For some time, I’ve been wanting to attend a blog conference, but it’s not likely to happen in the near future. Instead, I recently organized a little get together with some local bloggers so we could exchange ideas, chat about what’s working for us, and what our goals are. One member of the group, Kathy Gottberg of Smart Living 365 presented each of us with a paperback copy of her book. Simple SMART & Happy. It was super motivational to see a book that evolved from a blog, because it’s a dream of mine to do a cooking blog that eventually turns into a cookbook.
The book is a collection of posts from Kathy’s blog that flow together perfectly to describe a simple approach to life that will not only reduce stress, but will allow you to focus on what brings you joy. The word SMART in the book and blog title is an acronym of the words Sustainable, Meaningful, Awareness, Responsible, and Thankful. Yes, it sounds like something that should be on a meme, and it instantly resonates with me the way inspirational quotes do.
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about Kathy. She’s not writing her blog on a shared computer at the public library. She pulled a MacBook Air out of her bag at our blog chat, and I know she’s not cooking rice and beans over a fire in her backyard, or getting around strictly on a bicycle. She’s not saying give up everything and live an austere minimalist life. What I get from the book is that we need to be a lot more in touch with what we want, what is valuable to each of us, what will really make us happier and more content. Hint: it’s not stuff.
We’ve been programmed to believe that we should feel honored when banks want to lend us huge amounts of money for enormous homes and vehicles. We think it’s normal to go to the furniture store and take home a dining room set that we don’t have to pay a dime for in the next six months. I can attest to the fact that even though I’m currently only making enough money to cover food and utilities, I get preapproved credit card applications in the mail every month. We are brainwashed into thinking we’ll be happier with more, more, more. Unfortunately, this way of thinking isn’t good for us, and it isn’t good for our planet.
I can totally relate to the concept of simple living as described in this book because choices I made forced me to embrace a simple life, and to my astonishment I’m happier now than I was when I was living on a yacht, and making great money. A private jet would arrive on the island with all my internet purchases about every six weeks, and I remember the anticipation of their arrival, the elation as I unpacked the bags, and then the fizzle when none of the new stuff made me feel any joy. When I think back on those times, the things that meant the most to me weren’t things at all.
When I stopped being a consumerator and began to feel content without that constant need to accumulate stuff I started to see life in a whole new way. I’m trying to raise my daughter this way, to value experiences over possessions. Living a simple life with a child could be very challenging, but so far we’ve been the lucky recipients of an amazing array of hand-me-downs. The stroller we still use is over 10 years old, bought new for my sister’s first child. The only new thing my daughter had as a baby was her infant car seat. 90% of her clothing to date has been hand-me-downs or thrift shop finds. We continue the cycle by giving things she outgrows to friends with younger kids. We only have Netflix and DVDs, so she isn’t exposed to tv commercials. Because of this she isn’t constantly adding to a list of toys she wants. She doesn’t know about them unless she sees them at a friend’s house. She is pining for a real microphone to sing into because her cousin Cynthia has a super fun karaoke machine. We’ll see. I have a feeling a microphone might be a lot of fun for both of us.
The bottom line is that I love the message of the book, and I enjoyed the writing. I highly recommend it.