2 November 2007

Self discovery, reinvention and changing your attitude

This photo is completely off today's topic, it's a small view of our front garden. It's spring here so we have all sorts of flowers growing. Incorporating beauty into your life is an important part of living simply. But just so you know I've not gone completely flower crazy in the front garden, those leaves poking into the top right hand corner are avocado leaves and planted next to the avocado are rosellas (a type of hibiscus that we'll use the flowers of to make jam, tea and cordial) and radishes.

As we mature we all have a certain view of ourselves and the life we live. Now that you’ve decided to change how you live, reassess your personal view of yourself. Look critically at your values and what you think is important to you and your family. Don’t be afraid to reinvent certain parts of your life. Your aspirations might have changed a lot over the last few years and things you’ve always known to be true about yourself and others may have changed.

If you’re in your twenties and don’t yet have a rigid idea of being a particular type of person, you’ll be starting with a clean slate. You are in the ideal position of having your entire adult life ahead and, therefore, would, theoretically, be in a position to gain the most from living simply. What you decide for yourself now could set you up for an interesting life that will not be burdened with credit card payments and the waste that many of us work through during our younger years. You are in the box seat, make the most of it.

But no matter what stage of life you're at, living simply will improve your life. There are many benefits to be discovered in living at a gentler pace and they are there no matter what age you are right now.

If you’ve thought in the past that your success meant living in a big house, driving an expensive car and living the high life, you should reassess that. Your new version of success may include learning about gardening, cooking or preserving. It may be to raise thoughtful children who love the simple life. Your new successes may be in paying off your mortgage years early and living debt-free, or learning how to live well on less.

You might start organising your time to better suit your new life so that you can include some volunteering or community work, you might enlarge your vegetable garden and grow a wider variety of fruit and vegetables to share with family and neighbours. You might learn a new language or teach your grandchildren to read. Whatever your interpretation of success is now, incorporate it into your life with enthusiasm and throw out old negative ideas.

And please be brave in your new life. If you now have different views to those close to you - your family and friends - tell them. Don't lock them out of your new life, try to bring them with you by explaining why you've changed and what you hope your life will become. They may not understand the need for change, they may even try to convince you not to change, but respect yourself and your new life enough to be proud of it.

Although this might be one of the most difficult things to do, changing your attitude will help you adjust to your new life and in the long run, will give you real satisfaction. If you want to live simply because you’re not happy living the way you are now and you know things need to change, then a change of attitude will help you slide more easily into your new life. Attitude adjustment will facilitate many of the changes you’re about to make.

By now you probably realise that buying more and bigger things, upgrading to the latest version and being the first with the latest is like being on a never-ending treadmill. If you listen to those voices that tell you to consume, you’ll never be good enough or have enough; it will never end. It will take a conscious effort to get off that cycle of consumption and to be content with who you are and what you have. Change your idea of what success is and what will make you happy. What you see as success will always be just slightly out of reach if it is defined for you by magazines, TV, advertising or people you know.

Success isn’t being surrounded by expensive possessions; genuine achievement has a much more complex character. Success is feeling comfortable in your own skin, being satisfied by what you’ve accomplished, living according to your values and having the confidence to show the type of person you are. Real success is never defined by possessions, no matter how many times you hear that on TV, or from your relatives or friends.


  1. Two years ago I went through a life altering change in my life, that stopped me dead in my tracks, in all aspects of my life. It changed who I was, a woman who was miserable and unhappy; to whom I have become, a woman who embraces each day, as the blessing it is. It changed what I thought was important into what I now know is truly important. It altered my personality to where I live my life with no regreats.

    This life altering change was cancer and chemo. What was devastating at the time, turned out to be the biggest blessing for me. Would I go through it again to get where I am now; in a heartbeat.

  2. Rhonda,

    This is such a good post. I am having a hard time being content. My husbands brother owns 100 acre's. We own 1 :) They have animals goats, chickens ect.. We have a cat, two parakeets and two guinea pigs:)

    We have a nice home but when I look around it is hard not to want more. We are paying off debt and I don't want to get more debt to have things :)

    I just want to be happy for the home and family. (and our small but wonderful animals) We have a huge garden and plenty of room to walk around. Why does a 100 acres sound better?

    Blessings to you!


