Below is an email I received from GoHighbrow.com on minimalism. I found this post to be particularly interesting.
“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” - Socrates
In that one little line, Socrates summed up one of the major problems with our modern society, and offered a simple solution. Pretty brilliant, I’d say.
In fact, he negated the need for me to write more, but stubborn as I am, I will proceed. I’d like to talk about this capacity to enjoy less.
Is it difficult to enjoy less? No, not really, but it takes a change in mindset, which as with many such changes takes time and adaptation.
If you enjoy chocolate ice cream, as I do, when confronted with a tub of it would you also enjoy eating as much of the tub as possible? I know that’s what many of us do when faced with delicious food.
But what if you learned to enjoy just a few bites of the ice cream? And with each bite, savor the flavor, the coldness, the creaminess, the chocolatiness. (Yes, that’s a word, spell-checker – I made it up.)
If you love clothes, instead of buying more and more each weekend, can you learn to cull your wardrobe into a few quality, beautiful pieces that you can wear often, and enjoy more?
The same applies with anything we love … including online reading and communicating (email, Twitter, Facebook, forums). We often seem obsessed with more of it. But instead, consider reading just the quality stuff, and if a blog or Twitter feed doesn’t deliver quality consistently, consider dropping it.
Learn to love less television, movies, chatter, spending, shopping, eating out, junk food, technology, consumption, productivity. You get the idea.
When you focus on enjoying less, you focus on full enjoyment. You learn to be content with little, and when you do that, a life of happiness is at your disposal. The only limit to your happiness, then, is how much you can learn to enjoy less.
Looking back at an image I found from work I did in grad school. I couldn’t help but recognize the difference between top and bottom. Recognize a new and positive trend?
The Original article appeared HERE
March 10, 2013 2:00 AM
We faced the fiscal cliff in December and just recently it was the sequester.
On March 27 we face a potential U.S. government shutdown and in May another battle on the debt ceiling. The president of the Metal Trades Council at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was recently quoted stating, "It's hard to watch the news, knowing how hard we work, the sophistication level of our work, and all the ways that we put forth to be creative and innovative," he said. "And all that gets kicked to the curb by an inept Congress."
An inept Congress indeed. But why has Congress become this way? Amidst all of these challenges, we are constantly and overwhelmingly reminded that political dysfunction has created this situation. We then become mesmerized by the ensuing finger-pointing and somehow forget the inescapable need for long-term solutions.
Why is it that we have a dysfunctional political system — one that is incapable of resolving these important issues?
This Congress will be in session a grand total of 126 days, yet there are approximately 260 days in a business calendar year. Therefore, congressional members are in session less than half the time of any full-time employee. Some might say they are going home to be with their constituents and this would be acceptable ... if it were only true. Members of Congress spend between 30 percent and 70 percent of their time raising money from the same interests that they are expected to regulate. It could be said, therefore, that even with this high percentage of time spent on fund-raising, they are still with their constituents while doing so. Certainly, this paints a rather pretty picture, but, unfortunately, this is not the case. The truth is, on average, 79 percent of congressional campaign funds come from outside of their respective district. Not only does this dependence on outside, politically motivated money make it harder to govern, it also deepens the current divide between a politician's responsibility to their constituents and the added burden of being responsible to their outside interests. For example, how can we expect any congressional oversight committee to properly and honestly regulate the same interests, when they have just accepted funds from that particular interest? Why wouldn't contributors to a politician's re-election want to seek out a return on their investment? In fact, had the Glass-Steagall Act — an act designed specifically to prevent financial ruin — not been overturned by special-interest money, we would have likely never encountered the financial crisis.
As the various functions of the federal government grow, it is only natural, yet unfortunate, for an ever growing cohort of various special interests to join the fray. As elements of the private sector seek to expand, it is natural to want to go to the public sector to seek out contracts, subsidies and the like. This is the exact definition of crony capitalism — a system where bribery rules the day. Why haven't we seen any real push to reform our tax code even though everyone agrees it is a good idea? It is because the current tax system is designed not only to serve as a revenue stream for our government, but also as a revenue stream for re-election. This practice leads to tax loopholes, subsidies and government contracts — contracts that currently serve the funders' interest instead of the public interest.
