Monday, January 7, 2013

simplicity offer: freedom, opportunity, meaning

When old patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” – Tuli Kupferberg
I am still amazed at the fullness of life that minimalism and simplicity offer: freedom, opportunity, meaning. I wish I had found it sooner. Unfortunately, for most of my life, I had been told something different. I had been told that joy could be found in material success—that the more I owned, the happier I would be. But they were wrong. I’m far happier today owning less than I ever was pursuing more.
Which got me wondering… what if some of the other messages I have been told are also wrong? What if some of the other views of the world promoted by our culture and society don’t actually lead to joy and fulfillment? What if true meaning and passion is found in the opposite?
What if there is unspeakable opportunity in beginning to see the world differently?
What if there is more opportunity in “desiring less” than “acquiring more?” The trouble with acquiring more is that we can never have enough. There is always more to acquire and always someone else who has already acquired it. The philosophy renders contentment unattainable. The surest pathway to true contentment is to desire less. Less brings freedom, more doesn’t.
What if there is more opportunity in “seeking justice” than “getting rich?” Cultural and individual greed have ruined friendships, exploited billions, and destroyed our planet. The desire for power, control, and resources have left many without adequate supply. But when justice is fully realized, everyone becomes more empowered—including us. Unfortunately, we can’t desire more for ourselves and justice for others at the same time.
What if there is more opportunity in “building others up” than “tearing others down?” Too often we think of life as a zero-sum game. We believe someone else must be brought down to make more room for us at the top. But it’s not true. The pie is not finite. You don’t have to blow out someone else’s candle to make yours shine brighter. In fact, some of the people who rise to the top the quickest are the very ones who helped others get there first.
What if there is more opportunity in “serving others” than “reaching for the top?” Learning to serve others flips our world upside down. Rather than striving to be the one served (and becoming frustrated when we aren’t), find freedom in learning to serve others. The quickest path to joy in life is to help someone else discover it in theirs. Their lives will be improved. And so will yours.
What if there is more opportunity in “showing mercy” than “acquiring power?” From playgrounds to boardrooms, most people are looking for any angle to lord power over others and subsequently, stepping on anyone to get there. Yet, the most fulfilled people I know live exactly the opposite. They show compassion, forgiveness, and grace toward others… even when it is within their power to punish or harm them.
What if there is more opportunity in “developing humility” than “having pride?” Humility allows us to be ourselves—we no longer need to prove to everyone that we’ve got it all together. Humility allows us to learn and grow—when we admit our weaknesses, we have taken the first step in learning to address them. And humility allows people into our lives—true, authentic friendships are not possible without the ability to be humble and completely transparent with one other.
What if there is more opportunity in “giving” than “receiving?” The bumper stickers have always said, “Whoever dies with the most toys wins.” But all scientific research indicates that generous people are happier, healthier, and live more fulfilled lives. In other words, whoever gives away the most is the real winner, not the one who stored the most.
What if this world doesn’t revolve around me after all? What if the world isn’t here to make me happier, but I am here to make this world happier for someone else? Now that, would change some things.

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