Why I’m choosing a village approach to life

Life has changed – big time! Just five months into motherhood and it’s clear things will never be the same for me again (in a good way). And the biggest question on the tip of my tongue: ‘how will I continue to stay connected to the things that are most important to me AND be a good mother to Xavier?’ Insert a few good headspace sessions here, and I’ve decided I’m embracing a village approach to life. Here’s why.

For me, it’s important to be present in the things that have the most meaning to me and to live in a space of light-heartedness and curiosity (rather than stress and overwhelm). I know that I need to be the best, healthiest version of myself to then be the best wife, mum, family member, friend, business owner, community member and global citizen. I am therefore learning to say Yes to support when offered, and have come to a realisation that I physically can’t do everything that is thrown my way. Instead I am using my village.

What is a village approach?

Living life connected to a village can act as a key means to achieving harmony and happiness. It’s about letting go of the need to do everything yourself (which as a recovering control addict and typical Virgo, I can confess can be hard to do!) and instead sharing the load and responsibilities with those around you. It’s about using your networks, building relationships and leveraging collaboration, while at the same time giving back to your local community as part of a contribution network.

No time to grocery shop? Give it to the local Countdown delivery team! And thank the team for their time with some treats at Christmas.

Looking for a graphic designer and got some copyright skills to swap? Consider a service trade.

Looking for some in-home care for your kids while you pick up some extra hours at work? How about joining forces with your local coffee group for shared childcare.

Can’t afford to buy a house or investment yet? Get together with some family members or friends to explore what might be possible together.

The list is endless.

Think outside the box for who can be part of your community (rather than just direct family, significant others and close friends). Whether you’re streamlining ‘must-do’ lists, celebrating life, or moving through challenging times, through a village approach to life you can be surrounded by a wider network of people who can assist, care and share a connection with you.

Community is also a place where personal growth happens at a much faster rate, and greater levels of happiness and acceptance can be achieved.

The theory: A Sense of Community

In 1986, social psychologists McMillan & Chavis formed the “Sense of Community” theory, where many of their elements mirror a village approach to life.

Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together (McMillan, 1976).

They describe the four factors that contribute to a sense of community:

(1) membership, the feeling of belonging or of sharing a sense of personal relatedness.

(2) influence, a sense of mattering.

(3) integration and fulfillment of needs.

(4) shared emotional connection.

These are the pillars of my village.

More happiness

A great watch – the Happy Movie – features people from all around the world and explores how they find meaning and happiness in life. There are three key lessons from this movie that align perfectly with adopting a village approach to life.

1. Co-habitation:

The film details how Denmark is rated the happiest country in the world time and time again. Why? One of the key points the film explores is the popularity of co-habitation spaces in Denmark. These communities are designed to help one another out. From communal dinners to group activities, those who choose to cohabitate create a different kind of family.

Personally, this idea of communal dinners are now a regular part of my week – with Jamie Oliver Sundays a new favourite in our family. My parents and bubs coffee group has also recently discussed the idea of a cook-and-swap approach to stocking up on freshly made baby food. Love it!

2. Surrounding Yourself With Family and Friends:

The documentary features an African tribe in Namibia that still hunts and gathers for its food. It relies entirely on itself, its environment and most importantly the power of the village for survival. When interviewed, the members of the tribe expressed their happiness and unconditional love for the people they surround themselves with.

If we are to take a lesson from this African tribe, we should spend more time with the ones who make us feel special and loved, to achieve greater levels of contentment.

3. Contribution

A village approach to life is also about contribution outside of yourself. So while you gain support from your wider village, you also contribute in ways that align with your strengths and what you have to offer. Ask yourself daily, “how did I contribute today?” OR “who did I help today?”. Small acts of kindness can create powerful change.

So there you have it! I’m constantly looking for new ways to step out of my comfort zone and let go of my “need to do it all”, to venture into the support of my wider community.

Here’s to a village approach to life!

Aleisha xo

Comments: I’d love to hear below how you leverage your village? What makes your life easier and more enjoyable, thanks to the power of your community?