Friday, September 23, 2011

Recommended reading

This week I read a book that has really stayed with me and I thought it was important to share it with you all. I believe that minimalism and simple living go a long way towards living a more sustainable life and allows us to slow down our lives and surround ourselves with things that truly matter. It's about not accepting things because they're the way that everyone does it but rather doing things that give meaning and value to your own life. And this week I read a book that is really in line with that way of thinking and had some amazing quotes that really stuck with me so I wanted to share them.
"Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We're teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it."
The book is called tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom and was a bestseller in the US so it's likely many of you have heard of it or even read it before. It tells the true story of Albom as he reconnects with his college professor and mentor Morrie Schwartz nearly twenty years after they last spoke, as Albom learns that Schwartz is dying from ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). They come back together for one final class, the subject? Life. Schwartz and Albom discuss a number of our most important questions in life including such subjects as our culture, regrets, death, family, emotions, fear of aging, money, love, marriage and forgiveness.It's the type of book that helps you to re-evaluate what is really important in your own life and to make active changes if there are things you aren't happy with.

But one of the things that struck me the most is how Schwartz echoed a number of my own beliefs in terms of our current culture and the missing values caused by that culture.
"Most of us all walk around as if we're sleepwalking. We really don't experience the world fully, because we're half-asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do." 
It is human nature to follow the pack and to do things because we think that's the way we have to do it because everyone else does. If you decide not to have children (or to only have one), to not have a credit card or own a car, to live a rubbish free lifestyle, or even to throw out your microwave there will always be someone out there who wants to try and project their own ideals onto you and tell you it's not the right way to do things, but the reality is that you simply need to do what is right for your own values and purposes whether that fits into the 'agreed culture' or not.
"But the big things - how we think, what we value - those you must choose yourself. You can't let any-one - or any society - determine those for you."
 I think most of all the book taught me to be more present in every moment and to focus on the things that truly matter.

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