Why convenience is no longer the convenient choice

I remember reading a motivational article about following your passion and the author posed the question “what gets you fired up?”

Not many things get me more “fired up” than the conservation of animals and nature. With today being Earth Day, I feel I have the appropriate platform to express my passion.

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Our planet is now completely out of balance due to the impact of human behaviour. Over the past 50 years, the population of wild animals has been reduced by 60%. The rise in Earth’s temperature is because of human-produced greenhouse gases and is expected to cause major shifts to our planet’s oceans in just the next 10 years. This ultimately means major shifts to humanity and our own future.

Many of these destructive and harmful situations can be changed by a single thing. Choice. In our consumer driven, materialistic world, convenience and price often determine what we choose to spend our money on. Unfortunately, the most sustainable option is often over-looked by the cheapest one. Twenty years ago we may have said that it is the environment that pays the price. But now, we are paying the price. Without stability and sustainability, the planet - humans and nature, are at risk.

But now we have the power to turn the table and as David Attenborough says “we now determine nature’s survival”. We can choose to support more sustainable products and businesses over ease and convenience. We can choose renewable resources rather than burning more fossil fuels and increasing greenhouse gases. We can choose to purchase reusable products over single use items that fill up the landfills and pollute the oceans.

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Buying locally grown produce, supporting local businesses and choosing sustainable over convenient will have a long lasting affect on our planet. We are at a point where it is no longer “worth” spending just $1 on processed food-like products. As a friend of mine recently said, “why does this cost so little? What are we actually eating”?

That is the question we should be asking ourselves. Why does it cost $5 for a shirt or $1 for a sandwich? How is that even possible? What is the actual “cost” of cheap convenience?

Our planet can come back into balance but now it’s up to us and the choices we make. The good news is that we can start right now. We can make the decision to align ourselves with nature and in turn “re-wild” the world. We can choose to stop using single-use plastic products, ride our bikes more and drive less, support businesses that support the environment, buy sustainable fish, choose local versus big business and encourage our children to be curious about nature and wildlife.

I encourage you to experiment with the power of choice. I encourage you to reduce your impact and make conscious choices that will bring us back in balance with nature again.

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Are you chasing happiness away?

hap・pi・ness - a state of positive well-being

Up until 3 years ago, I would have considered myself happy. Not thriving, but content.

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Then a series of traumatic events began to unfold. First, my beloved bulldog died after a family camping trip. Seven months later, my Dad suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at my parents’ cabin. Five months after that I quit my 15 year career with the police. I descended into hopelessness and was desperate to climb out.

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Without having the proper tools to ascend or even identify what I was feeling after this string of events, I mistakenly identified my grief as unhappiness. I longed to feel happy and content once again. I joined the self-care movement. I took courses on meditation and the science of happiness. I was determined to chase down happiness and grab on as tightly as I could.

In one of my desperate attempts to harness happiness I signed up for a certification course in applied positive psychology. I figured if I could learn scientifically proven methods that lead to happiness, I would most definitely be happy. If there was an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to happiness, I could follow it.

On the first day of my course I learned the most important rule in positive psychology: The more you chase happiness, the more unhappy you become.

Happy people don’t chase happiness.

Research actually shows that those of us who strive to feel happy all the time are destined to suffer. Being happy doesn’t mean avoiding negative emotions or events. It’s actually quite the opposite. The key is learning to process the negative emotions, express them at the right time and not get stuck in them. Learning skills and utilizing tools to work through negative emotions is key to building resilience and cultivating more positive emotions.

The first step for me was to identify that grief is not unhappiness and feeling sadness, anger and frustration was justified. The second step was to show myself some love and compassion. I just went through some seriously sad events and instead of avoiding the sadness, I needed to feel it. Lucky for me, I have amazing friends who are willing to listen and share a box of tissue with me.

There is no secret to happiness or 10 step program to guarantee it. But there are some things you can do everyday to bring more positivity into your life:

  1. Connections. Research shows that social connection is a factor that always predicts happiness. Happy people have good relationships. If fact, studies show that when people are excluded or isolated, the areas of the brain that are activated are the same areas when we feel physical pain. Spend more time with the people that uplift you and less time with those who drain you.

  2. Gratitude. Having a grateful mindset predicts greater happiness, life satisfaction and optimism. Robert Emmons stated that the more you move to a grateful mindset, it’s almost physically impossible to be anxious or depressed.

  3. Mindfulness. Being mindful refers to focusing our awareness to the present moment without judgement. Data from Matt Killingsworth’s project, trackyourhappiness.org, found that people are less happy when their minds are wandering (ie. not being in the present moment). When we focus our mind to the present moment, we are less impulsive and better able to handle our emotions.

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Negative emotions are part of life and we can’t avoid or run from them in the pursuit of happiness. Prioritizing positivity on a daily basis and carving out time to do more of what we love, while working through the parts we don’t love, will put us on the path to greater happiness.