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What does smarter living mean to you?

For today’s post, I’m going to take a little tangent from the world of personal finance and investing. 

Many weeks ago, my close friend Dave wrote me a number of emails sharing his perspectives on smarter living.  What is smarter living anyhow? 

Is it about being more “green”?  Does smarter living mean the same thing as today’s favourite buzzword sustainability?

Is it about making healthier choices?

Is it about being more socially responsible or aware?

Is it about creating efficiencies or less waste in our world?

Could be any of the above I suppose, and more.      

I must admit, Dave’s emails were pretty deep (probably too deep for this blog!) but what he wrote me struck a cord and did cause me to pause and think…thinking is always a good thing in my book ;)

Maybe Dave is more philosophical since his daughter was born over a year ago now.  Maybe he’s becoming more introspective with age.  Maybe his passion for understanding the human condition is moving to a higher plane.  Here are the distilled themes of Dave’s emails to me…

Smarter living makes me think of the big picture.  It dawned on me one day that if I had a set of principles (for our family) that governed who we are, what we want to represent, how we want to live, what’s important to us, what we stand for, etc., then all other facets of life could be aligned to those principles. With my wife and I having a young daughter now, I find it even more important now to define these principles so I can lead by example, be a good role model, and be consistent in my actions. What are these principles?  One example could be healthy living, with a sub-principle of this being quality food, which could include organic, local, not processed, etc.  Another principle could be friendship which could include showing respect, consideration, empathy.  Yet another example could be character, which could include integrity and kindness.  Using these principles could help form what “smarter living” means to us, to me.  Maybe as investors, we should also define how we want to invest according our principles, being smarter about them.  This could be about my investment approach, the types of companies I invest in or where I place those investments (i.e. TFSA, RRSP).  It can mean so many things, the beauty of it is, you get to define it.  

I liked the last part; you get to define it. 

I haven’t thought too much about smarter living until I re-read those emails from Dave; some interesting perspectives for sure.  Hopefully all of us can make most daily actions consistent with our values but heck, if we don’t, we can learn from those experiences and be better people for it.  Our actions could be more “green” and preserve Mother Earth.  Our actions could be ethical investing.  Our actions could be short steps on a path towards more meaningful, lasting experiences for ourselves, our families and those close to us.  I guess smarter living can be many things to many people but it starts with a trigger, something to encourage you to reflect upon where you are and forecast where you want to be.

In case this sounds familar, this principle-centred ideology was popularized by Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.   A great read if you haven’t put this book on your bedside already.

What does “smarter living” mean to you?   Does this term mean something special to you?

I want to thank Dave for allowing me to share this thoughts on my blog.  He has a passion for learning, understanding, staying true and working to be a better person.  

Share your thoughts!

Filed in: Lessons Learned

22 Responses to "What does smarter living mean to you?"

  1. Great post, Mark.

    Since we moved into our new house almost a year ago, my wife and I have changed our impact on the environment. No we didn’t buy horses and move to a commune, we looked at changing some of the small things we do. You’d be amazed at what a little bit of vinegar can clean instead of using harsh chemicals.

    Also we grew lots of vegetables in small garden which turned out amazingly well. Next year we are making the garden a lot bigger, almost a 1/4 of the entire backyard along with fruit trees and fruit bushes. All the vegetables we grow are heirloom which means the seeds can be harvested and saved for the next year. I will be giving seeds to all my friends and family and invite them to do the same. It’s a skill that has been lost in the advent of grocery stores but it’s a great feeling to harvest your own food and re-plant it the next year.

    • @A2D,

      Great comment!

      We want to follow your lead in the spring, start a raised garden in our backyard. I want to grow what I consume. We’re also using more homemade cleaning goods around our house. It just makes sense to do so. I just can’t believe we didn’t do this before!

      Your backyard with fruit trees and fruit bushes should be amazing. Take some pics. and put them on your blog!

      Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be over to your site later this week!

  2. Addicted2Dividends is on to something. I also think it’s about being good to what’s around us: both people and the environment.

    If we’re good to people and the environment, then people and the environment will be good to us. That’s what “Smart Living” is to me.

  3. Sfi says:

    Moa, this que is very relevant to finance and investing i dont think
    Its off topic. I define smarter living as simplying your life
    To keep things focused on what is important to you. We have too many
    Choices and too much marketing.

    E.g.in investing i am concerned more about management quality
    And track record than what it is that they do or whether or not the company is ‘in’.
    So i own fewer highest quality investments.

    • @sfi,

      Thanks, I wasn’t too sure after I talked with my buddy Dave and wrote this post (largely with his ideas) if it was on par with the rest of my blog or not. Even if it wasn’t, I thought it was good to “throw it out there”!

      You said something I really like: “keep things focused on what is important to you”. Absolutely!

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. SPBrunner says:

    I am investing for the long term, (I still have stocks that I bought in the 1970’s). So, what I think is that is blog is actually very much on topic. I am, of course, interested in management quality and part of that is how a firm goes about making a living. I not only what to know how a firm earns its money, but also that it has a good reputation.

  5. For me, living smarter simply means never being satisfied with what you already know or what you have already accomplished. Keep thirsting for new knowledge and new opportunities. Great book recommendation btw, I definitely second that it is worth the read (unlike most books in that genre).

    • @MUM,

      I like what you wrote – thirst for new knowledge, new opportunities. Wow, think how positive our world would be if everyone had that attitude of openness? It would be a pretty amazing place, smarter living would just be common, everyday living :)

  6. Be'en says:

    Thought-provoking post!

    Perhaps you can do a post similar to your take-away from “The Elements of Investing”, on the book you mentioned here — “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.

  7. Awesome post MOA! Very different from your regular posts, I really enjoyed reading this one. It made me pause and think…hmmm…what does smarter living mean to me?

    To me it means living in balance, and being smart about the choices I make regarding, health, family, friends, career, and investing. I think a holistic and balanced approach is the way to go.

    I’d like to see some more posts like this :)

    • Hey Kanwal,

      Thanks for the positive comment! I’ve got a few other ideas for posts like these….I’ll see what my brain can come up with over the next few months! :)

      What you wrote, what it means to you, is very impressive. Balance in life is just so important.

  8. Elemag says:

    A very deep topic, Mark… I don’t think you can summarize it all in few sentences. However, what comes to my mind right away is something like being grateful for every day of my life,having my family and my friends; remembering that we humans are not the only living organisms on our planet, being here and now because life is not in the future when all the dreams will come true and plans will get fulfilled, but at this very moment (the old adage “focus on the journey, eh?”) and so much more.

    Do you remember what Maximus (in the “Gladiator” movie) said to his troops before the battle? “What we do in life, echoes in eternity!”

    I am convinced he was onto something ; )

    • @Elemag,

      Deep topic indeed!

      What you wrote was excellent. “…being grateful for every day of my life, having my family and my friends; remembering that we humans are not the only living organisms on our planet, being here and now because life is not in the future when all the dreams will come true and plans will get fulfilled, but at this very moment (the old adage “focus on the journey, eh?”) and so much more.”

      Your comments inspired me to think about today as living our dreams, it is pretty special this thing called life.

      Thanks for sharing!!

  9. Elemag says:

    I felt the need to come back to this older post of yours and add something very beautiful and wise I recently came across. One of Life’s precious gifts we are given sometimes. It was once said by Hideharu Onuma-fifteenth generation master of the Japanese art of kyudo, or traditional archery. Master Onuma said: “Everything we need for a joyful, fllfilling life is available to us now if we have eyes to see it!” I truly believe him and I try to learn how to live with open eyes.

  10. Thanks for the mention! :)

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