Change The World By Living A Simple Life.
Yesterday I went to the centre of the city to satisfy my curiosity. I wanted to see what a city in lockdown looked like. What I saw made me even more convinced that the choice to live a simpler life could change our world for the better.
As expected, the city was quiet. The only people walking the streets were essential workers, homeless people and bored wealthy housewives. I was surprised at the bored wealthy housewives, but I’ll talk about that a bit further on.
Most shops were closed; however, it was interesting to see that the international fast-fashion chains like Zara and Uni Glo were open. These stores fuel modern consumerism and do the most damage to our environment with their cheaply made clothing. And – to my surprise, the high-end stores like Gucci and Chanel were also open. I noticed David Jones, my favourite department store was open, and I couldn’t resist a stroll through its people-free aisles. By the time I’d walked through 2 levels of that empty monolith I was sad and desperate to go home. Here’s why:
Same Same But Not Really Different
The more I looked, the more I was convinced everything was the same. It felt like a hall of mirrors. At one point, I was looking at jumpers from what I thought was one of my favourite brands, but it was another Australian brand! They were indistinguishable from each other.
Coronavirus fears meant I loathed to touch anything, but even if I wanted to, I would have found it challenging. All those clothes were packed in so tight it was almost impossible to take an item of its hanger. Without the shoppers around the store was bulging at it’s seams.
And hiding around shelves laden with Chinese made apparel were the bored, wealthy housewives I mentioned earlier. Dull eyes and immovable faces as they wrestled with overstocked shelves, looking for something to fill their emptiness.
And all the while – just outside the doors of this epic homage to mindless consumerism were people without homes, wandering the streets. People who were utterly exposed to a deadly virus that had exposed our consumer underbelly.
Needless to say, that experience freaked me out! But it (and this blog post) are not all negative.
We Have The Power To Change Our World
It is in our power to change our world. It is in our ability to if not eliminate, at least reduce the number of homeless people in our cities. It is in our power to live lives that are full and satisfying, to reach our fullest potentials as human beings. And all we have to do is commit to simplifying our lives.
But where to start? Here are a few things that I will be doing to live a simpler life and change my world for the better.
Buy Better, Buy Less
I love beautiful clothes and shoes and home decor. Although I aspire to a minimalist ethos, I own things. But the things I own all have meaning and spark joy. I don’t shop at stores that can’t tell me who made their products or assure me that they received a living wage. And I don’t buy things that won’t last more than a season. This means that I pay more for the things I buy, so I think longer about whether I need the item and if it will fit into my life or just be another thing I throw out or send to the op-shop.
I’m not advocating that you deny yourself. I’m just suggesting that you think about what you buy and how it affects the people who have made it. And how your purchase will impact our planet in the future.
Stop Donating To Worthy Causes
Did she really say that???
Yes, I did, but let me clarify. There are hundreds of charities purporting to help the homeless, and yet our homeless rate continues to grow.
Many years ago, I was volunteering with a feed the homeless organisation. I thought I was being impactful and doing a good deed. Every night I went out with the food van to the tent cities, a resident would tell me, I don’t need food. I’ve already been fed by (insert another food van here) what I need is help to kick my habit. Or, a house I can afford to live in. Or sometimes a woman would tell me she was tired of being beaten and raped by the man in her home. These encounters led me to believe that we were treating the symptom, not the cause.
So when I say stop donating to worthy causes, what I really mean is this:
Stop donating because it makes you feel like your doing good. (like I did by volunteering in that food van) If you want to help, don’t just throw your spare change at the symptoms, look for a way to help treat the problem.
- Could you donate to a drug rehab centre, so they have more beds for people?
- Could you give to a women’s homeless shelter or crisis accommodation so they could provide better services to women before they hit the streets?
- Could you offer support to your neighbour who you know is in a domestic violence situation? Sometimes hope can come simply from knowing that someone cares enough to notice.
- Could you offer your expertise to a prison education program? I know Robert Sturnam shares yoga in American prisons. These sorts of programs give people the ability to cope with and possibly overcome their situations, thereby changing their worlds for the better.
Work On Yourself
Reconnect with who you are. Work on finding your authentic self. For too long, we’ve been marketed to, manipulated and sold a lie. We don’t need more stuff to make us happy, we need to live our lives fully.
Spend time to discover what you really want from your life instead of chasing down the next shiny thing. This will change your personal world for the better. And when your world feels better, you positively influence the outside world.
Practise what I preach
I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and start dedicating time to changing my own world and impacting on others in the process. If you’ve got any ideas on how to do this, or you run an organisation that helps people change their lives in some way, drop me a message below. I’d love to hear from you.