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3 Simple Strategies to Experience Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car

3 Simple Strategies to Experience Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car

There are obvious car-free living benefits that you hear about all the time: reduced carbon footprint, reduced costs, or perhaps, not having to drive in traffic. You smile and nod your head, and then return to the reality of the modern world where you work across town, shop at discount warehouse club, and/or have kids to cart to school and practice.

What if I told you those were immaterial benefits? There are lots of ways to be eco-friendly, save money, and you can avoid traffic by adjusting your schedule or using public transport.

Car-free living benefits - decluttered

    The real benefits of living car-free are a less cluttered home, reduced stress, increased physical activity, and more family time.

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    That’s a bit more enticing, isn’t it?

    Now, what if I told you that you don’t need to sell away your car to experience these benefits? We started realizing the benefits of car-free living long before we sold our cars and moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to Sydney, Australia.

    Our small family of three moved to Sydney in December 2014, and we have yet to purchase a car. True, we live in a city with pretty decent public transport, and a growing network of protected bicycle lanes, but we also began the journey to car-free living back in the home. It was actually on a recent visit that we saw the massive improvements in our quality of life, thanks to car-free living.

    We spent loads of time during our visit in the car, bought more than we could fit in six giant suitcases, endured a few stressful traffic jams, and put on a few extra pounds. (For full disclosure, it was Thanksgiving.)

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    Through this experience it became obvious to us that living car-free regulates our behavior so that we purchase only the essentials, casually enjoy our commutes, and exercise daily. Upon reflection we discovered that this made us happier, calmer, and healthier, and the best part is we were able to see how this started long before we sold the car. All it requires is a shift in priorities to favor wellbeing over mindless efficiency.

    The 3 Simple Strategies to Experience the Car-Free Living Benefits, Without Selling Your Car:

    Car-free living benefits - carry

      Buy only what you can carry.

      You know those half-price granola bars that tasted like cardboard, or perhaps those Halloween pillows that were just to cute to leave on the sale rack by the register? Those are now gathering dust in a closet, pantry, or worse, the trunk of your car, and they clutter up your life. If you limit purchases to what you can carry, you force yourself to make conscious decisions instead of succumbing to the manipulation of strategic retail placement.

      To implement this strategy, park at the far edge of the parking lot, and carry everything you buy from the store entrance to your vehicle. It is simple: unload your cart at the exit, and physically carry your groceries, homewares, etc. to the car. You will surprise yourself with the mindfulness it adds to your shopping cart, as you begin to think about whether your will be able to manage carrying everything to the car when you see those strategically placed “deals.” Impulse buys will become a thing of the past.

      Car-free living benefits - Couple Carrying Bags

        For a couple blocks, take a walk.

        Walking is a great exercise in awareness, if you put away the phone, but first, you need to get out of your car. Appreciate and discover where you are in the present moment, notice each step you take, observe the sound of your breathing, and don’t let those frantic moments rescuing your toddler from darting into the street mess with your Zen (I jest). Walking provides time to be present in a way that driving doesn’t. When I walk, I am part of the world. When I drive, I am just speeding past it.

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        Walking is easy to implement into your routine, and the examples differ based on where you live. You could walk to a Sunday brunch spot, your neighbor’s house, the mall, or the gym (I see you, people fighting for the closest spot in the gym parking lot). If you do not live in a residential/suburban area, walk from store to store next time you go to shop at 3 stores on 3 corners of the same intersection.

        We used to walk from Trader Joes across the street to Target and back. Not only is this a nice way to slow down and take in a bit of exercise, but it also leverages our first strategy of buying what you can carry. Boom! Reduced clutter, reduced stress from mindful walking, and a bit of exercise to boot.

        Car-free living benefits - Living EZ

          For a bit of a hike, go by bike

          Biking is terrific cardiovascular exercise, plus it extends your range and carrying capacity over walking. When we had cars, we worked up to biking for all trips less than 3 to 5 miles, unless it was raining.

          We love commuting, running errands, and traveling by bike, but it can be daunting for a novice. The first step to a bike trip is connecting with your local cycling community to learn the safest routes. This is often as simple as a Google search, and local bike shops are also great source of information. We had a lot of success connecting with local cyclists through online forums, which is what we did before moving to Sydney, and they are a wealth of information on safe routes and casual (read as Spandex-free) group rides.

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          Next Steps

          These days, vehicle-independence is not just for tree-huggers and hipsters. It’s for everyone willing to slow down and reap the rewards, regardless of where you live. Car-free living unlocks a variety of benefits from improved health to reduced clutter in the home. They are all in reach, as soon as you make a conscious decision to step away from the car – even if it’s just for a moment.

          Photo Credit: Groceries Bike,  Couple Walking

          Featured photo credit: Living EZ via livingez.us

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          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

          We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

          So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

          Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

          What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

          Boundaries are limits

          —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

          Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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          Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

          Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

          Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

          How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

          Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

          1. Self-Awareness Comes First

          Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

          You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

          To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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          You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

          • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
          • When do you feel disrespected?
          • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
          • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
          • When do you want to be alone?
          • How much space do you need?

          You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

          2. Clear Communication Is Essential

          Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

          Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

          3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

          Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

          That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

          Sample language:

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          • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
          • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
          • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
          • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
          • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
          • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
          • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

          Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

          4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

          Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

          Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

          Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

          We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

          It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

          It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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          Final Thoughts

          Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

          Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

          Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

          The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

          Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

          Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

          They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

          Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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