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Life Lessons Of Cyclone Yasi
February 2, 2011
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“Get out now. Don’t bother to pack your bags. Just gather your family and leave”.

- Queensland Premier Anna Bligh to residents in low-lying parts of north Queensland  at 12.39pm today.

cyclone yasi queensland

If last month’s flooding wasn’t enough to test the Queensland spirit, our fellow statesmen and women up north are now battening down the hatches, as the worst cyclone in generations bears down on the coastline.

I’ve just been watching the news, which is running continuous updates of ever increasing wind speeds, and tracking movement of Cyclone ‘Yasi’ as it appraoaches at a steady 30km/hour towards the towns of Innisfail and Cairns.

Patients from the Cairns hospital have been evacuated to Brisbane and those who have remained in their homes can do no more now than to somberly await Yasi which is tipped to hit at around 10pm tonight. News articles tell residents ‘Not to panic if their roof lifts off’ (easier said than done!!) and how to prepare a ‘safe room’. It seems so surreal.

cyclone yasi

Picture above: patients from the Cairns hospital have been flown out already, including the seriously ill, patients in intensive care and pregnant woman. Many of them will no doubt be without their families and be feeling terribly scared.

As I look out my window and see the sun cheerily shining down on Brisbane city, just a few hours south of the cyclone’s path, it’s hard to conceive what destruction lies ahead, and what those who have stayed behind must be thinking and feeling.

What Do Natural Disasters ‘Mean‘?

How can we make sense of Cyclone Yasi, especially when our state is only just beginning to get back on its feet after the recent devastation of the floods? It’s hard to believe Queensland is going to be hit with the full force of mother nature again – and so soon!

However, there was something that I took from the recent floods (and it’s an observation that no doubt many others will be making in the countdown to Yasi). When something as terrible as a natural disaster happens occurs, people act in one of two ways: Either they view the world as a terrible, vindictive place where the innocent suffer and disaster is only ever just around the corner— or they view the experience as an opportunity to demonstrate and embody love.  

satellite photo cyclone yasi

Natural disasters hold within them the gift of helping us realise that we’re all in the experience of life together and it’s one time that it’s easy to see that when one person suffers we all feel the reverberations of their pain. It’s a time when status, money, appearances and other things we deem important fall away and become inconsequential. The structures that we use to make sense of the world and run our societies become redundant. Existing is all that matters.

Becoming Aware (Sometimes In Painful Ways) Of Our Shared Humanity.

Disasters of human making, like wars, tend to see us taking sides and losing touch with our compassion. When idealism, religion or money is involved, our hearts and minds become blinded by judgment, fear and prejudice.

When nature is the cause of a disaster, we face our fragile humanity front on. Self-absorption and innate narcissism make room for seeing all life as precious and feeling other people’s pain as if it were our own. When we cannot find a ‘reason’ for the destruction – when human hands aren’t behind the indescriminate striking down - we automatically become more compassionate.

Nature teaches us many lessons – perhaps the most important might be this: we don’t (and shouldn’t) need a ‘reason’ to open ours hearts, love, give and show compassion to one other.

hands holding globe

Natural disasters help us feel united – we become one country, one race, one people. Hopefully after Yasi, nature will have had enough of teaching us life lessons for a while.

A big hug to my friends Mikey and Max up north. I’m thinking of you both!! xxx

Happy Happy
What The 13th Star Sign REALLY Tells Us About Our Characters
January 28, 2011
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Those people with a tattoo of their star sign (myself included) recently found themselves very seriously rethinking their ink, thanks to a mysterious 13th sign – Ophiuchus – that’s managed to squeeze its way into the zodiac and cause a major stir in the press.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I consult my astrological chart before getting a haircut, applying for a job or taking a trip overseas, however I must admit, I’ve always given a certain degree of credence to the personality descriptions of the zodiac. There’s just too many uncanny similarities between my preferences, habits and character and those assigned to Sagittarius for it to be plain old ‘coincidence’. Or so I thought anyway, until Ophiuchus appeared on the scene brandishing a giant snake.

13th Star Sign

As I looked deeper into the issue, it turns out that it’s not all as melodramatic as many people are making it. Essentially, tropical astrology (which is the system predominantly practiced in the West) isn’t affected by the wobble in the earth’s axis, hence star signs as we know them stay the same (*abandons Google search for tattoo removalists*).

It’s only in Vedic astrology (practiced mostly in the East) that the zodiac is fixed to constellations and changes over time. So, unless you subscribe to the Vedic system Ophiuchus is no more problematic than an annoying colleague you can block out with headphones and some strategically placed box files. Go forth and read your newspaper horoscopes in peace!

What the 13th Star Sign REALLY tells us about ourselves…

But on a more serious note, this whole 13th star sign thing got me thinking about the labels and various methods we use to define and decide who we think we are.

We all have ‘a story’ about ourselves that we’ve constructed over the years. Some of it we’ve derived from what others tell us about who we are. Other things we’ve determined on our own. Often, when we’re young, we don’t have the reasoning capacity of our adult selves and readily accept what others tell us about ourselves as truth.

Many adults don’t think carefully enough about the way they talk to children, nor do they consider the impact their careless, reactive words can have. It’s likely that someone, be it a teacher, parent, or relative, said something to you at some point in your childhood, that has long been a part of your psyche – playing a role, often subconsciously, in the story you tell yourself about your life.

story telling

Think about things like, ‘Be brave. Big boys don’t cry,’ or ‘Do your homework or you’ll never amount to anything’, or, ‘Keep on that way and you’ll have no friends’. Such well meaning but thoughtless throwaway comments can stay with someone long into their adult life, replaying themselves as a critical voice in your head that snipes, belittles and fills your mind with ‘shoulds’.

“I should be brave. I shouldn’t acknowledge my feelings. I shouldn’t let this affect me. I should be stronger.”

Or, “I should work harder or I’ll never be a success. I should achieve as much as everyone else and earn as much as the people around me. I should have money and ‘things’ or I’m nothing.”

And finally, “I should have lots of friends. I should be popular. If I’m not popular it means there’s something wrong with me.”

You Are Not Your ‘Story’

Creating a ‘story’ about who you are means defining yourself by standards, labels and roles. When really, as a unique human being with immeasurable depth in your soul, you are none of those things. You are not your job, your relationships or your bank balance.

