Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Stop listening and grow up

I'm so pleased with the start of our new blog. We have some wonderful posts so far and I think we'll build a great community here where help will be at hand and we can support and inspire one another.

In an attempt to build up our site, all the writers will be not only writing new posts but also submitting older posts from our personal blogs. Some of you will have read these older writings, but many will not have. Here is one from mine:

I have often thought that modern society has divided into two camps – adults and children. This might seem quite obvious to you but I don’t mean it the way it sounds. I mean that governments, corporations, media and the advertising industry are the adults and all of us are children. They tell us, we listen. We are expected to be dependent and compliant, we are told constantly that we will be made happy with ‘stuff’, that part of modern life is to carry a large amount of debt and if we work hard, we’ll be able to pay off our life as we live it and retire at 65 to enjoy what we have. We have these messages coming at us every day about what’s right for us and how we should live, and we are encouraged to be dependent and work in the system so that big business remains healthy, the country prospers and we skill ourselves in how to earn a living rather than how to make a life.

Now let me be the first to say that I love being an Australian with all the advantages that offers. I’m grateful that our country has a sound financial base, a thriving business community and a compassionate welfare system. I don’t want that to change. I want us to. I want us to stop believing the messages that one size fits all, and to see for ourselves the value of stepping outside what is considered normal. I want us to grow up.

We need to stop listening to outside advice about what makes us happy and fulfilled and find out for ourselves. For me happiness was found in being at home and working everyday to give my family and myself a quieter, safer, healthier and more independent life. I grew up the day I discovered that work at home is satisfying and significant. That is when I stopped believing that more money and more possessions would make me happy. As I worked more in my home, I realised that for me, happiness was found in being independent of the shops, being able to make do from scratch and in leading my life away from buying convenience.

That is what worked for me. I want you to find your own happiness. I can’t tell you what will make you happy, only you know that. I can tell you that happiness isn’t one thing. It’s a whole lot of tiny fragments that you find every day that add up to a deep feeling of contentment and knowing you’re doing the right thing. And I know that you won’t find true and enduring happiness in any shopping mall, I can only encourage you to look in places unexpected, and to show you through my blog that it is easy to live well outside the modern perception of what makes a good life.

I’m not telling you to give up your job if you work outside the home, I’m not telling you to live as we do. I am saying that whatever you do, fashion it to suit yourself so that it gives you a life worth living. If you are working hard at an outside job make sure you give yourself time to enjoy what you’re working for. If you’re working at home, be mindful of happiness and what’s around you, not just getting the job done.

Many people are stressed in their day-to-day lives and worried about their future. I think that is sometimes because they don’t feel in control of their own lives. Prices are rising, the climate is changing and often it all seems too much. But don't let that stop you, don't be scared into standing still, because that is the very time you need to do something. If you can gain independence by changing in some way, do it. I felt a growing independence when I started learning how to look after myself and I realised I did not need to shop to provide all I needed to live. When I knew that I could step away from what I was expected to do and instead do what I wanted, I started to build my own unique life. I moved away from the life prescribed for me by outsiders, I took my life by the throat and gave it a good shaking. In a sense, I grew up. I stopped listening to what I was being told, I identified how I wanted to live and then worked towards it, and that, my friends, has made all the difference.

Rhonda Jean
Down to Earth