Monday, 23 December 2013

Simplicity and Consideration, OR.... Me, Myself, and I.

 
Simplicity and consideration, OR..... Me, Myself and I.  What type of person are you, do you live a simple and considerate life, OR DO YOU LIVE ONLY FOR YOURSELF.  It seems the Moura state school has the right idea and actively encourage their students to be considerate, in fact they have a whole collection of "behaviour/attitude" prompt cards at their school all with the underlying theme of harmonious living with others.  Isn't it funny how we teach these values to our children but as adults many seem to ignore them.  Minimalist living is not about living for yourself, particularly when you are in a relationship, have children, or both.  Minimalist living should benefit all, or as Spock said (Star Trek), "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one".  Minimalism can have immeasurable benefits for the family unit but it can be equally incongruous and destructive if it is based on the needs/wants of just one person within that unit.  This is where consideration for others and open honest communication are essential.  When you are part of a collective you have to be unremittingly mindful of the ramifications of every action/decision you make.  It is even more crucial to remember this if you make the aforementioned decisions without talking them through with every member of your family.  Yes, every member... Including the children...  This is basic, very simple 101 stuff people, the world revolves around more people than just YOURSELF!!
 
I can't reiterate enough the importance of making sure that your goals are collective ones, and not just individual ones.  MOST people make simple considerations every day, minimalists or not... When you put on the television you check if all watching have a programme choice and you would not monopolise the same shows night after night knowing someone really does not like them, when cooking tea you would not cook something you know one of your family really does not like.  Would you buy your wife roses knowing she is allergic to them, would you throw, sell, or give away possessions without first checking with the rest of the family?  Most people understand the concept of consideration for others, its pretty bloody simple really....
 
If you like to share your experiences of minimalism (or anything for that matter) via electronic social media platforms would you post things about your life/family without first knowing all involved were happy for you to do so.  I know someone whose wife decided minimalism was the road for HER.  She didn't consider the impact it could have on her husband, she didn't consider he was not happy with the purging of possessions, or that the posts she made online about HER journey were to some degree revealing more about their family than her husband was happy for people to know.  When you are married your actions can without doubt have an impact on your family, even if you don't see it.  If you have not communicated and discussed all you are doing then you are doing it for yourself alone and that is not minimalism.  The lady I am talking about has OCD issues both with food and compulsive shopping.  She will eat, diet, eat, diet, buy, give away, buy, give away, cycling through being happy and positive when on a purge then and depressive and moody when binging.  Fluctuating body weight add to her self esteem issues making it even more complicated and emotionally traumatic for her, sadly her negative moods are usually directed towards her husband alone.  Minimalism and the blog she writes seem to be for her a way of compartmentalising her issues, putting them out there for the world to see and giving people advice on the issues that she has not yet got anywhere near under control herself.  Minimalism is a life style, it will not cure OCD or other mental health issues.  Standing on the outside looking in it is my opinion that minimalism and blogging have become just another OCD area of her life.  There has been no real change, the up and down diet / binge eating continue and the tossing / buying continue in one form or another.  Unfortunately the up and down depressive moods which run parallel with the OCD cycle she seems to follow also continue to impact her spouse greatly.  You wont fix a heart attack with a band-aid and some issues need more than just a life style change to see results, often change must be made before embarking on a lifestyle like minimalism otherwise you run the risk of adversely impacting others.   In this case minimalism can become just another OCD activity without communicated or agreed boundaries that suit the rest of the family. 
 
If you keep shopping, but change your store from Myer to ebay or from the opp shop to FREECYCLE, you are still shopping.  Just because its free does not mean you need to have it.  I believe minimalists should have possessions, I have no problem with that at all, just keep them to essential items that all the family can see are worth having, things that serve you not the other way around.  Don't "love" your possessions see them for what they are and be thrifty/sensible when acquiring them.  We have a TV at our house, we often have a great time watching a show together or enjoying the education experience of a good documentary.  We don't however need a 60 inch plasma rocket ship TV that cooks your tea and brushes your teeth for you.  After all if you reduce household spending by thousands of dollars, have no debt and have a growing bank balance (things minimalism can help you achieve) what good is any of it if it just sits where it is and does not get used for a worthy purpose.  A lot of people die with very full bank accounts, hell what a waste.  What good is all your free time if you spend it on the internet, posting blogs, on twitter, putting up "eye candy" pictures on pintrest, that is just as OCD as the issues you are trying to resolve to begin with and with social media platforms growing every day where does it all stop!! Use the rewards you gain from minimalistic living to benefit your family, friends and greater community.... Don't be a Scrooge that still has the first dollar he earned.
 
The money you save and the free time you gain should be redirected back into your family but governed by the set of life rules you have collectively ratified as a family.  The husband of the person I refer to has two tiny cupboards in their bedroom for his modest and small amount of cloths, his wife has filled an entire walk in wardrobe with enough space to hang cloths for the entire family, but more often than not the door can't even be opened because its packed from floor to ceiling with OCD acquired "stuff".  The sad part is most of these possessions end up being given away or sold without even the original labels having ever been removed, all the while she blogs about not spending and writes about healthy eating and so on.  People, if you are going to do something don't be charlatans, many a lie have I seen posted on that blog,  an example was posting about the purchase of a new washing and how it was not purchased using any form of credit.... well her hubby showed me the Harvey Norman credit card purchase details for the washing machine.... If you do things like this you fool two people, those that can't know better and YOURSELF...
 
This Christmas / New Year is a great time to reflect on your life, what you have and where it is going.  You can continue to live as always if you want or you can stop looking at yourself and consider those around you.  Minimalism can help you do this, but first it might be time to get some skeletons out of the closet... It all comes down to choices and values.  Remember the greatest people in history, those who made real change and will be remembered have always been people that considered the needs of others before their own!!
 
During his life Nelson Mandela made freedom and consideration for others his goal.  He achieved more for South Africa than anyone before him and paved the road for others to continue his good works.  Need I say more!!!
 
 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Giver or Taker ? Todays simple challenge.



Some people are givers and some are takers, you can give some people everything and expect nothing in return but it's still not enough and they want (take) even more.  Can a minimalist also be a taker ?  I know what I believe to be true, what do you think ?

