Do you think you need to simplify your life?

@scheng1 (24800)
Singapore
April 11, 2010 7:02am CST
Recently I came across the following paragraph in a book about buddhism. This book is distributed freely, so I grab it and a few other books for self improvement purpose. This particular paragraph leads me to ask the question about simplify life. The paragraph says: “When you are at home, simplify your environment. Get rid of the television. I can almost hear you gasp at the thought, “What? No television”? Stop reading all the pop-up ads on the computer. Don’t browse through the catalogues that come in the mail. Put them in the recycling bin right away. Don’t turn on the radio every time you get in the car. Listen to a Dharma CD instead or chant mantra. Simplify your social life too. Do you really need to go here and there and do this or that? Simplify your hobbies. Choose a few things that you enjoy doing, instead of trying to do everything and be everything because this is what you think you have to be and do, so that people will like you. Do what is really important to you. Question the thought that says, “Everyone has to love me. I have to run around and do these things so that they’ll love me.” Is that true? Make your life simple.” Do you agree with the author? Do you think you need to simplify your life? How do you think you can simplify your life? If you want to read the book, it is available for free download at the website of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. You can do a search for it in the Internet. The book is entitled "The 37 Practices of Bodhisattvas" commentary by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron.
1 person likes this
12 responses
@allknowing (65314)
• India
11 Apr 10
That's exactly what I am into these days. I hardly socialise - I turn down every invitation I get for attending functions. I have started getting rid of stuff in the house which I can live without. I have not reached a stage though where I would want to get rid of my tv! although the time I spend in front of the idiot box is much less. I have understood the true meaning of life hopefully.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Allknowing, I hope you get happier and happier and have more time to enjoy life. It is surprisingly how life can be so simple and so enjoyable. Some of us start by getting rid of unnecessary items at home. The sight of an airy room is so much comforting to us than to have it cluttered with so many things that we never use. I do not watch TV, so i do not find that getting rid of TV is such a big deal. However, I need computer and Internet access to survive. Can't imagine getting rid of it.
@allknowing (65314)
• India
12 Apr 10
More is yet to come. I want to stop entertaining guests which means getting rid of cutlery, crockery which I have by the dozen. What a relief it would be to see my storage free of all this stuff! And do you know I have countless photo albums collected over the years memories of countless holidays we have been to, parties organised, et al and that will be my next target.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Allknowing, I dont usually entertain guests at home. I prefer to meet me outside. It is fortunate that eating out is rather cheap in singapore. I cannot tolerate the thought of spending hours and hours cooking and cleaning up just for the sake of two hours of entertaining guests. Probably we are from different cultural background. That's why we do things differently. I think you will find life more enjoyable and less burdensome with less social obligation, and more time for God (if you are a religious person), Nature and yourself.
@ssxiona (91)
12 Apr 10
Someday I found I was not pour as before, I began to find my virginhood but it is very hard. I know I get a lot but at the same times I loss many important things. I made myself fit in the society and changes a lot. I started to grow up. I am trully support your opinion that we should simplify my life. With simplifing life, our life will be easier and less presure so we can really enjoy the true nature.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Ssxiona, you seem to lead a very busy and unhappy life. I hope your situation can change too. If not, at least you can change your thinking. Sometimes we are unhappy because we think too much, and we think bad of everything and everyone. If possible, simplify your life. If not, at least try to control your thoughts and desire.
12 Apr 10
I think I will be better. Thank you for your advice.
@monkeylong (3146)
• Guangzhou, China
12 Apr 10
Yeah, as far as I am concerned, I think there is some need that I should try my best to make my life a little simply,which can help me to have a more comfortable life. If there is few thing for me to do in my daily life, I think I will feel so relax and happy.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
13 Apr 10
Hi Monkeylong, simple life does bring more time for enjoyment of life, and less stress. If we do not always desire more and more material things, we definitely will feel more relaxed and happier. Probably the first step is to get rid of unwanted things at home. The house will look brighter and airy with lesser things. I also do not like to have too many things to do. It is impossible to do everything.
