If you recall, No Impact Man
has been trying to lead a very
low environmental impact life while living with his family in NYC. I don't read the blog, but I mentioned it awhile ago here
Last week [in March] he made a post that strayed a bit from the head-on environmental message and talked about happiness, friends, and where that gets us
I went on to talk about how people do
matter, and probably a whole heck of a lot more than we all think about or admit while going about our day to day (read: money-making) lives. Given the inputs that we receive every day from television, newspapers, and yes, even people, it isn't much of a surprise that we're driven by an unending wealth of measurements. Each and every day we yield to all sorts of comparative emotions: is this shirt nice enough
, is $200 enough to take to the casino trip
? Things get complicated when you stop, look, and listen to yourself: I'm usually asking more specific questions than I think: is this shirt nice enough for the people I want to impress
, is $200 enough to take to the casino and not look cheap
I'm no researcher, but I know for a fact that these issues effect my life on a day to day basis and I suspect most people would admit the same, if they were honest. It is no wonder, then, that No Impact man's latest post on what the lifestyle feels like after ten months
brings up the same topic yet again:
What people can’t get used to, though, is the loss of one of the main factors positive psychologists find does have a lasting affect on happiness: community. In fact, in may be that breakdown in community in the United States is one reason that, although material wellbeing has increased hugely in the last 50 years, rates of depression, substance abuse and teen suicide have skyrocketed.
We move away from our families and friends. We stay in the office until all hours. We travel endlessly on business trips. We spend our spare time in front of screens instead of with each other. All these things, we do because we think they will ultimately make us feel better, but in fact, they undermine our connections to each other and make us feel worse.
In the No Impact experiment, as I’ve written before, without all the mod cons to distract us, we spend more time with each other, our friends and our neighbors and actually feel happier.
So what is my point? Well, this being a personal blog*, it is exactly what was on my mind earlier today, before I stumbled onto the post I just mentioned, and before I reviewed the previous mention of No Impact Man on my blog:
From a conversation this morning:
[10:07] BritCoal: I was thinking today - what with all my stresses ..
[10:07] BritCoal: I'm unhappy, and stressed out..
[10:07] BritCoal: but if I am honest with myself, it is mostly surface tension..
[10:08] BritCoal: that will be gone in a day or two
[10:08] BritCoal: it is funny how much time we spend on short term problems
[10:09] BritCoal: (my car's clutch went on friday driving to work, my motorcycle barely got me to work this morning, and I was supposed to have got the boat to its winter storage yard on Sunday, but couldn't due to having no car)
.. And just mentioning
these small snags to somebody made me feel better
. Seeing people that see me, seeing people that know about me, having a sense of community goes a long way because there are certain validations there - people know you so you must exist. People nod to you in the street so you must have worth. These things help to get me out of the bed in the morning (I did: I got up this morning
, if you can believe that).
The age old question still surfaces, though: how to get wrapped up in that community in a way that you feel comfortable with it. I hate clubs and groups. I'm frozen by the inorganic-ness of "community" in 2007. I'm still working on this and will likely be working on it for the rest of my life. I like you, I really do.
Each and every one of you
Spending time with the group
It's like that dumb book: Chicken soup.
But - while I might spend all day reading Terkel
- I just can't see signing up for a sewing circle.* note the lack of ads, corporate sponsorship, and readers