That’s why you often see people falter and fall into deep despair when they lose their job, their partner or their assets. They defined who they were by those things and without them are lost – they don’t know who they are anymore.

That’s why it’s good to discover who you REALLY are by becoming self aware. There are many ways to do this, but quiet, self analysis in solitude is a great start. It’s not a process you can undertake by reading books and acquiring knowledge. Instead, awareness is an experience, not a quantifiable, right or wrong definable destination – it’s a journey.

Think about the current ‘story’ you tell yourself….

I always come last.

I never get what I want.

No-one loves me.

I’m a failure.

What If You Dropped Your ‘Story’?

What if you refused to see the world through the lens that your story creates? Would you be free from some of the limitations and restrictions you’re placing on yourself? And is your story even really true? (If you answered yes, who says so?)

And finally, are you hanging on to your story for a reason? Does it benefit you to keep telling the world that ‘this is my story and this is who I am’ – pity me, love me, be scared of me, include me, follow me, believe me – or whatever payoff you’re receiving from your story?

Once you realise that your story is just that – a story – you’re free to create a different reality for your life. One that is empowered and positive.

So, Leo Sagittarius or Ophiuchus, what are you telling yourself about the way you are – what labels are you subscribing to – and are they in your best interests?

Happy Happy
A Poem For Those Who Feel Low
January 17, 2011
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Brisbane City Jan 2011 - My office building is on the left (the steps where people are standing).

It’s no ordinary Monday for me. I’m at home, when I should be at work (and before the more cynical of you say anything, no, I’m not ‘chucking a sickie – or, for the UK readers, ‘bunking off”) ;)

I’m at home because my office building is still inaccessible due to flooding.

Today, I thought of those Queenslanders who would be returning to work on buses and trains – and those other less fortunate people in towns like Grantham, many of whom wouldn’t have work places to return to. People, just like you and me, who would desperately be trying to rebuild their lives, their communities and their homes.

I thought of how quickly life will return to normal for some and how for many others, life is now an almost unrecognisable wasteland. It seems so unfair and so very, very sad.

If you haven’t been seriously affected by the QLD floods, it will be easy to continue on with life, and so you should – we need all those who are able, to keep going to work, supporting those in need and providing a ray of hope for those who have all but lost it.

In the immediate aftermath, for those of us unscathed by the flood water, it’s easy to be acutely aware of how lucky we are. I hope we don’t let this tragedy’s lessons in gratitude become lost over time. Instead, in the coming weeks and months, when life inevitably rubs you up the wrong way, remember this post:

Should you find it hard to get to sleep tonight;

Just remember the homeless family who has no bed to lie in.

 

 

Should you find yourself stuck in traffic; don’t despair.

There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard of privilege.


Should you have a bad day at work;

Think of the man who has been out of work for the last three months.


Should you despair over a relationship gone bad;

Think of the person who has never known what it’s like to love and be loved in return.


Should you grieve the passing of another weekend;

Think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week, for $15.00 just to feed her family.

Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance;

Think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk?


Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror;

Think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.

Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering; what is life all about, what is my purpose?

Be thankful.
There are those who didn’t live long enough to get the opportunity.


Should you find yourself the victim of other people’s bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities;
Remember, things could be worse. You could be them!!!
Live each day to the fullest and always be thankful for the things you have……
Don’t ever take your friends, your family, or your health for granted.
They are precious gifts.

Author Unknown

If you’d like to donate to those who have been affected by the QLD Floods, you can here:

http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html

Note: this is the OFFICIAL Government donation page – if you want to donate, donate here, as you can be sure your funds will get to flood victims. As at 8 pm, 16 January 2011, $84,329,927 has been raised. Every $20 donation makes a difference!

Volunteer your time

The recovery efforts for the Queensland floods will be a slow and complex process, with volunteers required for weeks and months to come. Volunteering Qld maintains continual contact with key disaster management agencies and once you register, they will contact you as new opportunities to help become available.

Volunteer to help by clicking here or call 1800 994 100.

Feeling Crappy? Happy Happy
The Power Of Perspective In Beating Depression
January 11, 2011
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There are flash flood warnings for the city of Brisbane where I live and worringly, my lovely river-side suburb in particular, is tipped to be one of those affected most by the rising river waters and excess releases from our state dam (the contents of which is equal to the volume of water in Sydney Harbour).

 

There’s nothing like a critical situation to give you the blessing of perspective. What is really important suddenly becomes crystal clear. Food. Clean water. Supplies. And – where’s the cat!?

As I write this from the 29th floor of my office building in the city, I can see the rain clouds slowly enveloping the buildings around me in an ominous fog of grey and white. Buildings four streets away that were visible half an hour ago have now disappeared into the mist and the rain is clearly asserting its resolve to set in. It’s not heavy – just persistent – and droplets urged on by gravity, are racing down the windows. I’m really hoping the predictions don’t come fruition – I don’t know where my cat is.!

Like me, you probably choose not to subscribe to a fear-factory mentality. After all, quite often, the worst-case scenario never happens and you’ve stressed yourself unnecessarily. Sometimes though, as the old adage says – it’s better to be safe, than sorry.

It’s amazing how efficient you become when the important things in life are at risk. Safety, sustenance and those things/people precious to you become your sole focus. There’s no longer any room in your mind for thoughts that do not align with your immediate needs. It’s a real lesson in how much of our mental space is consumed with flabby, inconsequential matters that ultimately are at the detriment of our happiness.

Receiving a sharp shift in focus was how my own depression was ‘cured’ and today’s flood warnings have been a reminder that most of the thoughts we have don’t matter. Only the important things in life do.

Happy Happy
Why I’m Anti-’New Year, New You’ Articles…
January 5, 2011
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Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2011 is treating you fantastically so far.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been thinking long and hard about the year that’s just been, as well as the year ahead, including what you want to achieve and what you’d like to start doing, or stop doing. It got me thinking – maybe I’ve been going about this whole ‘resolution’ thing wrong…

While I think that without positive change, we can’t evolve  and grow to experience the fullness of what we can become, I also would like to propose something very daring, just for the start of your year, that will probably go against every ‘New Year, New You’ article on resolutions you’ll be reading and all the talk of starting or quitting habits your friends, family and colleagues will be engaging in. It might even go against your will to banish those few extra christmas turkey and pudding produced kilos you’re carrying.