I spent some time last night having a look over minimalists blogs and other than a small few I was very disappointed.  Most were clones of each other, similar subjects, similar catch phrases, no real confrontational life changing suggestions, no real original thought and most glossing over minimalism as it really should be in favour of self promotion through Beguiling little articles promising you the world.... nothing more than bones without the meat IMO.  Sorry to all that I offend but a minimalist does not post a thousand times a week on trivial but "trendy" subjects all the while trying to promote themselves in some way.  Catchy little 20 days till Christmas challenges, 5 ways to change this, 15 things you should not do, 3 important this, 10 important that.... I doubt these people even live the words they write (I definitely know some that don't), how can they if spending so much time promoting themselves on every type of social media known to man (someone close to them must be missing out on something).  Have a look at these blogs, critically!!!  Most of them will have free giveaways of some description (that's the carrot), most will link themselves to Twitter, Pintrest, Facebook, and all manner of electronic social platforms and many will be trying to sell you something (usually their books) or will be promoting a pay per click type advertising arrangement for an external site.  Minimalism whose real agenda is personal fame or wealth all from the comforts of their home laptop have missed the point all together.  They are basically lazy people who just want a free ride and the adoration of their blinded fans.  I believe for a days pay you should do a days work, supporting your family and the greater community in the process.

Minimalism, AS I SEE IT, is the removal of life's rubbish in order to promote the only things worth having.... Love and Relationships !!  If what you personally gain from minimalism means someone close to you has lost or been hurt in the process then you are not doing it right, in fact you're not doing it at all you're just being lazy and selfish thinking of no one but yourself.  Have you ever noticed these days how everything gets watered down so much, people expect things for themselves they are not prepared to give in return, foundational truths become spongy platforms twisted and bent to suit individual selfish desires.  Just look at what is "acceptable" on TV these days compared to the 1960's and 70's when I was a child.  I watched a snippet of a TV program the other night, it was called "Ja'mie: Private School Girl".  This would have to be the lowest form of humour I have ever seen, the writer could not string more than two words together that were not profanities and the intelligence level of the script was about that of a high school student.  Oh sure it was meant to be a satire, a take off from real life, a joke, just a bit of fun.... People if you think this is acceptable viewing then you need to get a hobby.  Even worse if you actually think this junk is funny.  When I was a child, firstly this sort of rubbish was not around but if it were my parents would never have let me watch it.  See what I mean, everything is getting watered down, everything is becoming acceptable and minimalism like just about everything else has been diluted, titrated, diluted, and titrated until only homoeopathic levels of the original remain.  Don't fool yourself, one of the greatest things you can do (personally) to see change in life is to recognise your own facades and remove them, every layer... or you can just continue to live the lie, you will find plenty of people that will believe you, hell many will actually pay you but those close to you will always see who you are and where your heart is.

This is my simple challenge to you for the day, don't buy takeaway, don't spend your evening glued to the TV, to the Ipad, Ipod, Iphone, tablet, laptop, this top that top.  No one will really miss you out there in cyber land so why seek validations there... Today I would love to see you join together as a family, prepare a meal together, enjoy it together then spend the rest of the evening just talking with each other.... Just connect and let the rest of the world drift to nowhere.  A pictures says a thousand words, so here are some pictures.







Be true to who you are, to what you believe and allow your actions to validate the things of true worth in your life.  I don't want you to share this post on Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, flitter, flapper or flopper.  I have nothing to sell you nor do I want you to become my adoring fan.  All I want is that you take this message home with you and make your home a better place for everyone.

Life, a thing of fleeting past,
So quickly loosed from mortal grasp.
Of what should be the things we care?
This thought, these words now hope to share.
 
A poet’s words, life’s truth do seek.
An artists brush, the moments keep.
The harp, its notes, do feelings hold,
But still the story goes untold.
 
A quest to find what’s just not there,
This hollow void within, despair!!
But some the answer say they hold,
To share with us for price of gold.
 
So what’s this thing, our souls do seek.
That man, to depths will journey deep.
To mountains high will climb so bold,
In effort to this secret hold.
 
The answer now can not be given
Unknown within this mortal prison
But time, this thing of fleeting past,
Will one day soon release its grasp.
 
But on this day, when questions told,
What if in mortal life so bold,
We lived that life without a care
Such that this question now will share.
 
Will share the fruits which now we reap
Of torment in eternal sleep
So love must be the question told
The gift to give worth more than gold.
 
 
~~ James Miller ~~

Friday, 15 November 2013

Time Out From The World. Press the OFF button !!

Press the Off Button.
 

It has been a little while since I last posted anything and during this down time I have been forced to do some real soul searching.  A search I fear has yet to reach it's terminus.  While I have written many draft posts during this time I decided not to publish them until I have a little more clarity and inner peace, some are confrontational (personally) and difficult for me to deal with right now.  Often my draft posts are just scribbled thoughts that evolve into articles that help me understand why I live the way I do ratifying the importance of our/my continued steadfastness. 
 
My Family !!!  They are everything, without their love and support I might as well be living alone in the house pictured above.  Nothing more than an empty wooden box stuck on a rock surrounded by the depths.  Hell, that sounds melodramatic and a bit morbid.... Fill that same wooden box with the people I love and it becomes the Taj Mahal.  For me it's not about the "where" or the "what" as much as it is about  the "with who".  Minimalism provided me with the ability (and focus) to repress a life of forced but subtle proselytization (to the religion of consumerism) and finally see the beauty of real living. 
 
Minimalism..... obviously you know this is how our family lives.... We collectively decided to disentangle our lives from the pressures of consumerism, from the futile and the worthless, and from the plethora of selfish mindsets propagated by the world in which we live.  Simply and quietly we wish to live, harming no one and having the right to be different.  We try to be as self sufficient as possible and always look for better environmentally friendly ways of doing things.  Things to save us money, organic grown foods, low cost heating and living in general, basically everything we do saves us money, keeps us healthy, unites us as a family and helps us to live with nature not in opposition to it.  With all these savings in time and money we reinvest back into our family, maximising the time and things we do and share together.  Some monies also go towards charities and aide programs, but these are a personal choice and not really important to mention other than to say we feel this is also an obligation we have as a minimalist family.

After that long winded spiel I still have not elaborated on my absence.  Where have I/we been ??  Well, quite simply we pushed the "OFF" for a while, after all that is what minimalism is about.  One evening we simply decided to turn off the TV, get off the Internet, and get back to basic living.  So that's exactly what we did.  We spent our evenings together cooking our meals and doing the normal stuff all families have to do.....BUT then when all the chores were done every night we took turns in choosing the evenings events.  Sometimes this was sitting together reading, discussing news paper articles and worldly attitudes, playing card and board games, embarking on some collective hobbies, really just spending quality time together minus the "world's" input, while still part of the world we tried to step outside it's reach and get back to the basics of living.  On weekends we prepared our organic veggie patches ready for planting, put up some new fences around the garden, fixed a few holes in the walls inside before a coat of paint, changed this, changed that, cleared the blackberries back to manageable levels..... It was fun and we grew closer the more we did together.  As a side note we stumbled upon two really great money saving ideas.  Firstly we installed LED down lights from Bunnings (three lights per unit, 4 watts each and super bright) throughout the house, the reduction in power use was very noticeable... YA!!!  Then we updated our shower heads, saving 80% on our usual gas bill (we have gas hot water heating) and also saving on water.  These little tweaks actually saved us much more money than we realised... total investment was around $150.  Prior to this we would use a tank of LPG gas every two weeks ($140)... now our tanks last over 8 weeks each... we got back our $150 outlay within two weeks of installation... Win/Win all round...
 
