Zero. We equate it with nought, nothing, emptiness.
But in the final installment of the A-Z of Simple Living series (we made it!) zero has two other, far more positive implications.
First, Zero Impact
First, we want to leave zero impact on those who come after us (or as close as possible to it). We want to minimise the burden for our kids, our grandkids and their grandkids. Simplicity is many things to many people. But one of the common factors in simplifying is our desire to not leave the earth worse than we found it.
Yes, that definitely includes environmental impact, but it doesn't stop there.
We can ensure, through creating a simpler life, that our zero impact stretches out to include:
- Debt – we do not want to keep spending more than we earn – both as individuals and countries. It's not sustainable and it's not fair to expect those who come after us to pay for our lack of foresight.
- Stuff – our legacy reaches far beyond the values and memories we leave behind. It includes the house full of stuff, the storage unit, the clutter, the crap, the heirlooms and the keepsakes. Do we want our legacy to include our loved ones sifting through our belongings for weeks after we're gone?
- Self-worth – if we spend our days disengaged from family and friends, what does that say to them? It tells them they aren't as important as our smartphone/email/Twitter/more important people. If we really engage – or, at the risk of sounding cliched, be present – in our interactions with people, we will leave them feeling important. That they matter.
- And, yes, the environment. Excess consumption, mindless buying, keeping up with the Joneses and buying food that has travelled thousands of kilometres to get to your kitchen – these all add up to impact greatly on our environment. Some view simplifying as having the world at their fingertips, but I disagree.
These four areas of life sum up so much of what simple living is about. Living sustainably, living simply, living mindfully and living responsibly.
Add to that an understanding of the specific things that really matter to you, and you have a decent set of guidelines to help lead you through the process of simplifying your life.
Second, Zero In on What Matters
Creating a life of simplicity is complicated. This we know.
But what we need to do, to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the task of simplifying life, is to zero in on what's important.
Find your why, and keep it at the forefront of your mind as you work through life. Remember, simplifying is a step-by-step process. But if you know what is important from the beginning, then you can make your choices based on those priorities.
Ask yourself to list the following things in order of importance:
Add to the list any other priorities you may have, and use these – along with the idea of zero impact – to guide you through the process of simplifying.
There's almost as much head-work involved as physical work, but as someone who is finally starting to reap the benefits of a simpler life, I can tell you it is absolutely worthwhile.
It's one of the biggest and best changes I've ever made!
Well, that's it. They said it could never be done, yet I've done it… That's the final instalment of the A-Z of Simple Living.
The series has been quite an interesting mix of theoretical and practical advice for living a life of simplicity (or at least attempting to!) and I hope you got as much from it as I did.
I'm planning on expanding the essays and pulling them together into an ebook, sort of like The Beginner's Guide to Simplifying Life. (Release Date – end-July)
Do you have any suggestions for additional ideas I could include? Have there been any glaring omissions from the original A-Z of Simple Living Series?
As always, I love hearing your thoughts – you're much smarter than I am!