Tag Archive - Simple Living

7 Prosperity Lessons from The Tree

We will never meet a depressed tree, a lazy flower, or a procrastinating apple. Indeed, people can impose their polluting products on the innocent lives of Nature, but no matter how much toxins they swallow, they keep giving their vivid colors, satisfying variety of tastes, and nutritional energy.

We can learn a great deal from plants. They are the eternal and genuine representatives of Life; how can we possibly afford to ignore their messages and lessons! We need them, not only for food and oxygen, but for the eternal examples of beauty, sustainability, abundance, contentment and unpretentious giving that they provide!

How about taking the Tree as a role model?! The Tree is doing something right. No, it’s doing everything right!
From now on, when you meet a tree, look at it with love and respect, and listen to some of the eternal lessons that it keeps trying to teach you and me:

1. Plant the seed, or it will remain an insignificant and mediocre being.
We have an idea, we have money, we have a learned skill or a natural talent; they are only “seeds”. The Tree tells you that seeds alone are not enough. She was a seed before, but growth comes with more than a seed. If you have a seed (time, talent, information, ideas) don’t let it die. It could become a magnificent tree, if you water and take care of it.

2. Hide the seed under the ground!
Seeds grow “underground”! The grown up Tree is telling you to keep your seeds hidden in the very early stages, until you make sure you put enough work into it to allow it to go above the ground. Once it grows visible and it has some roots, go out and show it to the world!
We repeatedly read and heard that those who talk don’t work, and those who work are too busy to talk about their work! Hide your seeds and let them grow underground, until they take some shape.

3. Give fruits, shade, beauty, or unseen oxygen!
To be of value, we have to give something of value. There is no way around that. The Tree is appreciated for its delicious and nutritious fruits, and for its beauty. She even gives us oxygen without us seeing or noticing this indispensable breath of life. To live beautifully like the Tree does, we need to figure out something to give to people and to the world; something beneficial and beautiful.

4. Be beautiful.
Yes the Tree is functional. She has many uses and benefits. She gives fruits and shade and woods and oxygen. All this giving doesn’t prevent her from also being beautiful! Like the Tree, we have to take care of how we look. Beauty does good. We enjoy looking at the Tree even if we don’t use any of its benefits; beauty alone is enough. When we take care of our body, without vanity, we just make a small contribution beautifying the human scenery wherever we go.

5. Be, don’t scream.
The Tree doesn’t need to hang a sign enumerating why she’s good and beautiful. She just is! You take the fruit and eat it, you enjoy the greenery and beauty, without her yelling at you: look how good, how delicious, how beneficial I am!
Do your work, and let it speak for you. Speak in actions and people will praise you in words.

6. Mangos are not better than apples.
Trees are great because they come in so many different flavors and looks. We definitely won’t like to have a world where all the fruit trees give out mangoes, no matter how much we love mangoes! The beauty of the world is the great variety it has to offer!
We, the human trees, are the same. We don’t need to be like anyone else if it’s not in our design. We don’t need to give strawberry if we’re designed to give apples; first because we can’t, no matter how hard we try, and second because apples have their fans, just like strawberries have theirs! Go with your design, your natural abilities, this is what you’re supposed to give! Don’t think you have to be designed any other way. Your own fruits have their very particular use and fans. If you’re an apple, trying to be a strawberry will just give you and the world some fake and tasteless strawberries, while making you miserable and uselessly exhausted.

7. Grow at your own pace.
Every tree has its own pace and needs a different time to grow. Don’t rush. As long as you know your special kind of fruit, work on it, and forget about how long it will take for the tree to grow high into the sky!

Stop and Smell… The Cucumber!

0614091324-01Food is our fuel, like gas is our car’s fuel. Is it?!!

We run on the energy we get from food, that’s right, the way our automobiles run on the energy they get from gas, that’s right too!

But how does gas taste? Does our car enjoy it’s meal at the pump?!

