Pasteurised versions of the ancient practice of mindfulness are now big business. With Google, Target and Ford recently jumping on the corporate mindfulness bandwagon, the rebranding of mindful meditation and practice as a means to increase both productivity and compliance is now complete.
Slowing down, tuning in and radical acceptance have been molded into low-cost tools to increase our ability to speed up, tune out and drive ourselves harder than ever before.
We don’t need to know what our purpose is or whether or not we have one—that’s a lie. A convenient, prettily packaged and powerfully life-changing one perhaps but still a lie. Purpose is anything we want it to be in the moment. We make it up as we go.
For now I’ve found my one word: Love.
Right there’s all the happiness, abundance and success I could ever want.
6 minutes | How many of us have a sneaking suspicion that something pretty fundamental is going wrong in the world? We keep hearing about the potentially devastating consequences of climate change but we are...
I made a decision years ago to intentionally live with fewer possessions. It was born, mainly, out of my growing discontent with the focus of my life’s energy. As the size of my home increased and the number of things stuffed into closets grew, more and more time was spent caring for them.
ntentional living is the conscious pursuit of living in alignment with our core values and beliefs. Much like ‘minimalism’, the term ‘intentional living’ can be interpreted many different ways which, justifiably, can be totally overwhelming. For those who are looking to start making positive changes in their lives, I’ve created this list of questions to ask about various situations.
We affirm that providing ‘enough, for everyone, forever’ is the defining objective of our economy, which we seek to achieve by working together in free association. We affirm that everyone is free to create as an aesthetic project the meaning of their own lives, while acknowledging that this freedom legitimately extends only so far as others can have the same freedom. Freedom thus implies restraint. We affirm that our inclusive democracy does not discriminate on such grounds as race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, politics, or faith. We affirm that generations into the deep future are entitled to the same freedoms as present generations. We affirm that respecting the deep future requires maintaining a healthy environment. We affirm that technology can help to protect our environment only if it is governed by an ethics of sufficiency, not an ethics of growth. Efficiency without sufficiency is lost. We affirm that maintaining a healthy environment requires creating a stationary state economy that operates within environmental and energy limits. We affirm that a stationary state means stabilising consumption and population, transitioning to renewable sources of energy, and adapting to reduced energy supply. We affirm that strict limits on material accumulation are required if a stationary state is to maintain a just distribution of resources and avoid corrosive inequalities. We affirm that property rights are justifiable only to the extent they serve the common good, including the overriding interests of humanitarian and ecological justice. We affirm that a stationary state economy depends on a culture that embraces lifestyles of material sufficiency and rejects lifestyles of material affluence. We affirm that material sufficiency in a free society provides the conditions for an infinite variety of meaningful, happy, and fulfilling lives. ______________
This is BIG! You can rewire your brain for a better life.
For example, meditation could stave off memory loss, and even slow the progression of dementia. Loving-Kindness Meditation can renew your feelings of compassion, empathy, generosity, gratitude, love and kindness. We have access to a whole array of practices that can cultivate desirable habits and qualities of mind.
So how is it possible to rewire your brain for a better life? It’s not difficult. By the time you finish this article you’ll have what you need to get started.
To begin, you need to become familiar with a bit of vocabulary.
Consider this: We all know that it is in those moments when we completely lose ourselves — engrossed in a good book or movie, engaged in an all-consuming task or hobby, or immersed in our child's or lover's gaze — that we are truly happy. These experiences point to something extremely important: Our greatest joy comes when we vacate ourselves and give ourselves over to something or someone else. It is when we manage to 'stand outside of ourselves' (exstasis) that we experience ecstasy.
"True and deeply felt self-esteem comes not through the exhausting quest for more and more ego inflation. It comes only when the ego and its endless demands are quieted and quenched, when the lower self is emptied and the fullness and plentitude of the Higher Self arise.
"It is only when we stop narrating the play-by-play of our lives and actually start living in an unmediated and direct way that we become really present and fully engaged. It is only when that little voice inside our head finally shuts up that we become wholly assimilated with what's actually happening, and become truly happy.
"It is important to have a good, healthy sense of self-worth, and the point of being nobody is certainly not to become servile, a doormat on which others can trample. But thinking that we will feel fulfilled only if we become more special than others leads to an increase, not a diminishing, of anxiety and dissatisfaction.
"Wanting to be somebody unique — or somehow 'more unique than others' — is actually quite common: there's nothing special about wanting to be special. But it is this very drive for radical individuality and superiority that keeps us feeling isolated and alone. In the end, the willingness to let go and be nobody is what's really extraordinary, and it is the only means for real connection with others and communion with what is real."
We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.
There are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.
