3. Develop a “tribe” of others who want to live like you do.
Research shows that most of the time we hang out with people like us. Some of those studies even show that if you eat unhealthy foods, never exercise or do anything else in excess, chances are that many of your friends do exactly the same. If you are on welfare or other governmental assistance, chances are many of your friends are too. Humans tend to unconsciously gravitate to others who are like them in appearance, education, health, and actions.
It is exceedingly difficult to hang out with the Joneses and not get sucked into the idea that you deserve the same stuff as much (or more) than your friends and neighbors. No matter how focused we are, it takes a great deal of personal discipline to see attractive and interesting items –like a big expensive home, the current model of an automobile, the latest in technology, or the most visually gorgeous outfit—and not begin to wonder whether you should own it too. Add in a tiny bit of competition and comparison, and before we know it, we can justify just about any purchase for ourselves regardless of whether we need it or can even afford it. Easy credit just adds to the problem.
However, if most of your friends are also doing their best to focus on experiences rather than things, and live well within their means, your relationship with them will help you, not lead you astray. How do you know if your current friends belong in your tribe? In most cases, I think many people are aware of this if they just take the time to think it through.
Other than that, all you really have to do is start talking about the benefits of living a more simple and sustainable life and anyone not on board will likely just begin to fade away. If a person isn’t ready to get off the hamster-wheel of consumerism, chances are they want to get as far away from you as they can. Instead, focus on those who exemplify the habits and lifestyle you wish for yourself and your family.
Like most good habits with multiple rewards, the more you practice it, the benefits add up—making it easier as time goes by. Then, like my husband and I, you will likely find that nearly all your choices and decisions are guided by that deep acceptance you have for a lifestyle that rewards you on so many levels. Once minimalism and simple living become a deeply ingrained habit, you’ll probably ask yourself, like Thom and I did, “Why did we wait so long?”
I happen to call our version of simple living, “rightsizing” because it frees me to define our minimalist lifestyle in a way that fits our family in a unique way. Regardless of how others attempt to define the practice, discovering how it fits you and your family in the best way possible, is the SMART way to go. All that remains is making it a habit.