For some reason, our experience of fueling is different than machines. We could have been designed just like cars, pump some fuel into our mouth and get going! No, God intended to make our experience totally different. It even has a different name: eating!

We eat to feed our organs and have energy to move and do what we need to do. We also eat to enjoy the taste of food.

Food, then, has two functions. Two dimensions. Right?

Today I thought about the usually forgotten dimension of food. The Third Dimension!

When was the last time you smelled your food? I mean intentionally smelled it. I know the smell of food forces itself on your senses and reaches to your nose from time to time. But once you have your plate in front of you, do you ever take a few seconds to “give it a smell” before you bury it in the belly?

I do, sometimes. Food smells good, trust me! Why ignore something extra that it has to offer you?

Stop and smell the roses is a very sound suggestion. Do it. But how about you stop and smell the cucumber as well? Smell your fish, raw and cooked? Smell the fruit (juice), smell the olive (oil)…?!

Food has three functions, three pleasures to offer. Take them all, and thank the Creator!

How Late Do Our Computers Stay Up?!

If you’d like to waste two or three hours feeling busy, but doing nothing, get a computer and an internet connection!

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Well, you might watch some informative videos and read some interesting news. The question is: How do you feel once you disconnect? Do you feel full of the energy of knowledge, and fulfilled? Or do you feel exausted and put your computer away with a headache? The latter state is a sign that your computer time is draining energy rather than energizing your mind. Not good!

How much of our computer (now that really or mostly means: internet) time is really useful to our physical and spiritual well-being? We need to step back and think about that.

Do we really know how much time we spend online? If we  know, we might be surprised!

I come back from work, have my dinner, and connect to the world! Or so I think!

Is the world really contained online? Aren’t we just selecting very small and limited views or pieces of the world when we choose one web site or one news story over all (millions) the others?

Do we connect to the Internet to disconnect from ourselves? Our heart and our intellect? Reading an external story is always much easier than reading the real, internal stories! Language has some words for it: Introspection. Meditation. Prayer. Thinking!

As I put my laptop away at the end of the day, I feel exhausted. Time passes by so quickly online. I move from one blog to the other, I try to look at the videos titles on Youtube and select a few. I don’t have time to watch all those stories and documentaries that will reveal to me some more pieces of our World truths! I feel exausted by what I didn’t have time to read and watch!

We have to come to clear terms with our human limitations. We will NEVER be able to be gods, able to take, read, know, see everything that is out there. We have to be selective. We have to understand that all the world happens within!

So I decided to tame my Internet time. The way we try to discipline a child. Time for bed baby! I now try to put my computer/Internet to sleep at a particular time. 9:30 PM? Time to disconnect!

This way I actually get to sleep earlier, wake up for work naturally, without turning off the persistent alarm 3 times before I can make it out of bed!

Tame your Internet time. Don’t let it stay up too late. When Internet bed time comes, put it to sleep!

Why Write to No One?

I wish I could make a living by reading and writing! Oh why not add walking in nature and taking pictures too! :) Because making a living by doing something we don’t really enjoy (working for money) is not actually making a living, it’s making a dying!

I literally feel suffocated by doing work that I don’t enjoy or believe in. I start the job, feel ok or, at times, excited during the learning and exploring stages, then once things get down to repeating what I’ve learned, I start loosing my mind for boredom! And all jobs I had stop growing after a few short months! I thought I needed to look for that good job that keeps me excited, learning, exploring and growing. I’m sure there could be such job somewhere out there. But what if I can’t find it and it can’t find me?!

In a recent post by simple living blogger Tammy Strobel where she interviewed a minimalism pioneer, Leo Babauta, he described his early stages in simplifying his life toward freedom like this:

“So I sat down, and made a list of the 4 things that were most important to me — that gave me joy. Then I started eliminating everything in my life that didn’t match these priorities, slowly getting out of commitments.”

