February 27, 2013

Weapons of Mass Creation

Drop your weapons - pick up some crayons.

What if we put down all of our implements of destruction (guns, bombs, denial, and dollar bills), and picked up a box of crayons? What if we took some time off from all the "creative destruction" and did a little "destructive creation"?

We could draw pictures of humanity destroying swords in order to create plowshares, for example.

Crayons are weapons of mass creation and visualizers of imagination. Happy people are creative people, and creative people are happy people. We can't continue to destroy if we are too busy having fun creating.

Author Robert Fulghum had it right when he made the following suggestion:
"Maybe we should develop a crayon bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air - explode softly - and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth - boxes of crayons.
And we wouldn't go cheap, either - not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in.  With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest.  And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination."  

Our greatest weapons in the fight against ignorance, selfishness and denial are imagination and creativity.

Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge has limits, whereas imagination knows no bounds.

If we can imagine it, we can create it.

Make art, not war

February 25, 2013

No Advertising Monday

Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, in Understanding Media, describes the "content" of a medium as "a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind".

By that he meant that people tend to focus on, for example, the content of an advertisement, but miss the changes that advertising generally introduces subtly over long periods of time.

The advertising and marketing industries use professionals that understand our psychological weaknesses, and our deepest desires. Then they target these weakness and desires to take advantage of us.

"The objective of advertising men", said McLuhan, "is the manipulation, exploitation, and control of the individual in order to sell products to unsuspecting consumers."

I may still read an ad-laden blog for a while, but I find they distract from the message. That is why, four years after starting Not Buying Anything, I am still not selling out.

Why I Am Not Selling Out

1. I am opposed to the use of corporate advertising on my blog (and anywhere else). I believe advertising to be mind-numbing propaganda of the very worst kind. It doesn't just get into your brain - it changes your brain.

2. I feel the use of corporate advertising on my blog, (and anywhere else), devalues the message. I don't want to make money with my blog - I want to change the world with my blog... for free.

3. I do not accept merchandise, gifts, favours, or brown envelopes stuffed with cash in return for advertising space on my blog (or on my person, clothes, vehicle, or any of my possessions) because they would threaten my ability to express myself freely. I want to say what I mean, and mean what I say.

4. I feel that advertising money taints relationships, and destroys integrity. Advertising tries to coax the little green pieces of paper out of your bank account and into the accounts of the biggest corporations on the planet. When we choose to play the money game, we trade our integrity and our relationships for more little green pieces of paper.

Unlike most places in the world, this is an ad-free zone, and I intend on keeping it that way.

February 22, 2013

Non-Stop Activity is Not Sustainable

We have to stop and relax, observe, have fun, or just be

In our doing obsessed culture we rarely, if ever, stop. We rarely stop for fun, and more than likely we never stop just to be. Kids are pretty good at just being, and can teach us a lot about what we have lost as adults.

One year while teaching elementary school, I was out on the playground at recess supervising. For me doing supervision was enjoyable because I could get outside and see the students in the more natural settings of play and "kid world".

Supervision consisted of strolling around, scanning the area, and being an authority figure that was at the same time safe, strong, and approachable. You certainly didn't play while on supervision, although it was difficult not to get caught up in the energy and joy of 200 little people getting their sillies out.

While passing a line of children penduluming back and forth on the swings, I eyed an empty seat. I dashed for the swing, sat down, and started pumping and pulling my way into the sky.

I was flying with everyone else when I was jarred out of my soaring sensation by a student yelling, "LOOK!"

I stopped pumping my legs and saw the student on the grass in front of the swings pointing at me and admonishing the kids gathering around her.

"Look!" she shouted again, mouth hanging open, "a teacher having fun!"

The children around her also gaped as they watched me slow down, jump off the swing, and straighten my coat before continuing on my supervision. Perhaps they had never seen such an outrageous sight in their brief period of existence in "adult world".

A small group of stunned kids followed me around for the rest of recess, and for a short while I was the pied piper of fun.

Perhaps the students at that school still tell the playground tale of the mythical adult AND teacher that dared to stop and have fun for one brief, glorious, playful moment.

I will certainly never forget it.

February 21, 2013

Mxmlists Fight Back

We are entering an era
defined by natural limits
For a variety of good reasons, simple and minimalist living is becoming more mainstream. Because of this, simple living and minimalist blogs are becoming more popular. I am optimistic that this trend will continue, and that the message of such blogs will help us transform our economy, our selves, and the way we live our lives.

But some people don't want this inevitable transformation to occur.