The unfortunate reality is that money follows power. As the saying goes, "Money in politics is like water on pavement ... it will always want to try to find every crack and crevice." Some elements within the reform community often struggle with this unfortunate reality. An evolving possible solution, among many, is the growth of technical innovation within the sphere of political outreach. Nationbuilder, one of many promising new startups, is doing just that. Soon, anyone with a smartphone and a good idea can gain a substantial audience at the grassroots level. Just as competition in the private sector brings new advancement and lower costs to the consumer, we should, therefore, expect this new advancement to bring downward pressure on the rising costs of campaigns, yielding better results for all citizens.
Politicians, no matter how low their approval rating, are almost always re-elected. According to various polls, the congressional approval ratings going into the 2012 election was approximately 10 percent. Therefore, intuition might lead us to believe that only 10 percent of the congressional House members would, indeed, be re-elected. Ready for this? The actual re-election rate for members of Congress — again, Congress with a 10 percent approval rating — was a staggering 91 percent. Now, only approximately 35 of the 435 Congressional districts remain competitive — thanks to the common practice of gerrymandering. Therefore, if you represent one of the 400 remaining districts, your willingness to compromise, act pragmatically, negotiate, or work with anyone from the opposite side of the political spectrum is virtually gone.
If you work with the opposing party as a member of Congress within any of these 400 districts, you are likely to see a primary challenge from within your own party in the next election. Why is this important in the context of political dysfunction and the upcoming debt ceiling debates? It takes 218 votes to pass any legislation in the House. Sensible solutions like independent commissions and agencies have overcome the practice of gerrymandering in a few states yielding an increased number of competitive seats.
In addition, implementing term limits and reducing the number of closed primary states would serve to combat the current role of gerrymandering and money in politics. After a number of years in public service, members of Congress can turn their focus on the long-term needs of the country in their final term instead of the short-term goal of re-election.
When the Constitution was ratified, it was done so on the basis of the Federalist Papers — one of the most famous was Federalist No. 10. This paper was the basis for outlining our Founders' greatest fear, which was the corrupting influence of faction — or what we now refer to as special interests.
The massive growth of the political industry and special interests has distracted us from recognizing that this has become the root problem: a political system that is rotten to the core.
Politics should, by all means, unite and not divide. We can no longer afford to focus manufactured anger and perceived differences at each other. It is my hope and intention that we, the vast majority of us who are U.S. citizens first and foremost, recognize that when it comes to ending our current dysfunctional system of political governance, we stand united.
Jeff McLean is the former policy director at Americans for Campaign Reform and former co-founder of Americans United to Rebuild Democracy. He lives in Portsmouth, N.H., and can be reached at email@example.com or on twitter @mclean.
The following is a list of ideas that I have been collecting over time. I call them my "Ideas to Live By"
Do Right - You know what’s right, you know what’s wrong. Too many people in this country talk about their personal rights instead of their obligations and responsibilities.
Do Your Best - In order to succeed day in and day out, each individual must strive to do the best that they possibly can.
Treat Others as You want to be Treated - Anything is possible as long as you can generate love, mutual appreciation and fellow feelings.
Set Goals - You have to have something that you wish to obtain. Everybody has to understand what we are trying to accomplish. Why are we here?
Accept Your Role - Everyone desires to make the best of what they have been given.
Practice Fundamentals - Let little things slide and the entire foundation will collapse.
Believe in Yourself - Nothing is possible without having faith especially in yourself.
Care about People - Teamwork is the foundation of success. The three universal questions that a person must ask are: Can I trust you? Are you committed to excellence? And, do you care about me? If we don’t care about one another we don’t stand a chance.
Overcome Adversity - There is one thing in life that is universal. You’re going to have problems, so be prepared for them.
Don’t Flinch - Believe that you’re going to succeed. You cannot flinch, you cannot let people think that you are seriously in jeopardy of failure.