07 February 2012

Step 6: Spend More Time With The People You Love

A full list of the Simple Living Challenge steps can be found here. 

As the Simple Living Challenge progresses we are trying to point out to each other the utterly important things in life, such as relationships, spiritual growth, true happiness, uncluttered lifestyle. These are all hard to achieve without a deliberate effort because in our busy, fast-paced modern life we are constantly bombarded with messages that this kind of inner piece is not enough.

But sometimes we need to counteract even if the whole world tells us we shouldn't. The mere fact that you are here, reading about simplifying proves that you have some faith in your gut feeling.

The modern world was not engineered for you to spend time with your family. In fact, only a few are blessed with the opportunity of spending more than 4 hours a day with their loved ones. And yet, we need that closeness. Human touch is what keeps us sane, so don't give up, go through your schedule and think of how to free up time to be with your family.

Julia of Candid Moments has a story worth taking into account when you are looking for a way to free up time for the people you love. I love the transformation she and her family went through by a single act of refusing - refusing to waste time.

Julia is a quiet person who doesn't like talking about herself. She is more of a listener than a talker. Drop by her blog to see her photographs of the world as she sees it and you will learn everything about her. Read between the lines of her carefully chosen words and you will become her friend.

In 1989 I got rid of my TV. I was a single mother with four children and was tired of what they were being exposed to on TV (At least that was my initial reason). It was difficult at first. There was all this empty time to fill. Do you know what I am talking about? Like when you break up with someone and there is all this extra time available that the relationship used to occupy. That was the first thing I noticed, all the extra time.

Then there was the realization that because of all the time in front of the TV we didn’t really know how to relate to each other in longer more meaningful conversations. The focused, undivided attention had been with the TV rather than each other. This was shocking because I thought we were a close family and I guess compared to most Americans, we were.

The value of spending time with the people you love
But it has been over time that I have seen the REAL value of getting rid of the TV. We began to gather in the kitchen to prepare meals together. We spent longer time at the dinner table sharing our day, or challenges, or expressing our feelings. We began to get up early on the weekends and go for hikes or take up sports, or garden. We started reading veraciously. Throughout this process we all started to know each other and ourselves better. We had more confidence in our decisions and ourselves.

Spending more time outside we started noticing and taking interest in conservation. We joined community projects to pick up trash, reforest through planting days with local groups, join local ecology programs that both educated and inspired. We became a part of a community of people who were committed to a healthy environment.

Looking back, dumping the TV was the BEST decision of my life
My children are grown and on their own now. The all attended university and has either found careers in fields of social and environmental responsibility or are passionately involved in their local communities to go green. They all live simply. They all are passionate about living green, eating organic, and living by example. They are all teaching their children to live the same way and the importance of consuming consciously by supporting local farmers, artisans, and businesses.

Photo: Liz West

Over-consumption and greed are learned
I am still without TV. I typically read a book a week. I write letters to government officials, protest, participate in beach clean up, volunteer in education programs to increase awareness and facilitate in writers groups to assist women to connect with their essence. I believe it is loss of this connection with self that breeds a consumer society and the need to be validated outside ones self. If we are grounded in our unique contribution and live out of our own authentic expression, by and large we will not over consume. Over-consumption and greed are learned.

We are being bombarded from every direction and angle. It has created a needy
and insecure world based on lack and need for more. This plan has benefited huge corporations and the individuals who are at their heads. The advertising industry is paid BILLIONS by companies to keep us insecure, wanting and uninformed.

I challenge you to turn off your TV
Better yet… Kick it to the curb. Spend some quality time with yourself and your loved ones. Take a hike or find a way to volunteer that feeds your soul. Take up a hobby, learn a craft, stretch and grow yourself so that you don’t rely on others to validate your worth. That is the key to stopping the insanity of consumerism. 

That is the key really, to finding joy.

You can do this! 
What do you say? Can you try and at least turn your TV today? I am sure there is that program you were expecting and you can start tomorrow but really, start today. Today is the only moment to make a change.

Share your experience: Tell us how you spent the evening. Did you have awkward silence and unhappy kids? Did you think of interesting activities to make up for the time in front of the TV? How did you like it?

See also:
Step 1: Embrace Your Imperfections
Step 2: Simple Living as Men's Trait
Step 3: The Rules of Simple Home Organization
Step 4: Simple Crafting for Happy People 
Step 5: Simple Scheduling and Planning Routines
Step 7: Spend More Time Alone
Step 8: Connect to Your Inner Self 
Step 9: How to De-Stress
Step 10: Learn to Live With Less and Enjoy it
Step 11: Start a Debt-Free Life
Step 12: How to Overcome Consumerism  
Step 13: Declutter Your Life  
Step 14: Get Rid of Toxic Cosmetics and Reclaim Your Natural Self  
Step 15: Wean Off Plastic  
Step 16: Celebrate Your Story  
The Final Step: Gratitude 

Make sure you stay up to date with the Simple Living Challenge and subscribe by email to receive each post straight to our Inbox or by RSS if you are using a Reader.