Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between my life and the lives of others. Rafi talks a lot about freedom from government control, but for me it goes far beyond the government and includes many other controls in society. People don’t realize that they choose their own lives, that they have many options. It’s true that life throws us curve balls sometimes, but we are free to swing at them or not however we choose. I find that oftentimes people live their lives on autopilot and don’t make choices, but then complain about their lives. The problem is very few take responsibility for themselves. Once you do that, you’ll find yourself making better choices and feeling happier about those choices. I’ve learned that autonomy leads to happiness. I know that it works for me.
I don’t live my life according to whatever is considered “normal” and “proper” in society. If what I do happens to be that, it means that I thought it through and chose that way anyway because it fit my life best. For example, I am married and have children, which happens to be very traditional, though maybe less-so today. To me, it works. I love my husband, and I love my children and I love that we can live and grow together and are bound together. I chose this because I thought it was right for me and I value it, not because society told me so. People who choose marriage out of external pressure will probably not be happy.
Let’s begin with values that I have since that is how I make these choices. Some of my values (in no particular order) efficiency, health, environment, family. When there is something that needs to be done, I think about how to do it according to this value and other values that I have. Of course, the values I have listed are pretty broad, but I determine how I live in accordance with how I interpret these values.
How do I make choices in my life that are more efficient? Some big ones include cutting costs around things that I don’t value such as fashion, obsessive cleanliness, toys, various strollers and baby gear that aren’t essential, and other items that have little use in my life. In these areas, we stick to basics. It saves a lot of money and time. Most people have these things because other people have these things and they think that they need them as well. If people really stopped to think about what they actually need to promote their values and what is just acceptable in society, they wouldn’t buy most of the stuff they have. If someone out there has a fashion value, then they would buy stuff in that area, but I assume that most do not, for instance. This type of lifestyle makes me happy, I choose what I need and I don’t worry about all the extra stuff. When I walk in a mall, I am not tempted to buy anything unless I know that I need it. This also ties in with my environment value. Also, another value is that I never buy what I can’t afford, we even hope to amass enough capital to avoid being a slave to a mortgage and are taking measures to achieve that goal.
Not wasting things we do need is another aspect of efficiency. I use very few disposable items. I use a menstrual cup instead of tampons and pads, my babies wear cloth diapers instead of disposables, we use bathwater and a/c water to flush the toilet (why use clean water to do that?), we rarely use disposable kitchen or dining supplies, we even re-use aluminum foil when possible. We even use the sun for cooking sometimes in our solar oven.
One of my daughter’s favorite activities is to feed the neighborhood goats our compost. This provides educational entertainment, a nice walk, and a bonding experience for us without any cost and it is also good for the environment. When we were a newly married couple before children, our dates consisted of collecting bottles and cans to return for recycling. It was like a real video game, providing us with entertainment, exercise, and even some money while helping to clean up the streets and parks. We would get around the city on our bikes to save time by not sitting in traffic, exercise instead, and get places feeling energized. Now that we don’t live in a city, my husband chooses to hitch a ride to work and run through a field the rest of the way for the same reasons. None of these are the accepted norms, but they work for us and we love what we do.
Some may call us cheap, but sometimes frugality conflicts with other values so we spend our resources on those values such as health, environment, family, and investment in the future. We invested in natural gas tank for our already small and fuel efficient car (1997 Kia Pride). This cost us a lot of money and stress but we see it as an investment since gasoline prices are on the rise and natural gas is cleaner and more abundant. Plus, a large percentage of oil is Arab-controlled.
We also invest in our health, but not like everyone else does. I don’t assume that doctors know what’s best, though I know that there are times when they are useful and necessary. We don’t buy pain-killers, antihistamines, and other drugs, many are endorsed by doctors only because they are given incentives to prescribe them or they are a quick fix. We don’t focus on trying to feel good by alleviating symptoms, we strive to actually be healthy so that we actually do feel good. This is doing research about the source of our ailments and correcting them. It also involves prevention of ailments. We invest in eating a good diet according the primal blueprint using supplements such as fish oil and a multivitamin, and eating simply. My daughters both nurse, also an efficient and natural choice, and I don’t waste resources on another species milk which seems unnecessary to me when I have the proper milk for them readily available and at no cost. This is also related to my family bonding value.
Many people have a career value and good for them, there must be people like that in the world. We don’t. Rafi works in order to support his family, no more than that. I only work when I enjoy it. Otherwise, I do my main job as a woman which is run the household and educate our children. I teach English. In a school like normal teachers? Absolutely not!!! Why not? Too stressful, impossible to teach anything, and not enough money to pry me away from my primary womanly responsibilities. “Feminists” can cringe at my decisions, but I value my role as a woman and love it! Yes, I still need time away to do other things which is why I have side jobs that I enjoy and are worth it. That’s my choice. Others should feel free to choose what makes them happy too. With all the money I save being efficient and not paying for long daycare hours, I can feel free to enjoy myself and my family and still come out in the green each month.
Rafi and I are far from perfect. We know that and don’t pretend to be. We make plenty of mistakes along the road. The difference is that when you think things through and proceed with the mistake, you are more likely to learn and grow from it instead of being trapped in it and blaming others.
Bottom line, I choose my life and I choose my attitude. I choose according to my values, and I am happy with my choices. My life is simple, meaningful, and full of freedom. I can’t complain and I don’t. Why is this so rare?
I don’t judge others who have values that don’t match my own. I do judge others who do not have any values or who choose to ignore their values.
Here is a challenge for life:
1) Determine what you really value and what you really want from your life.
2) Forget what society does and figure out what you can do to emulate those values.
3) Make choices. Live those choices and learn from them. Don’t complain.