Here it is: For once, don’t try to change anything.girl on swing

So often we get caught up in the quest for bigger, better, best that we never get to experience the peace that just being content with where we are can bring. If anything, this time of year is when we put ourselves under the most pressure to be something other than just what we are and who we are, in the present moment.

Imagine what might change if you tried accepting things as they are and chose gratitude for what you have, rather than beginning your year with an attitude of dissatisfaction that says what you have and who you are is not good enough?

Think of all the extra pressures you’re under at this time of year: you’re just returning to work after coming off holidays, you’re probably pretty light in the wallet and slightly heavier on the scales, your regular fitness regime might have been thrown off kilter by the sleep-ins and extra indulgences of the Christmas break and you’ll most likely have spent New Years eve talking about all the things you’re going to achieve this year, all the things you’re going to change, all the things that aren’t right in your life and all the new and better things you’re going to be become. Subconcsiously you start January thinking, ‘gotta get going, gotta change, now, now, now!’.

But hang on. What about doing something counter-intuitive like slowing down and being ‘ok’ with what is, just for a week or two.

Stop the pursuit for the flattest tummy.

Forget images of the biggest biceps.

Ease up in the race to a million dollars.

Don’t berate yourself for ‘bad’ habits.

Refuse to compare yourself to other people.

Instead be mindful and choose contentment with where you are.

‘Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.’ ~Lao Tzu

If you have two eyes that can see, you can be thankful for the ability to see the various shades of green in the foliage on trees, the smiles on other people’s faces, the words on the page of brilliant books, the ability to watch great movies and watch the scenery go by on long drives.

If you have ears that hear you can appreciate beautiful music, the relaxing sound of the ocean waves or a friend’s voice down the phone line.

If you have legs that function you can walk barefoot on the grass, on the sand, through a national park or up a mountain and experience something that those who can’t walk, are not able to.fresh coffee

You have the ability to feel silk, a cool breeze on a hot summer day, smell a flower, fresh coffee, a home cooked meal, taste red wine, a strawberry, chilli or chocolate.

These are miracles in themselves, yet we take them for granted, forgetting that there are so many reasons why where you are now, is a great place to be.

When you find contentment where you are, the things you want to change become less significant, you feel less stress and you’re able to enjoy the day without feeling like you need to be somewhere else or somewhere better and finally, you’ll just be ‘in’ your life. You stop spending money on things you thing will supposedly improve your life and stop the striving fuelled by dissatisfaction. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel that sense of contentment?

And – if you do still want to move ahead, make positive changes and create a picture of your life that’s more in line with who you are when you’re in a state of being ‘present’, starting your year in a more contented way will definitely put you in a frame of mind that makes gentle changes easier to introduce and keep up in the long run. Then you can start doing things because you love them, not because you think they will make you ‘better’.

Experience contentment with what you have and where you are – just try it for two weeks – you might be surprised at what you find.

Feeling Crappy? Happy Happy
Who’s To Blame? Boral? Gold Coast City Council? The Koalas? Or YOU?
December 21, 2010
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Q. A construction materials manufacturer is currently planning to develop lush natural, Gold Coast bushland into a quarry. They say that the resident koalas and wildlife will be better off with a quarry established. Regardless of whether or not you think the corporate giant is talking out of its backside, answer this: Who’s to blame for the quarry?

Is it:

A. The developer

B. The council

C. The opposing local residents

D. All of the above

E. The koalas

Koala
Creative Commons License photo credit: Paul J. Morris

If you answered D – congratulations! you’d be right.

(If you answered E – I’ve got nothing…you’re clearly on crack and probably should be worrying about that instead of reading a blog post about a quarry. ;) )

A Real Situation

Anyway – the situation outlined above isn’t just some hypothetical question, it’s actually happening right now on the Gold Coast in Queensland, just minutes from where my Mum lives.

To say the local community (my Mum included) is up in arms would be an understatement. In fact, we were discussing it on the weekend and in-between formulating new expletives to describe the evils of councils and greedy corporations, an idea popped into my head. Granted, it wasn’t an idea I was too willing to accept, nor one that I thought my fellow conversationalists would be eager to hear.

Still, never one to shy away from a heated debate, I threw it out there anyway.

It was ALL of our faults, I ventured.

(Stick with me and you’ll soon see how this relates to overcoming negative thoughts/emotions.)

Yep, that’s right – although none of the local residents, the well-meaning environmental groups, myself or my Mum wanted the quarry (especially when fuzzy little koalas were at risk), we’d all unwittingly played a part in the fact it was now being proposed.

How Were We Part Of The Problem?

Well, rewind three years to when I was renovating my kitchen – the dark cupboards and tiles were getting me down and I wanted something newer and ‘nicer’. Back then, I distinctly remember requiring grout for the tiling. I also remember needing plastering material when my dog chewed a hole in the kitchen plasterboard shortly after. Funny how owning a dog can suddenly increase your DIY skills exponentially.

As for my Mum – she’d recently moved into a new home in a ‘greenbelt’ bordered estate. Several months earlier, that same house had certainly needed cement for its foundations and construction.

Then there’s the environmental groups – when they’re not on rubber dinghy’s chasing whaling boats, you’ll find that just like you and me, they go home to brick and tile abodes too (and as much as I’m sure they wouldn’t object to it, I highly doubt that it’s cow dung – and not cement-laden bricks -  holding their roofs up).

Of course that leaves us with the Council – average people like you and me who are just trying to get a job done. Part of that job is to encourage more people to move to the Gold Coast to grow the area and build the economy for the benefit of ALL residents. The cement for all those new homes has to come from somewhere.

We Don’t Want It, But Our Needs Have Created A Demand For It…

We need the products of the quarry for the standards of living we demand. It’s as simple as that.

While we all want to blame Boral, the reality is, our lifestyle of ever increasing consumption requires more and more from the earth – yet, none of us wants to accept responsibility for it.

Think of how our consumptive lives demand more than ever from our environment… We all need oil for the many types of plastic products we use, from iPods to car tyres. We need more trees to be cut down so that the main ingredient in our spaghetti bolognaise has somewhere to graze. What’s more, we’re constantly encroaching on bushland in order to house our ever increasing population.

We’re all responsible for the drain on the earth’s resources, but soon forget that when something terrible happens in ‘our own backyard’, or when something awful like the destruction of natural fauna habitat gets our attention.