So that's us to date, yep we dropped out for a while and we will do so again when we feel life is closing in a little too much.  Every time we do this we grow closer as a family and remove one more layer of worldly over abundances.
 
~~ Try it yourself sometime, just press the off button and see what happens ~~
 
~~ James Miller ~~
 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Affirmations from Buddha.


~~~ Buddha ~~~
Many words of inspiration can be found in religious texts, I have often perused the archives of human spirituality scrutinising and dissecting every line and every verse, attempting to unravel the quandary that is life and fill the wanting void.  It seems to be a common human condition that we seek external guidance when the going gets tough or when life's pressures seem insurmountable. People, and often entire cultures, tend to look toward a perceived higher power or an "enlightened" doctrine to solve their problems.  Nearly everyone I speak with can attest to this "inner void" we all feel from time to time, and just about everyone fills it with the wrong things, myself included.

Minimalism was my first step towards physically decluttering life but as I stripped away the unnecessary garbage significant holes were left behind.  I had spent so much time working, earning money and buying things that I had neglected what was really important. The gaps left after this purging process were almost palpable.  Removing the physical junk revealed an even bigger mountain of mental clutter previously masked by worldly consumeristic conducts.  I found this a very daunting situation to be in and at times my resolve really wavered.

Fortunately, it didn't take me long to realise that what had been missing were meaningful relationships and inner spiritual peace.  I am not saying that these important elements didn't exist in my life per se, but they had been seriously neglected and were in need of some real effort on my part.  At this point in my life minimalism became as much a diagnostic tool to identify issues as it was a tangible method for removing material clutter.  The more I removed the more minimalism revealed.  What an incredible web of self deceit I had woven.  Indoctrinated by society, but equally indoctrinated by my own mindset, all made worse by a plethora of meaningless external validation pushing me further down the wrong path.

Historical religious leaders have often been referred to as the first minimalists, many religious doctrines advocate the removal of attachments to the physical world and earthly possessions.  Look at the life of Christ for the ultimate example of selfless minimalism.  For Christ the things that mattered were spirituality and relationships, all impeccably encapsulated in the instruction, "love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself."

Buddhism and it's teachings have often been a source of daily affirmations for me, while I am not a Buddhist that does not preclude me from seeing pertinent truths within it's teachings.  As minimalism changed my daily life so I was able to give more attention to the underlying cause for the way I had been living.  In the end it was all about free choice, I had made a conscious choice to live a worldly life, now it was time to choose to live a different one.  Minimalism was now about changing the way I think, it had become a mental endeavour where the junk was no longer physical and easy to dispose of.

At this point in my life minimalism was still a new concept, daily affirmations were therefore very important to me. They gave me focus and served to remind me where I was heading and why.  Most people who choose minimalism as a lifestyle initially make good progress, physical decluttering is the easy part, but soon realise that if minimalism is to become sustainable it's their mindset that ultimately must change.  As I mentioned, this was the hardest part for me and the part I still battle with the most.  You have probably noticed that a larger percentage of my posts relate to changing the way you think, this is of utmost importance.  I still discuss techniques for physical change like debt reduction, decluttering, parsimonious living techniques and so on but without a mental left shift most people simply end up back where they started.  Physical minimalism is no more than monkey see monkey do if not backed up by a complete change of thinking.

The message I want to share more than any other is that you can adopt every and any technique you like in order to bring about change in your life, but if you don't radically alter how you think you wont get far before you fall.  Change your mind to change your life, this is the essence of minimalism.  Your ultimate goal as a minimalist needs to be the provocation of a thought process that empowers you to formulate your own solutions to problems, change on a mental level will create change on a physical level.

 
 
The quotes below are from Buddhist texts and are just a few that I found really helped me on a daily basis to stay focused.  Encourage yourself daily and change the way you view life because this is where minimalism begins. 

"All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.

All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you If you do not act on upon them? 

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
 
In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true."


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Care Factor Zero - The Sooner You Don't Care The Better You Will Feel

Have you ever heard the phrase "care factor zero", I am sure you have?  The phrase is for the most part used in a negative way, defiantly against authority / common sense or to portray the speakers total lack of interest in something (smugly spoken).  I also hear it used during arguments, usually by the person losing the debate, in the form of a "shrug off" to the victor.  For most people the phrase would have a negative connotation, or at the least you would have encountered it's use in a negative situation.  I have actually learned to embrace this phrase, now more and more often applying it to situations in my life.  I will explain more as the post progresses.

Of course there are many things in life that we do need to care about, this goes without saying, but I would like to encourage you to start NOT caring.  I believe we need to learn to say no, to turn our backs on STUFF, and to walk in a new direction.  The question is however, what things and how?  As with everything in life the answer will be different for me than it is for you but as a minimalist learning not to care about certain things has been one of the most freeing experiences of my life.  Saying no and reversing years of subliminal and other forms of societal indoctrination has been the hardest part of my journey as a minimalist but the most rewarding.  The physical tossing of junk is easy, learning to let go of attachments and the underlying mental brainwashing is really where minimalism begins, it is our mindset that creates the physical ties we have to worldly possessions.  I have always stated that minimalism is a mental concept not just a bunch of physical actions.  The battles a minimalist fights, in my experience, are usually in the mental realm not the physical one.

The "what and how" I mentioned above were only revealed to me after I understood minimalism and had defined the concept specific to my life and situation. This is an essential starting point for any new minimalist and one I have elaborated on in earlier posts.  You need to go through this process to have a clear understanding of minimalism, to establish a starting point, and to provide future direction.  Take these initial steps and you will have a foundation to build on and clarity of purpose.  Complete lucidity of thought is so very important because with it comes focus and with focus comes determination and strength.

Consumerism, keeping up with the Jones, success (worldly definition), greed, jealousy, anger, control issues, self esteem, hate, coveting, peer pressure, ego, addictions, these are some of the things a minimalist needs to learn to say no to.  This is where we need to embrace the phrase "care factor zero" and learn to reverse a lifetime of programming, this is where minimalists fight for their freedom and walk a different path to the majority.  Yes minimalists are a minority subculture but I am very happy being so.

Essayist and Poet Ralph Emerson summed it beautiful in his quote below.  To be yourself, your true self, amidst all the pressures of modern life should be considered any man's greatest triumph.  Do this and I promise you will enjoy real freedom, your relationships will soar to new heights, and you will finally experience life and love as it was meant to be.

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

To finish please have a read of the quotes below, I have ordered them in a conceptual sequence, can you follow the underlying theme?  To me they paraphrase thus, Don't be afraid to be crazy or different, people like us change the world.  Don't be afraid to try new things, they are the spice of life.  Don't be afraid to walk your own path, you will always find someone to walk with you.  Don't be afraid to be yourself, in doing so you will find true and lasting friendship.
~~~ James Miller ~~~

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ― Apple Inc.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

“Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ― Albert Camus

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ― Elbert Hubbard

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Minimalism, Once You Are Free Then What ?

