||Following Cecile Andrews
The Community Happiness Circle — Cecile's current focus
Discovery how a small group of committed citizens can come together to support each other in the pursuit of personal happiness and social change for the greater good. Learn about the new research on happiness and change. Explore the keys to happiness: connection, control, calling and celebration, and how to form a caring culture by building community, discovering our particular passion, and living with joie de vive. The community happiness circle is part of a long tradition of people coming together to change their own lives and create a culture concerned about the common good. This is part of the Seattle Area Happiness Initiative (www.sustainableseattle.org), a project working to create awareness about Gross National Happiness as an alternative to the Gross Domestic Product index.
Living with Joy and Balance — Simplicity
More and more, people feel that they are working too much, consuming too
much, and rushing too much. There is no time for friends and family, no
time for community and creativity, no time for a sense of connectedness
with the rest of life.
The Simplicity movement is a response to this dilemma. It is about
living consciously in order to live more fully, thinking through the
effects of our behaviors in terms of the consequences for the well-being of
people and the planet. It’s about asking what’s important, what matters. It’s about redefining the “good life.”
The concept of Simplicity is not, as some might think, a life of "self
deprivation." It is a turning away from activities that have failed to
deliver satisfaction— activities such as shopping and scrambling up the
career ladder — in order to embrace activities that bring true joy and
meaning — creativity, community, and the celebration of
| Voluntary Simplicity, an age-old philosophy explored throughout human
history, has once again captured people’s imagination as we struggle
to build lives of high fulfillment and low environmental impact.
Simplicity is "the examined life" in which we explore not only what
creates fulfillment in our personal lives, but we ask which public
policies create societies of justice and environmental well-being.
Simplicity touches all aspects of our lives, including the issues of
time, work, vocation, community, spending, consuming, health, social justice, and spirituality.
"Do not fear mistakes--there are none. " -Miles Davis
Simplicity Study Circles
Across the country, people are joining simplicity study circles. The study circle is a small group, peer-led egalitarian form of self education and social change. It’s a form of social innovation used extensively in Sweden where study circles are referred to as “education by the people, for the people, and of the people". Sweden has been called a “study circle democracy,” and indeed research has found that people who participate in a study circle are apt to be more involved in the common good, regardless of the topic of the study circle.
Simplicity study circles are designed to help people discuss the idea of Simplicity and to make concrete changes in their lives. Simplicity study circles are at once a support group, a discussion group, and a method of behavioral change. They focus on building community, creating support for personal change, and engaging in critical thinking for societal change. Topics addressed include Finding More Time, Creating Community, Finding Your Passion, Transforming the Workplace, Reducing Your Consumerism, Creating Healthier Life Styles, Linking Simplicity to Social Justice, Exploring and Defining One’s Spirituality.
Simplicity study circles are designed for maximum participation and a minimum of competitiveness within an ethos of acceptance and caring.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Finding and Living Your Passion
People today often experience their lives as lacking vitality or purpose and are looking for the experience of aliveness and depth. Too often people’s spirit has been broken; their uniqueness suppressed. By reflecting on their own lives, people can discover their own particular “passion,” something they love to do, and something that brings them a sense of direction, a sense of joy and fulfillment, and maybe something from which they can earn money.
"The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it." -David Orr, Ecologocial Literacy
Creating Community /Rekindling Conversation
A basic human need is the experience of community — feeling valued, accepted, cared for and recognized for your true self. Without joyful, exuberant conversation we feel isolated and depressed and pursue the empty paths of shopping and watching television. When you learn to care for those around you, you start to care for all of life.
"The problem is the spirit of our age: denial of transcendence, the vapidity of values, emptiness in the heart, the decreased sensitivity to the imponderable quality of the spirit? The central problem is that we do not know how to think, how to resist the deceptions of too many persuaders." -Abraham Heschel
Barefoot Teachers and the Connected Universe
Thoreau said that “We are schoolmasters and the Universe is our School House.” At heart, we are all teachers — born to encourage, guide, and inspire others. But we aren’t conventional teachers. We’re barefoot teachers – just as China transformed its health care by training thousands in the basics of medicine, so we must inspire thousands to be barefoot teachers, people who inspire others to understand that they are a part of a connected universe. Through telling stories, asking questions, listening, and creating conviviality, barefoot teachers inspire others to become involved in saving the Earth and her people.