Many people just can’t get into making changes in their lives to help the planet. They often say that it seems futile to them. With billions of people alive — and world population still rising — how much can it matter what one person or one family does?
I can understand this point of view, as I have certainly had this thought myself many times. How much can it really make a difference if I write articles on simple living, for example?
I think the point is that all we can change is ourselves. That’s where all of us have to begin. Then, some people’s actions will in fact go on to affect how things are done on a society-wide level. Most people’s actions will have a much smaller range.
It is easy to say that since your actions will be such a tiny part of the picture, you won’t bother. What you don’t realize you are missing out on is the happiness factor.
I was quite surprised to discover that when I really began living in a way that was in line with my values, I felt a lot happier. Why?
Contemplating the worldwide pollution that manufacturing brings in its wake doesn’t make me happy. I still remember canoeing in California with some women friends, over twenty years ago. We were going to a very special place one of my friends had camped at many times. When we arrived, the area had been brutally logged. No, facing realities such as this one can be extremely painful.
The happiness comes from knowing that you are not contributing thoughtlessly to scenes such as this. It comes from knowing that you are expressing your love in your actions. Even such simple things as buying organic produce or driving less can help you feel more aligned with what is best for our world.
It doesn’t seem to come naturally for most of us to make changes. It has taken me years to use less water when washing dishes. I had old habits and they would just happen while I was thinking about other things. Remembering to turn off light switches is another one that can be a challenge. It seems that we humans get routines hard-wired and then they just go on automatically. If the routines are not beneficial, it can take a real effort to create new habits. The next time you catch yourself feeling despair about the state of the world, use that energy to create one simple positive habit. Over time, you too may notice the happiness factor.