Simple living is not the same as simply living. It takes more to be content and healthy in mind, body and spirit than just arising each day and letting life's current sweep you along through your twelve or so waking hours. It is being fully active and present in your life. It is making choices that enrich not just ourselves but leave a footprint that is minimal and, at the same time, memorable.
For me, being fulfilled in my life takes making a commitment to somehow bettering the world with these fine sunset years of my wonderful life. There are those who feel disenchanted by the state of this fragile planet we share--global warming, consistent unrest and war, the breakdown of family values, random acts of violence and so much more disheartening news we are bombarded with daily.
While I surely understand that, I feel none of that same angst. While there may be little I can do to impact the world on any large scale, I feel my small consistent actions are all vitally important. The notion that all peace and happiness in the world starts within the world each of us creates daily is what inspires me to carry on. I fully believe that how I conduct myself is vitally important. In all my interpersonal relationships, in my business, in my buying power, in my political actions and more. This is what can inspire others. This is the "ripple effect." These simple small gestures can make a huge difference. I have come to call this "activism by lifestyle," another way to say "walking your talk." This simple notion has shaped my life for decades.
In my eclectic spiritual search of the past fifty years, I have stumbled upon some of the tenets of Buddhism. While it is not my sole personal path, I find their practices to hold great wisdom and I have drawn from them for strength and often direction. The eightfold Buddhist path asks its followers to cultivate: Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. The way we look at the world and all those who inhabit it with us. The intentions we hold for our lives, daily and more broadly. The way we choose to think before speaking. The way we act, or even more importantly, react. The way we operate our businesses. The choice we make as to where to focus our efforts. The conscious decision to be mindful in all we do. The amount of concentration we give our efforts, one at a time, not falling prey to the newly venerated multi-tasking model. Very simple concepts. Essential to a life worth living.
My simple living, activism by lifestyle choices have brought me much joy over the years. They have shaped my life in deep and gratifying ways. Often they have been cause for challenges. But, always worth it. It is worth pondering--are you simply living or living simply?
Lee lives on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, where she owns and operates North Country Farms, an organic family farm and eco-tourist destination complete with tropical guest cottages. She believes her three grown children are her best part, but she also enjoys yoga, travel, and reading. You can read more about Lee and North Country Farms at http://www.northcountryfarms.com/, at the North Country Farms blog, or on Facebook.