Far from condoning the building of the quarry I’m suggesting that it’s helpful to look a little further than the ‘evil corporations’ and recognise why they even exist in the first place: Demand. Without ongoing demand for products from the quarry, it wouldn’t be worth Boral’s time to spend millions on it. No business operates for fun. Businesses operate for profit. Without demand there is no profit.

If I didn’t want a new kitchen just because it would look nicer, if we didn’t want new homes just because can afford them, new quarries would have no reason for being. Sadly, with the rate of our consumption showing no signs of slowing, quarries like the one at Tallebudgeera continue to make news and are having to be built closer and closer to residential areas (and on top of koala habitat).

Forget About The Blame Game

So, before we look for someone else to blame, we might first look at how we can take actions to reduce the problem – not just now, but in the long term. THAT’S empowered, enlightened action and action that WILL change the world – even if it’s bit by bit, one person and one quarry at the time.

It’s insanity to fight a problem you’re contributing to. Instead, become part of the solution and look at how you can help others do the same.

Bringing It All Back Home

So – how does this relate to managing depression, negative thoughts and unpleasant mind states?

Well, all this quarry business made me think about how we so often ‘blame’ undesirable feelings/moods/thoughts on something else. It’s our job, our partner, our finances, our imperfect bodies, our neighbours, our government and anything else other than US that’s responsible for our low mood. If only these things would change, do what we want or go away altogether, we’d be able to be happy.

However, when you look inside yourself and put your hand on your heart, can you honestly say that playing the blame game is the best solution? OR – Is there some degree of responsibility YOU can take for how you’ve been dealing with life so far?

If you can, congratulate yourself for getting on the path to a happier life, because it’s only when you recognise that you share responsibility for everything that happens in your life (if only to the degree that you have a variety of options when interpreting events and perceiving situations), then and only then can you do something to improve your reality.

Happy Happy
Easy Meditation For (VERY) Busy People
December 14, 2010
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For some people, the prospect of sitting down to meditate is about as inspiring as attacking a mountain of housework, scheduling that dental check or choosing salad for dinner over tacos… you know you should and you know it’s good for you, but when it comes time to get stuck in, any other option suddenly seem so much more attractive.

Personally, I’m not a full on, saffron robe-wearing, “omm”-changing meditating guru. I should meditate more. We all should. But then again, we should also probably keep tax receipts, move furniture aside rather than just vaccing around it and not leave wet towels on the bed. But with modern life’s ever-growing list of commitments to take care of, one more ‘should’ and we could very well end up ‘should’ing all over ourselves. Not a good look.

I’m all for new, smarter ways to do more in less time and have recently been paying attention (quite literally) to the concept of mindfulness - specifically, how to use it while ‘on the go’ in our daily lives. More awareness, minus unecessary time drain = Bonus!

The Non-Meditator’s Method For Meditating

As mentioned, mindfulness is a great way for you to get some of the benefits of meditation, without having to set aside an extra 30 minutes in your already bursting-at-the-seams schedule. You can pretty much practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime and it’s a great technique if you know you’d benefit from developing a calmer mind and more centered presence in your life, but either have no idea what meditation is or where to begin.

2009_0908Birthday-wcw0048
Creative Commons License photo credit: _william

Popular misconceptions about what meditation entails might also have turned you off the idea to date. For some, the word alone conjures visions of twisting yourself up like a pretzel on a yoga mat, amongst a group of similarly-contorted sweaty hippies, choking on clouds of incense. The reality is, bringing the calm focus of meditation into your daily life is really achievable –  and no, you don’t have to go all patchouli on yourself to enjoy the benefits. Instead, you can start with something as simple and accessible as practicing mindfulness.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness originated in the east, where it plays a central role in Buddhist meditation teachings  – so much so, it’s believed that when practiced correctly, mindfulness is an integral part of becoming enlightened. While some ancient text buffs argue that the Buddha’s description of mindfulness or ‘sati’ differs quite substantially from the modern psychological approach, harping on about semantics is not as consequential as trying out mindfulness for yourself and seeing what it can do for you.

So – from the teachings of Buddha to the psychologists’ couch, mindfulness has now found a place in the modern world, treating conditions like anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders, depression and addictions.

Ok – But What IS It Exactly & How Do I Do It?

The experience of mindfulness is one of those things that’s hard to put into exact words – it’s only by practicing it yourself, that you’ll discover your own truth. However, to give you some pointers, mindfulness can be described as a calm awareness (or observation if you like) of your body, its functions, movements and state.

It has also been described as a nonjudgmental, awareness of thoughts, feelings and senstations (which essentially means that it’s the experience of thoughts/feelings etc. popping into your head and you just being aware of them, acknowledging them and accepting them as they are).

Thoughts (70th). The student of Medical institute during session.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Ion Chibzii

Personally, I experience it as noticing whatever thoughts/emotions my brain is spitting out at any one point in time – without becoming engaged or entangled in them. So, for example, if you were feeling sad, you would notice the feeling, without trying to push it away or distract yourself from the experience of it. You might make a point of noticing it by saying to yourself, ‘there are feelings of sadness there right now’ or, ‘my mind just had a thought about a sad thing’. Mindfulness helps you distance yourself from your thoughts so that you don’t identify with them so much and greatly diminishes the intensity of emotions attached to them. It’s really liberating.

In short, mindfulness asks you to pay attention to the present moment and what it brings, with absolute, unwavering nonjudgmentalism. So, if you ever feel like your thoughts run away with you and snowball into a big messy knot of upsetting emotions, mindfulness is definitely something you should have a shot at.

The Benefits Of MindfulnessNo Mind 2010-055

Don’t worry – mindfulness isn’t all ‘woo-woo’ airy-fairy feel-goodery (Yes, I totally just made that last word up). Many scientific studies have been undertaken that have proven the practice of mindfulness can reduce negative emotional states (for example, stress or depression), boost the immune system, increase happiness and even improve academic performance (sorry boys, female scholars received the greatest benefits). You can investigate this kind of empirical evidence in greater detail here.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ängsbacka

How To Be Mindful

So, you’ve heard the theory, maybe followed the link and read some evidence about how it works and now want to get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how to use mindfulness in your day to day. Here goes…

Focus on The NOW

Whether you’re eating a crunchy salad, going for your morning jog or walk, mindfulness is about coMmm...saladncentrating solely on the task at hand. Sounds simple? Give it a shot. Rather than wolfing down your food at your desk or in front of Neighbours, sit without distractions and focus completely on each bite. Identify the textures, notice the different tastes and temperatures.
Creative Commons License photo credit: jeffreyw

Chew for as long as possible before swallowing and appreciate every bite. Look at the colours of your food and breathe in the aromas deeply. Allow thoughts of being present with your food (and these thoughts only) to fill your mind – forget about the project you have to complete by next Tuesday.