• India
12 Apr 10
Keep your desires within manageable limits and make your life simpler. Gautama Buddha had said, “The desire is the root cause of man’s sufferings”. People tend to misconstrue what He said; they think that we must have no desire altogether. How can one not have any desires? The desire to seek escape from suffering too is a type of desire. As long as we have the pangs of hunger and thirst, we will have desires. Quest after God too is a kind of desire. In Buddhism, however they do not believe in God’s existence; therefore, they do not quest after God. Whenever you desire for something you will eventually get what you desired; but together with it, you will also get what you did not desire. Here are some steps to have your desires within the manageable limits. This would also help to keep your life simple, sans complications. Simple life therefore means having one spouse and fewer children. There are good and bad desires. Having good desires would keep your life simple; however bad desire would complicate your life. Do not desire to marry but desire to raise a family. If you desire only to marry then you will get children too. You had desired only to marry; and the children come into your marriage as unwanted element. Children would make your life complicated. However if you desire to raise a family, then it is a good desire. However, to have an extra marital relationship would complicate your life for you. If anyone desires for children outside marriage; then he or she complicates their life further. Simple life means having things according to your need. Do not desire for things over and above your needs. Desire for only those things you need. Those things would keep your life simple. If you desire for things you do not need, then they would make your life complicated. Let me elaborate, you need only one house to live. Just one house according your need would keep your life simple. More than one house, especially if you do not need them would make your life complicated. It is also true for everything else in life. Be it a car, or a TV, or any other item of luxury. Always choose a difficult and a longer path. A simpler and shorter path would make your life complicated. Paradoxically, when it comes to choosing a path in life, I advise you to take a difficult path. Do not take an easier path. A difficult path would fetch you a long-term advantage. An easier and a shorter path would fetch you short-term advantage; but it would also make your life complicated. Always speak the truth. This would allow you to lead a simple life. Speaking lies would make your life more complicated. Whenever people tend to tell lies, they find themselves in a situation, which forces them to prevaricate. They have to tell more lies to hide one lie. Always speak the truth; and this would make your life simpler. Beside, speaking lies would make you suffer from hypertension. You will develop high blood pressure, which may lead to diabetes; and then even kidney failure. You will find yourself spending your hard-earned money on medicines and treatment. Speaking the truth would keep your life simple. Desire for things you deserve. Never aspire for things you do not deserve. There is a saying you get what you deserve. If you desire for something you do not deserve, you would make your life complicated. Aspiring for a beautiful wife if you yourself are ugly is as buying a book for others to read. Do not desire for the post of a CEO when you are qualified to be only a clerk. Desiring for things you do not deserve would invite a disaster. You will find yourself in a difficult situation. This would make your life endlessly complicated. Never do things that are beyond your capacity. Doing things within your capacity would keep your life simple. To keep your life simple, never take up the tasks, which are beyond your capacity. It would not only drain you out of your energy; but would make your life much more complicated than you think. It does not mean you should not accept challenges. Do not take bigger strides to meet those challenges. Take smaller but firm steps and you will be able to overcome any challenge however surmountable it may be. All things I have mentioned above would help you to keep your life simpler. It will also help to maintain your desires within the manageable limits. This is what Gautama Buddha meant when he said, “The desire is the root cause of man’s sufferings”.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
13 Apr 10
Hi Achilles, that is a very lengthy explanation, and a practical approach of Buddhism. In term of the number of kids, it will depend on the financial abilities of both parents. Some people are rich and they really love kids. So having many children is not a chore at all.
@veejay19 (3592)
• India
12 Apr 10
I am not a Buddhist but a Hindu and our scriptures also say the same thing, ie to lead a simple life. What this means is that one should get rid of ones desires one by one by turning to God, by chanting mantras, by meditating regularly and by leading a disciplined and well regulated life. Ever since i came on the spiritual path and found my Guru my life has become simple ,serene, and without stress. Of course there are always obstacles in life but i have found that that solutions also come and turn my problems from mountains to molehills.there is no need to give up the luxuries and neccessaties of life, it is neccessary to give up the desires and attachments to our possessions and to our relationships. Only when we do this can our life become harmonies and full of joy.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Veejay, I am not surprised to hear that. I believe all religions advocate a simple life, and not trusting on material things. While it is good to enjoy good food, and beautiful house. It is far more importantt to live happily and have friends and family who love and care for us. I dont most of us can live a stress-free life. The best we can do is to reduce stress and manage stress. I think having a religion is one of the best ways to learn about living and stress management. Glad to hear that you are living the life that most of us envy.
• Philippines
12 Apr 10
I don't think that I have to simplify my life coz Im already living in a simple way of life. For me living a simple life is that, living within your means, don't hurt anybody, be fair, love your parents, love your brothers and sisters. In that way you will know how to live a simple and happy life. And the most important thing is that be thankful to what is God has always given us..Be happy!
