A number of studies have shown the declining number of people involved in their communities. Some speculate that this is correlated to a growing sense of isolation and unhappiness in the United States. Living a small lifestyle promotes community involvement and offers a variety of solutions to the land of dissatisfied American consumers. How can a small and/or minimalist lifestyle be a solution to this problem?
Consider the suggestions below to reconnect with your community.
1) Reshape your work-life.
A great way to find community is by reducing your working hours and volunteering with community groups representing issues you care about.
Its easy to see why many American’s feel isolated from their communities when they typically spend 8 hours a day alone in a cubicle, then drive home (alone) to a big house and partake in our favorite analgesic: watching TV. I don’t think any of these activities are inherently bad, but they don’t promote community involvement or a flexible lifestyle.
Your day job doesn’t have to be your only identity. You are more than your job, you are part of a community. So how can you become more active if you are still working 40 plus hours a week?
If you work in a cubicle forest, talk to your supervisor about working from home or reducing your work hours. A majority of office dwellers can complete their work remotely. People don’t need to be tied to their cubicle to produce stellar work and many corporations recognize the importance of community service. The internet has changed how organizations do business and view local and global communities.
Best Buy’s programs are an excellent example of reshaping work culture.
2) Rethink transportation.
Selling one or all of your cars is good for your wallet and community. One less car on the road means less smog and more friends. Selling a car will open up endless possibilities.
How can this be? Going car-free forces you to expand your network of friends and allies. For instance, instead of driving alone to the office you can carpool, take the shuttle or the bus. A few of my friends live in a suburb outside of Sacramento and either carpool or take the bus to work. Both of these amazing women are extremely happy with the money and time they have saved in addition to the strong friendship they have developed by commuting together.
3) Start exercising.
Exercising is a great way to create community and spend time with your spouse or friends. Instead of working out at your home gym, sell the equipment and join a fitness group or look into joining a gym, local running club, or some kind of interactive class.
If you can’t afford the time or money a gym membership or class require, incorporate exercise into your errands. Start running, walking, or biking with your spouse or friends to the grocery store, post office, etc. This is an inexpensive activity that improves relationships and builds community.
4) Rethink time.
Downscaling and disconnecting from consumerism is one way to free up your time and reduce debt. Rather than working lots of hours to pay for a big house and recreational shopping, you can use that extra time to volunteer or connect with friends and family members.
5) Live small and think big.
Living a small lifestyle is about more than cute homes or counting up possessions. It’s a movement connected to broader social problems, like consumerism, cycles of debt, global warming and poor community services. It’s about re-examining our lives and how our daily choices effect local and global communities.