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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-09-07, 08:08 PM   #1
Slow Train
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Monks, Not McMansions, May Hold the Key to Happiness [Wash. Post Article]

Economist's example says "less is more".

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Originally Posted by Washington Post
Monks, Not McMansions, May Hold the Key to Happiness
By Katherine Salant
Saturday, February 10, 2007; Page F07


Most people think economists study money.

In fact, economists use various analytic tools to predict behavior. True, the majority of economists' predictions deal with financial matters. When economists talk about new houses, for example, their focus is invariably on the factors that determine prices, such as mortgage interest rates.

But some economists have gone in a different direction. Rather than study dollars and cents, they have used the tools of their discipline to explain other phenomena, such as why people make certain choices.

In the past, economists assumed that an individual's choices were always guided by rational self-interest. Today they recognize that human foibles, biases and our hunter-gatherer origins can often be critical factors.

Monks, Not McMansions, May Hold the Key to Happiness
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Old 02-10-07, 04:15 AM   #2
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Primarily speaking of Americans, but realizing this also holds true for people of other nations.

Most people are very confused about the difference between gratification and happiness, and the difference can be huge.

Most people equate financial gains with success (big house, nice car, etc.), but the more they make, the more they spend, spending most of their adult lives in debt.

For most people, money causes more problems than it solves, leading to higher stress and less happiness. While it is possible to make enough money to hire other people to handle these problems, very few ever reach this level.

Most people make their most important decisions based on emotion, rather than logic.

Most people are not happy. They lead lives of quiet desperation, fostered on debt and the stress it causes.
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Old 02-10-07, 10:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Washington Post
What is the scientific proof that a modest lifestyle is the path to happiness? Rayo said one example is Buddhist monks. They eat the same food and wear the same clothes every day. With years of meditation they lose interest in the "next new thing and the moving target," he said. "And their brain scans show that they are happier than most people in a scientifically measurable way."
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Most people are not happy. They lead lives of quiet desperation, fostered on debt and the stress it causes.
From what I see of most people, I'd have to agree, but like the article says, you need to work at it...
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Old 02-10-07, 03:40 PM   #4
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If you figure out what makes you happy, you'll be happy. One thing I love about this forum is the way people tie it all together--Bicycle, simplicity, rational life planning--they're the things that really make happiness possible. Thanks, Slow Train!

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If the goal is to impress your peers and friends, "You'll lose the race of winning and you'll be stressed," he said. Is your kitchen a place to hang out and be comfortable or will it be, as Rayo put it, a "slick intimidation statement about my wealth?" Will the $50,000 array of solar panels on your new roof that will generate all your household electricity needs "bring a sense of personal satisfaction or give you bragging rights?"

The latter are "not a sustainable source of happiness," Rayo said. "When consumption extends beyond your needs and the goal is to impress others, you should be suspicious; it will not lead to happiness."
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Old 02-10-07, 03:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuterRun
Primarily speaking of Americans, but realizing this also holds true for people of other nations.

Most people are very confused about the difference between gratification and happiness, and the difference can be huge.

Most people equate financial gains with success (big house, nice car, etc.), but the more they make, the more they spend, spending most of their adult lives in debt.

For most people, money causes more problems than it solves, leading to higher stress and less happiness. While it is possible to make enough money to hire other people to handle these problems, very few ever reach this level.

Most people make their most important decisions based on emotion, rather than logic.

Most people are not happy. They lead lives of quiet desperation, fostered on debt and the stress it causes
.
Very well put, CommuterRun.

I work on a psychiatric unit. The other night I heard one of our nurses explaining this concept to one of our drug addicted patients. He ( the nurse) told the patient that she kept wanting more things--whether drugs or crap she buys at the store--because she looks for things to make her happy. He said all of her wanting turns into craving, and this kills her chances for happiness.

"Always, the more you have, the more you will want. You can never catch up to the cravings, no matter how hard you try," he told her.

Later, the patient told me that this is the first time that her addictive behavior made sense to her, and she will have to think about what her nurse told her for a very long time.
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Old 02-10-07, 05:30 PM   #6
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Cool story, Roody.
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Old 02-11-07, 07:23 PM   #7
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"Does Rayo follow his own advice? He lives in a condo in downtown Chicago that is a 10-minute train commute from his office. He doesn't have a car."

One of the authors is car free?
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Old 02-11-07, 07:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
Very well put, CommuterRun.

