One of the principles of Simple Living (at least as I’ve defined it) is getting more involved in your community. When we free up time by jumping off the hectic hamster-wheel of overwork, overscheduling, and overachieving it allows us to look past our own lives and towards those of others. I don’t think it’s that people are inherently selfish, I just think people get caught up the rush, believing they need More of everything, and that leaves them with little energy to focus on other things. Free time to volunteer is one of those things we associate with retirement or those who are independently wealthy. It may be something we plan to do “someday” when we have more time and money, not realizing that that time could be Now with just a few changes in perspective.
Last month I completed the La Leche League leader applicant process and became a Leader. I am now available by phone to help women with their breastfeeding questions, and I run meetings (with my co-leaders) every month to provide women with a support network of breastfeeding mothers. This morning I ended up running the whole meeting myself and it was a very empowering experience! I would like to think I made a difference today in the lives of at least one or two mothers and their babies by giving them the reassurance and support they need to successfully breastfeed. I’m pretty passionate about helping women achieve their breastfeeding goals: I’m not so much interested in converting the infant-feeding-is-a-lifestyle-choice crowd (I’d rather lead by example), but if someone wants to breastfeed, or thinks perhaps they should give it a try, I want to make sure that woman gets the information and support she needs to do so successfully.
I’m just one woman, and I only have so much time, but we CAN each make a difference. Focusing on your immediate community can help make the good you do more obvious to yourself. For example, I have run into women who’ve come through our group and seen them happily nursing their babies and toddlers, or subsequent siblings. The people I help are real people in my community. This gives me a concrete feeling of having accomplished something.
On the other hand, we can also pull together to work on a more Global scale. A wonderful example is the work Crunchy Chicken is doing with her Goods4Girls campaign, which I posted about earlier. Looking at the history of this organization (which is easy since it just came into being last month!), it’s a true testament to the power of community, even global communities such as those formed on the Internet.
It started with that now infamous ad campaign by Proctor and Gamble. In my little corner of the crunchy, natural, simple living, environmentalist Blog World the news spread like wildfire. It seemed everybody had something to say about it, but it took just One Woman to get the ball rolling. A uniter of sorts. It’s not that the women speaking out about this issue are to be blamed for not doing anything – on the contrary, by speaking out they created the energy to get this movement flowing. What Beth did was shape that energy, directing it into a positive and simple opportunity for all of us to come together and Do Some Good.
It’s things like this that really make me feel optimistic and positive about the world, and my little part of it. Which I think is one of those hidden benefits of Simple Living that surprise me. You don’t expect that by downsizing, being frugal, conserving money and energy, and giving of your time (all of which, on the surface, are sacrifices) that you will find happiness and fulfillment. But that’s the beauty of it.