When you exercise, focus on the movement of your body – how each joint moves, how the wind feels on your face, how your heart beats and your lungs expand. Be mindful and in the moment with your movement.

Other ways to practice mindfulness might be to focus on the intake and exhale of your breath as you sit on the bus, just noticing it and not engaging in any thoughts that might arise. If you find that you become distracted with pesky thoughts about whether or not you turned off the iron, just return your focus to your breath and how cooling it feels on the way in and the warmth you feel in your nostrils on the exhale. Notice everything you can about your in and out breath, without judging any part of it. Just be with your breath in the moment. This exercise in itself is incredibly centering and relaxing.

Delle cose semplici.
Creative Commons License photo credit: piermario

Choose Cues To Inspire Mindfulness

At first, remembering to be mindful can be difficult. That’s not surprising given most of us have lived our lives identifying with and attempting to modify the psychological content of any given moment. Gently changing a state of consciousness doesn’t happen overnight and besides, you don’t need to be mindful 24 hours a day to benefit. Instead, choose five minutes here or there to practice mindfulness. An easy way to do this is to earmark an activity you’ll undertake mindfully, on a regular basis. Alternatively you can select an external, environmental ‘cue’ which will remind you to be mindful.

So, your mindful activity might be the washing up or taking a shower. Likewise, your ‘cue’ might be changing traffic lights, the start of a new hour or crossing the threshold of a door. You might use your ‘cues’ to bring a minute of mindful breathing into your day, wherein you just notice thoughts as they arise, pay attention to the sensations of the moment and when your mind wanders, bring it back to the here and now.

Having these cues helps you integrate mindfulness into your day to day so that it becomes more of a habit than a chore – best of all, you don’t need to set aside time to fit it into your routine, you just do it as you go.

Practice Mindful Walking

Another great way to practice mindfulness during the course of your day is to engage in ‘mindful walking’. This means that whenever you walk, you simply focus solely on the sensations that arise. Focus on the rise and fall of your feet as they lift and plant, the curl of your toes as they help to steady your foot, the sensation of the closeness of your shoes, along with the feeling of warmth as the sun shines on your face and the breeze as it blows through your hair. Each of these things can be focused on individually to bring you back to the moment – back to where you are and back to the beauty of just ‘be-ing’.

The three monks
Creative Commons License photo credit: superUbO

What Does Mindfulness ‘Feel’ Like?

Everyone derives different benefits from their practice of mindfulness, so I can really only report on my own findings in terms of what you could expect to experience. Personally I found that when I became more mindful, I stopped identifying so much with everything  my brain ‘spat out’. Suddenly, I didn’t have to engage with every single, random little thought my brain created – instead, I could just acknowledge it and let it go. It was a new, liberating experience and I felt a lot less stressed. ReflectionsYou sort of notice a quiet calm take over your moments of mindfulness, which is really comforting – and in some ways, you start to take yourself and your thoughts far less seriously. (And let’s face it, who can’t do with a decent dose of that?)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Johan Brook

Moments Of Mindfulness All Add Up

You can start on your ‘mindfulness journey’ simply by including a few of these exercises into your daily routine – either when you realize you have a few spare moments, or when you’re feeling frazzled. If you do them for 5 mins a pop, either on the bus on the way to work, waiting in line to be served at lunch, when someone is late for their meeting or while you’re in an elevator, all your moments of ‘being present’ will add up. Who knows, if you take every opportunity that presents itself, you might end up being mindful, present and peaceful for up to 30mins a day!

I hope you have fun with these mindfulness techniques and if you have any of your own, please share them in the comments section below. (Also – for the more die-hard, sit down, pretzel-yourself-up meditation fans looking for new ways to jazz up your normal routine, I have a post coming especially for you, VERY soon, so stay tuned!)

Happy Happy
What To Do When The Going Gets Tough…
December 9, 2010
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A serendipitous email hit my inbox this morning, on the topic of ‘hanging in there’. It was actually an email newsletter for entrepreneurs and the main article was impressing the point that if you’re not doing something you absolutely LOVE (either in business or in life), it’s almost impossible to get through the tough times that will inevitably arise.

You’ve no doubt had your own ‘tough times’ at various points throughout life, be it with work, relationships or finances. Whatever the situation, somehow, we always seem to come out the other side - usually a little bruised, battered and worse for wear, but if we just focus on putting one foot in front of  the other, eventually we do get through.

Sometimes however, in the midst of challenging circumstances, it can feel like our problems will get the better of us, particularly if we don’t have a range of coping mechanisms to ride the tough times out. Because of this, I thought I’d do a little ol’ bloggy wog about a technique I’ve used recently to pull myself through some ‘tough times’ (namely tech issue after tech issue with this blog – made even more trying since I.T. has never been my forte and I was determined to do everything myself). On top of the technical challenges, there were then the psychological mountains of exhaustion, frustration and diminished drive to climb. Before long I was starting to have thoughts like:

“What’s the point even going through with this if I’m feeling so ‘blah’ about it? I should definitely be feeling more passionate about this….”

And the negative thoughts snowballed till I was questioning…

“Is this the right thing for me?! Or am I just wasting my time and making a big mistake?”

I bemoaned my low point to a friend (who I affectionally call ‘The Voice Of Reason’) and in their characteristic gentle wisdom they said, “Keep going, I’m proud of you. The end part is always the hardest bit”. Those few simple words really encouraged me and helped me flick a mental birdie to the insidious thoughts I’d really been allowing to do a number on me.

It’s Different When The Shoe’s On The Other Foot

The annoying thing is, I’m great at coming up with ideas for other people to get them motivated and excited about their projects – but when it comes to cheering myself on, focusing on all the reasons why it WILL happen and getting my positivity motor running, I sometimes feel like the ‘tough times’ can very quickly drain my gas tank.

