It’s not all about you — or your stuff
The search for meaning in our lives, for activity that truly satisfies, is a spiritual journey even for people not connected to any organized religion.
That’s the belief of author Susan V. Vogt, and in “Blessed by Less,” her book about living lightly, she named the spiritual principles that guided her and “rules of thumb” as practical advice. Her principles “are about letting go of what is less important to make way for a contemplative heart in action.”
One’s worth and importance, Vogt wrote, are not dependent on what we own, how we look and feel, how much we know and what we can accomplish.
“Spirituality is about seeking the Divine Presence. It’s not all about me,” she noted. “God’s presence surrounds me if I but look and listen. The spiritual response is to turn this contemplative awareness into action for the good of humanity.
“Uncluttering our lives, both materially and inwardly,” Vogt wrote, “can bring us a fuller, more meaningful life and free us to attend to the needs of others. . . . We want to make a positive difference in our world. Learning to live more generously, humbly and lightly is a way to do this.”
Deciding how much is enough — and how much is too much — is something every person needs to answer for him or herself, Vogt added, but she included the following 10 “Rules of Thumb for Living Lightly”:
- Living in destitution in not a virtue; helping people out of destitution is.
- Be prudent, responsible and wise.
- Be generous, unencumbered and fair.
- The less I have, the less I have to guard, clean and repair.
- If I don’t need it now (or soon), can I give it to someone who does?
- Spend in order to save.
- Decide which technologies save time, energy and money — and which ones waste time, energy and money.
- Let go of anger, grudges and compulsions to lighten the heart.
- Smile and laugh more.
- Forgive others. Forgive myself. It lifts the spirit.
Excerpts are from “Blessed by Less: Clearing Your Life of Clutter by Living Lightly,” by Susan V. Vogt. Loyola Press (Chicago, 2013). Paperback, 122 pp., $13.95.