We are fortunate to have the great ability to create. We can create new things or moderate and alter existing ones to serve in different ways. We constantly create and reshape, and we are able to make use of what is already at hand to maximization.
When thinking of making more from less, the first thing we might think of would be of course the maximization of our possessions. Saving or consuming less, are great ways to sustain and preserve material objects. There is, however, an easy-to-miss, non-material and rather mindful way, of preserving and sustaining what we have: appreciation. Sustaining by appreciating. Developing by appreciating. Advancing by appreciating.
When we decide not to toss that old jacket in the closet and create a vest out of it, give it away, or sell it, we appreciate the value of the jacket and make the best we can out of it. Appreciating the value of things includes, well, many things. Simply comprised, however: What you have, where you are and where you can go.
Knowing What You Have
I was born in Costa Rica and lived there until the age of seven. I then moved to Israel with my mother and two brothers, where I grew up and lived most of my life. Growing up with a single mother along with two brothers did not give me much choice but to cope with having very little and trying to make the best out of it. My mother always dreamed of higher education but unfortunately did not get to do so herself. Moving to a new country with no knowledge of the mother tongue along with three kids, meant for her and her children: having significantly less. At times, neither food nor clothing was an obvious possession. My mother, however, had this beautiful way of creating happiness from very small situations, like children do. To this day I think it was her way to preserve her inner child, who never got a pleasant childhood of her own. While not being able to surprise or reward us with toys or presents, as much as she wanted to, she regarded small things that she could buy as small gifts instead. This would even include food items that she knew we liked but were rather expensive and therefore rarely purchased. Avocado for example, yes a vegetable, was part of an essential memory I will never forget. Avocado is not the cheapest vegetable, I assume in many countries. Needless to say, our kitchen was not swimming in avocado ????
My mother knew however that I love that vegetable, but the tight salary meant at times, even that was not an option. One day she bought an avocado and asked me many times in excitement: “Are you happy? I bought you an avocado! “, repeatedly. She had an innocent smile that expressed tender joy, wishing truly to see me enjoy the purchase. As a child, I felt something was wrong. Why would my parent expect me to be so happy about a vegetable? I knew she was replacing ‘normal’ gifts with food. I wanted to have ‘normal’ gifts kids get from their parents and not be given food as a gift.
It took me years to understand how this particular happiness had more value than anything. As I grew up and could afford my own food, I bought more of the food I once couldn’t. Every single item of food I could not afford in the past became a tiny moment of happiness. Especially avocado, especially because of that moment. My mother taught me to celebrate the tiniest things because that was what we had at that moment. By teaching me that, she gave me the ability to later appreciate and enjoy greater things in value, like a child, with innocent grace. By doing so I established for myself a different kind of way to make more from less.
Knowing Where You Are
I have not traveled perhaps as much as the Millennials reading this article, but somehow, I managed to live so far in 3 different continents, 4 different countries and 8 different cities within them. This was not easy, to say the least, but it forced me to find meaning in every place I was. Meaning for me is value and so I could also say, in other words, I had to find value in where I was if I wanted to survive there. The good news is, I did.
Wherever I was I asked myself firstly: “How the hell did I get here?”. But then I asked myself “ok, so what if you are already here, you might as well make the best out of it. Making the best out of it, meant for me utilizing the one thing I believed no one could take away from me, my education and my values. I was a hardcore student, who used studying as a key to a better life. Wherever I could find value-giving content, I would try to ask, understand and apply what I learned. I was inspired by people, who seek more than what is on the surface and wanted to develop and grow, but also help others do so.
After moving to the third country, a part of me, call it a revelation, managed to define what my journey was all about: wherever you go, try your best to leave something behind- value, meaning. The great thing about that realization was that little me, foreigner most of my life, wherever I was, coming from the background I had, could achieve big things by persisting with small ones. Whether it was by being a good friend, a good listener or an inspiring story. I believed I was wherever I was for a reason and I started to appreciate the places I was, for the simple reason, that I know there was always something, even small, I could leave behind. This was for me an additional way to make more from less.
Knowing Where You Are Going
Realising I could maximize my staying wherever I was, meant for me, not letting myself be defined by my circumstances, but rather by what I can do with them. Which was surprisingly always more than I could think of.
In order to keep moving forward, despite the struggles of continuously moving to new places, I tried to not lose track of what I have already achieved. Sustain what I had in order to continue, sustain in order to develop, to move forward. But what was I ought to sustain?
Everything I have learned, every single important lesson. I was ought to appreciate, and not take for granted, everything that meant something to me at that moment. Whether family or friends, my studies, and my abilities.
What is easy to lose and difficult to enjoy? (What we don’t appreciate, what we take for granted)
I realized the ground to develop and move forward was keeping close to me, in a safe appreciative place, all that mattered to me.
This day by day appreciation of the little things meant securing the path for greater things to come, by securing first the things that already there- Making more from what seems at times as less, as little.
These three main aspects could provide you a different take on our ability to create more from less.
With thought and heart,