There are a lot of people today that are waking up and realizing the negative impact that their lives have on the earth, on the other creatures we share the earth with, as well as on humans in far off lands. Just living out our daily lives causes destruction; from the car we drive, to the food we eat, to the clothes that we wear. Most of our actions have been monetized and are in the hands of companies that put profit over people and the planet. Knowing all of this and actually acting on it are two very different things though. Often it is fear of the unknown and fear of what others will think that stops us from making the changes that we know will cure the pain in our gut. The pain I speak of is that of knowing our life is unfair to other people or animals whose land is being destroyed indirectly by our actions. It’s a pain of knowing that we should make a change but not doing it. I use to feel it a lot, but I decided that I wasn’t going to continue on causing destruction in all of my daily actions. I took a stance and changed my life for the benefit of the earth, other species, the human race, and myself. Today I’m sharing with you my advice on how to overcome the fear to live an earth-friendly lifestyle.
Drop social norms. Most of your fear is worry of what people will think of you for doing something different. This comes from being tied to social norms. Just because it is considered “the norm” amongst the masses does not mean that it is correct though. In fact, it is often far from the case. I encourage you to embrace being different from the rest of the pack and be ok with the fact that you are doing something different. The great ones always stand out in the crowd. The beautiful thing about social norms and stigmas is that you can drop them overnight should you choose to. They are only in your mind. Stop caring so much about what people are thinking about you and decide that it’s more important to live the life that you truly want to, to feel good about yourself, and to feel positive about your impact on earth.
Flip social norms. What I’ve learned to do is to take it a step further than just overcoming a social stigma but rather completely flipping it. For example, I used to have a nice shiny car and it was a pretty central part of my life. I even spent two hours every Sunday cleaning it. It was one of my main ways of showing off my success and my self worth. Not having a car in my mind would have shown that I didn’t have as much money as others, that I was inferior in some way. When I decided to live a more earth friendly life and got rid of my car I didn’t just decide that I was ok with not having a car, I actually made it even cooler than not having a car. I bought a bike and went on a mission of riding my bike everywhere. I was getting great exercise, saving a lot of money, and I truly enjoyed this more self-sufficient lifestyle. Then I cycled across the United States on my bike. I became so proud to ride my bike and to not own a car.
Another more extreme example is dumpster diving. I forced myself to do it on one of my bike rides and I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to see me and I didn’t want to even let most people know that I was doing it. I thought they’d look down on me. But then I realized I could raise awareness about a massive environmental issue and help get that food to people in need. People turned out to admire and respect me for the very thing that I worried they would look down on me for.
Gain through your “losses.” I often worried about what I’d lose by giving things up. I really have given up so many things in the last few years. But time after time I’ve found that I gained so much more than I lost. When I stopped junk food and cheap factory farmed meat and adopted a primarily whole food diet I found myself healthier than ever before. I lost all this unnecessary weight that I had. When I downsized and got rid of most of my possessions I gained in leisure time. Also by dropping all of the things that I really don’t need and by living a life that is in alignment with my beliefs and my words I’ve filled myself with passion and purpose. And passion and purpose can make up so much for things where you think you’d be missing out. I feel so complete just knowing that I truly am doing what I really want in life.
Start small and go from there. You don’t have to go off the deep end over night. When I woke up to the destruction that my life was causing I sat down and typed out a big list of the things I wanted to change. Then one by one I checked those things off and transformed my life into what it is today. What I did was start with the things that I was really excited about first. I was really excited about riding my bike and going to the farmers market for example. Then with the success of my changes I gained confidence, which made it easier to move onto the next step.
Then I could take even bigger steps more easily. Plus I was feeling healthier then ever so that made the next steps easier as well. Here’s the first 12 steps I’d recommend taking to live a more earth friendly life and my guide to living an earth friendly life at home. Those guides were the building blocks for my transformation. I recommend using these as your guide and trying to do one new thing per week. A lot of people consider me one of the most environmentally friendly people they know. But people often forget that it took me years to get to this point. I didn’t do it overnight. I didn’t just straight up jump off the deep end.
Surround yourself with people who are positive examples of the success that you are trying to make. Overcome the fear by being around people who have experience and can show you that the things they once feared were unnecessary because there they are in the flesh, living happy, healthy, and free right in front of you. Spend as much time with positive influences as you can so that they will rub off on you. Find clubs, businesses, organizations, whatever are the meeting places of people who want what you want.
Know that the impossible is possible. I’ve found that time after time the things that I thought were impossible were indeed possible. For example for a long time I didn’t think I could live without a cellphone. I finally got the guts up to get rid of my cellphone and what do you know the next day I was still alive, my friends were still my friends, and I still functioned just fine. Limitations typically lie in our minds, not in our realities.
Take great pride in doing what you know is right for the earth, our home. Stand up strong and you will feel that strength within you rather than any sort of shame, embarrassment, or fear. Dedicate yourself to helping others and the earth and you’ll have found a mission that replaces the fear. Here’s 15 Tips to be a Positive Influence on Others.
Live simple and live free. I’ve personally found that the more simply I live, the more freely I live. The “must haves” of society are not actually must haves. What is it that you truly want out of life? Does stuff give you that or would you be able to achieve that through having more free time and more freedom? If you prefer the latter than a simpler life may be the key to unlock your ability to chase down the most fulfilling dream that you have.
Know that you can always go back. Although I highly encourage you to stand strong and have courage it might be nice to know that you aren’t jumping off any sort of cliff. You’re just walking a different path and those steps can be retraced to the previous path.
Those are my tips for you my friends! I really just can’t say enough how many times I’ve surprised myself simply by taking the step. Over and over I’ve found that where I worried that I’d lose out I actually gained so much that I never even looked back at those things I thought I’d miss out on. It’s quite possible that you only live once, and it’s quite certain that you only get this life once, so make the effort to feel good about it and love your life!