A few years ago, I taught 12 at-risk youth how to make films on their own stories (took them through a life coaching process first) and then paired them up with 12 senior citizens so that they could learn how to tell another person's story. I called the project, "What Generation Gap?" and worked with The Surrey School Board and City of Surrey to bring it into our local community. The youth learned A LOT in the 4 week summer program, but I think the most valuable lesson that I personally I taught them, is what I would like to share with you today through this post.
The Sustainable Life App™'s entire purpose is to encourage, inform and inspire!
So many of us fill our feed with (pardon my language) crap. We probably follow celebrities who are full of botox, face covered with chalked-on cosmetics and who advertise for fast fashion and/or brands who are selling quantity over quality. And if you are like me and don't follow such accounts but for whatever reason they come up in your search feed along with a bunch of Beyonce performance videos (ugh stop exploiting my love of Beyonce's music INTERNET!), it can at times feel difficult to avoid it.
I have no magic formula for avoiding the crap and negative influences that surround us constantly. We have TV ads, radio/podcast ads, we go to the grocery store and we're exposed toproducts at every corner and general mind numbing "stuff" everywhere we go. The truth is that we can't change everything else and we can only really change ourselves when our "should" becomes a "must".
If you're reading this blog maybe your at the "should" phase. Or perhaps you've already incorporated a lot of what I'm about to share and you're living in a "must" place. Either way - own where you're at and I hope your journey is a splendid one.
Print the above chart and assess your life as you read the blog post below. OR get the blank of a piece of paper (maybe even the back of one that you were going to recycle to be TOTALLY eco friendly), and fold it into 8 squares.
"Most people's lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group." ~ Tony Robbins
I chose the above photo because we are so much more than just our immediate family members and our closest friends (although they make up a big part of who we are). We are also surrounded by colleagues, cousins, aquaintances, romantic partners, exercise group buddies, friends of friends and oh so much more.
Tony Robbins teaches that "proximity is power" - meaning, if you want to truly achieve a goal, you need to surround yourself with inspirational and motivational people who will help you get there. I am NOT saying ditch your closest friend though! Sure he may not have his life together but perhaps he happens to be the most hilarious person you know and he fills YOUR LIFE with laughter and joy. What I AM saying is don't let those in your circle bring you down. And who knows, maybe if you start down a path towards living a more sustainable and happier life, those around you might become inspired to do the same?
2. TV, MOVIES, VIDEOS (Video games can go here too)
"Sometimes I look around my living room and the most real thing in the room is the television. It's bright and vivid, and the rest o my life looks drab. So I turn the damn thing off. That does it every time. Get my life back." ~ Michael Crichton.
I am SO guilty of this one. I always call watching TV, movies and even commercials "research for work" because I am a content creator. I have worked as a lifestyle television producer/director for many years and now I am taking a large leap into all things digital - so I can totally justify it as research, right? Yes and no.
The truth is TV is a beautiful thing when we control it and it doesn't control us. When I was a kid I would stare at the TV constantly. I saw the evening news anchors and decided I wanted to do what they do. Then I would see cartoons and decided I wanted to make those types of stories for a living. THEN there were Bollywood films with all of the dancing around trees and gorgeous clothes... need I go on? TV leaves a large impression on our lives. When we were kids we would see the commercial for the coolest new toy or flashy fun local amusement park and we would pester our folks until we got to live what the television showed us. As adults... it's really not that different when it comes to trying to live a life we see on tv - home improvement shows, reality tv stars and how they dress/live, and then there's also trying to cook meals that we see on cooking shows OR being inspired by all the cooking we see and trying become home chefs oursleves. Anyone else feeling me here?
The scary thing for me is how many of these shows enter our subconscious mind and play with our emotions. What I didn't include in the list above BUT what is probably the largest setback is how the emotional issues that characters go through in shows and movies, end up effecting our own lives! Think about it, have you ever seen a movie or a TV show and found parallels in the characters life and your own? Now what about when you watch complicated movies, shows or video games where the parallels aren't at all obvious to your conscious mind but your subconscious picks it up and there's a ripple effect (could be positive or negative). Think on it and digest that however works best for you...
