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Archive for the ‘consumerism’ Category

In a TED Talk Jon Jandai offers some significant food for thought regarding what truly matters and how we complicate our lives unnecessarily.

Here’s an example of his simple wisdom, Before I thought that stupid people like me … cannot have a house… because people who are cleverer than me and get a job need to work for 30 years to have a house. But for me, who cannot finish university, how can I have a house. It’s hopeless for people who have low education like me. But when I start to do earthen buildings, it’s so easy! I spent two hours per day… and in 3 months I have a house. A friend who was the most clever in the class he has a house too but he has to be in debt for 30 years, so compared to him I have 29 years and 9 months of free time. I feel life is so easy.” 

And here’s another, “I feel like now is the most uncivilized era of humans on this Earth.  We have so many people who finish university, we have so many universities on the Earth.  We have so many clever people on this Earth.  But, life is harder and harder.  We make it hard for whom?  We work hard for whom right now?”

Jandai’s message resonates with me as I seriously consider taking the next step towards living more simply and consciously.

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I’d like to warmly and humbly share a gift with you today in honor of Father’s day. For the rest of this month you can listen to the audiobook, “Discovering Meaning,” for free! “Discovering Meaning: Living and Loving the Good Life” is the second of four audiobooks in the “BirthQuake: Journey to Wholeness” series.

“The Birthquake: Journey to Wholeness series is one of those rare finds written by a psychotherapist that not only enlightens, inspires, and comforts – it befriends and embraces the listener. It’s the culmination of the author’s many years of research, clinical experience and perhaps most importantly, her own life lessons. The BirthQuake series is an invaluable tool for anyone who has ever struggled or stands anxiously at a crossroad.”

Listen to Part One
Listen to Part Two

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I  just finished reading Rocky Braat’s blog, a young man who is devoting  his life to serving poor orphaned and abandoned children stricken with aids in India    I read  his blog surrounded by creature comforts in a land of plenty while our collective national preoccupation appears to be our faltering economy.  I read two days following a holiday still deemed by many to be sacred in spite of the sad fact that its primary message appears to have become “buy this.”   I read in my warm and cozy room, shaken once again by the profound suffering and deprivation  that exists in other parts of the world, and by the spiritual poverty that threatens  my own country.

Braat observes, “very few people in the West recognize how often the white knights of citizenship, medicine, and raw, brutal wealth sweep us up in their powerful arms and bear us from the battleground of suffering. Our bank accounts, our families, our insurance policies and hospitals, our consulates and ambassadors have so often rescued us from folly and misfortune that our psyches cannot squarely contemplate the torment that is the lot of the truly poor. ”

In the midst of our pain and our shame and our debt, there are alternative stories to the “Buy Me”  story so prevalent in the United States.  Following is one of those alternative stories, told by  activist and philanthropist, Lynn Twist.

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In a funny, thought provoking, (sometimes scary) and inspiring TED talk of less than 20 minutes, Roger Doiron (one of Maine’s own) shares how growing our own gardens can improve our health and well-being, increase our wealth, power and freedom, and help save the world. Here are just three of the many facts that Doiron shares during his talk:

Around the world both Hunger AND obesity is on the rise

To keep up with our expanding population, more food will need to be grown over the next fifty years than has been produced thus far during the past 10,000 years COMBINED and we will need to produce this food with LESS – less oil, water, soil, climate stability and time.

Our yards need not simply be yards, they can truly be full service green grocers!

You might want to visit Doiron’s wonderful site, Kitchen Gardners International: A Global Community Cultivating Change where you’ll find information, community, recipes, resources and more.

Here’s just a very small taste of what this website can offer you:

How to plant a garden in the snow
How to give Eco-friendly and budget-friendly gifts
How to connect with and learn from other gardners in your community and around the world
How new low tech technology can assist in growing food in arid environments

Disclaimer: I do not personally know or have ever had contact with Roger Doiron. I simply believe in his work and want to promote it. I firmly believe in the healing power of both nature and community, healthy eating, and living sustainably, consciously, and responsibly.

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I found this cartoon at theragblog.blogspot.com

In Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy James A. Roberts explores the hidden motivations and false assumptions that fuel our over spending and explains how we can free ourselves from the devastating consequences of materialism.

In the first chapter of his book, Dr. Roberts writes, “It is my hope that reading this book will give you the time, space and motivation to examine your day-to-day behaviour in a way that our hectic lives rarely allow. Some of the studies and statistics I’ll share may surprise you. Some may sound like they’re describing someone else. But they all speak to one undeniable truth: as consumers, we’re not who we think we are. It’s time to bridge the gap between what we say and what we do. It’s time to recommit ourselves to the kind of pursuits that are the true source of our well-being: spending time with loved ones, reaching our full potential as human beings, and participating actively in our world. No small task, but one well worth the effort: our happiness lies in the balance.”

