Practical Suggestions

Suggested Reading

  • "Mindfulness in Plain English" by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana
  • "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

If you've gotten this far, you may be saying to yourself, "This is all well and good. Except – What can I do on a day-to-day basis?" Good question. All I can do is tell you what I've found helpful; maybe you can adapt what's worked for me.

Learn to drink a cup of coffee. Or tea. Whatever you like, it doesn't matter. "Who doesn't know how to drink coffee?!" In the US, almost nobody. We don't drink coffee, we drink a flavored beverage that helps keep us from drying out and gives some people the jitters. (Just what we need, right?) We don't really know what it tastes like, we don't think about what happened to make it possible, we just slug it down before rushing off to work, school, or the next meeting. Even when we drink good coffee, we really don't pay attention to it. So I'm not slamming Starbucks, I'm saying when you drink something, know what you're drinking.

Pay attention to the food you eat, too. When you eat your meals, don't watch television, don't listen to the radio, don't read the newspaper. If you don't enjoy what you're eating, find something else. Eat fresh things as much as possible. That means something that hasn't been processed, not something in a can that hasn't passed its expiration date. And think about what you're eating – where did it come from, how did it get from there to your house, how many people were involved in the process, etc.

Grow something, especially something to eat. It's best if you grow it organically. Not so much for environmental reasons but more because that will give you an idea of what farmers have to put up with. Remember, though – You'll have a few little plants and they have whole fields full. You'll have to deal with bugs, poor soil, and things you haven't even thought of (like bird droppings destroying the leaves on your plants). But – if you get something to grow, you'll find it tastes much better than anything you've had from the store. That's called "freshness." Of course, to taste that, you'll have to pay attention.

If you're not in debt, stay out of debt. If you're in debt, get out of debt. I know – easier said than done. However, it's possible for most people. And it's the only way you can be free. When you're in debt, you're basically an indentured servant to the companies that extend credit to you. And that leads to all sorts of problems like doing work that makes you sick, working for companies that you hate, putting up with a two hour commute because the pay's good, etc.

Buy your goods from producers as close to home as you can. This isn't because it's good for the country (though it is). It's because the closer you are to the producer, the more you know about how the goods are produced. Most areas have farms that will sell directly to you. Not only will you get food you know something about, you'll help a neighbor sustain their life, too. If you can't buy locally, buy from a company in your own region or country. Why? Because you know about the laws. Well, I guess if you like the laws from another country better, buy from them. The basic idea is to buy things from people who are not ruining your community, not exploiting anybody, and so on. The farther you are from the producer, the less you'll be able to know about those things. Of course, you have to temper this with whatever considerations are important to you.