Personal Growth, Lifestyle Design, and #ecohappy Experimentation

Running in the Circus Maximus

Me, the voice behind ecohappy, engaging in a little designed lifestyle of my own at the time of writing. Here, visiting Rome (by train, mind you - it's one of the neighboring capitals) and running in the remains of the Circus Maximus

Self-development and personal growth, let alone lifestyle design, do not usually come together with ecological concerns. As described before, there is a strong tendency in those approaches to just be concerned about oneself, one’s own experiences, and the potential to make money more easily so that even more grand experiences can be had.

Then  again, not so few of the people who started out just wanting to experience more, become capable of more, escape 9-5, and all that, get into minimalism – not least because it makes travel easier. In the process, they may realize that earning enough money to get by is quite enough, having less and making do has its distinct advantages, and experiencing, learning, and doing is considerably more satisfying than merely having – which often ends up as a state of being possessed rather than having possessions, anyway.

They may even come to realize that the lifestyle browsing the world on frequent flyer miles may be exciting, but not really the most satisfying.

In fact, we all tend to live more like tourists than like citizens, recently. Not just clothing or toys come from China (and Chinese want foreign brands), even food comes from around the world. Living is in a place, but not necessarily around one’s home. Work is likely to be somewhere far enough away to have to drive (if not fly)…

So, we all still tend to live rather superficially, but we don’t necessarily experiment and get creative about the ways we live and make a living. The grandest of the motivational sayings going around in social networks are those that admonish people to keep being a child, just be themselves – but the attitude and approach of personal growth, of experimenting to become better, is needed much more.

It is unlucky when/that many of those who want to learn more and make themselves better forget about ecological – let alone, “ecohappy” – literacy, but it’s just the way the world went during the last century of widespread industrialization.

Having seen the rising affluence gained by 9-to-5 jobs, climbing the corporate ladder, looking for career success, it seemed promising – if not outright necessary – to aim for the white picket-fenced suburban home of the professional couple, the ways of the yuppies and the DINKs.
We are still, all too often, being told to just get a good education, have a career, or be left behind. And we often enough want that ourselves. Times have been changing, though – if they’ve ever quite been like that at all.

Increasingly, we can see that things are different – and in ways that make lifestyle design approaches and ecohappy approaches overlap:

  • Working (at a) j.o.b. – just over broke – is not going to amount to a career, let alone a good life, anymore. These “normal” paths are blocked, and thus, independent entrepreneurship, working for a niche, hustling,… oriented on making a living but not necessarily getting rich, the way “lifestyle businesses” look to do, will be recommendable … and less consumptive, let alone indebted, ways of living, local community business and living, and similar ecohappy ways will help with that.
  • Cycles of overworking and overspending, living the affluent life based on debt, waiting for a retirement that will probably never materialize (as planned/imagined) is a pretty bad idea; much better to reduce spending, go a little crazy, and be, become, and do more, rather than have more stuff lying around.
  • An orientation on better, not just bigger, in business and person; having less stuff and more skills; striking down roots in a place but remaining flexible by being open to experiencing different places and people and experimenting with different (elements of) ways of (making a) living; improving and maintaining health and fitness, knowledge and capabilities… In much lifestyle design, it is all rather too focused on grand experiences to boast about, but with a  little infusion of ecohappy reality and a little more consideration of virtues, it certainly beats ironic action and the idle hope that “we” will muddle through.

To get to a revolution towards really, ecologically, “ecohappy” better ways of (making a) living, we need to not only learn that, though, we need to put it into practice.

Without an avant-garde that leads – in this case, leads better lives, too – those who would not want to be “early adopters” lack the example to follow, and the momentum for change never gets created. Not incidentally, this is just what we have seen during the last decades, during which there was a lot of talk about the necessary building of environmental awareness, the promise of a green economy, the need to combat global warming – but hardly sufficient motion towards really, radically, better alternatives.

How should there have been when these alternatives still appear all worse, bland, uninteresting, rather than the hard-but-worth-it, experimenting-and-empowering, culturally-creative, lifestyle-designing, really better, variety of ways of living that they are?!

Seeing it like that, there’s good reason to look at the field of personal growth all the more, look at the energy and drive  going into lifestyles designed for more intense living, the businesses created to satisfy true needs and make a living, not a killing, let alone the passion going into entrepreneurship for social profit.

Let’s applaud them. Better yet, let’s join them!

Running in the Circus Maximus
Me, the voice behind #ecohappy, engaging in a little designed lifestyle of my own at the time of writing: visiting Rome (by train, mind you – it’s one of the neighboring capitals) and running in the remains of the Circus Maximus

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