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Minimalist yet fulfilling lifestyle

Quality of life does not depend on how much material goods one possesses. It depends on understanding what is essential for living and letting go of the “buy-and-buy habit” of consumerism.

Recently, a friend living in a gated enclave of the “rich and famous” asked for a mentoring conversation with me. She complained about having very little space in her house of 10 bedrooms. So what was the matter?  

The Japanese have invented the six S framework that can guide us in good housekeeping – Seiri means sorting. Seiton is set in order. Seisou is to shine. Seiketsu is to standardize. Shitsuke is to sustain. The other S added is safety.

Chiara Lubich has a basic principle that can help when decluttering your home. She wrote: “Anything that you do not use belongs to your neighbor in need.” It has been proven that 20 to 30% of the clothes or accessories or materials in your closet or your office have never been used or touched or have been used only once.

Ask as you go over each item: “Is this important to me? Would someone have greater need than I have?  Then using the answers and with a spirit of detachment, select the clothes, accessories or goods and put them in paper bags, ready to be given to people in need or to another office that has greater use of your excess.

What is the root of having too many goods? It is, what is termed by an author, the disease of affluenza. Affluenza is giving in to the temptation to “shop until you drop” or to view “every sale or discounted item you see as an opportunity.”                  

How can we discipline ourselves to eliminate, if not avoid, affluenza?

The first step is to stop making malls your source of rest and recreation, substituting them for parks and open space areas. Then before buying an item or dress or gadget, ask yourself the following questions. One, do I need it? Two, can I afford it now? If you can afford it, ask yourself the most important question: “Is it in the will of God for me to buy and own it?” 

How does one create an environment-friendly home that leaves a small footprint in terms of energy use? Here are some tips from experts. One, improve the energy efficiency of your home and reduce your carbon footprint. Try to check and fill in every hole and every crack  in your house  so that when you use your  airconditioner, it will be  electricity efficient. Two, switch to LED lights that reduce energy consumption.Three, select plants that thrive in the shade and keep them watered and healthy.  Four, choose a house that is smaller but built with eco-friendly  techniques. 

Finally, get into the habit of “reduce, reuse and recycle.” Stop buying materials that are not environment friendly. Reuse your old materials and recycle them for green home building. 

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