Either way it's worth printing the chart and writing down everything you watch (eyes + screen). You might even add more as you go about your week and come across new stuff (reading and watching the news counts too BTW).
3. MUSIC & PODCASTS
"Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul." ~ Plato
I am a student of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and I have learned that everyone learns in their own way. Some are feeling people (kinesthetic) and they learn by doing or going through certain emotions/experiencing in order to learn a lesson. Then there are visual folks who need to see/read in order totruly grasp a topic. And of course there are you auditory folks - and I adore you all oh so very much! Auditory folks are amazing listeners (for the most part) and they are more inclined to be the ones who feel most connected with this section.
The type of music we listen to has a HUGE impact on our life. If it isn't uplifting and making you want to jump around then what's the point (in my humble opinion) of listenign to the darn song? But I get it... we've all been through breakups and want to listen to John Legend or Beyonce or Buble sing our woes away. But there are some people (maybe your one) who's music taste does NOT reflect the kind of life they are trying to live. Think screamer music and intense profanity. I'll leave that there for you to digest as you may.
The same goes for podcasts - oh how I love them! I love listening to podcasts about investing, sustainability and also general life betterment/entrepreneurship type stuff. How about you? What kinds of podcasts do you listen to? Are you learning from them? Do they make your life better? Or perhaps I should say... are they preventing you from moving forward in anyway?
I have 2 cases I would like to share here... one gal pal and also a guy I used to date that I would love to use as examples (keeping them anonymous of course). My gal pal listens to podcasts about getting over heartache's from past relationships and also women gabbing about their dating experiences. It makes me cringe! It's one thing for a few of us gals to meet for lunch and to mention our dating lives and get our friends' perspectives... but COME ON! How can you expect to find love if all you're listening to is the bad stuff? Do you really think any of these podcasts that she's listening to share amazing date stories and the reality of what it takes to make a successful relationship work? The answer is no because I asked her and none of them were.
And then there was this guy I dated. I wanted to shake his head (playfully obviously) but he listened to podcasts about how guys get girls and the same funny dating/sharing but from a GUYS PERSPECTIVE. Both genders do it. And it's not just about dating... it's for all topics! If what you are listing to, isn't helping you get to where you want to be, why listen to it?
BTW... Check out the Sustainable Life Podcast if you haven't already. I interview inspiring individuals and we talk about topics relating to the 5 Factors for Sustainable Consumption™ which are the core values of our platform (Impact on Human Health, Environmental Impact, Respect for Human Rights, Respect for Animal Rights and Socio-Economic Advanage.
4. BOOKS, AUDIOBOOKS, MAGAZINES
"Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary" ~ Jim Rohn
Reading is such a sweet escape! How many of you have read Ekhart Tolle's books? Paulo Coelho? Autobiographies from some of the lovliest humans in the world? Maybe how-to books or something to do with self development or self love?
Or perhaps you prefer romance novels? Or thriller, horror, murder mystery type stuff? Do you boo boo. With reagrds to this all I want to share is that even what we read has an impact on us. Why save the steamy hot love making session for the book? Bring it into the bedroom and get the real life thing with your partner - communicate what you would like and live it! Same goes for magazines too - are you learning about new sciency-stuff or are you staring at yet another does he or doesn't he love you quiz? lol... ok maybe that last one no longer applies to our current day humans, but JUST in case... please stop taking those darn quizes!
5. SOCIAL MEDIA (TYPE + WHO YOU FOLLOW)
"Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology." ~ Brian Solis
I was a producer on a reality tv show not too long ago. The cast members all suffered from MANY mental disorders (bipolar disporder, body dismorphic disorder, anxiety, depression, obbsessive compulsive disorder, and more). These were all diagnosed individuals and not just me guessing. Our team had to deal with cast members breaking down crying and having panick attacks on set regularly. They were good people for the most part but also quite nasty at times and dare I say the epitomy of narcassism. I share this with you because these types of people who I have worked with (and it's MANY shows both infront and behind the camera) are people who social media calls "influencers" and these are the people who brands pay so they can influence on you. The truth about them is that they portray their lives as perfect - whats behind the camera sadly is very different and honestly quite disturbing.
