Wednesday, 20 July 2016

A State of Mind - and what Gandhi's got to do with it.

Ages ago my wonderful husband (the natural minimalist...) gave these words to me on just a small piece of paper, and I thought I'd share them because they mean a lot to me.

I find this quote so incredibly good, because it draws such a concise line from the moment to the future. I mean, it shows you, that what you are doing/thinking this moment, influences your future, so living in the moment is not just momentarily but has consequences.

Thoughts  -> Words -> Behaviour -> Habits -> Values -> Destiny. 

Just think of the "Make and Mend" Challenge. I think about my action of buying stuff I don't need. I put this into words and decide on going a way of less consumerism. Then I act on my words by not buying "stuff" for a year and concentrating on what I need. By the time a year is gone it will have become a habit. And not only a habit, but a value, because keeping it simple, not mounting the wheel of consumerism and appreciating the value of what I own. And by this, it will become the way of my life (my destiny). Brilliant, no? Then again think about what kind of gossiping might be going on around your head sometimes and to what result that might lead! A nasty piece of work. Frightening, isn't it?!

I have thought quite a long time about Gandhi's words and how they influence life. And about those thoughts. Which are the thoughts that I want to avoid? What kind of behaviour do I find harmful in others and maybe myself and do I want to eliminate from my thoughts. I also read a bit. ;) 

Envy. A really destructive, forceful and selfish feeling. Yes, I sometimes am really jealous of other people. Maybe because they seem to be working less, or have help from their family in every day life, ... . Because my thougths focus on something they have and I don't. And then I usual feel rather awful and pity myself and might eventually get bitter. Which is absolutely not what I want to get. And it makes ugly wrinkles, too. I want to have happy wrinkles! For me it helps to think that every advantage usually comes "cum grano salis". Your Mum looks after your children a lot? I bet she's also got a lot to say about your education style. Or the way you clean the place? Never? Well, lucky you, then you can share some relaxedness with the world! :)

Rage. That's a bad one. I am not talking your usual "a little bit angry" but the self-destructive, vengeance-seeking, blind and violent rage. Where you might hurt the people you love most. I have luckily no experienced this feeling myself, but I have witnessed its consequences. 

Greed. As in "pursuit of material posessions". Way beyond what you need. And where there is no enjoyment any more, just the obsession to own more. I see this very closely connected to envy. Which is a bad combination. 

Excess. To much of a good thing... Excess can be defined as the overconsumption of anything to the point of waste. Or selfishness. Bigger, better, faster, more... I don't think I have to explain, why excess is a bad thing, do I? 

Desire. While a certain amount of drive for certain things (and I don't only mean sexual desire) can bring us forward, the excessive lust for money or power can certainly cause harm to others. A blind desire for things or people brings sorrow.

Pride. Have you ever done something out of pride, or been spiteful? "Just because" or "out of principle"? I have... no, not great. I'm not very proud of myself there. I think a strong person can admit mistakes, give in or apologize without loosing their face. On the contrary, to admit you own faults is much bigger than insisting on that you are right to please your pride. 

Indifference. Now, I don't think this is an easy one to explain. But I think if you become indifferent to what you are doing, if you can't feel joy, if you don't have goals, something or sombody to live for,  that will lead to utter unhappiness.

Does this list sound familiar to you? Probably. It's not my list, a lot of very intelligent philosphers, artists/painters and writers have written about them. You might recognize them by their latin translation:
Superbia - Avaritia - Luxuria - Ira - Gula - Invidia - Acedia
They are actually the seven deadly sins. If you go with Christianity. I especially liked the section of the seven deadly sins in art.  
But you could also look at Hinduism and the Arishadvargas. Or the Kleshas of Buddhism. This is not about being religious. But the big religions and philosophies have all identified harmful behaviour and emotions, that will lead to unhappiness, sorrow and to difficulties in forming a peaceful society. Millenia ago. I find that very impressive.

If you've come to this point, you probably ask yourself, what this has got to do with minimalism. Well, it's consumerism that is thriving on those bad feelings. But I am going to dedicate a separate a blogpost on consumerism. How about going and hugging someone you love right now?

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