 

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As I was read these words, I thought of the things that I enjoy, simple things. I can summarize them all in one word: BEAUTY! Reading a good book is beautiful. My love for walking is about looking around at the beauties of this world. Taking pictures is an attempt to capture Beauty as we see it through our own eyes and perspective. Having coffee with a good friend is about experiencing the beauty of genuine connection. Meditating or praying is about feeling the beauty of feeling the presence of the Source of Beauty (“God is Beautiful and He loves Beauty” Prophet Muhammad).

 But instead of spending time with Beauty, I spend 40 hours a week in a dark office room, away from the beauty of sunshine, doing things that aren’t necessarily beautiful, adding beauty to the world or eliminating ugliness. Obviously this lifestyle is unsustainable for me. You can’t sustain an action that you don’t like and keep your sanity! I mean, we will be sane and normal and all, but we will live disconnected from our best human capabilities and potential to lead a beautiful life and to create beauty and meaning around us. That’s why we must seriously make our plan and get on the road toward Beauty!

We have to start small. As long as we don’t have a fortune and we have to work to survive, we have to build a reasonable plan in order to set our life free. That’s where simple living comes in as an absolute MUST. We have to stop wasting our money on adding just more stuff that we don’t need or enjoy. This will just keep us into the vicious cycle: working for money, spending this money on stuff, running out of money at the end of the month, having to keep working for the next paycheck, etc.

So I’m starting by trying to eliminate all unnecessary spending. Then I started to do more of the things that matter to me, reading and writing. Then I thought of what the title of this post is about: why write in a blog that is being read by a handful of people? This thought is so wrong. Because our focus should be on doing what we want to do, regardless of the outcome. Or to put it more accurately, regardless of the immediate outcome.  I’ll have all those blogs, experiment with writing, and work on being disattached from the outcome. That’s what real focus is about. I might wonder how is this improving my life. But the truth is, even while keeping my job and working for money, I’m already very slowly trying to do more of what I like to do. It’s not about getting out of my job right now. Because being in this situation is by itself a challenge. We just need to change how we perceive our circumstances.

Instead of hating where we are now, we better enjoy it as part of a marvelous journey toward our dreams!

Why we should thank the bus!

Many American cities are not car-free-friendly. If you don’t have a car, you’re stuck. Buses are far between, if you rely on them to get to work or school, you can waste hours trying to get to the nearest stop, on time.

But buses are great! I moved to Chicago in 2008, got a job downtown, which makes it impossible to drive to work, unless I’m willing to pay half my salary or so to enrich the parking garages.

The other day I was on my way to the bus stop when I saw the bus, too far to catch it if I keep walking, but close enough to get to it if I ran! So that’s what I did. I said to myself, me who don’t really exercise, that at least the bus forced me into a brief run! That’s something to thank Buses for. So I thought of listing all the good things about using the bus in cities where they are available and reliable.

So here is some of the reasons why we should thank the Bus:
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1. An occasional run!

As I mentioned above, the bus will force us to run every once in a while. May be this occasional run will give us a taste for running and introduce us to this type of exercise!

2. Even if you don’t run, you will definitely walk.

Compare the amount of exercise that those who rely on their cars to get around actually get to someone who uses the bus daily, or 5 days a week. You will rarely live as close to the bus stop as to your garage-kept car. If you take the bus to work or school, you might be getting somewhere around 30 minutes of walking per day, if not more, which is the recommended minimum amount of exercise we should get. Well, it’s nice to be forced to do what’s good for us! We might just need that or we will not do it, if left to our will power and ever procrastinated new habits!

3. When we have enough looking at the same streets every day, we can read a book.

The Bus can add many more pages to our reading life. If we take a book on board, we can easily add 30 or 40 minutes to our reading every day. The Bus can give us 5 or 6 books per year that otherwise we wouldn’t make time to read. And guess what, this one book, one idea might change our life forever.

4. thirty people in one big vehicle produce less pollution that thirty people in thirty small cars!

You know this one already. I think we can safely say that most cars running daily on our roads carry one person each!

But no matter how good the Bus is, it will remain unpractical for many of us until many of our American cities and small towns are re-designed to make them bus friendly!

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