“Being a small part of something big”

FullSizeRenderTeresa Belton’s book Happier People Healthier Planet: How putting wellbeing first would sustain life on Earth has proven an inspired read to ease into the new year, helping me to re-commit to priorities I’ve personally set (and sometimes struggled with) over the last 8 years, since I first started studying Buddhism and learning about the concept of “gross national happiness.”

This scholarly text is filled with intriguing stories of people who have made choices to live more simply,; to quit jobs they hate and step off the treadmill of consumption; to steer instead onto paths that honor who they are, instead of being who society expects them to be.

As Belton lays out artfully in her text, these choices aren’t just good for the individual; they’re helpful to the planet, overall.  Having control over one’s life, she writes, rather than achieving success in the eyes of others, is what matters for genuine well-being.

One remark from an interviewee hit my recovering Type-A self hard: “The realization and the acceptance that I wasn’t ambitious in the slightest enabled me to pursue work which wasn’t about getting somewhere and more about enabling me to live a more authentic lifestyle.”

“More isn’t better,” concludes an interviewee named Mark, “…I hate waste and greed…nature is free, generous, delightful, uplifting.  Because consuming only what I find I need reduces my carbon footprint and allows me to feel good about myself and my place in this environment.”

You may not finish this book inspired to make radical shifts in your life, like eschewing air travel or bathing, as one woman does to preserved natural resources, using a bucket and soap rather than in the shower.  You may be like one interview subject, who despairs over the use of the word “happiness” when there is intractable suffering and degradation of our natural resources. (Others point out the tremendous good even one person can make in shifting the state of the world.) But if you’re even mildly intrigued by the ideas that recognizing we are “a small part of something big” trumps any house you can buy or promotion you can get at work, and that solitude and silence and nature are more nourishing than pricey handbags, you’ll find this a satisfying read.  It’s good to know there are people out there who are driven by such strong, positive beliefs that take into account their fellow humans, not simply by the grab of cash most of us are instructed to pursue.

Be true to yourself in this year 2015.

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3 thoughts on ““Being a small part of something big”

  1. Thank you Lisa! This sounds like an excellent read for the start into the year 2015. I will order it immediately at my local library 😉

    All the best on your path! I hope ours cross again soon!

    Kerstin

  2. 0kay0kay says:

    Thanks…I think you just sold a book! I’m looking forward to this.

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. tbelton2014 says:

    Hello readers! Thanks for such a great review of my book, Lisa. It was fascinating for me to talk to so many and varied people about their fulfilling lives of relatively modest material consumption. They really did illustrate how there are so many very much more interesting and worthwhile aspects of life to focus on than yet more stuff. Putting their stories together with research in a wide range of areas was intriguing, and the message to come out of it all is, I feel, most encouraging: We can achieve greater wellbeing at the same time as reducing our environmental damage.

    Though published in the UK, Happier People Healthier Planet can be ordered through any US book shop, or online from Barnes and Noble.com, Wordery or the Book Depository. Also of course direct from Amazon, but given Amazon’s record on poor treatment of staff and non-payment of tax, one of the other distributors would be preferable.

    Teresa Belton

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