During this season of high stress and high consumption, I highly recommend this book.

You can Listen to him speaking about his book at Consumerism Commentary

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What is the ‘good life’? The late comedian, George Burns, concluded that he had had a good life. Scott and Helen Nearing (homesteaders and social activists) maintained that they had lived the ‘good life’ too. George Burns life was vastly different from the Nearings and yet I suspect that those who knew them each well would have agreed that each of their lives had been well lived.

So many people long for a particular version of the good life that they’ve heard so much about, one that’s filled with images of luxury and wealth. Sadly, all too many of them struggle to achieve this vision in spite of the significant emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological, and ecological tolls that are exacted along the way.

Interestingly, while the notion of the good life seems to be deeply implanted in our psyche, its origin stems from the dreams of those who came before us, and meant something entirely different than what so many of us have come to yearn for. The world was introduced to the concept of the good life by William Penn and Henry David Thoreau and was a vastly different version than popular culture’s turned out to be. To them, the good life represented a life style based on simplicity, personal freedom, meaningful work and spiritual, psychological and intellectual growth and development.

As the economy continues its downward spiral and the impact of global warming intensifies, it seems more important to me than ever that we redefine for ourselves what living the good life can be.

Writer and philosopher, William Henry Channing wrote, “To live content with small means. To seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion. To be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich. To listen to stars and birds and babes and sages with an open heart. To study hard, think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions. Never hurry. In a word, to let the spiritual, the unbidden and the unconscious rise up through the common. This is my symphony.” Channing’s image of the good life is one that moves and inspires me. This is the ‘good life’ that can only be denied to me by barriers of my own creation, otherwise, it is always within my means and within my reach. Today, I plan to celebrate my good life….

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I just learned that Theodore Roszack died this past July in his California home at the age of 77 from liver cancer.

I’ll miss him. I’ll miss his wisdom, his perspective, his call to therapists everywhere to respond to the “madness involved in urban industrial society that has to do with our lack of balance and integration with the natural environment…” He urged us to join those ecologists and environmentalists who warn that we’re on a path of self-destruction. He implored us not to remain so focused on our clients’ individual issues that we failed to confront the wounds inflicted by a “deeply toxic” culture. In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove on Thinking Allowed, he encouraged us to find out why ordinary people are engaging in behaviors that are so destructive. To ask, “how did we lose our intimate connection to the natural world?” And “what drives us so fiercely towards material gain at the expense of community, spirituality, health, morality, and so very much more?” And he adviced us to listen very carefully to the answers as closely and as genuinely as we listen to the stories of our clients.

He pointed out that while our mental health system was focused on trauma, pathology and illness for so long, there have always been those who’ve maintained that, “the deeper you look inside, the more reason you find for joy, for celebration; that the foundations for human nature are clean and good and innocent and creative.” He asked us, as mental health professionals, to lead the way in helping people move away from the burdens of shame and guilt and original sin and towards what psychoanalyst Eric Fromme called, biophilia — the love of humanity and life. If we were to fall in love with the beauty that’s contained both within the natural world and within ourselves, we’d be far more proactive in caring for ourselves, our planet, and one another.

In an interview on PBS which focused on ideas from his first book, an examination of the revolutionary youth movement of the sixties entitled, “The Making of a Counter Culture,” Roszac suggested that if the ethos of the sixties had prevailed today, “it would be a world, where people lived gently on the planet without the sense that they have to exploit nature or make war upon nature in order to find basic security. It would be a simpler way of life, less urban, less consumption-oriented, and much more concerned about spiritual values, about companionship, friendship, community. Community was one of the great words of this period, getting together with other people, solving problems, enjoying one another’s company, sharing ideas, values, insights. And if that’s not what life is all about, if that’s not what the wealth is for, then we are definitely on the wrong path.”

He called on therapists such as myself in his book, “The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology,” and he called on boomers such as myself in his last book, “The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation,” to relaim the spirit that was very much alive in the sixties, the one that “questioned rather deeply the cultural standards of the time. He asked us now that we are becoming elders to revive the energy and commitment we had back when we were young to work to birth a better and more just world.

I will miss you Theodore. I took you for granted. I was too self absobed to fully hear your message. And now, as is all too often the case with we humans, you got my full attention only when I found out that you had left me. I’m listening now with both a sad and grateful heart….

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