Chris Webb, founder and author of The Gittite Way, knows what it's like to be part of the rat race and feel as though you are trapped by the demands of the American Dream. He's certainly not alone. Many others have realized that the system they previously took part in was actually making them more alone and less happy, and have subsequently attempted to find more meaning and purpose in a simpler life.
Webb founded the Fellowship of the Gittite in 2004. Consequently, he gave up ownership of three construction companies and now works as a trash collector, focusing his daily life on living simply. As he explains, "I realized that my life was owned by everyone else. I was trying to fill all of these roles.”
Through the Gittite Way, Webb offers tips and advice for cutting the clutter from your life, getting out of the race, and enjoying a more fulfilling existence.
Understanding the Gittite Way
Although the Gittite Way may sound like a strict religious organization, it's actually more flexible than that. Webb has outlined 10 tenets of the system, which you can use whether you identify as a Gittite follower or not. The tenets are useful when you are trying to reconnect with the world around you. Webb notes that when creating the tenets and writing the book, “I tried to find out what is really true from everyone's perspective, not just across religion, but what made sense for all people.”
The first tenet is, "Be who and what you really are without apology." The concept of the first tenet is simple: that God created each person the way they were meant to be. You'll be happier if you learn to accept and love yourself and stop thinking that you need somehow change to be accepted by people around you or to be fully loved by God. Once you accept this fact, you might find that you feel less stressed and less compelled to constantly chase new experiences or new possessions.
The 9th and 10th tenets are essential for living a simpler and happier life. Tenet nine is simply "Decide to be happy", while tenet 10 is "Always be thankful." Making the choice to have happiness and to really give thanks for what you have and who you are will help you enjoy a life that is less full of the trappings of the modern world.
Clearing the Clutter
Once you have decided to embrace a simpler life, there are some ways to go about actually making it work for you. One way is to strive toward removing the physical, emotional, and mental clutter from your life. If you wake up every morning and see a sea of possessions in your home, getting rid of stuff can seem impossible. But the good news is, it isn't.
Graham Hill, the founder of TreeHugger.com, provides a cautionary tale of the way stuff can take over your life, as well as a tale of how you can break free from it. Hill sold one of his first Internet companies in 1998. After the sale, he found himself with more money than he'd ever imagined and no idea how to use it. So, he hired an assistant and started buying an excessive amount of furniture, electronics, and other fancy new things. However, he quickly found that such habits didn't make his life better. In fact, his habit made it worse, as Hill’s life became more complicated and filled with worry.
He downsized and began living in a just over 400 square foot home with only the bare necessities. Hill found that his material possessions were leaving him with no room or time to handle his emotional needs, so he cut back.
While Hill's solution might seem extreme, there are more manageable ways in which you can reduce clutter in your life and start truly living the life you want. One simple solution is to put limits on the amount of things you own. Tell yourself you will own just 5 pairs of pants, 10 dishes and 2 pairs of shoes, for example. Replace items as needed, but don't buy when you don't need to. Instead of collecting music and books, use the library and only take a book at a time, committing to finish it before you start a new one.
Developing Trust and Connection
Human connection is an important aspect of living an enjoyable, simple life. Part of having a connection with others entails trusting them. Another part of connecting is the belief that "Anyone who is seeking truth will find it," which is the fourth tenet of the Gittite Way. Everyone is on a different path, but everyone will eventually find what he or she is looking for.
2009 Gallup poll demonstrated the importance of trusting others when it came to a person's overall health. The poll found that the states with the highest levels of trust in a neighbor were also likely to have the highest levels of overall wellbeing. The poll concluded that the connection between health and trust levels was possibly due to those people having better access to the things they truly needed to live a more fulfilled life.
Learning to enjoy the simpler things in life, to become less bound to possessions, and to trust others more fully will have a great impact on you. As the eighth tenet of the Gittite Way –“Consider that this life may well be all there is”— poignantly reminds, this life may be the only chance you have, and it's up to you to make the most of it.