Exhausted hiker
Creative Commons License photo credit: ☺ Lee J Haywood

When my friend gave me those few words of encouragement and the reassurance that the ‘end part was always the hardest’, it gave me the juice to go the final miles and get the project up and running.

It also reminded of a quote by Isadore Sharp, Founder of the Four Seasons Hotel chain, who said, “If someone had told me ‘Look, you’re going to start today and spend the next five years wasting your time trying to get this thing started’, I would have said, ‘I can’t do that’. But you never think about what it’s going to take of you. Think: I’ve got it now.”

So what can you do when the ‘tough times’ hit, to spur you on?

Getting The Energy To Make It To The Finish Line

I’m hugely passionate about this site because it combines everything that I love most in life. I know without a doubt, my passion is the only thing that stopped me from throwing in the towel at the millionth technological problem and the main reason I put in the hours I do, outside of my full time job. I suppose when you really love something, you don’t give up. Be it a relationship, a business, a cause or a goal. You really do have to be completely in love with what you’re doing if you expect to be able to access the inner reserves that will help you make it past your sticking points.

The email I received this morning drove home the importance of passion, not only in the pursuit of our goals, but also in our lives - and reminded me that even when the end is in sight, our hardest work may yet still be ahead of us. Purely just being aware of the fact those ‘final challenges’ (if and when they arise) will try every ounce of energy and passion we’ve got – can help us tackle the tough times, because they won’t seem so much like a bolt from the blue.

Of course, there are other strategies, besides mental preparedness you can employ to make sure the tough times don’t stop you in your tracks completely. I’d like to share one of my favourites with you…

Take A ‘Creative Vacation’

Yep – you read that right! Take a holiday!

Ahhh....heaven. My favourite place to take a vacation - The Byron at Byron Resort. If only ALL vacations could be taken here.

When you’ve been plugging away at a goal for an extended period, it’s silly to think you can just ‘go and go and go’ indefinitely. You’re not invincible. Instead, it’s vital that you recharge your batteries so that you’re able to come back and finish the final leg of your endeavour refreshed. A great way to hit your ‘reset’ button, is to go on a creative vacation. In a way, taking time off is actually prioritising your goal, because without strategically placed rests in your plan, you can lose vital momentum.

What Is A Creative Vacation?

A creative vacation is when you take a break from the work you’ve been doing and spend some time on a creative project or pursuit. I came up with this idea when I realised that working on my blog to get it up and running had lost some of the appeal and I was low in enthusiasm. When I thought about it, I realised there was a very important part of the project that had been missing – all the tech and left brain stuff had left me feeling really creatively unexpressed and next to red wine, being creative is what really gets me jazzed. So I decided to take a night off from the blog and go on a ‘creative vacation’, to do something to express my creativity in a non-deadline driven and pressure-free way.

A creative vacation might include indulging in some:

Doodling
Drawing
Buying and arranging flowers
Sewing
Painting
Taking some photos
Scrapbooking
Re-arranging your loungeroom/bedroom
Sketching what your ideal house might look like
Collage
Good old fashioned finger painting (well, why not?)
Put your own spin on a traditional cake or cook a ‘creative’ stir fry for friends or a loved one
For the eccentrics: Do something pointlessly fun and kooky - like making a hat for your cat/dog – you could even make an origami one. Or if you’re so inclined, whip one up on the sewing machine. Flat cap, fedora, top hat or beret, see how creative you can get with the decorating of it! I once went on a creative vacation by making a mini wig for my cat, styling it and taking pics of it. True! Look:


Sculpt something out of the air-drying clay you can buy at craft stores

Make some jewellery

Try a mosaic craft project
For the boys: Create your own Napoleon Dynamite style dance routine – yeah! (of course girls can dance up their own Beyonce-style storm).

For the girls: grab some bubbles, get a girlfriend over and give her a makeover.

For the boys: make a spice rack! (so retro it’s cool). What better way to get the testosterone pumping and the creativity flowing than to whip out the old tool belt? What’s more, with Christmas on the way, you’ll have the perfect gift for any annoying relatives! Hehee!

For the girls: I used to like trying out different styles of makeup as a teenager as a ‘creative break’ from studying. If you usually wear the same makeup all the time, try something different – a smoky eye, experiment with colours you don’t normally wear, or take a more dramatic lip colour for a test drive. :)

Find Something Small To Be Positive About

While I was taking a creative vacation from the tech issues of my blog, I focused on the good parts of where I was, rather than the mountain of I.T. problems I was yet to solve. As I scrapbooked away, I realised that I really MUST be passionate about the blog, because I wouldn’t have come as far down the track as I had, if this whole thing really wasn’t for me. I realised that despite their facade of veracity in the heat of the moment, those snowballing negative thoughts were akin to a hawaiian t-shirt in their several shades of wrong.

Being mindful of this was encouraging because it brought me back to my truth – that I really WAS on purpose. It certainly feels far more empowering to focus on what IS working, rather than what’s NOT working, but I suppose at times it’s hard to remember that in any situation there’s always SOMETHING positive, no matter how small, to hang on to. Ironically it’s when the times get tough that it seems hardest to look for those small positives – but it’s those times you need them most – so when you DO find them, cling on to them as if they’re your life-raft.

Use Your Vacation To Give You Some Perspective

In my spare time, I enjoy painting, so I know how vital it is to periodically step away from the canvas, in order to see what’s really going on within the picture. Given this project’s intensity and the way it had consumed my life, it made sense to take a creative hiatus from the blog and enjoy a birds eye view before putting the final brushstrokes in place. After a night playing around with stickers and scrapbooks I returned to face my I.T. demons with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. My vacation had done it’s work. So, sometimes a lull in energy or enthusiasm doesn’t mean something’s not right for you, it might just mean you’ve been running on empty – either creative, energetic or mental – and need a vacation, stat!

Awesome Books
Change Your Thinking – Review
December 7, 2010
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Change Your Thinking

By Sarah Edelman

There’s not a single person reading this that hasn’t at some point or other struggled to deal with negative thoughts and/or emotions – sometimes we handle challenging situations well and at other times, they knock us for six. (Hello?! We’re human, right?)

Coping with negative thoughts/feelings is totally normal and some people just seem naturally more adept at bouncing back, either by dealing with them on their own, or by talking them through with someone else (be it a therapist/friend/family member).