Because of the impending shift to gentler (read "less profitable for big business") ways of living, mainstream political 'leaders' and their buddies, the private sector 'wealth generators', are getting nervous. I know this as a fact since my own federal government has recently decided that I am a threat to our country's national security.

Not only that, but environmentalists like me have also been added to the growing list of terrorist threats.  Wow - they really are scared. What's next - fighting back with maximalist, conspicuous consumption blogs brought to you by the United Corporations and the governments that work for them?

Sometimes I wonder why I have never seen any complex living blogs, but I think we all know. In North America, blogging about the work hard/consume hard lifestyle would be like a fish blogging about water.

But for future reference, I thought up some possible names for pro-consumer/work/fast life bloggers to consider.

  • Mxmlist -  the joys of maxing out on possessions and having lots of everything
  • Buying Everything - more work, more stuff, less freedom 
  • Consumer Habits - how to acquire and feed the consumer habit for life
  • Miss Maximalist - living a semi-beautiful life with more stuff
  • Lavish Dad - enjoy all the toys and never mind the kid's education or your early retirement
  • Being Luxurious - have fabulous stuff regardless of the consequences
  • Fast Times - helping you shorten your life by increasing the pace to hyper speed

As the environmentally degrading consumer era comes to a close, those with vested interests in the status quo will flex their ample moneyed muscles.  Rather than look to natural limits to explain the end of profitable conspicuous consumption, they will be looking for party-pooping activists to blame for its demise. 

That is why the Canadian government now lists in their Counter-terrorism Strategy, under "Domestic Issue-Based Extremism", terrible terrorist tactics like engaging in environmentalism and anti-capitalism activities.  

We are entering the age of limits. There will be no Mxmlist Blog in the future, nor will there be the conspicuous consumption like there is now.

There will also not be massive profits for the exploiters, and no amount of green backlash is going to change that.

February 18, 2013


Permaculture can be summed up in three simple concepts that provide a model for a better world:

1. Earth Care - take care of the Earth, and use resources wisely.

2. People Care - take care of your self, family, and community.

3. Fair Share - taking only what you need, and contributing where you can.

The best thing is that the concepts of permaculture can be practiced right in your own backyard right now.

February 16, 2013

Healthy Nature - Healthy Humans

The view from our home is all nature all the time

I would die if I didn't have my daily dose of nature. Exaggeration? Or are the benefits of nature more important than we realize? 

A growing line of research is revealing "the entanglement of our health with the health of nature", as Lindsay Abram writes in When Trees Die, People Die.

"A line of modern thought suggests that trees and other elements of natural environments might affect our health in more nuanced ways as well. Roger Ulrich demonstrated the power of having a connection with nature, however tenuous, in his classic 1984 study with patients recovering from gall bladder removal surgery in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital.  

He manipulated the view from the convalescents' windows so that half were able to gaze at nature while the others saw only a brick wall. Those with trees outside their window recovered faster, and requested fewer pain medications, than those with a "built" view. They even had slightly fewer surgical complications. 

Environmental psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan attributed nature's apparent restorative ability to something they termed "soft fascination": Natural scenes, they theorized, are almost effortlessly able to capture people's attention and lull them into a sort of hypnotic state where negative thoughts and emotions are overtaken by a positive sense of well-being.  

Indeed, an analysis of numerous studies in BMC Public Health found evidence for natural environments having "direct and positive impacts on well-being," in the form of reduced anger and sadness."

It shouldn't surprise us that nature is a requirement for overall planetary health, including our own. After all, as Henry David Thoreau's pointed out, we are all partly leaves and vegetable mold ourselves.

We need healthy, fully functional nature to have healthy, fully functional humans.

February 15, 2013

Love Is Free... So Are Hugs

Hugs for all!

Linda lobbied hard today for a positive, upbeat, loving post, so here goes:

Nothing in life is free? Ya, tell the crows that.

And what about love? And hugs? Free, free, free - it costs nothing to give them away. And the more you give, the more you get. Also free.

Love and hugs (and a few quotes) for all of you out there in this big ol' crazy wonderful world!

"No matter how hard you hug your money, it never hugs back."

- H. Jackson Brown

Oops. Was that one negative? Not to worry - the next one is very playful.

"I will not play at tug o' war
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs...."

- Shel Silverstein

And more seriously - physical touch and love are necessities for humans to flourish and reach their full potential. No amount of money or stuff can yield the benefits of love, and the touch of another human being. Or friendly mother wolf...

"Every day you should reach out and touch someone.  People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back."

