Podcast Episode 35 – Mainstream to the alternative: Why a change of direction can be just what we need with Hayley from An Enchanted Childhood. Hayley and I talk about why we decided to switch from living a mainstream life to living a life of purpose and what that looks like for each of us. Hayley is a home educator, homemaker, and home lover and is on her own personal journey of slowing down, simplifying her life and creating a life she loves.
The draw of slow
Our society and our world is busy – and from a young age it teaches us that busy, working and always being switched on is the marker of success. But what if success wasn’t any of those things and instead success is the things that happen inside the four walls of our home? What if slowing down, embracing the things that used to be a natural part of us, simplifying our lives and living a life that is more aligned to who we are is the right path? What if disconnecting from the mainstream is what feels the most natural?
We didn’t always live this way. We weren’t always so switched on and so connected. And as we become more switched on and always connected through modern media and our mainstream society, we seem to slowly be less connected to ourselves. We are struggling more than ever to take time for ourselves, to know how to rest and to connect with who we are and what feels like it aligns.
Instead, we follow the status quo, we follow the only thing we know how to do, and we live a mainstream life. Until we decide we’ve had enough and decide to flip our lives on its head and live a life of purpose instead.
So where did it all begin?
It’s sometimes hard to imagine where it all began but with for many people, myself included, a global pandemic really helped us to be able to draw that line in the sand. I think it’s no coincidence that when the world changed, albeit temporarily, so many people’s ideas of the way they wanted to live their lives changed too. For so many people the world inside our homes had irrevocably changed forever and when normality came knocking once more not everyone felt that pull to return to that normal way of life. For many, the slowness and simplicity felt right, for the first time we felt at peace with the world. There was no desire to return to the rat race and that so-call normal way of life. We enjoyed that time when the world fell silent and when there was no more busyness.
We wear busy as a badge of honour
The busyness of life, along with the rushing around and packing every spare moment and every weekend is a thing of the past and instead we’re stopping using busy as a badge of honour. It’s such a common part of our society, rushing and tearing around, filling every moment and sharing how busy we are. We wear that busy sign as a badge and in turn, neglect ourselves and who we are. We neglect the important parts of our life.
But it’s not as simple as just deciding to slow down and simplify our lives – instead, it takes work, it takes work to unlearn everything we have learnt throughout the course of our lives and unpick the things that maybe don’t serve us anymore. Most of all it takes time, time to rediscover who you are outside of the things that society tells you that you should be. Once you do this you might find you live a life that aligns to the purpose you were put here for.
So how do you find that alignment?
It’s a good question, especially given that we are so far removed from what used to be such a natural way of living. It’s about listening to those nudges, those quiet thoughts, those instincts that tell you that it feels right. You could also call it that gut feeling. It’s about living that life that feels true to you.
Living a mainstream way of living is so ingrained in us and at first, when you first decide to switch or live slightly differently it has to be a conscious decision and one you make every single day. Soon enough, however, it becomes natural.
You don’t have to do everything you think you should do, just because that is what everyone else is doing.
Not only are we more disconnected from our true selves, from our purpose and from our communities than ever before, but we’re also ingrained in this modern way of living and part and parcel of that is our consumer-based, capitalist society where everything is to maximise profit. Commercialism catches us out because it’s all we’ve ever known and tells us that the desire to earn money or purchase goods is more important than other values. It’s a radical choice to step away from that, to say no to the commercialism of the holidays, to not be drawn into the buying of everything because the internet or the media tells you that’s what you need to do.
Instead you can still celebrate, but in your own way.
You don’t have to buy new t-shirts, or themed items, or buy into the commercial hubbub, but you can still celebrate as you always have, just differently. It’s not about not celebrating or even not purchasing but it’s being intentional across all area’s of your life and identifying where society pulls us away from our true purpose, and what feels right.
Earning money is essential, and it’s not like we can all throw our hands up in the air and say “Nope, I’m not working anymore”, but it’s about being mindful of what our life contains, and intentional where we spend our money (if possible), time and energy.
It’s not always easy but you can opt out of keeping up with the noise of everything. You can opt out, as much as possible, of a consumer-based society.
You don’t have to keep up with the excess of the mainstream. There is a different way.
So where can you start?
It might seem simple but start where you are. Think about your life, think about the things you love and think about the things you would change if you were given the option. Also think about what brings you the most joy. It seems as thought we hear the term “do what brings you joy” a lot these days but actually it is bang on the money, because why on earth are we doing things that don’t bring us joy.
Slowing down and simplifying our lives isn’t about doing our activities at a slower pace or doing nothing at all, but it’s about finding that which brings us joy, that aligns with our lives and enables us to live a life true to our purpose.
If you want to start slowing down and seeing if a different way of living might be for you, you can download my slow living guide and start figuring out a life that truly aligns and brings you joy.
Where you can find Hayley online?
Follow @anenchantedchildhood on Instagram
Subscribe to Hayley’s Substack community where she will be sharing tips on how her family lives seasonally and celebrates the wheel of the year.