Specifically, people who are better at not letting negativity linger on, generally don’t allow self defeating thoughts to take root in their consciousness. These people draw rational conclusions about events that occur (rational being a thought that is aligned with our desire for happiness and survival) and hence, the negativity of the moment doesn’t impact on the quality of our lives over the long term.

On the flip side however, when we think irrationally about situations, they become a struggle to deal with and over time, they may re-occur, become more intensified and end up seriously messing with our emotional balance and happiness. This is where Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) can be a big help, explains author of Change Your Thinking, Sarah Edelman, as it aims to address the underlying thought patterns of your negative emotions and gently transform them into beliefs that will work for you, rather than against you.

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is an ‘evidence-based’ treatment methodology used by clinical psychologists around the world. It’s founded on the premise that what we think determines how we feel. Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of CBT in treating a range of conditions from mood (depression, anxiety) to personality, eating and psychotic disorders and have found that CBT can be as, if not more effective than medication. Thankfully, Change Your Thinking spares you weighty scientific explanations of what CBT is, and instead gives you an overview of how it differs from ‘positive thinking’, a basic grounding in the premise of the therapy and then gets straight into the nitty gritty of how you can use it to develop healthier psychological responses to events that otherwise might send you into a tailspin.

How To Recognise Faulty Thinking

Author Sarah Edelman

The extent to which negative thoughts take root in our consciousness greatly impacts on our ability to live a balanced and happy life, yet often, we don’t recognise just how ‘faulty’ our thinking really is. Change Your Mind helps you become more aware of how your thougths could be making your life far more difficult and distressing than it needs to be.

Across 11 chapters Edelman offers many common, every day scenarios as examples where we might be employing faulty thinking – the scenarios cover issues at work, to relationships, matters of self esteem, communication and conditions like depression. These examples give you pointers as to where you may be engaging in faulty thinking of your own and are followed by exercises on how to ‘dispute’ and disrupt the self defeating thought patterns so that they lose their power.

Faulty Thinking Includes:

  • Polarized (black-and-white) thinking – e.g. “I didn’t get into law school – my future is ruined.”
  • Overgeneralising – e.g. After a string of failed long term relationships, you tell yourself, “I’m incapable of having a relationship,” and “Men can’t be trusted.”
  • Personalizing – e.g. “I tried to involve Craig in discussions at the group dinner last night but he still didn’t join in. I feel responsible.”
  • Filtering – e.g. When someone compliments you on a debut performance, saying you were ‘brilliant’ – you focus on the fact they mentioned your inexperience.
  • Jumping to (negative) conclusions – e.g. When someone doesn’t return your call you assume they’re purposefully ignoring you. You later find out they’ve been with their mother in hospital.
  • Mind reading – e.g. “James received the promotion over me, even though we’ve been working here exactly the same amount of time. My bosses think I’m incompetent.”
  • Blaming – e.g. “It’s my divorced parents’ fault that I’ve never been able to trust someone in a committed relationship.”
  • Labelling – e.g. “I’m stupid.”
  • Predicting catastrophe – e.g. “If I don’t work every hour god sends on my business it’ll go under and I’ll be broke, or even worse, homeless!” and
  • Comparing – e.g. “Susan has made more friends in 6 months of moving to this city, than I have in 2 years. I should be making more friends and socialising like her.”

What ‘Change Your Thinking’ Can Teach You

Sometimes we might be aware that our thinking is contributing to our problems, but perhaps we don’t know just how much. We know that worrying about something or getting angry might not solve our problems and in fact, usually only makes it seem worse, yet we often lack strategies f0r dealing with runaway negativity.

In Change Your Thinking, Edelman shows you how to interrupt and challenge your self defeating thoughts and habitual negative responses. By recognising your negative perceptions as they occur and then ‘disputing’ these in a rational manner, you will feel more empowered and experience a greater sense of control and security.

Whether you struggle with depression, guilt or low self esteem, Change Your Thinking will help you to address your issue by:

* Minimizing the upsetting emotions you experience

* Explaining how to monitor errors in thinking that are causing you unnecessary stress and unhappiness

* Teaching you how to dispute errors in your thinking such that you arrive at more helpful, realistic conclusions about yourself and life

* Helping you face the obstacles that prevent you from achieving your goals

What’s Great About ‘Change Your Thinking’?

Change Your Thinking presents CBT in a way that’s super accessible for anyone, even those who haven’t been exposed to it before. The plain English, jagon-free language Edelman employs helps you understand the concepts presented, just as the very ‘real world’ examples and practical exercises help you apply the theory.

I think what I like best about Change Your Thinking is that you can pick it up and put it down as the urge takes you. One day, a certain event might trigger the realisation that you’ve had a self esteem issue for a little while and y0u decide to take steps to overcome it – in that case, you can flip straight to the relevant section and do the exercises contained therein.

Similarly, you might be facing an ongoing challenge with a low mood and so read a number of sections including the one specifically on depression as a more comprehensive look at how CBT can help you. However, you don’t have to read chapter upon chapter of introductory material for the exercises to work for you (personally, I just started at the chapter that I had the most interest in).

What’s Not So Great?

On a superficial level – the price. Yeah, yeah, I know – what price can you put on happiness, right? Well as far as the self-help section of Borders goes, at (AUD) $46.99, Change Your Thinking is definitely up there at the more pricey end of the salvation scale. However, you can get it heaps cheaper from Amazon (there’s a direct link below), which would have been my modus operandi had I done a little research. Oh the folly of impulse bookstore buys! ;) Having said that, it’s a very comprehensive book so is probably worth it, but if you can get it cheaper on Amazon – do!

On a deeper level, like all therapies, CBT doesn’t offer a ‘magic bullet’ and really requires that you put the time and effort into monitoring your thoughts and doing a little self maintenance whenever you notice your thoughts are bringing you down. CBT is not ‘a pill to pop’- it takes applied, ongoing effort, a willingness to face your demons and a desire to really put the work in to help yourself. CBT won’t suit someone looking for an easy way out, however the benefits you’ll reap in your life from tackling the root cause of your problems, will far outweigh the effort and time you invest.

Change Your Thinking is a brilliant reference guide for the general reader to apply the principles of CBT in their own lives. Even if you don’t have a pressing issue right now, you’ll find it highly interesting if you’re into psychology or have a passion for trying to understanding why people do what they do. It will also no doubt increase your effectiveness if you want to offer assistance to those who are struggling with any of the challenges outlined above. Similarly, if you do have a problem at present, it provides the tools to help direct you in creating a more balanced, happier life.

