Join me on a journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Throughout November we will be exploring each category of the A-Z guide to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. Today we’re looking at C… Community.
This guide has been written from the point of view of someone living with chronic illness but the topics and concepts discussed are relevant to everyone and anyone.
C is for Community
As we move forward on this journey to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life it’s important to have a community around us. The people we share our lives with can have a major impact with how we live our lives.
An ideal community is made up of several groups of people that should include:
- People in the same situation as yourself. For those of you with chronic illness, this would be other people who have chronic illness. For those of you don’t have a chronic illness but who are seeking a simple, sustainable and meaningful life this would be other people who are also on this journey and around the same stage as you.
- People who have done what you want to do. These are the people who are already living the life you want to live. They can provide inspiration and support for you as you move forward on your journey.
- People who love and support you no matter what. These are the people in your life who are there for you no matter what. They may not necessary agree with what you’re wanting to do. They may not join you on the journey either, but they should be willing to listen to you and talk things through with you.
- People who are wanting to be where you are but aren’t there yet. This is where you get to give back to the community. Like the help and support you’ve received from those who have done what you want to do, you can guide and support others to get to where you are now.
Where do you find these people?
So you know where you want to go and the type of people you need with you to get there but how do you find them?
I’ll use my journey so far as an example of the different ways you can find and continue to build your own community.
In the beginning, my community was comprised of my immediate family; my parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties, uncles and cousins. This community helped to shape my initial ideals and values. I grew up loving being outdoors and spending time at the zoo. From a very young age I had chronic illness in the form of asthma and allergies.
As I grew up, my community extended to include friends I met through school, university and work. As the activities I did became more focused on things that I valued, the people I met were more likely to share my values and opinions. I began to meet people who were on the same sustainability journey.
Although many of my friends were on the same journey, we were all at different points in that journey and by sharing our stories and activities we were (and still are) able to support and inspire each other.
Since chronic illness became a larger part of my life, in the form of Fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, my community has extended further to include other people with chronic illness, medical professionals, and advocacy groups. This extended community has mainly been formed online as a result of my blogging, Facebook and Twitter.
My community, online and in real life, provides me with support, inspiration and encouragement as I move forward on my journey towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life with chronic illness. Without this community I wouldn’t have the strength to get through all the mental stress and physical pain I deal with on a daily basis.
This community helps me to focus on the positives, to continue to move forward on this journey even when it feels too difficult.
Building a community that inspires, empowers and supports you is something that you have to always work on. You need to be open to inviting new people into your life and to letting go of people who are a negative influence on your life.
I’m not saying to remove everyone who doesn’t agree with you but to consider if their impact is detrimental to your health and your wellbeing. Yes, get away from people who are violent or who encourage you to self harm in any way but don’t get away from everyone who disagrees with you. Take the time to talk. It’s sometimes good to take the time to talk things through and consider the alternative points of view.
I may be on a different path to many of the others in my life, including my husband, but I know I have their support. They may not completely understand my values, but they accept me for who I am. At times, they may get frustrated at me when we don’t see eye to eye, but we always get through it with discussion and with compromise.
Do you have a good community around you to support, inspire and empower you?
Are there any other people you would add to an ideal community?