Meaningful Materialism

Bela and I spend a lot of time considering our goals, our love for one another, the development of flourishing, and how to foster all of these things long into the future.  Life expectancy in the States is currently around the upper 70’s, but come on… everyone in their 30’s figures that if they’re responsible, they might see that number extend waaaaaay longer.

As I’ve watched Escher develop for the past twelve months, I’m constantly reminded how all the things that make up our environment (our routines, our homes, our work life, etc.) affects our minds.  Put Escher in a messy room, and she’s immediately more rambunctious and less focused. Straighten everything up in that same room, and she’ll happily play by herself for quite a while. Her development always brings me back to the state of our own minds and how our environments impact their evolution.

Are we satisfied with the way our minds are structured after all our years of development?  Enough to sit on our laurels and bet that everything will turn out well after another thirty years, sixty years, one hundred years, more?

Personally, I’m not… there are too many factors in my environment that inhibit the development of my mind in the way that I want.  Did I find time to meditate today?  Did I have healthy meals throughout the day?  Did I grow intellectually?  Did I commit my resources to things that improve my life?  Did I express my love and gratitude enough to Bela today?  Am I showing Escher consistent compassion?  Am I providing for her an embodiment of self-discipline? Something to respect?  Will she look to me as a mentor and guide?  

Each time I answer no to these questions, I wonder what I can change within my environment to facilitate success in these goals.

Each positive change that I can make to my environment will result in a positive change in my behavior.  Each positive change in my behavior will bring me closer to success in these goals and increase my ability to continue changing my environment.  

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.  When I can’t achieve these things, I create a future for myself — a future that includes less flourishing, fewer opportunities to share in the love of my family, less time to focus on meeting my goals, and usually at diminishing returns.  

And too easily, I can be caught under the weight of a repeating battle to gain ground on my own life.  

Why does this happen?  If I understand my goals, what stands in the way of achieving them?

A constant theme in Bela’s and my posts to this blog will be our aim to construct an environment around ourselves that facilitates success.  From living in a tiny house and making homemade baby food to environmental sustainability and choosing a single-income household, we would like to share how we’re trying to create a new approach to our environment — one that we call Meaningful Materialism.  

It’s not about having less, it’s about have more of what’s good.

We all know the trope that “the things we own end up owning us.”  Bela and I are hoping to take that as a central vision for shaping our lives.  

We want to think deeply about the things that we can own, rather than just following in the minimalist ideal of owning less.

So we’re living in a tiny house not because we want to own less, but because we want to own more of the things that make our lives better.  

We want to own the right things, the sorts of things that facilitate flourishing in our lives.  The sorts of things that will bring us together rather than drive us apart.  The sorts of things that bring meaning, beauty, and success into our lives and the sorts of things that will bring the same to Escher.

Along the way, we’d love to hear your thoughts!  What can you do to create the right environment around yourself?  What challenges do you face along the way?  We can’t do it alone :-)