- Maya Angelou

February 14, 2013

Not Buying Valentines Day or Slave Chocolate

I'm all about love. The world would be a better place if we had more of it. Valentines day however, is a sick scam that launches a full frontal assault on amorous couples looking to score some points on this 'special day'.

If the goal was to spread love 365 days a year, that would be cool. But it is not. The goal is to get money out of your pocket, plain and simple. And the pressure to spend is great. In many places it has become a cultural expectation or obligation to spend on loved ones.

Everyone, including grade school children, are expected to invest in a little love, and do so unquestioningly.

And what is the main way to "show your love" besides cheesy will-you-be-mine cards? Giving a gift of chocolate made by child and slave labour is quite popular.

"Children are doing dirty, dangerous, and degrading work in the chocolate industry,” says Cheryl Hotchkiss, manager of World Vision’s End Child Slavery campaign. “They get hurt swinging machetes to cut down cacao pods. They get sick from pesticides and toil in extreme heat with little pay, poor nutrition, and no health care. They’re separated from their families and can even be abused by employers.”

Approximately 2 million children, some as young as 8 years old, are involved in cacao farming worldwide, the majority in West Africa.

95% of the chocolate consumed in the world is not certified and will soil your hands in more ways than one if you choose to buy it along with the thinly veiled marketing love fest that we know as V-day.

Here are some things you can do to ensure that your chocolate isn't tainted by child and slave labour, or toxic processes.

Getting Rid of Dirty Chocolate

1. Look for chocolate with labels such as the Fair Trade label and the IMO Fair for Life label.

2. Contact the big chocolate companies like Hershey’s - tell them you expect them to prove their chocolate is not tainted by child labor and slave labor.

3. Contact your elected officials. If big chocolate can’t monitor their own supply chains, we need to go back to the drawing board and demand laws that prevent slave-produced chocolate from hitting the shelves of stores.

The people who produce the raw materials for our chocolate treats deserve fair wages and safe working conditions. African children shouldn’t have to suffer unspeakable horrors just so we can enjoy a treat.

Buy fair trade/organic chocolate, then indulge in a bit to celebrate limitlessly loving every single day of the year.

Find ethical chocolate where you live on the ChocoFinder website.

February 13, 2013

Live Life Without Regrets

Shortly after my "I should have bought more crap" post here, I read an article in The Guardian about an Australian palliative care nurse that recorded the most common regrets of her dying patients.

There is a lot to be learned from these commonly reported sources of remorse. We can use the collective wisdom of others to help us avoid similar pitfalls.

Top 5 Most Common Regrets Of The Dying

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Read the Guardian article here.

How can we avoid these same situations? How can we make it to the end of life with the fewest possible regrets? 

With more autonomy, one can create a remorse-free life. Living more simply allows me the freedom, time, and space to follow my heart, and honour my priorities. 

The simple life also helps me avoid the traps of wealth that can distract even the most ardent from their true path. 

These distractions are why some wealthy parents plan on forcing their kids to live more simply by leaving them a reduced inheritance. These concerned parents wish to save their kids from the potentially devastating distractions of extreme wealth. 

How thoughtful. It just might help their kids avoid buying gold-plated regrets.

Besides the freedom of simplicity, which allows one to explore and experiment with life's passions, there are other attitudes and approaches that can be practised.

Ways To Live Life Without Regrets
  • take risks
  • say "Yes" more often
  • listen to your heart/inner voice
  • apologize, forgive
  • ask questions, seek answers
  • share the love - with yourself, and others
  • learn from, and cherish, all experience
  • be a dreamer
  • set and work toward goals, but take breaks to recharge
  • don't worry about what you think other people might think 
  • say "No" more often
  • shamelessly be your own quirky self
  • try not to label things as "good" or "bad"
  • do something to make the world a better place, no matter how small
  • savour the moment
  • think good thoughts
  • give more hugs
  • give yourself permission to be happy
  • keep moving/be physical - sing, dance, bang a drum, run, swing, roll, take joy in your body and what it can do
  • do things that scare you - fearlessly embrace existence
  • look at change as an opportunity for learning and experiencing new things
  • reach out, open up, share your feelings
  • live the life you imagine
  • initiate, motivate, make things happen - write letters, make phone calls, send emails/messages 
  • kiss him (her)
Live life without regrets. Don't wait. Start now. Have fun.

February 12, 2013

Branded For Life

Infographic from: Popular Science

I know it is hard to believe, but sometimes these companies (and others) do some pretty nefarious things to maintain their dominance on pretty much everything in the average household.

