Today I want to share my thoughts on a topic with you that I decided to name “the privilege of living in the 21st century”. As I am typing this, I am sitting in a traditional stone cottage right by the sea in a tiny village in the West of France. It is our first vacation abroad since the beginning of the pandemic. And while we have always appreciated going on vacations, it feels different this time. Now we REALLY appreciate being able to go on vacation.
The state of the whole world changed at the beginning of last year. And we have all changed with it. This post is not supposed to be about Corona virus, though. Rather, I want to share with you how I aim to look at my life and my daily routine.
Homesteading Back in the Days
In the summer months, we visited an open-air museum about traditional Black Forest homesteads. The idea for this post actually came to me during this trip. Seeing the beautiful old wooden houses and self-supporter gardens was both interesting and touching at the same time. The life of those farmers back then was a life of hardship. They didn’t knit, cook or garden because they enjoyed it but simply out of necessity. And they didn’t use old wooden stools or ceramic jugs because they liked their aesthetic. It simply was all they had. They died rather young because they didn’t have access to medical care.
The Daily Grind
It is so easy to get caught up in small, unpleasant daily activities and feel unsatisfied day in and day out. Worst of all, media suggests that it is normal to be unhappy with your job and look forward to the weekend all week long. And that you should “reward” yourself for your hard, unpleasant work with numerous kinds of consumer goods. But the more you spend on those consumer products, the more you depend on the job you don’t enjoy to fund your expensive lifestyle.
It was one of those eye-opening moments when I realized sometime in my twenties that this wasn’t the right path for me to pursue. I have already shared on of my favorite quotes concerning this topic from the documentary “Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things” in a previous post. But in case you haven’t read this post, I want to share it again. It was part of an interview with AJ Leon. He used to be a Wall Street broker before he decided to pursue a completely different way of life that was more meaningful to him. In summary, he said: „When you see your life scripted out and you recognize […] maybe this was never for me to begin with […]. I decided that this life was gonna be mine and it was gonna be wildly flamboyantly my life.”
If you are interested, you can watch the full section here:
I have once read a quote that it is not possible to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. Those two emotions simply don’t go together. It was one of those lightbulb moments when I just knew what I needed to do to feel fulfilled, even in the most mundane situations.
Practicing gratitude has become quite popular in the last few years. You can purchase gratitude journals and countless books about mindfulness. But, as it so often the case, you don’t need to purchase anything to practice gratitude and be more mindful.
I think of sensing gratitude like exercising a muscle. It feels a bit awkward at first and becomes easier and easier the more you do it. A couple of years ago I started writing down three things I was grateful for each day in a journal right before I went to bed. It didn’t matter what I was, it could be completely trivial, but I had to come up with three things. The more I did it, the easier it got. I was able to come up with more and more creative things.
Nowadays, I don’t even need a journal anymore (although it probably wouldn’t hurt to still maintain one). I am now at a point in my life where I frequently get this feeling of gratitude. It could be in the supermarket when I remind myself how lucky I am to be able to have access to and purchase a wide range of groceries. It could be on a bike ride to kindergarten on the way to pick up my daughter and spend the whole afternoon with my kids. Or at a hike through the woods, breathing in the fresh smell of the trees.
The Choice of Living Simply
All in all, I am so deeply grateful that I get to choose how I want to live my life. I have done nothing to earn this privilege, it was simply serendipity that I was born in a developed country during a time when my country was not affected by any wars or other life threatening circumstances. I am so lucky to be born healthy and that I was able to fulfill one of my biggest desires of having a family of my own. And I am so thankful that living simply is a choice for us, not a necessity. Abstaining voluntarily from certain things is so much easier than simply doing it because you have no other choice.
If you would like to know more about what simple living means for me and my family, I recommend that you have a look at this blog post.
We have so much to be thankful for in our privileged, luxurious lives. And there is so little we truly need to be happy and fulfilled. All we need to do is to be aware and constantly remind ourselves of it. And to view every day we get to experience as gift of which we should make the most of.
This was a rather ramble-y post for me. But I figured being on vacation would be a great opportunity to share my thoughts on a topic like this. I promise I will get back to the natural dyeing and handmade wardrobe content once I am back home.