I finally got to read through the book titled Radical Simplicity by Jim Merkel. It’s worth a read for those who are interested in simplifying their lives. Otherwise, the title alone will likely stop even a casual looker. He basically takes the reader through a few different calculators for estimating the size of their ecological footprint, estimating a size based on their values, and figuring out one’s true hourly wage (which covers all the off the clock time and money which you put in just so you can have that job). In this way the reader decides how much simplifying they want to do, and even in what areas they’d prefer to do it in. Everyone’s final draft will look different, as it’s catered to them.
Despite the calculators, however, there’s nothing there to really help you figure out HOW to simplify the things you want to. What I, personally, got out of it was a way of categorizing and evaluating my activities and money spending.
This morning I started a list, writing down the activities I do during the day. Currently I’m writing them as/before/after I do them. I then have 6 categories to choose from for each activity: survival/health, comfort/luxury, connect, earthcare, peoplecare, return surplus.
For example, getting dressed and hopping onto the PC both counted as comfort/luxury activities. Clarifying some butter and eating a breakfast of veggies + cheese counted as survival/health activities. Handwashing my clothes and hanging them up to dry counted as earthcare activities because I used human power, minimal water, and air for drying instead of electricity, thus reducing my ecological footprint and costs.
Then, for each activity, under their category, I evaluate if the activity fulfilled me and if it aligned with my values/goals. The evaluations are increase it, decrease it, improve the method, and ok as is.
So, for example, putting on a sweater this morning instead of turning up the heater I evaluated as ok on fulfillment (i got warmer), ok on alignment (not using more electricity fits with my goal of trying to reduce costs and footprint).
Another example, the handwashing and drying of my clothes got ‘improve it’ on each part, as it’s a process that I need to refine to better suit feeling fulfilled by doing it, and better alignment with my values. I do feel that I need to streamline the process better. And eventually figure out how to reuse the dirty water.
Using the PC decreases my fulfillment and doesn’t align well with my values. I’d like to improve how I use it and decrease how often I use it.
Yes, after reading that, it all seems so complex. But it’s more complex to write it out than to actually do it. Basically, the evaluations help me easily see which activities I’d be happier cutting back on, and which I’d be happier continuing or improving on.
I figure this is a good start on simplifying my life, and start working towards aligning myself with my values.
Do Your activities fulfill you? Do they align with your values? What purpose do they serve in your life? Would you prefer to increase them? decrease them? or find ways of improving some of them?