It is good to be informed about what these massive corporations (larger than whole national economies in many cases) are doing to ensure your brand loyalty and continued profits.

For example, just enter one of the above company names into the search bar of CorpWatch, and see what comes up. It is usually a long list of misdeeds and wrongdoings.

Also to be found on this excellent website that is "Holding Corporations Accountable", is Top 200: The Rise of Corporate Global Power by Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies.

The authors conclude: "As citizen movements the world over launch activities to counter aspects of economic globalization, the growing power of private corporations is becoming a central issue. The main beneficiaries of the market-opening policies of the major multilateral institutions over the past decade and a half are these large corporations, especially the top 200."

From horse meat sold as beef, to big banks fleecing the globe for trillions, it increasingly looks like the capitalist utopia has gone bad. Many corporate representatives believe that breaking the law is allowed... as long as doing so turns a profit.

Dana Radcliffe wrote in Should Companies Obey The Law If Breaking It Is More Profitable?, "both individuals and corporations take actions that help or harm other people, and both are benefited by public goods, including national defense, civil order, roads, schools and the like. So, it doesn't seem unreasonable to infer that both function as citizens, with attendant obligations, including to obey the law -- even when it would be more profitable to ignore it."

When a corporation breaks the law we could dissolve its corporate charter and sell off the assets to be collected as a fine. Our laws should make it less profitable for businesses to break the law, and lawbreaking decision makers should be brought to justice.

But what can the rest of us do? How can individuals help limit the "too-big-to-fail/too-big-to-jail" attitude prevalent in the world right now?

1. Don't work for people doing bad things, and
2. Don't buy their services, or products.

Resist being branded for life.

February 11, 2013

Love Your Life Monday

Art by Ricardo Chavez Mendez

“However mean your life is, meet and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise.

Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its doors as early in the spring.

Cultivate property like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts…

Superfluous wealth can buy superfluities only. Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.”

- Henry David Thoreau

February 10, 2013

Deathbed Regrets

Other lines you are unlikely to hear:

"I should have spent more time at the office."

"I should have been meaner."

And Danielle Berry's contribution, "I wish I spent more time alone with my computer."

February 8, 2013

Throwing The Clock Away

 "The clock talked loud.  I threw it away, it scared me what it talked."  - Tillie Olsen

We are told that "time is money", so we are forced to choose - Time? or Money? Most people choose money. Not us.

After years of full time work we felt the eight hours left to us after the eight hours of work and eight hours of sleep wasn't enough. So many of those hours were either interrupted by more work, or were spent recovering from work, that there was little time left to honour precious personal priorities. We had to make a change.

In 2000 I took a non-paid leave of absence (LOA) from my teaching position. Linda quit her job working for a retail cooperative outdoor store.

While some people choose to wait until they retire to honour their priorities, we felt some urgency due to Linda's MS. We wanted to travel and traverse the globe together while we still could. We slipped on our shoes, and set ourselves adrift in the world for the next 365 days.

After a year on the road from Manitoba to Malaysia to Mysore, the school board sent me an email asking if I wanted to take advantage of an optional second year on my LOA. I received the message while we were in Thailand, which made the thought of going back to work very unattractive.

I wondered, "After two years of this will I be able to go back?" I replied to the email letting them know that I was interested in taking another year LOA.

The second segment of our time transformation was spent exploring new things with the security of knowing that I could return to my teaching position the following year... if I wanted. In the meantime, I was free to do things that I would not have had time for while teaching.

Looking for something completely different, I got a job working as a chauffeur. Yes, it seems strange for a guy destined to write a blog about anti-consumption and simple living, but for a while I was the operator of one of society's most ostentatious symbols of excess, the s t r e t c h limousine. I like to think of it as in-the-field research, and it remains one of my most bizarre and interesting jobs.

After my brush with the dark side, I had to redeem myself. My next job was working as a raft guide on one of Canada's most historic waterways, the North Saskatchewan River. I worked for a non-profit organization teaching grade 7 to 12 students about the importance of our water resources, especially our rivers.

Raft guiding was teaching as I like it - in the great outdoors far, far away from institutional echoing corridors and small windows half blocked off to "enhance student performance". You can't beat teaching an excited group of teens in a rubber classroom floating down a river through sun-shafted morning mist.

During the year Linda worked a variety of jobs supporting housing and retail cooperatives. Besides our part time work, we enjoyed having time to hang out with the coop kids and friends and neighbours in unhurried, casual encounters. Time was unfolding at a healthy pace, and our newly acquired hours were spent in a variety of creative activities, like learning to play guitar, singing, and drawing.

