9 November 2007

Inner peace and contentment

When I first started living as I am now, I was searching and hoping for happiness and contentment and thought I might find it with fewer possessions and less attachment to mainstream ideals and what modern life had evolved into. I focused myself on the lifestyle and not what would eventually bring me real happiness, my inner self. I know now that the simple lifestyle is merely the means of attaining that inner peace and contentment; it's not the destination, it's just the ticket to ride.

Of course, when you think about it, the entire package is inner peace and contentment brought about via the daily work we all do in our lives. Everything you do in your day has the potential to deliver or delay that contentment. If we are striving to achieve our own personal happiness that is more likely to come when we work towards it with a purpose without getting sidetracked along the way by incidentals like buying another TV or new shoes. When I began to understand that, it helped me readjust what I did during the day. I stopped watching TV - mainly because I was watching pay TV lifestyle programs where people were looking for their ideal life, or cleaning programs where they'd clean up their lives and homes with the help of an outsider. I realised that I was trying to change my life while watching others try to change theirs. I needed to focus on what I was doing, so the daytime TV stopped. That lead to a kind of domino effect. We didn't watch much TV at all then, the cost of having pay TV was too high a cost in my simplified life, so it went. That freed up my daytime hours to concentrate on planning what I wanted to do. It gave me time to expand our vegetable garden, to learn how to mend and sew, I had time to learn how to make good bread. My goal now was to do everything well and with a purpose. It wasn't good enough just to bake bread, it had to be the best bread I was capable of. There was no reason to bake mediocre bread when we could, with just a few adjustments and more mindfulness, be eating excellent bread.

Being mindful is really the key to this. I discovered that when I slowed my mind down to focus on what I was doing at that minute, without thinking ahead to what was coming later, or what had passed, I was able to work systematically. I could improve what I was doing as I did it, I tried new ways and ditched old ones and eventually, over the course of about a year, I'd developed a new way of working that produced consistent results, I'd taught myself a lot of new skills and rediscovered old ones, and I was happy with my results.

That is the point of simple living to me - happiness. When you're happy with what you're capable of and how you live, whether that is cheering on your child at the school sports day, making the best peach jam you've tasted, delivering a well thought out presentation to your boss, saying hello to your new neighbours, hugging your partner with real affection, enjoying the company of your family and friends or growing the perfect tomato, that will deliver contentment to you. The satisfaction you feel when you do all those commonplace things builds into genuine contentment and self respect. You learn to respect yourself and what you do. That opens up a whole new world of good feelings, it will bring excellence to your life and the ability to be generous.

I know this opinion will be believed by some and not by others, but I know it to be true - as you simplify, consume less and pare back your needs, you will enrich your life. You'll create a new standard of quality for yourself because you'll start making excellent products for yourself instead of buying mediocre ones. And the end result of this new way of living will be that the richness of your everyday life will not allow the mediocrity of mainstream life to impact on you as much as it did in the past. You'll replace the mindlessness of TV, weekly magazines and shopping at the mall with a life full of purpose where you'll want less but be a whole lot more.


  1. Great post! I too, am trying to focus on what I am doing around my home instead of just watching TV shows about improvements or reading about organization or making lists. I'm finding that the more I just buckle down and get started the more I get done. I don't need the books or the show or the lists. The work just seems to find me. I have been amazed at what can be accomplished in a short amount of time when you are truly focussed on your tasks. There is so much emphasis on multi-tasking these days and sometime I think it is to our detriment. We are trying to do too many things at once and the quality of our work suffers and often it doesn't save us much if any time.
    Thanks again for another great post!

  2. Thank you, Rhonda Jean -- apparently you got my hints! Been hoping that you would post on this subject exactly. And you did!

    Another excellent post.

  3. Thanks for another honest and inspiring post.

  4. Slow down??
    I wish!
    My life seems to be speeding up... even after I've 'simplified' things. I got up at 5.30 to do some writing, housework, yoghurt making and washing, raced around getting the kids and I to school, and now I'm here snatching a few precious moments before my classes start.
    On the weekend I have to harvest, blanch and freeze a tonne of spinach; bake at least 5 cakes and a truck load of cookies; mow the lawns, do the edges and thin out the carrots. Oh, and finish off the year 11 correction. Brennan has a friend coming for a sleepover on Saturday night, so I have to drag the house into some semblance of respectability before then. (I'll miss those dust bunnies... we've given some of them names...)

    I agree wholeheartedly with the sense of satisfaction you get when you achieve success with the tasks and creative endeavours you do. I'd just like a little more time to savour the moment!!!

  5. I agree with Jenny, we try too hard to multitask and that is our downfall as we tend to produce "shoddy" work. I'm all for focussing on doing one thing at a time and doing it to the best of my ability. I'm also trying to teach my children this, but in our electronic age it is sometimes difficult.

