Want to Thrive this Holiday Season? Live in Plenitude…

December 20, 2010 at 9:28 am 4 comments

Contributed by Dr. Sarah

This holiday week, I’ve been reflecting on the two most recent Spheres of Influence conversations. Our themes of “thrivability” and “plenitude” strike me as timely during this frenetic week of consumption in the midst of a major economic downturn.

So here are some of my take-aways from our lovely monthly virtual roundtable conversations with Jean Russell, founder of Thrivability.org and Juliet Schor, author of Plenitude: The Economics of True Wealth and co-founder of Center for a New American Dream (newdream.org).

Perhaps my strongest resonance with our conversation with Jean Russell on thrivability is with the notion that the words we use to describe our vision set the bar, set the tone. “Sustainability” has become the buzzword for both environmental and economic programs. But you know, the first time I heard the word, I didn’t know what the person was referring to. It’s clunky and cumbersome, and fundamentally not enticing. It sets the bar low. But thrivability? That evokes images of gardens flourishing and people enjoying a full life. And as Jean would remind us– of play. I don’t know about you, but I want to ensure my boys a world in which they can thrive!

From the conversation with Juliet, perhaps my favorite nugget is the notion that “what’s good for the planet is good for people.” I’m a psychologist, so of course I’m interested in people. And the personal rewards of joining the growing green movement are what I’m “selling.” So what she tells us is that if we consume less, we don’t need to work as hard, we have more time to connect with other people– including our most beloved ones. And, when we consume less– by buying durable stuff, by shopping local, by doing things ourselves– we enjoy a higher quality of life. And oh by the way, we do less harm to the planet – less plastic, less oil used in shipping, all that. Makes sense to me!

Check out my Amazon review of Juliet’s wonderful, inspiring book (among other favorites): http://http://ow.ly/3rCvh. It would make a worthy gift!

Which brings me to “enoughness.” Enoughness is the experience of appreciation for all that we have that enriches our lives. When we live from a place of enoughness, we notice and value the abundance in our lives– our friends, our delicious food, our family, the beauty of the natural world. When we treasure all that we have to be grateful for, it shifts our perspective and experience. We’re less frantic about eating more, squeezing more into our day, making more money, keeping up with our neighbors– or particularly this time of year, buying more stuff. It’s a more fulfilling– fulfilled– way to live.

My  Enoughness Challenge to myself: Anyone who knows me knows that I have a thing for shoes. I own lots of cute shoes. An excessive number. Since talking with Juliet Schor about the problem of fashion fueling unnecessary purchases, I’ve been circling back to this quirky, un-ecofriendly habit. So for 2011 I’m going to challenge myself to live from a sense of enoughness when it comes to shoes. A week ago I inherited a wonderful pair of warm Italian boots from a friend whose feet have grown a bit. I feel great about that. If my running shoes wear out, OK. Fun shoes or boots? I’ll think twice. Three times. And breathe.

I’m am psychological coach so: What will you take on as your Enoughness Challenge this season? Post a comment! Let me know! (The more specific, the more likely you are to follow through!)

And I’m going to enjoy making homemade cards (my 6 year old son is a masterful and talented stamper!) and hanging out with my kids on the floor of the family room this winter break!

Here’s to slowing down…. and savoring.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. SherryGreens  |  December 20, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Dr. Sarah! I just love what you are doing, despite all of life’s stress. I agree that thriving is better than just sustaining, let’s go for it! I also hear you on enoughness. I am just starting my environmental journey (I just “woke up”about 6 weeks ago) and am rethinking totally how I live. My goal for 2011 is to limit the number of brand new things I buy (other than consumables). Sometimes enough is enough!! I too, am also deeply inspired by my two young children.

    • 2. DrSarah  |  January 3, 2011 at 10:13 am

      Thank you for your comments Sherry and welcome to the growing movement of “unlikey environmentalists!” Glad to have you! And what a great goal for 2011! Keep me posted!

  • 3. kiboomu  |  December 21, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Thank you. I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. We have lost a lot these past few years – and trying to raise a 16 year old, starting a new business again, and trying to make ends meet is challenging! I have been living with less lately, but not feeling very gracious about it.

    Breathe – yes. I wish for enough to thrive on – without the excess. I wish for personal success, and I wish for our family’s success. I wish for increased earnings so that we can give back to the REAL needy children of the world, like we were able to do a few years ago.

    Thank you for “grounding” me again with your meaningful and eloquent post.

    • 4. DrSarah  |  January 3, 2011 at 10:15 am

      Hello Wendy. Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate the challenges you’re facing (and love what I see on Twitter with you business, bringing music and books to kids a completely fun way). And I’m delighted to have helped ground you! Glad to know you and have you in my Spheres of Influence!


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