We also camped, hiked, skied, skated and snowshoed. More importantly, at times we did nothing.

Then, quicker than I expected, it was time to tell the school board what I was going to do the following year.

I resigned, and threw the clock away.

Salvador Dali, of melting clock fame, said, "Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision."

Taking a sabbatical was like living in a surrealistic movie. As soon as we stopped working so much, everything was different, and kind of weird. But a good weird. The reprieve gave us the opportunity to allow time to destroy the shackles limiting our vision.

Over the two years everything opened up, including our experience of time. We liked being off the clock, and we liked the spontaneity and joy of living on a more natural, gentle un-schedule.

Time or money? We picked time, the most precious of all commodities. 

February 6, 2013

Good Health Is True Wealth

If we take the usual course in life we spend our strongest, healthiest days working toward building financial wealth, before retiring and spending that wealth trying to regain our health. Often we find that it is too late, with many of us succumbing early and not even making it to retirement.

Virgil said, "The greatest wealth is health", and of course he was right. Good health is a prerequisite for everything else. If one is not healthy, it is impossible to enjoy any amount of wealth.

Just ask anyone that has faced a serious health issue if they would rather have financial wealth, or good health.

Of course a certain amount of wealth can improve access to healthy living and medical care. However, simply living well can lead to good health outcomes.

4 Ways To Live Well And Enjoy Good Health
  1. Eat a mostly whole food, plant-based diet - we rely on grains, legumes, fruit, veggies, soy products, nuts, and seeds. We currently eat dairy, and on rare occasions a little meat (mostly sardines and oysters/mussels).
  2. Enjoy regular physical activity (you can call it 'exercise' if you want, but I include all movement including things like doing laundry, cooking, climbing stairs, having sex, and going for walks.)
  3. Get plenty of rest -  8 to 10 hours a day may be necessary
  4. Practice living in the moment - laugh, sing, dance, breathe (and floss)

Do not take good health for granted. If you are healthy, you already have more than many others that struggle with illness every day. Appreciate, enjoy, and maintain this beautiful gift.

Live well, be well, and enjoy the true wealth of healthy living.

February 4, 2013

Fisher Man Rich Man

When I was a teenager I came across a 9-panel cartoon illustration that visually told the story of the fisherman and the rich man. I liked it so much I photocopied it and gave it to everyone I knew. Over the years I have often thought of this precautionary tale and its message regarding true wealth and the simple life.

The following is a variation of this story.

A rich man takes a vacation to a tropical beach. He has worked hard all his life and has decided to enjoy the fruits of his labour. He is excited about visiting the island because he’s heard that there is incredible fishing there. He loved fishing as a young boy, but hasn’t gone in years because he has been busy working to save for his retirement.

On the first day he has his breakfast and heads to the beach. It’s around 9:30 am. There he spots a fisherman coming in with a large bucket full of fish.

“How long did you fish for?” he asks. The fisherman looks at the man and explains that he fishes for about three hours a day. The man then asks him why he returned so quickly.

“Don’t worry”, says the fisherman, “there’s still plenty of fish out there.”

Dumbfounded, the rich man asks the fisherman why he didn’t continue catching fish. The fisherman patiently explains that he caught all he needs.

“I’ll spend the rest of the day playing with my children, and talking with my friends. After that I’ll relax on the beach.”

The rich man sees an opportunity to teach the peasant fisherman something about progress.

He explains to him that he should stay out all day and catch as many fish as he could. That would enable him to save up the extra money he makes and buy even bigger boats to catch even more fish.

"You keep reinvesting your profits in even more boats and hire other fisherman to work for you. If you work really hard, in 20 or 30 years you’ll be very rich." The man feels pleased that he’s helped teach the simple fisher how to become rich.

Then the fisherman looks at the rich man with a puzzled look on his face and asks what he is to do after he becomes rich.

The rich man responds quickly “Oh! Well, then you can play with your children, talk with friends, and relax on the beach. And do a little fishing.”

February 2, 2013

Express Your Individuality

"Just be yourself", is a common piece of advice when someone is about to face a challenge.

Too often we conform to the roles of society or our social group and fail to express ourselves as a unique person independent of groupthink. Expressing individuality is essential to personal growth and is a great way to share our unique talents with the world.

But individuality can not be bought - it has to be developed over time in our own way.

We can learn to express our individuality and reclaim our birthright to who we are supposed to be.

