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Downshifting: a new way to become happier?


Originally the term "downshifting" referred to changing down a gear, in a manual geared car, to slow the car in addition to using the brakes.
In recent usage, the term is used to mean the gradual process of changing your life so it is simpler, quieter, balanced, and much less stressful.  
What is a downshifter?  
Downshifters are people who adopt long-term voluntary simplicity in their life. They accept less money through fewer hours worked in order to have time for the important things in life. Downshifters also place emphasis on consuming less in order to reduce their ecological footprint.  

Why do we downshift?
There are two primary aspects to downshifting. One is about connection – connection to life, family, food, place – and the other is about maintaining a healthy balance – balance in the personal, work, family, spiritual, physical, and social aspects of their life.
Downshifters want to slow down at work in order to ‘upshift’ in others areas of their lives. For most people the change to a slow life through downshifting comes after a long quest for true happiness and fulfilment. For others it may come after a significant life event such as severe illness, relationship breakup, bankruptcy, or the death of someone close.
How do we downshift?
We can downshift by:

  • working fewer hours in our present job;
  • accepting a job with less responsibility in the company
  • quitting our job and find another one that we find more rewarding
  • starting our own part or full-time business, perhaps working from home.
  • moving to other locations (to the coast – seachange; to the rural country areas – treechange.)  


Questions for discussion:

  1. Why did the phenomenon of downshifting appear?
  2. Can you give examples from your personal experience or experience of your frends or relatives?
  3. Some downshifters change their occupations into less prestigious, leave a high-profile job for a job of no prestige?
  4. What do you think about freelance? Can you prosper being a freelancer?
  5. Why do people move from developed countries to developing ones?
  6. Do you know people who moved from the city to the countryside? What were their reasons? What are the ways to earn money in the rural area?
  7. What do you know about ecovillages and other communes? How do you think, do that kind of projects have good prospects?
  8. How can we find work-life balance and work-family balance? Is working less is one of the ways to do it? Is it possible to arrange your life so as to have enough time for yourself and your family and enough money for a living at the same time?
  9. Is it possible to be happy without an iphone, a new plasma TV and an expensive car? What things do you need to be satisfied with your material situation?
  10. Have you ever wanted to change your life dramatically (to change your job or profession, to become a freelancer and start travelling, to move to another country or sell your apartment and buy a house in the countryside)? If yes, why?
  11. Can we speak about reasonable and eradicative downshifting?
  12. Is a downshifter an egoist or a happy person of the future?
  13. How do you think, do downshifters influence economy of the whole country?
  14. Is the movement of downshifting changing the idea of success in the society? If yes, how? Can you be a successful downshifter?
  15. Is downshifting making lowly occupations prestigious?

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