In addition to opinions, I also dish out theories ever so often. A lot of unsuspecting people just need to ask me a question and the theory juggernaut rolls. Sometime back, one of my friends asked me what I thought the term 'down to earth' means. On the same head, this friend also wanted to know what I thought of 'Simple Living and Straight Thinking'. I emailed three paragraphs and I did not hear from this friend in months :) Pasted below is what I wrote back then.
Sometimes words can mean very different things at different times to different people. Simple living and Straight Thinking are words that are extremely subjective in nature.
Simple living to me means a living that is not subject to the whims of desire. A lot of us tie happiness to the outcome of desires. And that all powerful emotion can control and damage our lives if we leave it unchecked. Sometimes we confuse desire with necessity and make our lives miserable. Why is it important that we have a car just because we earn five figure salaries? Sure, a car is a comfortable thing and perhaps it is fast becoming a necessity. But if we tie our happiness to the act of buying a car then we are bound to be miserable for long as the ball of happiness will roll over to some other desire the moment the car is in our garage. So simple living is really a matter of identifying the truly important things in our life and putting them above the desires that consume us from time to time. I do not believe that simple living means scorning money and its power. It is just the ability to be smart enough to realize what extravagance is and what is important.
Straight Thinking is getting me in an argumentative frame of mind. Why is it that 'straight' is interpreted as 'right'? Well, let us ignore the apparent narrowness of these words in the assumption that some medieval uppity Englishman coined the term in the pride of his own moral standards. I would prefer to reword straight thinking to harmless thinking. If we observe the pattern of our thoughts, a lot of it is usually good but some of it is particularly vicious in nature. We seek revenge, imagine hurting someone and what not. Such thoughts cannot be harmless simply because they activate the latent animal in every man. Thoughts that do not sow the seeds of venom are good thoughts. This is indeed an idealistic interpretation and it needs to be toned down to gray from its black and white projection. However, at its simplest level 'straight thinking' should include some sense of beliefs and values, integrity in thoughts and actions, basic respect for fellow beings and obviously a good level of self respect.
Now let us get to what started us on this discussion in the first place - the term 'down to earth'; I would call someone 'down to earth' if they were practical, amenable to reason and pleasant to be with.