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Sunday Lifestyle

Can we be like Pope Francis & simplify? Can our leaders ride the MRT?

WILL SOON FLOURISH - Wilson Lee Flores - The Philippine Star

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. — Confucius

I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money. — Pablo Picasso

Although this writer is a non-Catholic Christian, I am quite impressed and excited over the news of the Jesuit cleric Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio becoming Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church due mainly to his humility and social idealism.

In our modern world where many people are frenetically on the so-called “hedonic treadmill,” Pope Francis has exemplified leadership by example with a Christ-like simple lifestyle.

Who among our leaders has occasionally or even just once in their lives taken a ride on the often-overcrowded Metro Rail Transit (MRT) or Light Rail Transit (LRT)? Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio rode subways in Buenos Aires and Rome, his inspiration being the ascetic Francis of Assisi.

Even as the leader of the Argentinian Catholic Church, Bergoglio didn’t live at the grand Archbishop’s Palace in Buenos Aires but chose to sleep on a simple bed in a downtown apartment room heated by only a small stove. He cooked his own meals for years. Instead of using a chauffeured limousine, he commuted via train or bus to church.

After his election on March 13, Pope Francis didn’t ride the papal limousine but joined the cardinals on a last shuttle bus on the way to a residence at the Vatican for a meal.

The Catholic Church now, more than ever, has genuine hope for positive change.

A few years ago, it seemed so un-Christian for a few Catholic bishops to allow politicos to misuse money from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to buy them expensive vehicles. PCSO is tasked to assist the poor. One archbishop in Mindanao even requested an SUV from then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as a birthday gift! 

In the 19th century, when my successful yet simple-living Manila lumber entrepreneur great-great-grandfather Dy Han Kia died, the task of managing the family businesses was passed on to his second elder brother’s son, Dy Chau Si, who was nicknamed “Lao-ah Si” due to his loquacious eloquence. This generous nephew turned out to be profligate. One tale of his extravagance was his use of an opulent four-horse carriage, reputedly similar to those four-horse carriages used by the Hispanic colonial era Archbishop of Manila and the Spanish Governor General.  

7 advantages of simplicity

What are some advantages of choosing a simple life — not one of stinginess or extreme deprivation, but one devoid of inessentials and unnecessary extravagances?

1. Simplicity has its beauty. Simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean being cheap or going for the cheapest purchases. Some of the richest, classiest and most expensive things are stunning in their minimalism, whether it’s a home, fashion, or others. Leonardo da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

2. A simple life is less cluttered. Less is actually more, such as simplifying one’s daily schedules by ridding ourselves of too many unnecessary activities. A simple residence is often less cluttered too. Lin Yutang said: “The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”

3. Simple is healthier. Being simple and living simply can be healthier due to less unnecessary stress and pressures, so we can relax more for a balanced life. Scientifically, eating less has proven to be physically healthy and can add to longevity. Albert Einstein advised: “I believe that a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best for both the body and the mind.”

4. Simplicity leads to wisdom. Simplicity allows us to gain more understanding, truth and realize transcendent knowledge. The ancient Chinese strategist/philosopher Zhuge Liang wrote 1,800 years ago: “Leading a simple life will yield a clear mind, and having inner peace will help you see far.”

5. Simplicity for more productivity. If we simplify our life and focus more on the 20 percent that is can most essential or important, these activities and things produce for us 80 percent of our happiness and accomplishments. This “20-80” principle of analyzing a lot of phenomena on earth is the “Pareto Principle” named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto.

Business-management consultant Joseph M. Juran named it after this Italian economist, because in 1906 Pareto observed that 80 percent of lands in Italy were owned by 20 percent of the people, and Pareto in turn developed this idea by noticing that 20 percent of the pea pods in his garden contained 80 percent of the peas!

6. Simplicity saves us time. Finite time is more valuable than money or any other things on earth. By simplifying, we can save time. Bruce Lee said: “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.”

7. Simplicity is Godliness. I’m not religious, nor am I a scholar of religion, but I strongly believe that simplicity can help deepen our spirituality in terms of serene contemplation, meditation, more efficacy of cleansing our soul, prayer and helping us become closer to our Creator in a personal relationship.

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Thanks for your feedback! E-mail willsoonflourish@gmail.com, follow WilsonLeeFlores at Twitter.com, like my Facebook page or go to willsoonflourish.blogspot.com.

ALBERT EINSTEIN ARCHBISHOP OF MANILA AND THE SPANISH GOVERNOR GENERAL ARGENTINIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH JORGE MARIO CARDINAL BERGOGLIO LIFE POPE FRANCIS SIMPLE SIMPLICITY
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