Living Simply, Surviving College

Go.

Think back to the last time you explored a place for the first time. It could have been in the country, across the world, or in your own backyard. Remember the feeling and wonder you experienced as you turned every street corner, passed every stranger on the sidewalk, rode every train and walked every mile? That feeling that you only get when you’re away from your typical, mundane, everyday routine. That feeling that travel and exploration gives away for free.

As twenty-something’s, we often look for experiences that are of little to no cost to us. Money is tight and we’re on a budget, but we don’t want that to stop us from enjoying life. And it shouldn’t stop us from enjoying life. Now, we can get all philosophical and say “what is the meaning of life if it is left un-enjoyed?” and your answer could be whatever suits you. But travel, travel is one way to find yourself and lose yourself all at the same time. Travel may possibly be the greatest way to enjoy this life if you allow it. This enjoyment and wonder can happen in your own city for free if you want it to. You can stay local and allow yourself to get comfortable where you are.
There is nothing inherently wrong with localizing yourself and staying stationary if it means it is cost efficient for you. But travel, when it costs something, is never a waste of money.

And while it can easily be seen as a selfish ambition, never underestimate the people you have the chance to impact along the way. The stories that you will have the chance to share along your journey have the power to change someone’s life.

As young, impressionable human beings, we should always seek to travel. Traveling does what nothing else has the power to do to us.

Travel evokes the sense of self-awareness inside of us that contrasts who we are inside this giant world. It opens our eyes to other cultures and shows us that life does not revolve around us and that it is okay to be different.

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Drinking chai on the streets of Kolkata, India summer of 2015.

Travel, as far as it can take us, somehow gives us a feeling of closeness as a human race. We as humans are given this beautiful ability to all be so different, yet we grow up on a planet filled with billions of other humans who feel the same emotions, have their own differing opinions and deal with their own stuff just like we do. Get out there and meet those people. Explore their world.

 

Never regret buying that plane ticket or saving up for that adventure. Experience is far more valuable than anything else you could ever save up for. Having a lifetime of stories to share is so much greater than having a bunch of things to show.

So go. Don’t let excuses get in your way of getting out into the world and feeling it, seeing it, touching it and loving it. You have today and today only, so don’t waste it. It is not irresponsible to take the time to see the world, it is your calling. Soak it up, breathe it in and keep going. There is so much more out there than we could ever experience on our own inside our own little world. Don’t deny yourself the chance to live the life you imagined.
So here’s what you do today:

Write down the qualities you want to see grow in yo

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Us, exploring NYC for the first time together.

u. Write down what it would feel like to loosen your grip on your own reality and see the world through someone else’s eyes. Research places that spark something inside you. Ask yourself: “what is my mission and goal?” Where can you go and what can you do to make this world a better place by being in it, and what can you do to make the best new versio of yourself outside of your box?

 

Get rid the things that are holding you back. Save up. Pack your bag. Buy that ticket. Bring friends. Go. Just whatever you do, go. Don’t ever let fear stop you from experiencing this great big world. Don’t allow routine to stop you from becoming rich in experience. It’s all up to you.

“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves, and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”

– Pico Iyer

 

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Living Simply

Minimalism + Marriage

When Jordan and I got engaged (story here), we started the journey of joining our lives together.

When we decided to join our lives together as one, we were agreeing to take care of one another as we would want to be taken care of, we agreed to a life-long promise of listening and loving and making our relationship work through the good and the bad.

We agreed to support each other’s dreams and goals.

We decided that no matter what, we had enough in our relationship with God and in our marriage.

We adopted a minimalist mindset for our marriage, and it has benefitted us more than we thought possible. Here’s how:

Minimalism + Money

For over the past year, Jordan and I have been stewarding our finances in preparation for our marriage.

We have the necessities in mind: rent, groceries, car payments, etc.

But we have dreams to travel. We have joined our mindsets together and realized that minimalism will make way for us to be disciplined with our money and create the life that we both want to live.

Minimalism + Mind/Body/Health

Like I stated earlier, minimalism creates a mindset that says “I have enough,” but it also makes space for us to use our money in different ways–ways that better us. Less mindless spending means more intentional purchases

Less mindless spending means more intentional purchases that better our health, such as food. Being picky and ruthless in your diet will make a huge overall difference in your health. Being alert and energized has a lot to do with what you put in your body. Skipping the purchasing of loads of cheap food and refining your grocery list to a smaller, more tailored and intentional list of healthy options will show you how you can eat well and spend wisely.

