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

 voluntary simplicity 4 

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  

Be the living expression of God's kindness:  kindness 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 truly feel grateful.  Grateful for what you have, grateful for your surroundings, grateful for who you are and grateful for the path you're on.