Then there are some accounts that seem positive and have a HUGE amount of followers but that doesn't mean they're responsible. I was following an eco conscious account recently. I thought they were great and loved what they were sharing until one day the account shared a post which encouraged choking women during sex and (a woman wearing a shirt saying she preferred that over C02). I was appalled. The account belonged to a man. I intially wondered if the guy got hacked. I then decided to message him and ask about the post because there was no decription but just a link to where followers could buy the shirt. I am a trained journalist so naturally, I asked respectfully about the post and why he decided it was right for his account.
The guy shared with me that he was dating a woman who liked that and that he made the shirt to raise awareness about climate change. Needless to say he had A LOT of backlash from that post (he kept it on there and continued to repost the post a few times afterwards but I ultimately unfollowed him).
During my conversation with him, I exlained that perhaps he should share his perspective with the public and that I am not judging him for his beliefs but as an influencer it's important to consider the fact that there are many people who have been abused, raped and mollested for whom his post is considered inappropriate and triggering. He thanked me for asking him so nicely and trying to learn his perspective but he never shared his perpected in that post or any future post.
That example was so diheartening for me. In our world, we need to inspire men to not just get consent but also to be resectful. Sexual expression is beautiful (what they were doing is not my thing and never will be) but what we need to remember is that when one is in a positon of power or influence... social responsibility is essential.
I have friends who would probably disagree with me to be a devils advocate. I come from a journalistic background though, and I am also someone who values taking responsibility over ones actions and having integirty. Influencers don't go to school the way journalists do. They will sell you products making you think they're cool or eco friendly but probably won't go the extra mile to make sure the product is ethically made and good for you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I'm not saying all journalists are perfect either but I AM saying is that I wish this newer generation received an education before getting to become "influencers". It's a wish though you guys - unless government or these platforms step in to setup guidelines, this will continue and you'll be exposed to much more.
Whether it be Instagram, facebook, snapchat, tiktok, twitter, whatsapp or whatever else... use it carefully. Also remeber your privacy is compromised with a lot of these apps - they get access to your photo library on your phone, location, microphone and many other things. Remember to turn on access to your photos ONLY when you want to upload something and turn off access to your photos + microphone at all other times. Also... unfollow anyone who doesn't keep you felling encouraged, informed and inspired.
6. EXERCISE (WHAT YOU DO + WHERE)
"Exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind , your attitude and your mood." ~Unknown
I hope everyone reading this works out regularly. If you don't... put down your computer or phone and give me 20 jumping jacks! Go! Yeah! You rock!
Haha some of you might love the gym. I am NOT one of those people. Home yoga + dance videos, bike riding, walking the dog and dancing 4realz for this gal! Whatever it is that you do, make sure you enjoy it! Focus on your legs one day, arms another, then back, booty, abs, stretch and cardio! Brings some variety in there and NO MATTER WHAT make sure you LOVE IT!
If I DON'T do yoga... I am one messed-up chica. I have had romantic partners notice when I'm off and tell me that they think it's cuz I need yoga. haha!
If you don't have an exercise that you love to do... you WILL get out of shape and it WILL have a negative ripple effect on the rest of your life! Hard truth!
So FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE and enjoy it! If you need an excuse to walk outdoors everyday... GET A DOG! Haha maybe the dog will bring some joy into other parts of your life too (PSA - ONLY GET A DOG IF YOU CAN COMMIT TO IT 100%! And rescue one who needs a home - stay away from them breeders!)