"Mindful awareness can be considered as a way of being, more than something that involves our “doing” something. Engage a certain “state of mind” that has the range of qualities we have heard repeatedly even though there is no fixed and final definition of mindfulness: How we pay attention (different from awareness), on purpose (but it doesn’t have to be done with active effort, it can in fact be an intention that happens “automatically” as a habit of being, not a consciously thought out plan of carrying out a way of focusing attention) to the unfolding of present moment experience (but, in fact, we can pay attention to memories of the past or plans for the future—but do so…) with a sense alertness, attention to detail, and with kindness and compassion."
Over nearly four decades, Ellen Langer’s research on mindfulness has greatly influenced thinking across a range of fields, from behavioral economics to positive psychology. It reveals that by paying attention to what’s going on around us, instead of operating on auto-pilot, we can reduce stress, unlock creativity, and boost performance. Her “counterclockwise” experiments, for example, demonstrated that elderly men could improve their health by simply acting as if it were 20 years earlier. In this interview with senior editor Alison Beard, Langer applies her thinking to leadership and management in an age of increasing chaos.
If you could change anything, what would you change? Would you go on vacation for the rest of your life? Make fossil fuels stop causing climate change? Ask for ethical banks and politicians? Surely nothing could be more unrealistic than to keep everything the way it is and expect different results.
Our private financial and emotional struggles mirror global upheaval and disaster. We could spend the rest of our days trying to douse these fires one by one, but they stem from the same source. No piecemeal solution will serve; we need to rethink everything according to a different logic.
"VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY: The Poetic Alternative to Consumer Culture" was produced and directed by Amir Dervic & Tanja Capic duo from NO WAY Productions. Original music score written, composed & produced by Samuel Alexander & Andy Gibson (see the soundtrack clip AFFLUENZA: http://www.vimeo.com/5360228 ). For more information visit http://simplicityinstitute.org/
We all want to be happy. And science shows that happiness not only feels great but also predicts better physical health and even a higher paycheck.
But how do we pursue happiness effectively? After all, some recent scientific research actually cautions us against the pursuit of happiness. For instance, a study led by Iris Mauss, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, found that people instructed to feel happier while watching a pleasant film clip ended up feeling worse than people instructed just to watch the clip. Findings like this are echoed in the popular press: Writer Ruth Whippman argued in a recent New York Times piece that the pursuit of happiness is a “recipe for neurosis.”
But is this the whole story? Are we doomed to fail at the pursuit of happiness?
Probably the most common reason people keep things they’re not using is because they “have value”— meaning they once cost money. But the real value in things is the experience they create for us. Even things with a monetary value can lower the quality of our experience in a lot of ways, by making us feel guilty, taking up space, or keeping us preoccupied with goals we’re not really committed to. And the money is already gone anyway. The important question is always “What does it feel like to own this?” and you can have the answer in seconds when you hold it in your hands and ask.
Certainly, there are many challenging issues facing us today in the modern world. We can tackle them in a frenzied, anxious, short-sighted, and disjointed way, employing the very tools and attitudes that contributed to our distress, or we can take a step back, recognize the depth and complexity of our situation, approach the system as a whole, and work together to calm things down. By connecting to each other and our planet, we can counter-balance the fast rush of chaos with the slow rhythm of our beating hearts.
“Voluntary simplicity, or simple living, is a way of life that rejects the high-consumption, materialistic lifestyles of consumer cultures and affirms what is often just called ‘the simple life’ or ‘downshifting.’ The rejection of consumerism arises from the recognition that ordinary Western-style consumption habits are degrading the planet; that lives of high consumption are unethical in a world of great human need; and that the meaning of life does not and cannot consist in the consumption or accumulation of material things. Extravagance and acquisitiveness are accordingly considered an unfortunate waste of life, certainly not deserving of the social status and admiration they seem to attract today. The affirmation of simplicity arises from the recognition that very little is needed to live well – that abundance is a state of mind, not a quantity of consumer products or attainable through them.”
Sherwin Nuland writes about death, but not in the way that you might expect. He wants to clear the fog of the fear of death away from our eyes. Death, in his view, has everything to do with how we live. In his own words: "The honesty and grace of the years of life that are ending is the real measure of how we die. It is not in the last weeks or days that we compose the message that will be remembered, but in all the decades that preceded them. Who has lived in dignity, dies in dignity."
There is no need to be afraid of death. It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather, our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a façade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are. Every individual human being born on this earth has the capacity to become a unique and special person unlike any who has ever existed before or will ever exist again. But to the extent that we become captives of culturally defined role expectations and behaviors – stereotypes, not ourselves, -- we block our capacity of self-actualization. We interfere with our becoming all that we can be.
Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.
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