Tag Archives: Saving the world in 365 days challenge

Day 82: What if today was your last day?

(Disclaimer: I am in perfect health. I was asked this question by a friend when we were talking about anxiety and how we always make plans for the future, but not always ‘live’  in the present. )

What if today was your last day on Earth?

Are you happy with the way you led your life up to now?

Were you a good person? Did you value what was important? Did you make good decisions with what you had available?

Did you put off “being good” to the future, for when you had more time, money, or experience?

What did you leave behind? Destruction and contempt – or love and growth?

How will people remember you? As someone who complained, chased down their dreams at the expense of others, never had time to think about “love” or “Earth” or what is “good” – or someone that always had a helping hand and heart, and built something that helps people on their own path, or made the world a little better place?

Will you have made the world a better place when you leave the world? Most of us would answer yes, right?

But would that answer change if you were leaving the world today?

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So many good things in this photograph by Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, NASA: The Milky Way, the view of it from space, and a lightning strike on Earth. Check out: https://images.nasa.gov/#/details-iss044e045215.html

I’m still a student, so most of my daydreams feature myself getting my dream job, my dream house, kids, and a sense of having a purpose in life. I can’t wait to gradaute and “start living life”. Little did I know how much I was putting off “living life” until someone asked me: Yeah, but what if you died today? What then?

My answer scared me. I’m so busy wishing and wanting things for the future – that I’m not too concerned about what I’m doing now. 

A lot of us – maybe most of us – put important things off to the future. I’m not talking about buying stuff or having things – I’m talking about having the chance to be a better person, a world citizen, and someone who’s interested in saving the Earth. Who never thought “Yeah, eating less meat sounds great, but I’ll do it in the future when I have more time or money” or “I can’t deal with being a more active citizen now, I have work to do!”.  We don’t live each day as if it were an opportunity to do our very best. We don’t use all the time we could to be useful citizens and construct meaningful, lasting relationships. We’re mostly worried with material matters – and that’s mostly ok, because we need material things – but we leave the most important out of our minds because we’re so busy worrying.

I’m a student, so I’m working and studying most of my time. I don’t have that many resources or time, which are usually the two things one needs to do “something big”. But maybe I don’t need to do “something big” to make my existence worthwhile, and I don’t need to wait until I have my dream job, house, or family to do it, either. If I used every opportunity of every single day to be good, whether it was at school, at my temporary job, or with my friends and family, I’d be making a whole lot of difference that I’d like to see. On top of that, if I spent all the extra time and resources I had, even something small like ten minutes a day or a dollar a week on doing something for the Earth – I think I would feel very accomplished and satisfied with the way I was leading my life.

When it comes to action, we need to focus more on the present. It’s not your future actions that count – it’s what you do now, with what you already have. Are you spending too much time worrying about things that don’t really matter? How can you focus more on living your life today?

One strategy is to draw a picture of your brain and make bubbles in it that represent what you usually think about. The bigger the bubble, the more you think about it.

Then, draw another picture of your brain and draw the bubbles with the sizes you would like to have in them.

Next, make that second picture a reality – start thinking more about the bubbles you would like to be bigger, and pay less attention to the bubbles you want to be smaller. Changing the way you think is the first step to changing the way you act.

I made Earth-saving one of the bigger bubbles in my brain drawing. How about you?

“A man is what a man thinks about all day long.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Day 75: Prioritize what’s important

As busy human beings, we tend to stress and worry about everything. We’re juggling a lot – living life, working, dealing with people, ourselves, and maybe even saving the world. We spend a lot of time worrying about problems that don’t need to be worried about and making stress the spotlight of our attention. Sometimes, it’s good to worry about problems as you try to come up with possible solutions. Other times, not so much. How do you know when you’re overdoing it?

Simple: ask yourself what’s important. What’s your priority for today, this week, your life? Is that what you’re thinking about most of the time? And if you’re thinking about something else most of the time – are those issues really worth thinking about?

For me, Earth-saving is one of my life goals, and the reason I started this blog was because I realized I wasn’t focusing that much on it – even though I consider it to be the most important aspect of my life. I tend to stress too much about the “little things” – the things I do wrong and wished I could go back in time and fix, how I wish people/life would treat me differently, how I wish I had more resources or a different life style. But none of those things define my life. What I do with my life, defines my life.