Make The World A Better Place One Person At A Time

 
 
 
Recently I decided it was time to take a critical look at some of my undertakings.  After delving into just about every aspect of my life I decided that there were some things in need of a little tweaking if they were to conform with my current views as a minimalist.  After making slight modifications to several of my pursuits I was feeling pretty good about where I was at, but then I happened upon an Internet article about success and failure.  The basic premise of the article, although greatly paraphrased, was that modern society has undergone a paradigm shift and the way we currently view "success" has changed considerably.  Further, the article suggests that people increasingly feel like a failure in life because our definition of success has become less about unselfish personal goals and more about keeping up with our peers.  Our yardstick for measuring success now seems to involve a much greater need for external validation, without this validation we don't see ourselves as successful.  This article really got me thinking....

People need to feel wanted, we need it from our spouses, our family, friends and peers. Some need it more than others, but as a general rule people have an innate yearning for some level of personal confirmation. Much of what we do in life is driven by this desire, if you examine the motivation behind many of your actions you will begin to recognise a pattern. I believe our desire for personal validation has become so intertwined with modern consumer mindsets that most believe success is simply a measure of what we have in life, bigger houses, better cars mean we must be successful. The greater the external sources we have around us to endorse this believe the stronger it becomes and the more we associate "success" with the corroboative opinions of others.  We seek this type of external substantiation daily on a subconscious level often being unaware we are doing so. Why did you pick those special jeans, those boots, that hair style, that car, house, boat, caravan.... getting the picture? Why did you work so hard to get the 6 figure job, that promotion with the better office and the great view.... why, why, why? Can you see that little validation monster insidiously lurking behind your every decision?

People are gregarious companionable creatures, we enjoy the company of others. Positive feelings of self worth are derived from the opinions and views that other people have of us. The risk here is that when we place a disproportionate importance on these opinions we are essentially allowing others to authenticate "success" for us through their eyes not our own. Of course not everything we do in life is driven by the need for external (or internal) validation, but more often than not our decisions gain weight, in one direction or another, based on the potential for this to happen.  As a young man my choice of cars was always determined by what my mates would think of my new wheels, obviously to that end a V8 with wide tyres and a screaming exhaust became my vehicle of choice.  When driving my hot V8 I felt successful, and the opinions of my mates gave me the reinforcement to believe this was so.... Ah how simple was life, but then I grew a conscience.

"Whatever your striving for validation looks like, you are not alone. Renowned social psychology researcher Albert Bandura showed that we’re constantly comparing ourselves against others and making decisions accordingly.....

But we’re no longer trying simply to survive. The luxury and curse of our era is that we can do virtually anything we want with our lives.

And in this world of possibility, you are leaving your greatest potential unfulfilled by letting others define what success means for you.

Simply recognize that the more conscious and deliberate you can be about what success means for YOU, the more empowered you will be to pursue the path that’s true for you." - Taylor Jacobson


 Success in it's self will have a different definition from person to person and it is our individual right to decide exactly what we call success and therefore the accomplishments we seek to achieve.  For me, this is where the rubber really hits the road.  When was the last time you evaluated your "success" in life?  When did you last ask yourself the question "what does success really mean to me" ?
 
 

 
 

After looking at my personal definition of success I thought I was doing OK, I am ticking many of the boxes I had sought to tick, my life, along with my family, are moving in a positive direction all due to the concept of minimalism.  Then this article got me thinking again, on a world wide scale I am actually pretty unsuccessful.  I might be successful living my life as a minimalist, stress and worry are at an all time low, my finances are good, debt non-existent, but this success is based on my own life plan and goals as a minimalist, how can I sit back and enjoy my new found freedom while so many others are suffering. 

My broader view of success is definitely still a work in progress, it was only recently that I began to see a bigger world wide picture, and how I should work that into my overall life plan.  It's very easy, once you have found the freedom that minimalism can give, to then rest comfortably on your laurels, but this is not what minimalism is meant to be.  Once your life is clear of all the junk consider the bigger picture and how you might seek to leave your mark on the world.

This post is not about suggesting anything specific, that's for you to decide, this post is simply about remembering when all is said and done there are still people around us everywhere that need our help.  Never be too busy that you can't show love or give a helping hand.  At the end of the article I noticed a comment from a reader, they summed the article by quoting a passage from Emerson, I would like to do the same. 
 
"Success
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded." - Emerson

 Only when we work TOGETHER can we realise our potential as a united people hand in hand, can we answer the call "PLEASE HELP", can we fill the outstretched HANDS of those without food, only then can we stop the TEARS of those who need us the most.
 
 
 
~~~ James Miller ~~~

Monday, 8 July 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For. Dream A New Dream.

 
How often do you let your mind drift off to that dreamy place where everything is perfect, just like you have always wished?  When I was a child I imagined that I had the same magical powers that superman had, that was my dream and all I thought about.  Dreaming is a great way to escape, even for adults, it's a form of meditation that helps lower stress levels and revitalise the mind.  I hold the belief that true intelligence is not a measure of what we know but of what we can imagine.  Anyone can learn, but that's really just monkey see monkey do.  Having a head full of book knowledge is more an indicator of how you spend your evenings and how good your memory is than of how intelligent you are.
 
Real intelligence is being able to use your "book knowledge" to make dreams a reality, to change lives, to invent new things, to create new ways of living and seeing the world.  The real pioneers throughout history were firstly dreamers and secondly doers.  Dreams are the chalkboard of great architects, the canvas of inventors, and the chisel of a master sculptor.
 
Most of the mistakes that we make in life come from dreaming the wrong dreams, or from imagining unrealistic outcomes from our dreams.  Of course it's crucially important that we keep dreaming, forever imagining better ways to do things, better ways to relate to people, better ways to see life and the world.  It is however a mistake to chase the wrong dreams to the extent that people around you suffer from your pursuits.  As I said, dreams are a great sounding board, a great place to pin up the butchers paper and pencil your ideas, but like everything in life you need to keep things realistic and within the realms of sensible possibility.  You should always table your ideas and consider everything in light of your family, your relationships and yourself.
 
I can almost hear the naysayers at this point,
"if it were not for passionate men chasing impossible dreams modern society would never have evolved and we would still be using the horse and cart."
Guess what... they are right!!  If it were not for such people many of life's modern conveniences would not exist, medicine, industry, art, literature, architecture, the list goes on, would never have become a reality.  Despite this indelible fact I would like to challenge the modern notion that we all should chase our dreams and make them happen at all costs. As a minimalist I believe that we need to temper our dreams and focus more on collective aspirations rather than individual ones.  Many lives, relationships, and families have been ruined by the selfish pursuits of just one person.  Is that person you ?  Are you letting your personal dreams / wants come before the things of real importance in your life?  If you are then now is the time to change, remember once is a mistake, twice is a choice, learn from your mistakes and re-establish your priorities based on things that really matter.  I chose to become a minimalist because I no longer felt the need to chase over the top personal dreams, someone else can run that gauntlet, I want the quiet life, a life of meaning and deep personal connections, I have nothing in life to prove other than my devotion to the ones I love.  Make your dreams come from your heart, because if you allow your heart to hold your real treasures then your dreams will reflect what really matters.
 
 
 
