The focus and interests of sustainability enthusiasts around the world are wide-ranging, but in general they are concerned with the current state and future development of this world, so that their children and grandchildren are born into it with a fair shot at a decent life.
There is a lot of suffering and injustice in this world, so many argue that it’s not worth trying to change the status quo. Indeed, major corporations or the vested interests of just a few people heavily influence and reinforce this idea. There is also a negative energy or resistance to saving the planet, which seems to carry on very easily to the rest of society creating a norm against saving the planet. This means it is not always so easy to have a significant impact. It can even spread to those working to better the world, and this can cause harm if they are unaware or unprepared to deal with it.
This is why I think it is important to think about what your “Sustainable Self” should aspire to, what they should think about achieving and how to achieve it.
So what are the most important things that your “Sustainable Self” should keep in mind when pursuing sustainability goals? Are there any effective ways to work on “saving” the planet? Of course there are and today I will share with you 7 ways you can nurture your “Sustainable Self” for a sustainable future.
1. Start from within
Search inside yourself to find your true purpose: what is your desire? what are you passionate about? what do you want to achieve?
Meditation is a good tool for this as it clears the chatter that crowds the mind and can help you outline your priorities and goals in life. There are also others ways to do this like spending time with different people, going for walk or doing things you love more often. Setting out your passions and goals can help create a clear vision to work towards.
2. Aim to spread optimism or happiness
Whilst there is a lot of happiness in society, there is also a lot of negativity and fear – some even argue this is what runs society. This can prevent a lot of people from pursuing or reaching their goals.
From an environmental perspective, it can prevent people or groups of people from recognizing the true value of the planet or fellow people in poverty especially as we are unable to see the impact of our actions. Aim to spark a little bit of happiness in your work and even your own day – some people have even come up with the goal to perform a random act of kindness every day (actually neurological studies now show that doing good leads to greater levels of happiness).
3. Be of service to others
This is an important insight from sustainability professionals and seems to work well in practice. If you are working on sustainability projects within a business or local initiative try to ask your colleagues how you can help them. Reframe your problem in terms of their problem and see how you can make sustainability relevant to them. Failing to get what you need, you can still make their day more pleasant.
4. Strike a balance between work and life
Make sure to get enough sleep. Don’t compromise too much of your own life or happiness (or the happiness of your friends/family) as it is not fair on yourself or them. Also, it may actually be a lot less effective/self-defeating and you may end up creating unnecessary stress or planting the seeds for denial.
5. Build fundamental skills like leadership, listening and interpersonal skills
Building interpersonal skills to be able to interact with individuals in a formal or informal setting is key. This really depends on your level of experience or comfort interacting with people and your cause and organisation. However, there are some critical ones like interpersonal skills that are just applicable in most fields, especially sustainability.
6. Practice what you preach
It is important to practice (or at least try to practice) some of what you preach. One way to do this is by analysing or broadly considering your “carbon/environmental footprint” – a great resource for this is “how bad are bananas” by Mike Berners-Lee or you can also use a simple online calculator like “WWF’s footprint calculator”. See if there are ways you can lower your impact on the planet. Furthermore, this can enlighten your understanding of yourself (through your relationship with the world) and your cause.
7. Implement sustainable habits
Exercising and eating well are also important, as they are key to sustainable living. These two habits can boost energy levels and positivity, which often even radiates in the workplace and onto other people. Working to change the status quo is a tough job, so it is important to keep yourself in a good state both physically and mentally.
We face unimaginable environmental (but also economic and social) problems in society with the daunting prospect of runaway climate change and therefore the degradation of our only home, the Earth. There is a lot of negative energy within society, which discourages many of us to act on improving on this. However, there are still many encouraging signs, one of which is the science of happiness – today, we are told it is actually better for our health and wellbeing to do good for others. So, we can sit here with an optimistic belief that we may overcome these overwhelming challenges.
Working on sustainability is a tough field and it is easy to get caught up with your work, but there is one thing you have complete control of and that is yourself and the decisions you choose to make. Making sure you are leading a sustainable and happy life is crucial as it is more likely to translate to making your work more effective, and of course means you get to live a good life.