''We Did a Happy Dance''
When we support small businesses we turn dreams into realities.
I started writing this blog just over a year ago. I was thinking about my life over the long term, musing on what I would like to do, what my purpose might be, what I stand for, and how I might build something lasting for my life going forward. Although I think about this all the time, something became clearer during the conscious reflection process that I went through. I thought about what makes me most excited in life, and I decided that the thing I find most thrilling is seeing people realizing that they have options. I am most happy when I'm thinking about ideas and possibilities and when these possibilities are aligned with personal values, goals and dreams. When people are giving themselves permission to live their truth, engaging in activities and existing in environments that light them up, they take on new levels of joy. They are able to create and contribute from a place of passion and flow rather than self-sacrifice or obligation.
Society and our families and friends put up barriers and obstacles that can seem insurmountable. Although some of these barriers are intended from a place of love, there is no guarantee that they are in our best interest. We are not here to live out anyone else's dreams, alleviate their fears, or fill their emptiness. These are inside jobs for which each of us must take full responsibility. As far as society is concerned, current or perceived values and expectations need to be considered in regard to whether they are applicable to us. We might reflect on whether there are agendas at play and whether these need to be challenged, or ignored. I am seeing more and more people acknowledging the benefits of lining up with their greatest good by choosing paths that provide them with more joy and wellbeing. My belief is that this allowance and love for ourselves is where motivation, commitment, inner peace, good health, contribution, and acceptance of and love for others comes from.
I want to live in a world where people are happy and free, enjoying their lives doing things that they love to do. I want to live amongst people who are healthy and whole, positive and fulfilled, sharing and contributing.
So, how can we make this happen?
I would say that we need to be the example that we wish to see by living our best lives; and that we need to enable and support others to do the same. I want to do more than just encourage others to live out their passions. I want to have a broader vision than this, so I'm talking about a really practical solution that we can all be involved in. We have the power to create change through our actions - through supply and demand. When we use our power as consumers to create demand, we enable others to supply the demand. When we support others' goals and dreams in a concrete way, ''putting our money where our mouth is'', we allow people to access their possibilities. Then, possibilities can become more than ideas and dreams, they can become realities.
A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how much I had enjoyed the candles that I was given for my birthday. Enjoying the lovely aromas while doing my work at home had helped me to be more in touch with my senses. I went for a walk to the market, and although I had the intention of buying a new candle that day, I found myself almost walking past a candle stall. I had to stop myself, reminding myself that I had intentionally gone there to buy a handmade candle. When I chose the one I liked the most - champagne and strawberries - and told the lady who was selling them that I wanted to buy it, she almost looked as if she couldn't believe it - she was so happy. Inside the bag was a handwritten note, thanking me for buying the candle. Although I have been saying for some time that supporting small businesses makes other people's dreams come true, this experience really increased my awareness of how much this support means to people who are stepping into this somewhat risky place of allowing their joy. Since then I have bought a couple of things from small businesses online. Both had thankyou notes inside. One said, "We did a happy dance when we received your order".
I will be honest here. I nearly walked past the candle stall at the market because it's easier not to have to engage. The self-service checkout is the introvert's best friend. Terrible to admit, but true. It takes more social energy to buy directly from someone. This, however, doesn't apply to online purchases. I'm not suggesting in any way that we spend money that we don't have or want to spend. I'm just talking about being more intentional regarding where we spend our money when we do choose to spend it. Buying from small businesses doesn't have to cost more. It might cost less, as there are fewer overheads. We have to consider the quality and the craftmanship when determining whether something is appropriately priced. As a consumer, the experiences that I have had when supporting small businesses have been far more joyous than the ones in which I've engaged in a meaningless interaction with the self-service checkout. It is in the energy exchange between people - and money and services are types of energy - that the magic happens. Also, when something is produced from love rather than just for profit, it has more emotional value, and this contributes to the social connection that happens when this type of transaction occurs.
There are so many ways that we can intentionally make others' dreams come true.
Here are some that I've been trying and some ideas for the future:
Buy fruit and vegetables, plants, craft items etc. from local markets
Carry some cash to support buskers
Buy from independent retailers
Buy online from stores such as Etsy: Etsy - Shop for handmade, vintage, custom, and unique gifts for everyone
Support the arts - musicians, performers, artists and writers by attending concerts or purchasing their work: The Kindle Store | Amazon.com.au
Buy lunch from a food truck or market stall
Access healthcare services from practitioners who work from home
Visit galleries and museums
Buy direct from local farmers or visit wineries, dairies etc.
Seek out handcrafted or renovated furniture
Purchase a unique gift or a gift card from a small business
Go to cafés and restaurants, or order takeaway
Leave positive reviews if you are happy with your purchase
Recommend to friends and family
Spread the word on social media
Other ways of purchasing that can create demand, and therefore positive change are:
Buying from companies that make charitable contributions
Choosing ethical brands - The Australian Guide can be found here: The Guide | Shop Ethical!
Buying organic products, and free range and grass fed meats
Opting for low waste products
Choosing products that are low in or free of chemicals
Buying second hand: Gumtree: Australia's Free Marketplace. Find a car, job, furniture & more
The more that we know that customers or an audience are available, the more we can feel safe to make those small or big leaps towards our ideal lives. Through our deliberate choices as consumers, we can also facilitate this for others. Often, in making these choices, we are supporting our own health and wellbeing as well, so it is win-win. It takes time to change habits, but it starts with small steps. Some of the suggestions above do not involve spending more money and some don't involve spending money at all. We can all play a part in turning this society into one that will better serve and nurture all of us.
It may sound dramatic, but this can change the world. So, let's go shopping!