Are you working to live or living to work? American culture, centered on our never ending chase of the American Dream, encourages the second. Our desire to “keep up with the Joneses” – to get the next promotion, a bigger house, a better car – forces us to work longer and longer hours. Our lives have become dedicated to acquiring a seemingly infinite pile of goods, and our well-being, our relationships, and our planet suffer from this competitive, consumption-oriented lifestyle. How can we pull back from this frenetic pattern and live fulfilling lives centered on our own and others’ well-being? We can join a Simplicity Circle.
Simplicity Circles are part of the “voluntary simplicity movement,” a movement that encourages people to simplify their external lives while enriching their inner lives. Simplicity Circles are groups of people who gather together and help one another simplify their lives. Simplicity Circles are small – generally four to eight people – and are structured to allow for participation and learning.
Simplicity Circles are organized around basic life questions, such as “What areas of my life leave me drained and how can I cut back on these activities?” and “What am I passionate about and how can I devote more of my life to my passions?” Participants learn to look at their lives critically and then develop action-plans to help them consume less, work less, and slow down. Group members might choose to simplify their lives by changing careers, cutting consumption, carrying less debt, or spending more time with friends and family.
Cecile Andrews, author of The Circle of Simplicity: Return to the Good Life, has identified some of the features of a successful Simplicity Circle. First, the Circle must be small to allow for intimate, honest discussion. Second, Simplicity Circles should be leaderless, to thwart participant passivity. Third, a successful Simplicity Circle will be non-competitive, with everyone having an equal amount of time in which to share their hopes, dreams, and ideas. Finally, a Circle must be action-oriented if it is going to help participants transform their lives. Each week, participants should commit to a concrete action that they will undertake; the next week they should return to the Circle prepared to discuss their success or difficulty in doing so.
Change happens for Simplicity Circle participants because they receive weekly support from group members. Simplicity Circles can be conducted in person with other like-minded individuals. A listing of local Circles is available on the Simple Living Network website, and groups can be found throughout the United States and in England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. For those who do not have access to a local group or who cannot attend face-to-face meetings on a regular basis, on-line Simplicity Study Groups are available through the Simple Living Network.
Contact Group: The Simple Living Network, Inc.
Address: Post Office Box 233
Trout Lake, WA 98650
Toll free phone: 800-318-5725
Direct phone: 509-395-2323
Web site: www.simpleliving.net