November 16, 2011

Adapting To Simplification

A more sustainable, creative human is evolving
Whether motivated by economics, environmentalism, or a desire to evolve, many people are looking for new ways of doing things that are truly green, respect people, and support democratic values such as cooperation, fairness and equality. Many just want to take their lives back, and are willing to make sacrifices to free themselves.

For many, some form of downsizing or simplification will be the route that leads to the intended results. For others, the same will be how they cope with what amounts to a form of involuntary simplicity.

In both cases we must be patient with ourselves during this process, and recognize the stages of absorbing new behaviours and habits into our daily routines. It would be nice to make this as positive and stress-free as possible.

Adapting To Change

In adapting to change, there are many different levels of understanding. The levels of understanding can come at us all at once in an "Ah-ha!" moment (happened for me while traveling in India), but more commonly take place through several stages and over time (also true in my life).

First, we learn about an idea or way of doing something. In this stage we read, talk with others, and gather information. The internet, public library, community groups, and your own personal network are valuable inputs during this stage. For example, we learned about reusable cloth bags instead of plastic.

Next we have to live with the ideas for a while. After the initial exposure we need time to think, and let the new ideas mesh with what we already know. Our brains are working all the time on this absorption and integration of information. Even when you are daydreaming or sleeping, your brain is hard at work incorporating the new input.

"What will I line my garbage can with?" was a problem my brain worked on for a while after my grocery store quit offering plastic bags.


The next stage is the application of the new knowledge in our lives. A greater depth of understanding comes when you enact the ideas, even in small ways. Many people have learned valuable skills that transfer to other parts of their lives by switching from plastic shopping bags to cloth reusable ones. We are on the lookout for other areas of our lives where we can make similar kinds of changes.

At the application stage you become conscious of how the new ideas and information can be incorporated in your daily life. At this stage you may experience moments of clarity where everything seems to fit together. It feels right and good, and makes sense to you. In this case it fits with your desire for a cleaner environment with fewer plastic bag trees.

How this process unfolds will differ for everyone, but the important thing is to allow it to happen. It may take place over months, or years. Don't be impatient to learn everything at once. And don't be angry with yourself when you discover how much you didn't understand before, or for the feeling that you are not doing enough. Each little bit helps, and we must not get discouraged.

It is important to be gentle with yourself, and appreciate that you are evolving day by day while adapting to the conditions being faced in our post-capitalist decadent world. Issues  such as overpopulation, over-consumption, environmental degradation, inequality, exploitation, and social justice can all be addressed through adapting to a more simple life.

Just remember to simplify at a pace that is comfortable for you. Lasting, positive change will result.

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