  6. HI Rhonda Jean!
    Just thought I'd let you know that I mailed my aprons off to my swap partner today. It was fun making them and I'm looking forward to what ever the next swap will be.


  7. I find that the more I focus on the task at hand to quicker I get it done and it is usually better done than if I try to stay one step ahead. I enjoy just drinking the moment now, maybe because I am a bit older. I have also discovered that if I spend a bit of time each day on one project that is not necessary-only enjoyable, I am much happier. Sharon

  8. Rhonda, you are always so inspiring, I love the way you write, you are really really talented. I have all these ideas in my head to share, but when I put "pen to paper" I seem to totally miss the point of what I was trying to say! I guess we all have different talents.

    I really love what you wrote today, and it is relevant with the Christmas season approaching, people get so stressed at this time of year, they MUST send all their Christmas cards (i personally think they like to get hundreds back), they MUST have a spotless house, the best food etc., and all that shopping!
    I love what you do, and the way you inspire not only myself, but so many other people. I would have have thought of making my own apron before, I would have paid maybe $20 for one at a kitchen shop!!! Tomorrow I am going to make my apron for the swap, using my own made up pattern, and I am really really looking forward to doing it. Thanks Rhonda.

  9. That was me...and sometimes still can be....reading or watching a program instead of experiencing first hand, for which there is no substitute. But they also can be inspirational, which is good, as long as we are inspired to action!

  10. Oh and the chili recipe is up, Rhonda. :)

  11. Great post! Good food for thought.

  12. I'm guilty of the multi-tasking habit, I know that it doesn't work. I'm working on being focused on the task at hand only. I have also given up reading about all these great ideas and am just doing it. I watched the Abbey on tv recently and the message from that to me was to slow down, live in the moment and not to distract myself from my own truths by always being busy. So now I'm also not filling every minute of the day with busy-ness, I am allowing myself to sometimes just be.

    cheers Lenny

  13. Rhonda, I sometimes get lost in thought from your posts and then its too late to post comment. I wanted to add that I am thinking about a post you made about suggestions for re-arranging your site. I love how there are labels but I find this is not a good function if we want to look something up. Its great if we want to select a theme of blogs that we feel like reading but you do write so much that is useful or instructions or advice that one wants to re-visit at the time they are doing it. I thought an index or contents page but I suppose that would then be like a book and maybe not available to do on this site. Or could there be more specific labels or broader categories...regardless, I love your blog the way it is
    Thanks, Bella

  14. The steps you talk about are exactly the way it is happening for me. Little by little, bit by bit, my life is changing. And, I'm a great deal more relaxed, and I am more and more at peace and content with *me*. *this* is my life and I like it more and more each day.

  15. Dear Rhonda I am a daily reader....thank you. Today post was really relevant to my life. I am slowly making changes but have a long way to go. But to tell you the truth I am enjoying the process.

  16. Rhonda, I appreciate your blog for all the cheese making and gardening advice, but I love it even more when you write about ideas behind simple living, it's so inspiring. You're right: there's a vision to simple living - helping us concentrate on what really matters. I'm so much more peaceful now than when I had this drive to buy, buy, buy.

  17. Rhonda your writting is very inspiring - so true we should focus and try to do the best what we have -.
    My computer was broken for so long time that's why i'd missed your new swap - what a pitty! -
    I need to update on your writtings
    Greetings from Spain.

  18. Thank you all for your kind words. Pura welcome back.

    Coleen, Bella and Niki, thank you.

  19. Way to go with no T.V. My husband and I did the same thing a couple years ago. We have no T.V. It is wonderful!
    Don't forget about how much better your marriage is too when you have no T.V. you talk to each other a lot more.
    For me I just decided that I didn't want to waste my life watching other people do things, I would rather be doing them myself. I appreciated your thoughts on defining what you want to do with your day, it is interesting.

  20. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    What a lovely post. I've just been re-reading though your blog a few entries a day and this one was one of todays. I find your blog so motivational. I have started really trying to live more simply over the past few months and before the end of the year I'm going to write a list of things I achieved this year and things I hope to achieve next year. Thank you so much for all your advice and encouragement. I feel excited to be starting this new life of mine :) Thank you!

  21. Hi Rhonda, I've been enjoying a cup of tea while reading my way through some of your old posts. I so enjoyed reading this post.

    We gave up TV 11 years ago and it was the best thing we ever did.

    I also enjoyed reading about how you enjoy making something of good quality yourself, rather than buy something of mediocre quality. I find myself doing this more and more, and not rushing to finish the project, but savouring it.

    My self-confidence in being at home full-time is increasing all the time, as I realise more and more that my life is fruitful and meaningful that way. I'm never bored and feel nothing but satisfaction and contentment.

    I love your blog, it encourages me so much and I'm very much looking forward to buying your book when it comes out.

    Much love, Tina xxx


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