I've been having quite a reflective period in my life of late, with some changes coming up, and one of the things I've come to realise is that I'm not happy with my current work-heavy lifestyle. I want to optimise my life for happiness, peace, community rather than work and money. How do I do that, sustainably? I am open to all sorts of options.
Having been diagnosed with anxiety and given a period of time off work over the past month, I've started to come to the realisation that what I'm doing isn't necessarily what I want out of life on a permanent basis. I'm 28, and I've spent my career so far in and around the radio industry. My current job is at a largely dysfunctional, struggling non-profit, supporting community radio projects. I have an hour-long, pretty unpleasant commute (half drive, half public transport) each way and at the end of each work day, I feel utterly drained. I do nothing at all with my evenings, because I am so zonked from the exertions of the day - I don't go out, meet people, do stuff, I don't even do anything creative at home. I just find myself flopped out in front of the TV or internet. My work is my life, I have no mental space or energy to do anything else. Weekends are a rush of non-stop errands and chores and commitments that I've had no time to do in the day because I'm out at work and commuting from 6am-7pm.
Being off work, and being able to 'stop' for the first time since I finished school at 18, has given me the chance to step back a little and think about what I want to do with the rest of my life. Being at home has made me feel like I'm part of the village community I live in, instead of leaving the house in the dark, coming home in the dark, and never seeing my neighbours, or anyone outside of work. Simple things like being able to open the doors and feel the sunshine coming in, and listen to the birdsong, make me feel so happy, and human. I've been able to cook properly, more slowly, fresher food, rather than just throwing stuff in the oven and setting the timer. I just feel so much better in myself - part of it is the anxiety treatment, I am sure, but a big part of it is just being, at home, in my beautiful little village, with myself and my thoughts and my community.
So, the question I want to ask is - how do I turn these thoughts and feelings into concrete ways to change and improve my life going forward? My current job is likely to be coming to an end within the next couple of months, so there is no need to assume I'll be keeping it in answering. I'm looking for ideas, suggestions, anything really - simple and immediate or radical and life-changing. Have you felt similarly and worked towards a simpler, less materialistic, less consumerist, more community-oriented life focused on peace and happiness rather than work and money? I am not overly interested in continuing my career in radio, or any career - as long as I have a warm, safe place to sleep and enough food to eat and I am clean and not destitute, I am happy. My current income is very modest.
The things that I feel are most important to me, and that make me feel happiest and most fulfilled, are peace, simplicity, serenity, closeness to nature, closeness to those around me. I am a sensitive soul, and sometimes I find the beauty of the world around me quite overwhelming. Just this afternoon, I was sitting and listening to the birds outside on one of the first warm spring days of the year and it got me close to tears. It makes me sad that I spend my days from morning 'til night in a city-centre office just to be able to pay inflated rent and bills, and I don't get to experience the real, peaceful, beautiful world around me nearly enough.
In short, although I'm struggling to phrase it clearly, I want to optimise my life for happiness and peace, rather than my current lifestyle which is way too far on the 'work' side of the work-life balance. I want to be happy and fulfilled rather than rich and surrounded by 'stuff' and I want to be around others who feel the same. I feel like I'm perhaps being a little too idealistic, but this sort of thing must be achievable - life can't just be a cycle of getting a slightly better job, increasing your financial obligations to match, and then needing another better job 'til you retire, can it? I'm in the UK rather than the USA, if that has any bearing on things.
I am aware of the potential for thread-sitting, so if I haven't explained something clearly enough, or you want to talk more, then I am more than happy to receive MeMail. :) Thank you for reading!