Personal effectiveness

Earth Day

Little Changes for Earth Day

Next Saturday, on April 22, we will celebrate Earth Day.  If you are looking for some small way to make a positive impact on our beautiful Earth, here are 10 suggestions for little changes that you can make in your life in honor of Earth Day.  None of these changes will take much time or money.  But even little changes add up and can make a big difference!  So pick one or try all 10…whatever feels right to you!

 


1.  Purchase a set of cloth napkins and keep them in a basket on your dining room table so that you can grab them at mealtime instead of using disposable napkins or paper towels. 

 

2.  Purchase a reusable water bottle for each member of your family.  Keep them on your kitchen counter to remember to use them.  Or get in the habit of filling them each night before going to bed and setting them near your door so that you can easily grab them on your way out the next morning.

 

3.  Each time you go to the grocery store, buy one of the reusable grocery bags at the checkout counter and use it for your groceries.  Repeat until you have 5 or 6 bags and can easily fit all of your groceries in reusable bags to avoid using plastic or paper bags.  Keep the reusable bags in your trunk so that you always have them available when you decide to stop at the store.

 

4.  Commit to only buying the organic variety of fruit or vegetable for each of the Dirty Dozen.

 

5Choose one food item that you buy regularly and find a local source for that item.

 

6.  Purchase one or two sets of glass storage containers to add to your collection.  Prioritize using these dishes when you are putting away hot food or when you know that you will be heating up the food in that container in either the microwave or oven.

 

7.  Bring along your own reusable to-go containers when you go out to eat at a restaurant.  That way you can avoid being given the single-use and non-biodegradable Styrofoam containers.

 

8.  Bring along your own reusable travel coffee mug when you stop at your local coffee shop to grab your morning pick-me-up.

 

9.  Turn down the heat in a room or area of the house that you are not using.  Or turn down the heat when you leave your house for the day.  Another option is to install a programmable thermostat where you can set the heat at different levels for different times of the day.  For example, you can program the thermostat to a cooler temperature overnight or when you are gone during the day and a warmer temperature for the morning and evening when you will be awake and at home.

 

10.  Start a compost pile in your backyard (or buy a small, compact compost bin or tumbler if you don’t have the yard space for a compost pile).  Start collecting your food scraps – you can include pretty much everything other than meat, seafood, and dairy products.  Even if you never use the compost as a gardening supplement, it will still reduce your amount of trash to be taken to the landfill each week.

 

chasing satisfaction

Chasing Satisfaction

A piece of my personality is always striving for more, for better.  This can be a good thing when it comes to learning and growing and being the best version of our self. 

However, if I am not careful, this mantra of MORE, BETTER can lead me to a place where the thought process changes ever so slightly and becomes “NOT ENOUGH”.  Before I know it, I am looking around me and thinking…

“I am not enough.”  “I could do better.”  “I should do more.”

“I do not have enough stuff in my life.”  “I wish that I had more.”

 

And then maybe there is another subtle shift in thinking that leads to a bad case of the IF ONLYs…

If only we replaced the roof and siding and painted the inside of our house….then I would be satisfied with our home.”

If only I could find a little more time to exercise each week….then I would be satisfied with my body.”

If only we had a little less chaos in our family life, a little more space in our schedule….then I would be relaxed and happy.”

 

The problem with this mindset is that you never ever get to the end of those statements.  Because once those first conditions have been met, you simply substitute the next one.  Now we need to pave the driveway and refinish the basement before we are satisfied with the house.  Now I need to be able to fit into those pants in the back of my closet from before I had three beautiful babies if I am to be satisfied with my body.  Now I need to find quiet time to meditate every day if I am to be happy and relaxed. 

 

Maybe this is starting to sound depressing and pessimistic.  But I like to think of myself as a glass is half full type of person so that’s not my point at all.  My point is just that we need to be mindful of where our thoughts can lead us if we are not careful. 

 

And, you know what, I don’t want to go through life always feeling like I’m two steps behind Happiness.  Or like I’m always chasing Satisfaction around the corner but never catch up and get to sit down and have a cup of tea with her.  It’s exhausting.  And, in the meantime, I have run right past all of the other people and places on the road and missed out on all that they could have showed me.  I want to stroll purposely through life with a big ol’ smile on my face and learn as much as I can from the people and places along the way. 

 

This doesn’t mean that we should let the house fall to pieces or never work on a home improvement project again.  This doesn’t mean that I should stop exercising or eating healthy.  This doesn’t mean that I should stop looking for downtime in our schedule or making time for meditation and family bonding activities. 

But it does mean that we should look for that sweet spot where we are feeling productive in whatever way is most meaningful to us at the time but not feeling bad about the things that are not getting done.  And it means that we experience each day as it is happening and look for small joys that light up our life.  Easier said than done.  But, if we are not careful, we will forget what it is we are chasing in the first place and might become lost along the way.  I am constantly reminding myself to stop running to the next thing and to slow down and experience the moment that I am in right now.  So, for 2017, I have a new mantra…well, maybe two new mantras….

 

“I’ve got everything I need, and nothing that I don’t.” – Zac Brown Band (Homegrown)

 

 “We’ve got everything we need right here and everything we need is enough.” – Jack Johnson (Banana Pancakes)