~~~ James Miller ~~~
 
 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Palliation Is Not A Cure. Today's Challenge.


If you have been thinking about minimalism as a life style change, but have not yet taken the plunge, I would like to encourage you to stop procrastinating, jump off the fence and give it a try.  If you decide that it's not for you then no real harm has been done, other than cleaning out some junk and clutter.  Fence sitting may be a safe, but it certainly isn't productive.  You can never realise any real change in life if you continue to err on the side of caution. 

Before you begin have a read of this and other blogs, formulate your own definition of minimalism and evaluate it's worth in light of your own personal or family situation.  Remember, there is no point doing something if your heart is not in it.  Minimalism requires intentional steps towards your goal, change won't happen of it's own accord.  If you maintain your current status quo, sure you wont be risking anything but nothing will change either.  Actually, now that I have read that sentence back it's not really correct.  If your current status quo is a slow decline into the mire of consumerism then doing nothing will ensure you continue in that negative unproductive direction, things will continue to get worse not better.  Doing nothing may well be just as bad as doing the wrong "something" as the eventual result will be further chaos in your life.

Remember doing nothing is the same as changing nothing, doing nothing is not a cure to your current situation.  You will need to take steps to see change, if you take the wrong steps you may not see the results you want but at least you have tried something and learned from the mistake.  Aussies are very good at the term "she'll be right mate" and tend to wait till things are a crisis point before acting.  Minimalism is a proactive approach towards the alleviation of many of life's stresses, don't be afraid to give it a try.  At the very least examine the concept and see if you can formulate a definition that suits your current needs.

If I can be of any help at all feel free to post questions here or email me directly at: australian.black.opals@gmail.com

~~~ James Miller ~~~

Monday, 1 July 2013

Don't Spoil Your Children.

What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? - Matthew 7:9
I honestly believe that in today's modern world we are forgetting how to raise our children.  Think back to your childhood summer holidays, what did you do?  I was out with my mates at every opportunity, riding bikes, swimming, playing cricket, I was always outdoors and most, if not all, of the things we did were totally free.  All I needed was a couple of bucks in my pocket for lunch and 20 cents for a phone call (from a public phone box) if I had to call mum or dad.  This was summertime bliss, never in my life have I ever felt this free, and never in my life did I own less, I was not wrapped in cotton wool and I survived just fine....

We all want to give what is best to our children, we want them to be happy, healthy, well educated, and safe.  We delight in seeing them grow, watching the varied nuances associated with every stage of their physical and mental development.  In my opinion however it's blindingly obvious that as societies values have changed so we as parents have had a priority shift analogous with that change.  More and more focus has been placed on the importance of our children having everything they want.  Parent's evenings seem filled with sports practise, music practise, gymnastics, singing and dancing classes, drama classes, play rehearsals, just to name a few.  The weekends then revolve around parents rostering themselves as taxi's to transport kids to even more outings and events.  When parents finally get some "time off" they are usually financially and mentally drained and thus don't do much more than watch footy and have a beer (or something similar) in an attempt to recharge their own batteries ready for the onslaught of the coming week.

I would like to pause for a moment and say two important things; firstly, in moderation these activities are not the problem.  Secondly, a family consists of more than just the children, parents don't neglect yourselves!! It seems the balance has shifted so far from centre that parents now base what they do for their children more on consumerism and keeping up with the Jones than they do on good old fashioned common sense and values.  SLAP..... wake up people... We are spoiling our children to death and in the process turning them into selfish teens without realisation of family values or an understanding of what is important in life.  With every generation I notice this gradient of moral decline seems to be getting steeper.  If they ask for bread, of course you won't give them a stone, but increasingly pressured parents seem to give kids not just their daily bread but the whole bakery as well.

I have friends whose lives revolve around their children, it's sad because as their kids want more and more so they spend more and more time and money trying to provide for them.  The result of all this effort is usually at the expense of their own relationship.  Find a balance parents, you were not put on this earth to live solely for your kids.  Below are some simple points that I find helpful for parents to follow :

1.  Establish appropriate bed times, children need rest and structured routines... Not forgetting that parents need child free relaxation time too.  We need it for our own relationships and general sanity.  If you are not looking after yourself how can you expect to look after your kids.  Possessions and countless external activities don't grow relationships or develop meaningful value sets.

2.  No means No, think your decisions through carefully then stick to them, always however be prepared to gently explain your rationale.

3.  Present a united front, make sure you discuss decisions with your spouse in private, make your decision, and stay firm and united.  Children are masters at divide and conquer, it's no surprise that this saying dates back to the ancient Latin  Divide et impera.... it was probably scribed by a frustrated parent :-) (actually I think it was Caesar).

4.  Don't involve your kids in too many activities, two or three at most, the most nurturing times you spend with them will be during family activities not individual ones.  We allowed one musical instrument, one sporting commitment and a sensible personal choice for our daughter. If she wanted to change then something had to be dumped in favour of another activity or personal pursuit.

5.  Let the kids pick the activities they want to be involved in, and allow them to decide to change if they don't like their current endeavours.  Don't however indulge ridiculous requests, sensible boundaries based on time and finances ultimately need to govern this decision making process.  It is damaging to a child if a parent indulges their every whim, but it is equally or more damaging when you don't give of yourself and your time when children REALLY need it.

6.  Don't live your children's lives for them.  You have had your crack at life, let your kids develop their own personalities and interests.  Never try to relive your life through them, children are not show pieces - Don't be SOCCER MUMS,  pushing kids into all the things you wished you had done means you are doing it for yourself not for them.

7.  Encourage productive friendships.  Every parent has met the "friend from hell", someone you know has the potential to lead your kids down the wrong path.  Gently discourage such friendships while supporting and encouraging healthy and productive ones.  At the end of the day however your kids need the freedom to make choices of their own, so be ever mindful but only intervene when really necessary.

8.  Be natural, honest and open, don't be scarred to talk with your children even if the subject matter is confrontational.  Remember we raise our kids we don't own them, so allow them to grow and developed in an informed, open, and honest environment.

9.  I know the old bible says "spare the rod spoil the child", but it is one bible verse I do not agree with.  I have never found the need to be violent toward my child and I never, under any circumstances, will find a reason to.  Violence is reactive not proactive, developing an open and transparent relationship with your children will ensure you can talk all issues through in a non confrontational manner.  Talk, talk, and more talk, be kind in what you say yet firm with your opinion.  Using threats and intimidation against children is a recipe for a rebellious teenager.

10.  Encourage, applaud, smile, love, hug and constantly reassure your children.  Love them with all your heart not all your money!!

To conclude I would like to encourage you to think carefully with all you do regarding your kids, you have been given stewardship over their lives but you do not own them.  Gently steer them with love, encouragement and understanding so that when they finally leave the nest they soar greater and higher than you ever expected.  This is the greatest gift we can ever give our children.  The link below has some sensible and relevant ideas, please have a look and feel free to comment.