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Farashadine, some people enjoy simple life and some do not. I have seen some retirees dying from boredom. Before they retired, they enjoy working more than twelve hours a day. Once they retire, they do not know how to live their lives. As a result, life loses its meaning for them. Soon, they get sick and die. It is good that you are enjoying life to the full, and very contented with your current lifestyle. I think that is the secret to a happy life.
@wll521998 (109)
11 Apr 10
it should depend on your living surroundings. i have lived in winchester for 3 years and that is a really small andquite city.very suitable for old people toi live.since i live thre, i got no passion days and days passed and my life is very simple. so i wanan busy my life
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
haha, I think you are too bored with your lifestyle. Those in the big cities are too busy, with nearly no time to sleep, and yet you are leading the life of the retirees. No wonder you find it bored. I do not think I like to live like that too. It is too boring, and too meaningless. I need some challenges in life to make it worthwhile too.
@mommaj (22770)
• United States
11 Apr 10
Hi scheng! I think the author gave really good advice. I'm not Buddhist, but I believe life should be simplified to a degree. The television I don't agree with, LOL. I think people can stop doing a lot of the activities they do. For the most part, most of those people that are on the go are just stressing themselves out. They do not actually enjoy what they are doing which is totally sad and ridiculous. You should do what you enjoy to make yourself happy and not try to make others happy or appease them.
@laglen (19782)
• United States
11 Apr 10
I think simplifying is a great idea. I am constantly doing this. Getting back to simplicity. I think there is far too much going on, and I am a bad perpetrator of this. I cram as much into a short period but I do this in hopes of making my furture more simple. I am working at a two year goal.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Laglen, I think it's a good idea too. I always want my room free of clutter. However, I never seem to do that at all. My house has more chairs and tables than necessary. Actually I know that I can live without so many chairs and tables, yet never have the heart to throw them away. Some of these are inherited and have sentimental value. As a result, house cleaning is a chore. If only all these things can just diappear, I bet I can shorten the time for housecleaing considerably. The only thing I can do is to stop buying all the unnecessary items.
• Philippines
11 Apr 10
I don't think i need to simplify my life. I think it's just fine right now. If i throw out the television i.ll get bored and my brother will surely be pissed at me for doing that. I don't need to walk to work or i'll smell like smoke when i get there. I think my life right now is just fine.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Frontvisions, you are fortunate to lead such a happy and satisfying life. Most people are so stressed and so busy with life, that they hardly seem to live at all. Some of them even know that they are slaves of their houses, their cars and credit card companies. It is the latter group of people who need to slow down and enjoy life more. Living a busy life, and working sixteen hours a day, plus attending classes after work is very tiring, and not the best way to enjoy life at all.
@dragon54u (31617)
• United States
11 Apr 10
I agree to a point. I don't think that we should cut ourselves off from the world and become immersed in our own little space. Things are happening that we need to change, fight against or encourage, particularly in my own country. I think people would be better off to slow down and pay attention to their families, turn off the television, get rid of their cell phones or only use them for emergencies, and generally work towards the goal of self-sufficiency. Simplicity is the first step. For instance, long ago I quit using butter and salt on corn--a very small change but it expanded my options. I could enjoy an ear of corn even if there was nothing to put on it. Same with coffee, I drink it black. I believe we should reduce our dependency on things and that widens our options and opens up opportunities.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Dragon, I agree with you completely. I enjoy eating corn with or without butter. As long as the corn is fresh, it is sweetness by itself. I think there are many things that we do unconsciously because we have been doing it all the time. One good example is the obsession in checking email every day. Most of us cannot tolerate the thought of not checking email everyday or watch TV everyday.
@caliya (1175)
• Philippines
11 Apr 10
there are many ways to simplify your life like walking instead of riding in your car when it's just few blocks in distance, drinking the free coffee in the office instead of buying gourmet coffee and eliminating other unnecessary wants in life but i don't think i can go hard core like eliminating t.v. i guess it really varies as to what is considered simple to a person.
@scheng1 (24800)
• Singapore
12 Apr 10
Hi Caliya, I think we have different expectations in life, and that determines how much we want to simplify our lives. I can do without TV but I cannot do without my computer and cell phone. I can probably go without Internet access for a couple of days when on a weekend trip. I cannot imagine cutting off access to Internet. I would not know how to spend the evening hours.