Minimalism will also help redefine what you spend the bulk of your time doing. It causes you to take a step back and evaluate the influence of your daily decisions. You will begin to weed out the activities that don’t inspire you or keep your body in good health and replace them with activities that do.

Minimalism + Making Decisions

Now when invitations pop up, or if we are just trying to decide what to cook for dinner, we are able to make better decisions together because our mindset and focus are going in the same direction.

We ask ourselves: what makes more sense in regards to our time and finances? Where are we putting our effort and energy into right now, and does this decision reflect that?

I encourage every couple to explore more into the idea of minimalism in their marriages, or their dating relationships.

When minimalism is adopted into a couple’s life:

The arguments over spending minimize.

The money lost over pointless spending diminish.

The time used doing mindless activities decrease.

And the quality of life is restored.

 

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Living Simply

When Happiness Happens

Setting the Scene

When I was 21 years old I got on a plane with 11 other people and flew thousands of miles across the world and 24 hours later, landed in Kolkata, India with the mission of simply loving on people.

It was scary. It was unknown territory. It was my first time leaving the comforts of the United States.

I can remember gathering my bags from baggage claim and clinging to them, stepping outside and struggling to catch my breath in the thick, warm Kolkata air.

I slept all of 45 minutes in the past 24 hours, but I was wide awake. Amazed at what I saw. Our driver was fearless while navigating the city filled with chaos: bamboo scaffolding covering the sides of concrete buildings, the stray dogs dodging cars, the men and women walking barefoot on the pavement, the lack of stop lights or road laws whatsoever. The city seemed unfinished. Not glamorous at all.

We drove past all kinds of people working, socializing, napping and walking through the city and into the slums, seemingly enjoying a typical evening despite the dirt, humidity, annoying traffic noises and the unpleasant smell that seemed to follow us everywhere.

We worked tirelessly for the next 20 days in this beautiful, stressful, loud, insane, incredible “City of Joy.”

The Takeaway

I didn’t have to travel across the world to love people and have a change of heart, but this experience stretched my viewpoint of the way I held so tightly to my things; mere possessions. I became grateful. More grateful than I had ever been in my life. Not because I realized how fortunate I was, but because they showed me that my life possessed so much more.

We spent a week at a school in the slums with the happiest little children you’d ever meet in your life. The building had no air conditioning, few windows, a concrete floor and about the size of a typical classroom but filled with tons of kids. We danced, sang, learned our ABC’s and played games together. It was like seeing extended family for the holidays (only a lot more sweaty and a huge language barrier.)

These kids really came from nothing. The roofs of their houses were made out of tarps or scrap metal. They bathed in buckets with water pumped from the street. Their clothes were torn and some didn’t own shoes. But man, what a valuable lesson we could learn from these children in the slums of India.

In no way could I even feel pity–they were so happy. It was infectious.

I had a change of clothes but they had more.

They had contentment. They had fun together. They had community.

America is a very individualized nation. We focus on our wants, needs, desires. We post on our social media platforms about ourselves and do what we can to make our lives seem desirable. We are naturally focused on ourselves most of the time. Shouldn’t we be experiencing this type of happiness?

Get This

Over the summer I watched this documentary called “Happy” and it is about a man named Roko and his journey around the world asking one simple question: “What makes people happy?”

He traveled to the slums of India and what he found was inspiring.

A dirt poor rickshaw puller in a slum in India once told me that he was the luckiest person alive. His hut was made out of bamboo sticks and plastic tarps, with raw sewage trickling out front, but still, Manoj Singh said he was happy, very happy, in fact. Though sometimes he only had only a few bowls of rice to feed his family, he said “I feel that I am not poor, but I am the richest person in the world.”

He learned that a person’s values are among the best predictors of their happiness.

By focusing on gratitude, compassion, and relationships with loved ones, people can instantly improve their happiness levels.

“The greatest lesson I learned while making this film is that my pursuit of happiness is not about me. It’s about our relationships and how we help each other. It’s about us.”

Get out of your bubble. Focus on people. Love them. Give of your time and, if it calls for it, give of your money or even the things you hold a high value. Get uncomfortable to make others a priority. That is when happiness happens.

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