I work on a psychiatric unit. The other night I heard one of our nurses explaining this concept to one of our drug addicted patients. He ( the nurse) told the patient that she kept wanting more things--whether drugs or crap she buys at the store--because she looks for things to make her happy. He said all of her wanting turns into craving, and this kills her chances for happiness.

"Always, the more you have, the more you will want. You can never catch up to the cravings, no matter how hard you try," he told her.

Later, the patient told me that this is the first time that her addictive behavior made sense to her, and she will have to think about what her nurse told her for a very long time.
It reads like the nurse is preaching Buddhism to the drug addicts you know the old life is suffering, suffering arises from craving, crave less and suffer less line that the Buddha used to tell people. Does the nurse go on with the right speech, right livelihood stuff too? Maybe some meditation on these principles would help people get their lives back together.
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Old 02-11-07, 09:23 PM   #9
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Quite a few popular treatment modalities have their roots in Buddhism. Insurance companies love them, as they tend to work.
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Old 02-12-07, 11:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
Very well put, CommuterRun.

I work on a psychiatric unit. The other night I heard one of our nurses explaining this concept to one of our drug addicted patients. He ( the nurse) told the patient that she kept wanting more things--whether drugs or crap she buys at the store--because she looks for things to make her happy. He said all of her wanting turns into craving, and this kills her chances for happiness.

"Always, the more you have, the more you will want. You can never catch up to the cravings, no matter how hard you try," he told her.

Later, the patient told me that this is the first time that her addictive behavior made sense to her, and she will have to think about what her nurse told her for a very long time.
As an a person who is dual diagnosis- Schizoaffective/depressive type and an Alcoholics Anonymous member with 12 years continuous sobriety, I am in agreement with the fact that happiness is something we have to work for. The Noble Eight Fold Path and Classical Taoism have helped me a lot to find happiness,as well as the 12 steps of AA which to me are a different way of expressing the 8 Fold Path.

Happiness and simplicity are intertwined. Being car free,although difficult at first, leads to simplicity and happiness,at least for me. Also I have given up on psych meds for 2 years and 8 months now which lets me have a much better quality of life. Bicycle riding has enabled me to do this. It relieves the stress which brings on my mental illness relapses which put me in the hospital. By not owning and maintaining a car I can have some fun money. There is more to life than just the basic neccesities. Like having more bicycles. LOL. Oh well,at least it is a healthy addiction and a lot cheaper than meds. I love bicycle riding and owe my life and happiness to it. I could do without it if I had to but I would rather not.
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Old 02-12-07, 01:08 PM   #11
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Relevant book, worth a look:

http://www.amazon.com/Progress-Parad...dp/0812973038/
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Old 02-12-07, 02:48 PM   #12
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Liking bikes is fine - at the same time "healthy addiction" is an oxymoron since addiction by definition involves compulsion & thus suffering. Biking can be an enjoyable habit but if it's an addiction, then buy definition it's self-destructive.
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Old 02-13-07, 02:59 AM   #13
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What brings me peace, including bike riding is the Bible..
When you start to read about The love of God, and see that he's not against us (were against him)..life start to makes sense..With the cause and effect. and the bibles wisdom on how to live at peace, simple, and joyful (even when life hurts or sickness, etc).
So I can see as the orginal poster mentioned monks have more peace then others with so called sucess.
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Old 02-13-07, 08:44 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyclepath
Liking bikes is fine - at the same time "healthy addiction" is an oxymoron since addiction by definition involves compulsion & thus suffering. Biking can be an enjoyable habit but if it's an addiction, then buy definition it's self-destructive.
True. I am still compulsive though. So bikes are better to be addicted to than many other things.
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Old 02-13-07, 11:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwd
It reads like the nurse is preaching Buddhism to the drug addicts you know the old life is suffering, suffering arises from craving, crave less and suffer less line that the Buddha used to tell people. Does the nurse go on with the right speech, right livelihood stuff too? Maybe some meditation on these principles would help people get their lives back together.
He's not a Buddhist, but he does live according to the principles he told the patient. He isn't carfree, but he is pretty much off the grid otherwise. Actually, his words put me in mind of Thoreau also. He's Polish and had never heard of Thoreau. I gave him a copy of "Walden."
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Old 02-13-07, 11:49 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
thanks for the suggestion, Hardy. I haven't read this yet, but put it on my list. Gregg Easterbrook has been a favorite writer for years. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly for as long as I can remember.
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Old 02-13-07, 12:37 PM   #17
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thanks for the suggestion, Hardy. I haven't read this yet, but put it on my list. Greg Easterbrooke has been a favorite writer for years. He has written for the Atlantic Monthly for as long as I can remember.
That's right! Gregg Easterbrook is none other than the Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Mr. TMQ himself! Best football column in the country. Currently carried weekly by ESPN page2; previously by Slate and the NFL.com. Also in 1980, six years before the Challenger exploded, he wrote a cover story for The Washington Monthly, about the serious flaws of the Space Shuttle; the title: "Beam Us Out of This Deathtrap, Scotty