 
~~~ James Miller ~~~

Friday, 28 June 2013

Smile This Weekend...


The work week is nearly over and I don't have anything much to say, so I will share instead.  The excerpts below are again from the Marc and Angel hack life website, fantastic words and something to aspire to this weekend.  Note the last sentence, what a powerful statement and fantastic challenge!!

"4. Compliment others and help them smile.

The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion, compassion, humor, generosity and kindness, and using these tools to make the world a happier place. When we think negatively about ourselves, we typically project these feelings on to others in the form of insults, gossip and incidental neglect. To break this cycle of negativity, get in the habit of praising other people. If someone looks nice, tell them. If someone does a good job, applaud them. Refuse to engage in backstabbing gossip and make an effort to compliment those around you. In the process, you’ll help these people smile, which will help you feel good about yourself.  By looking for the best in others, you indirectly bring out the best in yourself.


6. Ignore what most people think of you.

How would your life be different if you stopped allowing people who don’t matter to poison your mind with their opinions? Do you have 5K Facebook friends and 20K Twitter follows? Good for you. Do you have a professional and personal social network of hundreds or even thousands? That’s great. Just don’t forget that this massive network of acquaintances pales in comparison to the importance of earning and maintaining the trust and respect of the few people in your life who actually matter – your close family members and real friends. When you earn the trust and respect of these special people, no matter where you go or what you attempt to do, you will do it with a sense of confidence, because you will know the people who truly matter are truly behind you.  Let today be the day you stand strong in the limelight of your own truth, without seeking needless external validation. Accept no one’s definition of your life except your own, and seek approval only from the people who truly matter in your life." -
Marc Chernoff

Freecycle, Your Weekend Clean out.

Clean out the rubbish.
I would like to throw you a challenge for the weekend, I do the same thing on a regular basis.
Take some time either Saturday or Sunday and pick one or two rooms in your house.
In each room collect any old rubbish and take it to the dump.
 
After you have cleaned out any worthless rubbish go back to the same rooms and identify anything you have that has not been used in the last three years.  If the items are non essential and you feel comfortable parting with them you should give them the BOOT.  Last time I did this I ended up selling my boat, sure I love boating but it had been three years since my last fishing trip, just didn't seem worth keeping it anymore, plus the $7000 I got for it helped me through a tight financial time.  I don't even miss the boat now.  Sometimes we hold onto things simply because we can, adding to our clutter and distraction levels.
 
If you are not quite at the point where you want to take this step, just begin with items you identify as rubbish.  Remember however if you do want to have a serious clean out the items you don't or can't sell will be happily received by charity organisations or on Freecycle.  The link below is to my local Freecycle network, I can not recommend this site more highly, good people giving away perfectly good items.  If you have not signed up already make sure you do, it's all free and offers a great community service.
 


Thursday, 27 June 2013

Show Love Don't Just Take It.

Here I go again, putting my head on the chopping block.  I don't care if I am being politically incorrect, I don't care if I am being sexist, and I care even less if every single person in the world does not agree with me.... Men you have an obligation to your wives and Ladies you have an obligation to your Husbands..... If you don't totally agree you should not be married.  Full stop.

We choose our life partners out of love and we must allow this same emotion to guide us on a daily basis.  It's your obligation to support, encourage and love your wife or husband, isn't that why we get married.  In this crazy dystopian world, love can create a Utopian haven for your family.  If I can't have Utopia on a world wide scale I am going to make damn sure that my family experience it within our home.  The only way I know how to do this is to give of myself, every single day, to the ones I love.  The amazing thing is that when I do this my cup always "overfloweth" and I become a better person towards everyone I deal with.  It's like the snow ball I referred to in a previous post, the more you live this life the bigger your resolve to continue becomes and the greater the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.  I always get back twice the love I give, how can this be anything other than my Utopia here on earth.

I have to be totally honest, I have in the past been very remiss in this regard.  It was not that I didn't express my love, but rather that I didn't back my words up with actions.  Sure, I made a fuss over birthdays and anniversaries but I often let the little things slip my attention.  When I became a minimalist I very quickly began to appreciate the small things in life, in fact I realised that it is the small things that are actually the most important.  Obviously I had heard this before in the form of a cliche, but now I was able to see just how important it actually is.  As family and relationship focused minimalism became more of a life style and less of an ethereal concept I understood that showing love daily in as many ways as you can creatively think of is far more important than infrequent singular displays of affection.  As minimalism stripped the rubbish and distractions from my life, the importance of doing this came to light.
 
It was a win / win for me, I wanted to be closer and more connected to my beautiful wife and the simple process of "thinking up" new ways to show I love her meant she was at the forefront of my mind every single day.  In the end I became addicted to doing this and for me the rewards were worth more than anything I had ever done in my life.  I love my wife and I will do my best to let her know this every single day of my life.  Minimalism taught me it is the little things that matter the most, but living my convictions proved to me that words should always be backed by action. 
 
"Love without action is dead" - James Miller
 
Love without action only ticks half the boxes on your template to an awesome relationship, and action without love does the same.  Love and actions are synergistic and must go hand in hand.  You love with your heart and you cement this by the things you do, it's that simple!!
 
