We are giving away five copies of The Promise of Paradise: Life-Changing Lessons from the Tropics by Jonathan H. Ellerby, Ph.D. Check out this preview from the book and don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win the book!
Is “Less” the New “More”?
By Jonathan Ellerby, PhD
My awareness of consumption has dramatically changed since we have moved to the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Here, when we have little spending money for events or local attractions, we just go to the beach. When we cannot find the ideal products or snack at the grocery store, we rely more on fresh fruits and vegetables. When we cannot find the clothing or furniture selection we want, we just do without.
I went to a networking event for “green” businesses recently in Boulder, Colorado. I was feeling very timid when I arrived because our standards at Tao Inspired Living, the new company I just became CEO of, are very good and on the rise, but are not yet as squeaky clean as we would like them to be. The number of ecologically sensitive products in our region is more limited than you might find if you were building a resort in Colorado, British Columbia or California. So, I was feeling intimidated by all the “green” companies and individuals that I was keeping company with. My attention was on high alert and at each turn I wondered if my home life and corporate progress were really as green as they could be. As the event progressed and I added up all the new and alternative products I would have to buy to “green” my life, I came to a powerful personal realization: most green products today are simply replacements for conventional products, or they are new products to add to an already oversaturated home. Improving the ecological impact of a product is an important step, but the motive of many of these green companies is still to sell something. The goal is still consumption and a lot of it.
Since moving “south,” I realize that what the world needs more of is less. By shopping less, spending less, and wasting less, we have a far better environmental footprint than when we go to the Whole Foods Market in Tucson and purchase a green version of every excessive body care, snack food, and gourmet item we could dream of. Here, by the Caribbean Sea, we eat fresh, unprocessed food and only buy the toys and tools for living that are most important, rather than the ones that are most convenient. Living in the jungle or by the ocean you realize that the more you have, the more you have to tend to. Nature wears heavily on things here, and it’s wonderfully so. It teaches us daily and keeps things in perspective. Life feels simpler, lighter, and, in the end, better for our planet.
Looking at what we learned from our move and relocation, I now regularly ask myself questions that I believe would be helpful to anyone:
What do I really need to own? What if all I could have in life had to fit in the trunk of a car—what would I keep? What do I need more of? What do I need less of? and last, What do I want, but can truly live without?
Three Tropical Teachings
- Simplify Radically. Reduce what you have; give away what you don’t use, then give away more; and remove clutter regularly.
- Walk More! Get to know the world around you without technology or tools. Taste, touch and feel first hand. Drive less, walk more. At home, sit less, walk more.
- Focus on being, not buying. Your character is what needs attention, not your local shops. It is more important to focus on the qualities of your life such as how you treat others and how you manage disappointment or challenges, instead of on the things you have or what you want to own. Shop less, make more at home. For example, learn to cook with real ingredients, not with only those that come from cans, bottles, and boxes. Encourage your children to explore and experiment with their environment, rather than be handed their ideas and interests by plastic toys and TV shows. When in doubt, don’t buy more.
Adapted from The Promise of Paradise: Life-Changing Lessons from the Tropics by Jonathan H. Ellerby, Ph.D. ©2012 (Hay House).
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