Wednesday, 13 August 2008
There isn't a day go by where I don't think about what simple living means to me and how I might be able to simplify my life even more. Today I got to thinking about how the extremes of anything can be more damaging than they’re productive.
Let’s say you’re staying at a hotel that’s less than green and you can’t find anywhere to put the rubbish that you know should go to recycling. You don’t have a car to drive to a recycling point and as you hardly know the area, finding one on foot isn’t easy. Because you’re so determined not to go against your green principles you could well end up spending the best part of your holiday obsessing over what to do with the said items and fretting over the hotel management who just aren’t doing their bit.
Or perhaps you’re intent on eating only healthy foods but the hostess who invited you to dinner has cooked a meal that’s far from what you would have chosen. What do you do? Sit and pick at your food because there’s no way you’re going to eat something that’s less than healthy? Start a discussion with hostess about her choice of menu? Or might you just eat and enjoy it, knowing that one ‘bad’ meal now and then isn’t going to kill you?
Maybe you’ve promised yourself that you’ll only buy locally produced fruit, veg and meat but when you get to the shop, all they have is imported stuff. You’re tired because the kids have been moody and you really just want to get home but, even so, you stalk off the next shop even though it’ll take you an extra 15 minutes and the kids will be even moodier because there’s no way you’re feeding them imported food!
There are myriad situations like these where obsessing over our lifestyle choices can be damaging to our ability to live quietly and with contentment and that really can’t be the best way forward when living a simple life.
There’s such a thing as the 80/20 rule. Basically it means that we should all live by our own standards 80 percent of the time and accept that the remaining 20 percent may not be exactly how we’d prefer it.
Sometimes we eat things we don’t feel we ought to, whether it’s because we’re eating out or simply because we fancied that indulgent bar of chocolate; sometimes we throw something that could have been reused and at times we might buy something we didn’t really need. Then there are times when we might spend more on something that we feel we should have or watched more TV than we promised ourselves we would.
Beating ourselves up over these situations is non-productive. We’re human and no human’s perfect. We don’t live ‘perfect’ lives.
We’re allowed to make the odd mistake, take a shortcut or indulge ourselves occasionally - I know I certainly do and i don't feel guilty about it, either. I used to, but I've learned not to. It really is just a matter of keeping everything within reason - that 80/20 parameter.
PS: No spend days so far this month: 5/16 (lost one on Monday as wasn't well so ordered a take-away to save cooking a meal - it wasn't even nice!)