Starting Out Slow
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
If you've read my first article, you now have a sense of what my goal is. I want to dive right into some actionable things we can all do to live a more sustainable, healthy and meaningful life. Starting at the root—our home bodies.
Throughout my studies and independent readings I have learned a lot about climate change and what we can do to live more sustainably. Personally I decided to start this journey by focusing on connecting with myself spiritually. I then and still do practice mindfulness, meditating, and try to learn about myself and my place in the world. Through my education at Acadia University, I learned about the psychology and sociology behind sustainable habits. Both my academic and personal journeys have drawn me to the conclusion that by practicing mindfulness, we are more likely to incorporate environmentally sustainable habits into our everyday life.
The more we slow down and give things, people, and moments, our energy and attention, the more we care about them.
Think about your daily routine or your average day. Are you living in the present and thinking about what you are doing? Are you taking the time to reflect? Are you thinking 10 steps ahead?
Let's reflect upon this scenario now:
When you woke up, like every day, you wanted to make coffee. You suddenly remember that you didn't plan your lunch for the day and so you are juggling more than one thing at a time by making your lunch, thinking about what you are going to wear, and also putting on some music in the background. You start your morning rushing around your house. By the time you're ready to go, you can't remember where you put your phone, as the last time you had it you used it to play music while you were frantically running around the kitchen prepping for the day.
I'll be honest. This happens to me more than I'd like to admit. In our Canadian society, it's more normal than not to be expected to do so much with our time—to squeeze in everything we can into our packed schedules. In the end we actually waste so much more time by not paying attention to what we are doing in the present, that our future is impacted. It may leave us in a stressed or anxious mood and these moods often lead us to irrational decision making. When in this head-space you're more likely to run to an escape to further run away from your responsibilities.
So what is the solution? And how does this relate to sustainability? We can't just magically add time to our day!
We can't control time, nor our circumstances (well, not immediately anyway). But what we can control is how we manage ourselves and our time to ensure that we're making the most of our days. If you are looking for ways to better yourself, the earth and the people around you, I'll let you in on a not-so-little-secret—it all starts from within. Once we start taking care of ourselves, managing our time, and practicing mindfulness—truly thinking about what we are doing in the moment and living in that moment, everything else will fall into place much easier. By being mindful and paying attention to our everyday doings we are able to go deeper into ourselves—to search for meaning and purpose. And I think once we start asking ourselves why we do what we do, and how it contributes to making our life better, only then will we better set our intentions to find sustainable and healthy habits.
That being said, what I encourage you to do this week is work on strengthening your mindfulness practice. What exactly does this look like? While I'm far from an expert, I'll share with you some things that have worked for me and many others:
Think about things you are thankful for. Start everyday with positive visions and thoughts.
Take in a deep breath and be thankful for the air you breathe. Be aware of your senses.
Try to wake up early. Give yourself enough time so that you can enjoy every sip of your morning coffee/tea, take pleasure in your breakfast and perhaps do some meditation, stretching, or exercise
Set an intention for the day
When you eat, think about the food you are eating. Do you feel good about it? Where does it come from? What is in it? (This one is one of my favourites, because it helps make healthier eating choices easier. Once you gain a better appreciation for the food you eat, how it was grown, and how it was produced, it greatly affects the way we perceive food, therefore leading us to healthier eating choices)
Drink water throughout the day. Always keep a (reusable) water bottle with you.
Set goals. I find writing out a to-do list and a rough estimate on what times of the day are dedicated to certain tasks the night before helps me stay on track to get more things done throughout the day. Therefore, I am not getting distracted throughout the day. I can focus on the present, really enjoying my "spare time" with less on my mind, and more energy tuned into the present.
Give yourself time away from phones and technology. Set time-limits on your phone if your work allows you to. I even have a "bedtime" for my phone so that I don't use it late at night!
Try to find a routine that works for you
Lastly, and most importantly,
Be judgement free, of yourself and others. Good things take time. It is quite unrealistic that you are going to manage everything perfectly every day, so when something goes wrong, try to find a lesson in it. Channel your energy into a positive.
These are just some of the things I do in my everyday life. And I want to emphasize that we cannot be perfect at every time, in every moment. We each have different circumstances and face different barriers so be patient with yourself, and celebrate the good that you do, because you deserve it.
Practicing a sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle is not always easy nor is it always convenient. One way or another, our society today has made us believe that fast is more attractive and bigger is better. During times when we see ourselves cutting corners for convenience, or to save a bit of time, remember that returning to healthy weather patterns, saving endangered species, and purifying contaminated waters are all causes that are worth the extra time and energy. While I acknowledge that that may be anxiety-inducing, it is a fact that we are already seeing the impacts of climate change today. Even though we may be just small fish in a big sea, we can break the status quo by starting a ripple effect that will be more powerful than ever.
"In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket." -David Suzuki
Practicing a sustainable, mindful, eco-friendly lifestyle brings incredible meaning into my life. Making everyday small decisions to make a positive impact truly fills up my battery. The motivation that drives me to do so, simply put, is because I care. And that is not to say that people who repeatedly buy coffee in a disposable cup and take long hot showers don't care about the environment. We just need the right tools and knowledge. We need patience for ourselves and others.
If you've made it thus far in my writing I want to send my deepest wishes of gratitude and feelings of empowerment to you and those around you that you will inspire when you decide to evoke change in your life. I hope you feel as excited as I am to learn, reflect, connect, and observe everyday routines; and in turn, adjust to building a happier, more sustainable, and meaningful life.
Take it Slow & Embrace the Moment,