How a small town in NSW gave me my clarity back

Friday morning last week I went to the Mullumbimby farmers markets and wandered around buying fresh vegetables for my friends to arrive back to after their busy trip to the charity they started in Africa (yes, I know.)

Around the market, people were walking slowly, enjoying the sun, chatting with each other.

With every leafy green I bought from every stall, the growers would smile widely and strike up a little chat. I found myself smiling from ear to ear for the whole 22 minutes I was there.

Then the city girl in me panicked and I dashed back to the car in a hurry for no logical reason.

The kindness and warmth of these people in that small town is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

At the petrol station, we had all four people at the pumps laughing and joking with the pump attendant; a very jovial chat in the local IGA about which peanut butter to buy, and laughs with the checkout person at the supermarket over her excellent grocery tetris skills. These were all just regular people (i.e. not hippies) – but significantly more friendly and warm than any other regular people I usually meet.

There are also many bare footed, dreadlocks-to-the-floor, broken-down-van-driving hippies around Mullum and Byron, though I don’t usually have reason to chat to them. While I think they’re great, we’re just at opposite ends of the practicalness spectrum.

In small towns like Mullumbimby, it feels like the people have a good handle on their values compared to us city-dwellers.

They seem to value family and friendships and community and kindness over all else.

In the cities there are more of us that value money and success and status and achievement and “me me me”. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but the striking difference is how much happier and content the people in Mullum seem on the whole compared to all the cities I’ve lived in around the world.

My 9 days away slowing down to “Mullumimby pace” helped me really get perspective and be reminded to get back to my values – the things that REALLY matter to me. They’re the things that bring me fulfillment, and also the things that help me be the best, most inspired, and most compassionate version of myself.

I often forget what really matters in the race to get ALL THE THINGS done.

Melbourne is by far the friendliest and most open city I’ve ever found, which is why I live here now, despite the sometimes chilly-as-hell then hot-as-hell weather.

But every time I fly back here after a visit to Mullum or Byron, I initially feel taken-aback by how fast and unfriendly everything is in comparison. Then within a few days, I’ve integrated, my mind has sped back up to the same pace as everyone else, and I promptly forget all the insights I had when I slowed down.

Until I walk to a park for a few minutes of reflection. Which I then forget about a day later, and so the cycle goes.

Where we live makes a HUGE difference on our mind, our emotions, our values, and our pace of life.

They say you’re the sum of the 5 people you hang around with most… but you’re also the sum of the values and the pace of the place that you live in, and so are those 5 people!

It’s worth taking stock… are we living in a way that feels good? Around people that make us feel good? Or are we just on a blind race to “achieve more”, fueled by frenetic energy of the people around us?

Wherever you can – slow down from time to time.

Go somewhere where life is slower – camping, out in nature, into a park, or even a day trip to a small town nearby.

It might just help you zoom out from the limited perspective that our minds sometimes trick us into, and get clarity on what REALLY matters to you.

If you’re keen to get to know your values more deeply – check out my short course – Nail Your Values & Find Your (Bloody Elusive) Passion. It’s bloody brill I tell you! (And so will the testimonials!)

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