Non-Consumerist Ways To Express Individuality
  1. Start by realizing you have intrinsic value as a human being, regardless of what you do, how much money you make, or what you own (or don't own).
  2. Take an inventory of your own special quirks, talents, strengths, as well as shortcomings. These all make you the individual you are.
  3. Find a personal style YOU are comfortable with. Wear colours and clothes that you feel natural and comfortable wearing. 
  4. Try expressing yourself more, whether in conversation, or in other creative ways such as singing, dancing, playing an instrument, writing poetry, or any other artistic expression that you enjoy.
  5. Speak up! Let people know how you think and feel about things. 
  6. Foster relationships that are supportive of who you are.
  7. Honour your priorities regardless of where they take you.
Remember that "following the crowd" is a good way to give up your personal power, and your own unique perspective on life. Resisting the relentless onslaught of commercial pressure to CONFORM can be difficult.

Be Yourself - you are the only one of you in the world, and you have your own special contributions to make.

February 1, 2013

Alternatives To Work

Are there any alternatives to work? Even if there are, people are so busy working that they may never have the time to find them.

Most of us are so immersed in work that we can not imagine a world outside of the current model. As conventional thinking goes, there are no alternatives to work as we know it. "Get a hair cut, and get a job" is understood as not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do.

Only by rationally questioning our social assumptions and priorities surrounding the concept of work, and by actually facing the resultant problems, can we then begin to shift toward healthier ways of living.

Is full employment desirable? Who benefits from our working longer hours for less pay? Is work 'liberating'? 'Good for us'? Are people who don't have a job lazy, unproductive losers?

These are the types of questions that we need to discuss before we can get an objective, scientific view of what we are doing from 9 to 5, fifty weeks out of the year. More and more people are asking these questions.

People are getting wise to the scam of wage slavery and they are doing something about it.

A growing number of freedom-loving people are finding alternatives to conventional notions of work. 28 % of US citizens are 'down-shifting' in order to realign their lives with their yearning for more freedom. They are 'tuning out' the dominant culture of work overload, and reject the costly consumer oriented value system.

Down-shifters, and other adherents of simple living, are choosing more free time and less work. Some are moving to quieter, less expensive, rural towns where life is slower and communities are still intact. People are seeking their own (not advertisers' or employers') definitions of quality-of-life, including how a job may or may not fit into their overall picture.

We are brainwashed to believe that if we are not 'doing something' every minute of every day then we are wasting our lives. Quite the opposite is in fact true, chasing 'things', 'thoughts' and 'sensations' simply allows our lives to pass by unnoticed.

More people are opting out of mainstream notions of 'work' and 'success', and are exploring simple living alternatives that allow the freedom to pursue priorities other than the purely economic.

Priorities encompassing all of life such as love, cooperation, creativity, mutual support, play, curiosity, compassion, and truth. How could working a regular monotonous job just for money even compare?

Like Peter Gibbons said in the movie Office Space, "We don't have a lot of time on this earth! We weren't meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements."

Today, many millennials are not buying into the system in the first place. They are not buying many of the traditional big ticket items such as houses and new cars. Such things can be as much of a burden as a blessing.

The sharing economy allows people to free themselves from having to personally own everything they use. Whereas previous consumer generations took pride in owning as much as possible, millennials don't see this as some sort of badge of honour. I agree with them.

If you enjoy the work world, and are lucky enough to have a job in which you don't feel exploited, abused, demeaned, or otherwise maligned, more power to you. However, if you are one of a legion of workers that is under stress on the job and would like to get free, there are alternatives.

Note that none of them are likely to be easy. But then, neither is dragging yourself out of bed day after day after day to go to a job you hate, only to get paid a wage under the poverty line.

Ultimately it would be good if everyone could do what makes them happy, and receive their fair share of the planet's resources for doing it. But until capitalism and greed crumble completely from their inherent non-sustainability, some transitional alternatives are possible.

Among those include things such as:

- downshifting, (spend less so you can work less)
- participating in your community to create local self-sufficiency and resiliency
- gardening
- squatting
- dumpster diving
- traditional hunting/gathering
- joining, or starting, a cooperative
- creating a strong support network in your neighbourhood
- living in a van or RV
- being your own boss doing something you love
- developing strong ties with family and friends
- use barter networks, tool sharing, and 'free' sections of websites like Craigslist

I don't know of any alternatives that don't require a sacrifice of energy, but most of the ones I listed will provide a certain amount of freedom from being preyed upon by the mandatory work system and those that benefit from it.