Chapter 8: Build Your Community Part 3
Remember David from Chapter 7, whose stroke led him to recognize his corporate idolatry, and switch to a people-first identity? (You can read about him here.) Family and community was an essential part of his change. David’s wife was thrilled that he was more focused on the family and his health. And I was amazed to hear that David and his wife decided to sell their large house in an affluent, gated community for a smaller, but very nice home in a more rural area. It meant changing school districts with kids in high school, but everyone was on board, looking for a less stressful life together.
David seemed surprisingly relieved to move. He said it was very stressful to maintain what he called “the façade” – making sure “you acted a certain way.” The kids needed expensive clothes; Sears was not allowed. (I didn’t ask about Chez Target, my family favorite but I strongly suspect it was also out of bounds.) But David’s move wasn’t about the materialism per se; it was the people in the community that made him uncomfortable. He told me that one parent he met wouldn’t let her kids go to a certain person’s house because of a coat someone was wearing.
David’s de-materialism was probably the most extreme example I encountered. Of course David is also the only person I interviewed who had a stroke before the age of fifty, which gave him a particular urgency to change his life. David also made changes that were less extreme, more typical for people looking to build community. For example, David started going to the gym a few times a week with his buddies, which reinforced his decision to make people a higher priority than his company.
Who we choose to associate with is a key to change. By analogy, an alcoholic cannot spend his free time in bars, even if only drinking soda. Eventually, the environment will lead to a relapse.
Similarly, if you want to move to a lifestyle that is less work centric, you need to find people who aren’t working all the time. And the next post will suggest ways to do just that.