would find that you have way more than you could ever possibly need or use. And if we were really seeking truth, we would come to realize we really don't even use half of what we already own. And I am not sure that just acquiring more is the key to greater happiness. I know that I have not seen it. Most times, it seems that it makes us all just a bit more anxious. And happiness eludes us still.

And don't even talk to me about all the extra calories we don't need to consume.

I know it sounds simplistic to think that just two words, consume less, could have such a powerful effect on our lives; however, I really think it is true.

But who am I to say.

So try it sometime. Experiment with it. Next time you are tempted to buy that 'whatever' you certainly don't need or to eat that 'whatever' you shouldn't really eat, say it to yourself. "Consume less." See if it works.

It might just be the best thing you never did.

You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need. ~Vernon Howard

Everything we possess that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a burden, and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it. ~Robert Brault

We don't need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it.
~Donald Horban

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
~Lin Yutang


  1. I am painting it on my wall today!

  2. Great post and it is so true. I've been trying to cut back for a couple of years now because, since some deaths in the family, I have realized that it is all junk to be left behind for someone else to get rid of.

  3. De-cluttering the house also de-clutters the mind...allowing us to spend time on that lovely front porch swing.