I get a lot of reader e-mail and I read absolutely every one of them. I also get a lot of e-mail from friends and family who love to challenge me with interesting bits of information. I love it all! This past week I received an e-mail from one of my correspondents with a link to an article entitled, “The age of loneliness is killing us.” It actually talks about an issue that readers have asked me about in the past—the meaning of the term, self-sufficiency. Some people confuse this term with independence. The problem is that self-sufficiency has nothing to do with either independence or dependence. The terms aren’t actually relevant to each other.
You’ve seen from any number of posts that I practice self-sufficiency in grand style. However, my self-sufficiency ensures there is wood for the fire, food in the larder, clothing to wear, and a roof over my head. It ensures that my animals are all well-fed, happy, and productive. Everyone has work to do in my household, even Sugar Plum (my cat), whose main goal in life appears to be stealing my dog Reese’s bed. Practicing self-sufficiency has improved my health, made me happier, and increased my productivity.
I’m far from lonely. I counted today and I rely on no less than 40 animals and people to make my self-sufficiency work (the list is likely far larger). Including the animals is necessary because each has an active role to perform in my self-sufficiency. I could list off the jobs each animal and person performs, but I think the point is that I’m incredibly dependent on others to be self-sufficient. In fact, it’s always been that way. There are dependencies that must be maintained in order to create a happy and productive life. To say that I’m dependent on certain people is simply to say that I’m human and have deficiencies that others meet—it doesn’t make me any less of a person to admit this fact. Rather, it demonstrates an understanding of how things work and makes me a better person as a result.
The biggest reason for this particular post is to put into words precisely what I mean by self-sufficiency. I don’t want anyone out there to ever use self-sufficiency as an excuse to be lonely or to feel excluded. Far from it. Most people who are self-sufficient are fully engaged with the animals and people that surround them. In fact, it’s the animals part of the equation that sets us apart. I recently provided a post entitled, “Hugging Your Animals” and a number of people wrote to ask whether I actually do that. Well, yes I do. My animals are a big part of my self-sufficiency and I’m quite dependent on them.
Our society’s ever growing fear of depending on others is a problem. It creates loneliness, decreases productivity, makes us less efficient, and most definitely makes us less happy. Creating relationships does involve risks. Someone really could say they don’t like you or decide they really can’t tolerate how you do something. Rejection, arguments, and upsets of all sorts are the risks we encounter with dependency, but the benefits are ever so much greater. Take time to hug someone today and tell them how much you appreciate them. Let them know you don’t mind being dependent on them and that you hope they’ll depend on you too. Send me your questions about self-sufficiency and being dependent on others to John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.