Below is an excerpt from an article that has some great ideas on spicing up your relationships.  You can see the entire article by clicking the link.  Please have a read, leave the author some comments, I found it very interesting reading and got some great ideas.
 

"Show your love through thoughtful actions. They can be simple things, like drawing a bath, giving a massage, doing the dishes, or writing a poem. Choose an action that you know your partner will appreciate. Remember, denying yourself never means doing things begrudgingly. If you show affection, but drag your feet along the way, you may as well not be doing it.


 
Breakfast In Bed.
  • Buy something for him/her when you know that they specifically want it. If he wants a Craftsman set of tools, or she wants a Fendi handbag, they might be upset at your well-meaning attempts to get them or make them something similar.
  • Make something for them when you're trying to show effort. It doesn't take much effort to buy your spouse what you know they want, but it sure takes effort thinking of a poem, writing it down, and setting it in a frame. This shows real commitment.
  • Numerous small gestures are easier than one big one. In case you thought you could wing it and make up for all your normal neglect, sorry: It's much easier to do small things for your spouse at regular intervals than it is busting out a grand gesture every blue moon. Practice small and steady."

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Don't Be Afraid.....

Love
“I used to desire many, many things,
but now I have just one desire,
and that's to get rid of all my other desires.”
- John Cleese.

“Being deeply loved by someone
gives you strength,
while loving someone deeply
gives you courage.”
- Lao Tzu
 
 
 

 
“At least three times every day
take a moment and ask yourself
what is really important.
Have the wisdom and the courage
to build your life around your answer.”
- Lee Jampolsky
 
 
How many times in your life have you wanted to just give up?  The task seemed too big or too technically/physically overwhelming.  Sometimes turning the page and starting a new chapter in life is the best thing you could do for yourself.  So when should I persevere and when should I quit.  This question really boils down to a matter of personal priorities, the answer will therefore be different for everyone.  When I am faced with a challenge or situation that I am not handling well and I want to quit I ask myself a few simple questions.
  • Am I thinking of quitting because I am inexperienced and still learning?  Can I get help or guidance ?
  • Do I have the support to continue, is the endeavour in accordance with my personal credo?
  • Am I enjoying what I am doing, do my actions impact others?
  • Am I doing this for selfish reasons ?
  • Am I achieving my goals or just treading water?
For our family, most of our goals are joint ones and ones that we collectively tasked through and ratified as important for us to achieve.  If you jointly decide on a goal many of the usual obstacles won't ever be an issue.  With a joint decision comes joint effort, enthusiasm, and knowledge.  Many hands make light work and two heads are better than one.  Choose your endeavours and see how they fit your families life template, if they are honourable and worth collectively pursuing then it's full steam ahead.  Draw from each others strengths, support each other and chase your dreams with passion and gusto.  The point I am trying to make here is if you choose your goals sensibly then you are less likely to face the situation where you feel you have to quit.  Don't set yourself up to fail, keep your goals modest, there is no point thinking you can build a space shuttle alone, it just ain't going to happen.  A little ambition and boundary pushing is great but biting off way more than you can chew will just cause you stress and rob you of your time, it's all about priorities.

As usual I have included a couple of pertinent quotes, they encapsulate my thoughts on this subject perfectly.  Basically I interpret them in this way, if you limit your personal desires and keep your goals sensible, if you do everything based on love, and if you constantly remind yourself of what's important in your life - then the goals you choose will be enjoyable, jointly important, and for the most part achievable.  Sure life may toss you a curve ball from time to time but with collective focus comes collective strength.


~~~ James Miller ~~~

Monday, 24 June 2013

Minimalism & Seeing Past The Superficial.

 
"Since discovering minimalism, my life has changed significantly. The process of promoting values and removing distractions has forced new intentionality in life. As a result, many of my habits have changed. I spend money differently. I spend time more efficiently. I exercise more. I wake earlier." -- Joshua Becker
~~~~~
"In an era of public booty-bouncing and other ubiquitous in-your-face expressions of sensuality, it’s about time we had a new standard of sexy.

Real sexiness is so much more than physical shape and form. It’s more than style and wardrobe, attitude and visible swag. And it’s certainly more than the lopsided exposed skin to covered skin ratio depicted on today’s popular media channels.

We are increasingly in desperate need of a more enduring standard, one that includes more than face and body – one that includes the shape and form of internal qualities, those that add joy and passion to life, those of heart, mind and soul."
- Ken Wert
 
Real love
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres...... Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
 
You might be wondering what the first two excerpts above have in common, both written by expert writers and both very concise and germane, however both are different topics... or are they ??  Why did I also quote the platitude from Corinthians?  Everyone has heard this quote, just about every wedding and funeral service these days uses it.  I refer to it as a platitude not because I feel the verse is fallacious (I actually believe it's perfect), but rather because it has become so overused and misunderstood in today's society.  Increasing moral decline and focus on worldly pleasures mean people have forgotten this is actually how love was meant to be, yet they still toss the quote around in an banal fashion as if they embrace it's essence.  Divorce, abortion, failed relationships, homeless children, debt, drugs, and the like all prove to me that the world is slowly but surely forgetting how to LOVE.
 
It was no mistake that I placed Joshua's quote before Ken's, I am not saying that one article is better than the other, or one writer more relevant, I am saying however that one process enhances the next.  Joshua Becker in his article talks about how minimalism promotes values and removes distractions (what a fantastic concise sentence), and Ken talks about the superficial ubiquitous promotion of sexuality minus the heart, mind and soul.  God help our children and their future relationships if they are allowed to succumb to this form of indoctrination.
 
Let's merge the two quotes James Miller style.

"Minimalism has changed my life and enriched my relationships. I have found new direction and intentionality in all I do and think. The process of promoting values and removing distractions has allowed me to shun indoctrination and peer pressure and find freedom in my life. My relationship with my spouse has never been deeper or more meaningful. I have learned to see the book, when before all I saw was it's cover.  In an era of public booty-bouncing and other ubiquitous in-your-face expressions of sensuality, it’s about time we had a new standard of sexy.

Real sexiness is so much more than physical shape and form. It’s more than style and wardrobe, attitude and visible swag. And it’s certainly more than the lopsided exposed skin to covered skin ratio depicted on today’s popular media channels.

We are increasingly in desperate need of a more enduring standard, one that includes more than face and body – one that includes the shape and form of internal qualities, those that add joy and passion to life, those of heart, mind and soul.
 
Minimalism has given me a new way to see myself, the world, and other people.  Once I saw the superficial now I look for the meaningful, once I looked only for "sexy" now I seek inner beauty,  once I sought self pleasure now I seek to please. " - James Miller et alii.