7. FOOD & DRINK
"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver." ~Mahatma Gandhi
I came across the above image (I found this one on www.oganicbrando.com) or something like it on instagram one time. It really hit home for me. Let me tell you a short but fun story. It was week 5 or 6 of Covid-19 self isolation. Everyone was sharing photos online of the bread they baked. I tried and failed (I've done it before and used to be a sourdough starter queen but honestly I just didn't care to do it during covid), so I decided to support a local bakery. I felt like making myself a baguette sandwhich and I purchased a large baguette. While there I also got some tiramisu becuase the bakery owner is european and knows how to do it right. I baked cookies that week, maybe also had a meal with french fries on the side and slowly all of my unhealthy choices added up. I ate 70% healthy (my baguette was filled with yummy fresh veggies and such)... BUT becuase I stepped outside of my norm (even if just for a week), THE FOLLOWING WEEK I could see the effect of my choices on my bloated belly, arms and face (I shudder thinking about it).
I share this story with you because many of us are very healthy. We may not count calories or train for body building competitions but we eat well and exercise. Everything is great in moderation (who doesn't want to eat the tiramisu that the european bakery lady makes) but when we slip, it takes time to get back to where we need to be.
Take from this what you need and create what works best for you. I am now a practicing vegan. I say practicing because I am vegan 95% of the time. There are however days when I am not able to be because I'm allergic to most fruits and nuts in vegan foods or becuase I attend events where I can't expect more from a host than to give me a vegetarian option. My guess is it'll be a life long practice for me.
But if you eat meat, or eat junky food regularly - do you boo boo! Just try to educate yourself and think about how what you're eating is doing to you physically, mentally, emotionally and spitirually.
Do you know exactly what kinds of hormones are in the meat you're consuming? The toxins and metals in the fish? Or how about the inhumane mistreatment of animals in slaughter houses, dairy farms and even how "free range" doesn't mean pasture raised (and oh so many other terms created to trick us into thinking something is good when it's not entirely the truth).
Find what works for you and create your own life-long practice.
8. LEISURE ACTIVIES (HOBBIES & SOCIAL GATHERINGS)
"Everyone should have a deep-seated interest or hobby to enrich his mind, add zest to living, and perhaps, depending upon what it is, result in a service to his country." ~Dale Carnegie
What do you love to do? Do you have an activity you do that totally shuts out the world? Knitting, painting, bike riding, kayaking, making clay pots, playing a musical instrument, singing, dancing or something else perhaps?
I think having a hobby that you truly love and brings you joy is probably one of the sweetest things in life - what sustains us. I hope you've found yours and perhaps you have many! I too have many but just this past year I decided to go back to learning bharatnatyam dancing. It's a traditional indian dance connected to spiritual texts that I used to do when I was a tennager but dropped once post secondary + adulthood came into play. Now I am back at it. I'm in my early 30's and know it's never too late! Do you have anything you've always wanted to do? Make the time! Once you find what's right, I mpromise it'll bring you so much joy and serenity!
I should also mention social gatherings since it falls into play in this section too. Many of us let loose by going to pubs or clubs and that's lovely here and there, but I do want to stress a word of caution... loud music is great and so is dancing, but too much alcohol to the body is damaging. These places and activities generally include alcohol and sometimes also drugs.
Also let's go back to point #1... are the people who you are gathering with on the same wavelength as you? Do they have distructive habits or ways of thinking? See how it all comes full circle? lol.
Focus on your goals... if you had it all your way what would your dream life look like? Sound like? And feel like? Now surround yourself with people, things and activities that will help get you there. And remember to enjoy and live present moment - life is a journey. Goals are amazing but we shouldn't be living in the future or the past - take it day by day.
Also a fun tool to consume more sustainably (shopping, dining out + general lifestyle experiences like party venues, eco travel, etc.) is the Sustainable Life App. It's our free app available on both Apple and Android. Download it today! Also be sure to follow us on social media! Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are our main portals of play.
If you know of any sustainable businesses that you feel should be on the app, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about them! Also, if you own a sustainable business or know of someone who does, tell them about the app and let them know that with coupon code GRATITUDE-VIP (all caps) they can join the app for free indefintely! We are only offering this coupon code to the first 100,000 companies that join our app! After we reach 100,000 - every new business thereafter will have to pay to join. To feature your business today visit www.sustainablelifeapp.com click > Feature Your Business and select the category you want to be featured in. Easy peasy!
Love and light to you all!