  3. Hi suzen, thank you for sharing a little bit of your story. I can imagine that such an experience would be life changing and I am truly pleased you are here with us now to share each day. ((Hugs))

    Renee, it sounds to me like you've done the self discovery and maybe some reinvention, but you need to work a bit more on changing your ideas about success. As you know, we have one acre too and it's more than enough to give us space, land for growing food and to feel grateful we own such a piece of land. To me, 100 acres sounds like hard work to keep it productive. Isn't it better to fully utilise what you have rather than want for more that you might never have the need to work?

    You are still young and maybe a larger piece of land will come your way one day, but in the meantime, love what you have and be content within yourself. Bigger is not better, it's just bigger, and that comes with bigger debt, bigger responsibility and more work.

    Thank you for your honesty too. I hope you find the acceptance you seek.

  4. Dear Rhonda Jean;

    This process is not easy - but once it is achieved, it is truly the best that could happen to you.

    My attitude has changed so dramatically; I am an oddity to my friends and family. Those that knew the old me, can not believe that I have embraced the simple life.

    I owned the larged house on the block, I had the most up to date car, gadget, fashions - then I realized - we weren't happy.

    I wake up to beautiful mountains, a small garden full of flowers, a small house easy to maintain, to clean, to love. I have everything I need. Life is good :)

    Maria S.

  5. I seem to be constantly re-assessing my life these days. I know what my priorites are and how I want to live and I feel like I'm living with real purpose not just drifting from day to day.

    However I find it very hard to talk about any of this with anyone other than my husband and one sister. Everyone else I know quickly changes the subject if I even mention things like growing food, preserving, saving water and power, frugal living, being content with what you have etc.

    I'm afraid I'm not brave enough to face the smirks and giggles and I can't even imagine the reaction if I told anyone I use cloth wipes instead of toilet paper. I'm definitely keeping that to myself for a while yet. :-)

  6. Rhonda, you've hit on so many key points. Often with age comes wisdom. I believe we can also gain wisdom from those who have aged, i.e. asking our grandparents how they survived war shortages, etc. Or just reading about them. (Once Upon a Town by Bob Greene). And yes, absolutely, attitude and perception are the key. Great article.

  7. I'm so happy I could step off the treadmill relatively early in life, without being enslaved to a time-consuming job and without getting up to my ears into debt.

  8. It occurred to me that we of a certain age come across as a bit smug when it comes to the whole wisdom thing, even though a lot of our "wisdom" has been hard won by falling on our tushes (I guess ya'all would say "bums") and learning from it.
    I think the lightbulb went on for me when I finally understood the concept of a "leap of faith." A simple thing like turning off the television (a major impetus for consuming in my book). You rationalize that "it's no big deal," even though intellectually you know your time and your psyche are being affected every minute you watch. It will always be easier to rationalize. You have to physically turn it off (the leap) and experience that feeling of loss before you can realize the benefits and embrace what you are doing (the faith). Once I realized that the painful "separation" would be temporary, it became easier and easier to swim against the current.

  9. "Success is feeling comfortable in your own skin, being satisfied by what you’ve accomplished, living according to your values and having the confidence to show the type of person you are."

    Wise words. Still struggling to get there. (Wildside)

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  11. I love your post, Rhonda.
    It's very lonely making these changes. My relatives think my ideas are way out there and want nothing to do with it. They quickly change the subject or just stare at me with nothing to say. Some will say that they had it difficult growing up and they feel they deserve getting all the things they want because they can afford it now. I guess I give them the same silent stare when they say this. I'm trying to improve myself everyday and I do feel such a relief not spending they way I used to.

    We don't live in a house. I live in an apartment with my husband and 19 month old girl. We are living on one income and managing to save some money and living comfortably. Thanks to you. I have changed my overspending and I am having a wonderful time taking care of our little girl. You are a great encouragement to mothers who decide to stay home and take care of their children. I am happy to say I am a Homemaker. Thanks Ronda.
    You are inspiring in many ways!

  12. I love your blog and you are such an inspiration to me. I've already started simplifying things by cleaning up and weeding out extra possessions I don't need. Since I only have 1 income, I know it will still be years before I can get out of the rat race work world and have some peace. Please keep posting -- you are keeping me sane and focused.

  13. Such a good post, Rhonda. Thought provoking and so sensible. Your calm down to earth advise keeps me centered. Thank you


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