Many of the problems that relationships face today result from an increasing trend of Independence within the relationship. It's no longer savvy to be in a co-dependant relationship, couples should be able to stand on their own two feet and thus be free to bail when the going gets tough. While a level of independence is healthy, isn't a relationship about caring for each other and being co-dependant?  I just don't see the point in being in a relationship where you live more like bed sharing flat mates. We all know the term for this increasing trend, F... Buddies, which by it's own definition infers that the priority focus is physical with as few strings attached as possible.

In the English vocabulary we use the single word "love" to describe many types of feelings, it's interesting to note that biblical Greek had more than one definition for our singular umbrella word "love".  I Have a another quote below for you to peruse, it explains five different Greek meanings for love.  The problem today is we focus more on the selfish demarcations of the word when we should be, at the least, more holistic and the best totally selfless.  Minimalism has helped me to see love in all it's forms and to experience the same in return.  Don't be put off by the biblical content, this post is not about religion, I used it only as a reference to explain the different forms of love.
 
"Think about this: the word ‘LOVE’ is a loosely used term in the English language. I love God, I love my wife, I love my Dad, I love spicy curry, I love writing, I love cooking and I love football. Surely these are not all the same type and degree of love yet we use the same word to describe all.

Do I love spicy curry in the same way that I love football? Do I love Dad in the same way that I love writing or cooking? Do I love my wife in the same way that I love God?

To begin to better understand LOVE let us consult the Greek and C.S. Lewis‘ book The Four Loves, Harcourt, Brace 1960. The Ancient & Modern Greek languages have many different words for love. Here are four (4) that I know of, that describe different aspects of LOVE.

NOTE: There are five (5) words below but we cannot include the first as akin to love for obvious reasons.

1. PATHOS (Strong’s G3806)
This may also be called “lust”. This is a depraved vile passion that includes inordinate sexual appetites. It is described as ‘inordinate affection‘ in Colossians 3 and Christians are urged to KILL it.

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (v.5 KJV)

Many people mistake this for love and are held captive by it’s enticing grasp. PATHOS is an affection but it is NOT love.

2. EROS
This may also be called “romance”. It is a passionate emotion, with a major focus on sensual connection and a minor focus on sexual desire and longing. This Greek word is not found in the Holy Bible but is described by Lewis. He says:

“A man in this state really hasn’t leisure to think of sex. He is too busy thinking of a person. The fact that she is a woman is far less important than the fact that she is herself. He is full of desire, but the desire may not be sexually toned. If you asked him what he wanted, the true reply would often be, “To go on thinking of her.”" [pg. 133]

While EROS may not focus on sex it does not exclude sex. Lewis himself admits that “at a later stage the explicitly sexual awakens” in this type of man. EROS is an emotion but is not true love.

3. STORGE
This may also be called “affection”. According to Lewis, it is the most natural, sensitive, and wide spread type of ‘love’. He says:

“The Greeks called this love storge (two syllables and the g is “hard”). I shall here call it simply Affection. My Greek Lexicon defines storge as “affection, especially of parents to offspring”; but also of offspring to parents. And that, I have no doubt, is the original form of the thing as well as the central meaning of the word. The image we must start with is that of a mother nursing a baby…” [pg. 53]

Lewis explains:

“The importance of this image is that it presents us at the very outset with a certain paradox. The Need and Need-love of the young is obvious; so is the Gift-love of the mother. She gives birth, gives suck, gives protection. On the other hand, she must give birth or die. She must give suck or suffer. That way, her Affection too is a Need-love. There is the paradox. It is a Need-love but what it needs is to give. It is a Gift-love
but it needs to be needed.” [pg. 54]

Even though STORGE exists without coercion it exhibits a GIFT-NEED / NEED-NEED relationship. For it to become true love NEED must be eliminated and another element added. STORGE is affection but it is not true love in and of itself.

4. PHILOS (Strong’s G5384)
This may also be called “friendship”. According to Lewis this expression of love, or true friendship, is the same as the love that David and Jonathan shared and is almost non-existent now.

“…the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1 KJV)

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26 KJV)

Lewis says very few modern people equate this type of friendship with love. Is it that mankind has grown so cold that the ability to love in this way has diminished? Has PATHOS become prevalent and in it’s prevalence corrupted PHILOS?

PHILOS is used throughout the New testament. One such example is the conversation Jesus had with Peter in John 21:15-17.

Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. The first two times, in verses 15 and 16 Jesus used the word AGAPAO, which refers to that LOVE which Christ himself has for mankind. Peter used the word PHILEO in his response to Jesus. PHILEO derives from PHILOS and refers simply to friendship. The third time Jesus asked the question, verse 17, Jesus used the word PHILEO and Peter felt sorrowful.

“He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”

Twice Jesus asked: Peter, do you love me the way that I love you? Peter’s answer was: I love you as a friend. Then the third time Jesus asked: Peter, do you love me as a friend? Peter was hurt and sorrowful because it was the truth, he only loved Jesus as a friend and not unconditionally. This may explain why he eventually went on to deny Jesus three times.

How many of us love in this way and need to examine ourselves? PHILOS is a lovely affection but it is not unconditional love.

5. AGAPE (Strong’s G26)
This may also be called “charity” or “unconditional love“. It is described in the Holy Bible as the greatest virtue.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 KJV)

The word charity is translated from the Greek word AGAPE, pronounced ä-gä’-pā. It is very different from our modern word
charity, which refers merely to kindness.

Biblical CHARITY (true love) denotes affection, good will, love, benevolence and brotherly love. Most importantly, TRUE LOVE: suffers long, is kind, does not envy, is not boastful, and is not prideful (v.4). TRUE LOVE does not behave disgracefully, is not self-seeking, is not provoked easily and does not calculate evil (v.5). TRUE LOVE does not rejoice in acts of injustice or unrighteousness but rejoices in truth (v.6). TRUE LOVE protects from imminent danger, has confidence in truth, hopefully trusts, and endures until rewarded (v.7). TRUE LOVE is never without power or effect (v.8).

We see here that AGAPE is the epitome of LOVE and that GOD is love’s ultimate personification since He IS love. Anyone who does not love does not know God.

“He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:8 KJV)

It stands to reason that once we
FIND GOD, we find true love and become vessels of LOVE (God). We can expect that vessels of this true LOVE will automatically demonstrate LOVE and will gravitate towards each other. The search for anything other than AGAPE is futile.

Be LOVE (agape) and be LOVED!" - http://epignosisministries.com/category/5-greek-words-for-love/


To conclude can I encourage you to ponder the above article then in light of what you read have a look at Marc and Angels link, check it through and see how many boxes you can tick.  Take this opportunity to ask yourself if you see past the superficial and appreciate inner true beauty. 
 
 
~~~ James Miller ~~~