Now that I’m refocused on Planet Earth, I realize that writing every day might be too much of a burden and not as of much use. Though I love writing and sharing, other Earth-saving activities such as reading books, news, watching documentaries, brainstorming ideas to reduce my ecological footprint and writing lesson plans are equally as important. Now it’s time to prioritize what’s important, and actually doing more than just saying. And when I do sit down to write, hopefully it will be more qualitative than quantitative.

So here’s my thought – all of our actions start from the mind. If we’re not thinking that much about saving the world, chances are you’re not going to act on it that much, either. If we recognize what’s not that important in our lives and stress less about them, and at the same time make other, bigger life goals our priorities, we have a better chance at achieving those goals.

For Earth-saving, that means worrying less about daily mishaps and never pushing the Earth to the backburner. The question you should ask yourself is: is this issue really so important that it’s taking up more time than saving the world?!

If the answer is yes, maybe you need to spend more time outdoors.

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Wolf in Yellowstone Park. Source: National Park Service

 

 

 

 

 

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Day 73: Not today

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Camels in Mauritania. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

“Not today” is a slang I’ve heard tossed around grade-school kids. I’m not sure whether it is a local slang spawned from an already existing mainstream joke, or if it’s a new expression that’s gradually gaining territory. However, unlike other expressions that have developed over the years, this one has a deeper meaning and embodies a new emotional resistance.    Continue reading

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Day 69: Adolescents are just as smart as adults (in some ways)

A lot of Earth-saving has to do with understanding the psychology of people and how to reach them better. It’s not about what you present to people, it’s how you do it – just like what you say isn’t as important as the tone of voice you say it with. Here, I’ll explain why I think adolescents are just as smart as adults. (All the information about brain development was gleaned from Steinberg, full reference below).   Continue reading

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Day 68: Reduce your food scraps

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Drying dates in Egpyt. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Being ecological is sometimes synonymous with being economic. Turning off appliances when you’re not using them, using less water and heat, and walking instead of driving are all actions that favor both your wallet and the environment. Finding a use for food scraps is one of those cases where you can cut corners on spending and also reduce your total waste.  Continue reading

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Day 67: No Impact Man

 

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Can you imagine what life would be like if you lived it so that none of your actions had an impact on the environment? It would have to be pretty crazy, right? Well, wonder no longer – someone’s tried that. No Impact Man is a book + movie about a guy who decided to live off the grid and tailor all of his actions so that he didn’t leave an impact on the environment. Not only did he try this experiment for a year – but he did it with his wife and toddler, in the middle of New York City.

No Impact Man is a hilarious story that has eco-lessons for all of us. It takes a crazy story like Colin’s to capture our attention and realize that a lot that has to do with sustainability is actually within our reach: like buying local food, commuting by bike (or skateboard?) and washing your clothes in the tub. It also shows the perspective of an Earth-savior battling through the 21st century (Colin) and the perspective of someone who’s not all that crazy and just wants to go through the motions of life without harming the environment too much in the process (Colin’s wife). Part of the reason I love this book so much is because of it shows the dynamics of Earth-saving between people, social interactions, media, and family.

This true story is certainly inspiring and encouraging to everyone who is crazy enough to think they can change the world. It’s available in book format (Colin’s perspective) or in a documentary (shows everyone’s perspective and interviews). Both are worth taking a look at in my opinion because they show different mentalities and philosophies. I’d love to have the chance to see what life would be like if no one had an impact on the environment, and Colin’s experiment shows us just how real (or not, I’m not spoiling the end!) that can be. It’s a must-read for Earth-saviors and for those who are interested in a good, true, and somewhat moralizing story.

 

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Day 66: Spring break? Not for Earth Saviors

 

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Fields of tulips in Netherlands. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Happy Spring Break if you’re in college!  Spring break is time to kick your feet back and relax. . .but not if you’re an Earth savior! The Earth doesn’t wait to be saved, and an Earth savior sure isn’t going to relax and start eating hamburgers on break. No; an Earth savior is always true to the principles of Earth-saving, even on break – but that doesn’t mean that there are other ways to let off a little steam.  Continue reading

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