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/fea...-fulltext.html
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Old 02-13-07, 09:08 PM   #18
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enjoyed the article, and I think I'm going to check out the book suggestions too. Thanks
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Old 02-14-07, 02:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littledog
As an a person who is dual diagnosis- Schizoaffective/depressive type and an Alcoholics Anonymous member with 12 years continuous sobriety, I am in agreement with the fact that happiness is something we have to work for. The Noble Eight Fold Path and Classical Taoism have helped me a lot to find happiness,as well as the 12 steps of AA which to me are a different way of expressing the 8 Fold Path.

Happiness and simplicity are intertwined. Being car free,although difficult at first, leads to simplicity and happiness,at least for me. Also I have given up on psych meds for 2 years and 8 months now which lets me have a much better quality of life. Bicycle riding has enabled me to do this. It relieves the stress which brings on my mental illness relapses which put me in the hospital. By not owning and maintaining a car I can have some fun money. There is more to life than just the basic neccesities. Like having more bicycles. LOL. Oh well,at least it is a healthy addiction and a lot cheaper than meds. I love bicycle riding and owe my life and happiness to it. I could do without it if I had to but I would rather not
.
Damn, littledog, you're doing great! I'm going to pass your story along to some of my patients, if that's alright with you.

I already tell them about the clinical studies that are starting to show the effectiveness of exercise for depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. A psychiatrist I work with is studying exercise and schizophrenia. But a personal story like yours will give them something to think about.

I take a group of patients walking every day. I also show patients my commuter bike leaning on the hospital wall, and I ride the exercise bike on my break and talk to patients who ask me about what I'm doing.
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Old 02-15-07, 09:30 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
Damn, littledog, you're doing great! I'm going to pass your story along to some of my patients, if that's alright with you.

I already tell them about the clinical studies that are starting to show the effectiveness of exercise for depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. A psychiatrist I work with is studying exercise and schizophrenia. But a personal story like yours will give them something to think about.

I take a group of patients walking every day. I also show patients my commuter bike leaning on the hospital wall, and I ride the exercise bike on my break and talk to patients who ask me about what I'm doing.
You have my permission to pass the story on. Bicycle riding is fun first and foremost The benefits are numerous and far reaching. I try to show this by example to others in my situation.
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Old 02-15-07, 02:21 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littledog
You have my permission to pass the story on. Bicycle riding is fun first and foremost The benefits are numerous and far reaching. I try to show this by example to others in my situation.
Thanks.
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Old 02-19-07, 05:59 AM   #22
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Buddhism is the way to create a heaven out of our Earth, imo.

i couldn't agree more with the article. It is the endless cycle of desire which makes us unhappy. It is yourself you must compete with, striving to make yourself better. Competing with others is often unreasonable and a great source of personal unhappiness, in my opinion!
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Old 02-19-07, 07:48 AM   #23
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How many people on this thread/subforum are Buddhist, I wonder?
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Old 02-19-07, 09:26 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneArmedScissor
Buddhism is the way to create a heaven out of our Earth, imo.

i couldn't agree more with the article. It is the endless cycle of desire which makes us unhappy. It is yourself you must compete with, striving to make yourself better. Competing with others is often unreasonable and a great source of personal unhappiness, in my opinion!
I fully believe the motorcar is the biggest cycle of desire ever created. Billions spent on television and print media each year to have you spend 20 - 30% of your life time savings.
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Old 02-19-07, 09:41 AM   #25
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I fully believe the motorcar is the biggest cycle of desire ever created. Billions spent on television and print media each year to have you spend 20 - 30% of your life time savings.
30% I was thinking more like 50% in some cases I look back at the amount of money I have spent and spend on vehicles and all of the hidden costs and it is depressing...time to go for a bike ride and forget about it

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