Simple Living 101: Intro - Influencing Others


4251 How to Influence Others (scroll down)


NOTE: Page numbers refer to the paper version of this resource.

Guidelines for Change

How to Influence Others

The three steps of Simpler Living (and social change) are: changing ourselves, sharing with others, working to change systems.

Influencing others begins with ourselves! Ask, “Where do I fit in the three levels of participation with our culture?” The answer may be “all three.”

Level 1. Do I support both good and evil, regardless of the social consequences? Such “unconscious buying” is what most folks seem to do... buying whatever we want from anybody.

Level 2. Do I support the good, but do not support the evil? Such “conscious buying” means buying primarily from the good businesses, not from sweatshop manufacturers, serious polluters and the like.

Level 3. Do I support the good and resist the evil? Such buying activism means writing letters, participating in boycotts and the like.

To begin, while contemplating the following points, focus on at least one suggestion from each of the three groups (A, B and C). Helps that follow are primarily books recommended by Alternatives. (Those in bold are available for free in this site's Archives.) NOTE: Page numbers refer to the paper edition of Simple Living 101. See SL 101 Table of Contents.

A. Changing Ourselves


1. Prioritize changes we need to make, including both “big” and “little” changes. Do not allow tokenism – doing only small stuff, like recycling, and ignoring the hard changes, like reducing our dependence on our cars. Likewise, do little stuff to keep a consciousness. Otherwise, the big changes may overwhelm us. It feels good to say, “Look at all the changes I've made!” But it’s tokenism if they’re all small stuff.
Help: Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices and The Joy of Simple Living.

2. Change celebrations. They’re role models for what we’d like the rest of life to be. Extravagant or simple? Many of them damage our Earth and promote reckless spending. Instead, focus on joy and meaning.
Help: To Celebrate or Treasury of Celebrations, Unplug the Christmas Machine.

3. Tend to our spiritual health. Pray, meditate, spiritualize life. These are the values supporting our efforts. Without a strong religious or philosophical foundation, our changes will be meaningless.


4. Tend to our mental and intellectual health through continuing education, assertiveness training, journaling. Read about politics and economics, but avoid media overload by turning off the TV and reducing unhelpful, mass market magazine subscriptions.
Help: Quickening of America, Investing in the Common Good and Stuff.

5. Tend to our physical health. Eat correctly, exercise and have regular medical checkups. Eat locally grown organic food as much as possible, meat as little as possible.

6. Touch other cultures, especially the poor, either locally or on a cross-cultural experience.
Help: FaithAndMoneyNetwork.org (formerly Ministry of Money: 301/428-9560), Children from Australia to Zimbabwe, Extending the Table, 10 Tips to Escape the Stifling Comfort Zone.


7. Practice the 5-R's – reduce, reuse, recycle, restore, respond. Practice the “Halving Principle” – cut use of stuff in half. Use water, electricity and fossil fuels wisely and conservatively. For example, use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They require only 25% of the energy that incandescent bulbs do.
Help: Use Less Stuff, Any Year Calendar: April-May

8. Practice gratitude. Do things that make us glad to be alive.
Help: TheCommonGoodPodcast, episode #31: Spirituality and Gratitude.

9. Be in touch with nature through eco-friendly hiking and camping. Be awed by natural wonders large and small, like sunsets and compost worms.

10. Build growing relationships with others for fun, conversation, volunteering, worshipping, celebrating.
Help: The Christmas Game, Lifestories,Tell Me a Tale.

11. Slow down. Changes require prayer, thought and time. Make time for what's most important.

12. My own way to change....

B. Sharing with Others

1. Set an example of “non-conforming freely” by using string or fabric shopping bags, a hand lawn mower, etc. Be a living witness. Show our own lifetyle changes. Share a subscription to a truly helpful magazine, such as YES!

2. Offer personal one-to-one testimonials, face-to-face, by letter or email. Speak to adults or a child at “teachable moments.”

3. Practice Alternative Giving. Give more to the needy. Give Fair Trade gifts.
Help: #7 of “10 Tips for Christmas.” (See p. 57)

4. Tell others. Give talks. Show and discuss videos. Join SLOW Down Network. (See pp. 7-34, 66-73)

5. Lead a workshop. (See pp. 35-40)

6. Organize an alternative event. (See pp. 41-56)

7. Start a Study/Action Group, Simplicity Circle, lead worship or adult forum at church. (See pp. 57-62)

8. Refer friends and relatives to SLW! site, face-to-face or in email. Help them navigate the site if necessary. The recipients can start where they want to. This makes us helpful and generous, not pushy.

9. Send messages about overconsumption through cards, bumper stickers and the like.
Help: Consumo, Sustaino and Send a Message! Campaigns.

10. Develop an email directory and forward SLW! eNews to those in your directory. As you gain experience and confidence, use Social Media to share you own simpler living thoughts, as well as SLW! blogs and podcasts.

11. Pray, “Lord, have mercy on us. May your will be done on Earth as in Heaven.”

12. My own way to share with others....

C. Working to Change Systems

1. Advocacy. Write letters to public officials – local, county, state, national, international. Get addresses from your local chapter of the League of Women Voters.
Help: Bread for the World, Bread.org; Soul of a Citizen.

2. Write letters of protest to wasteful companies and send commendations to businesses working toward sustainability.
Help: Business for Social Responsibility, BSR.org; Natural Capitalism

3. Protest and boycott.
Help: Boycott News

4. Vote with your dollars. Buy from locally owned businesses.

5. Keep informed, share ideas, join a social justice listserve, such as Center for a New American Dream, NewDream.org.

6. Contact the media. Pass releases on to local media from SLW! and other organizations.
Help: “Reaching Out Through the Media” on pp. 74-75.

7. “Close the loop” at home, work, school, church. Buy products made of recycled materials.
Help: National Green Pages, GreenPages.org

8. Attend meetings to oppose local sprawl.


9. Promote media literacy to help both children and adults understand the power and influence of advertising. Oppose Channel One's mandatory TV commercials in schools.
Help: MediaLit.org and Culture Jam.

10. Practice Socially Responsible Investing: SRI.
Help: SocialFunds.com | Green America | Wikipedia

11. Pray for those who are in positions of power, who control systems, such as public and business officials.

12. My own way to work to change systems....

Page updated 31 Jan. 2014

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