3.5 / 5 Monkeys

You can pick up your own copy of Change Your Thinking quickly and easily by clicking the link below, with delivery direct to your door! (Note: Cover artwork below is of 1st edition, cover at top right of this post is 2nd edition.)

Your Life Purpose
Why One Person CAN Make A Difference
November 30, 2010
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I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this, but quietly – just between you and me – I’m actually super (almost abnormally) passionate about recycling.

It’s not something I actively wear on my sleeve because frankly,  it’s not the most sexiest of causes. After all, it usually sees me picking through other people’s garbage, fishing out semi-soiled odds and ends. (I know – total ‘eew’)… I have a sneaking suspicion that’s why you don’t see Bono or Chris Martin getting behind it.

Bono in LED
Creative Commons License photo credit: ♡Blackangelツ

I’m such a nerd about it, I even try to make recycling ‘fun’, thinking that’ll motivate friends/family to get more involved. For example, when we have parties I put out a bin with a sign on it that says, ‘Do it for Michael – Recycle’, complete with a picture of Wacko Jacko doing the moonwalk.

(You want a copy for your own party, right? Never fear, you can download my ‘Do It For Michael’ sign here.) :)

I think my passion for recycling comes from my love for the environment. When I was younger I read a lot about marine life and was horrified at how if humans weren’t directly hunting and killing whales and dolphins, pollution did a pretty good job of sorting out the rest.

Then, thankfully in the 90s, the ozone debacle and global warming became hot topics (no pun intended) and as a result, people started taking better care of the environment and recycling ramped up. (As you can imagine, my penchant for amateur ‘sign writing’ really took off around this time.) From the get-go, just the idea that my tins of tuna could be taken away, squashed down and used again, totally resonated with me and I’ve had a huge thing about recycling ever since.

NEW! Lightweight chunk Api Tuna!
Creative Commons License photo credit: quinn.anya

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a spiel here about why you should recycle, about how only around a mere 10% of our garbage gets recycled, or how poorer nations are paid to take our trash to shove in THEIR landfill – no, I’ll leave it for Google to help you out there *steps down from soapbox*. Instead, this post is actually about why having an impact (no matter how small), is always, ALWAYS worth it.

The Recycling Nazi of 123 Fake Street

My flatmate loves a cheeky red bull and vodka. I don’t begrudge the man that.

However, I DO have a problem when the collateral damage of his Saturday night on the tiles, ends up exclusively in the trash.

I’m getting  a bit of a name for myself as a ‘recylcing Nazi’ here at 123 Fake Street (that’s what we call our apartment building because its real name kind of sounds like a joke address). I’ve happily adopted this nickname because it’s my job to come home on a Sunday night and go through my flattie’s weekend’s worth of refuse to pull the cans, glass jars, tzatsiki containers and pizza boxes, then clean them up and then take them out for recycling. As if that’s not enough, I even recycle the cardboard innards of toilet rolls and the cardboard tags of clothes – not to mention the  salvaging of recyclables I undertake in my parents’ and relatives’ bins… And if need be (and I’m not proud to admit this) I’ll even hop in the dumpster of our apartment building to grab a bag of recyclables that blatantly shouldn’t be in the general waste.

What’s So Hard About Recycling?

Red Bull DosenI just DON’T GET why some people don’t recycle – seriously, like what’s so hard about it? When I make a trip to our dumpster in the mood for a little recycling love, I often find people have thrown plastic bags full of bottles, newspapers and big cardboard boxes into the general waste, when the recycling bin is right there next to it! It’s seriously mental. When I see stuff like that, I really wonder what goes through some people’s heads.

I try not to let it get me down though. Instead, I see it as an opportunity to make a difference. I know that every bag of bottles I save from the trash, every Red Bull can I rescue from my flatmate’s bin bags and every tin of tuna that finds a proper home in the yellow lidded bin, is a good many cubic centimetres of landfill that never got the chance to exist – and that’s something.
Creative Commons License photo credit: loop_oh

The Reality: Some People Just ‘Don’t Care’

When I ask my flatmate why he doesn’t make an effort to recycle, he says he just doesn’t care – and while personally, I don’t understand how ANYONE can NOT care about the environment, I know that it’s a matter of ‘horses for courses’ and that not everyone’s going to have the same mindset as me – I totally accept that.

However, in spite of (or perhaps because of) that fact, I wanted to do this post – a post specifically for those who DO care about a cause – no matter what it is. A post that says:

Don’t ever let the ones who DON’T share your passion, be a reason for not taking action and making your own, unique impact.

If at times you’re faced with people who make you feel as if your efforts are useless, or, if you’re sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the problem you’re tackling, here are some ways to get some traction again:

Screens' Graveyard
Creative Commons License photo credit: mikecogh

Start Small And Locally

At the end of the day, the only person you can ever control is YOU. This means that I try not to worry so much about what other people are doing and just focus on holding myself accountable for recycling whatever I can, wherever I am. I even bring milk cartons back home from the office rather than throw them in the general waste.

Even the most seemingly insignificant things you can do to advance your own personal cause are worthwhile, because over time, they all add up. If you recycle one bottle, if you sponsor one child, if you pick up one piece of rubbish, it’s still one less bottle in landfill, one child that hasn’t gone hungry and one piece of rubbish that won’t clutter up our beautiful landscape. Every single ‘little’ thing ABSOLUTELY makes a difference.

Something Doesn't Belong?
Creative Commons License photo credit: [F]oxymoron

Influence Your Immediate Circle

While initially, my flatmate refused to recycle, I truly believe that him seeing me go through his trash like a bum in stilettos eventually made an impact. He might not yet recycle ALL his own stuff, but at the very least he’ll allow ME to do it for him and at the very best, he seperates out the odd bit of plastic himself. As far as I’m concerned, that’s definitely a step in the right direction. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

…Do What You Can Do Yourself – But Whatever You Do, Don’t Preach

When I used to live at home, I realized that preaching to my parents about recycling was having ZERO effect – no facts or figures seem to get through. No signs by the bin, signs on the fridge or even signs over the sink could prevent piles of carelessly discarded soup cans from languishing in the trash.

Sometimes you have to accept what ‘is’. While this can be hard, I tend to think of it more along the lines of, “Well, that’s the way it is right now. It doesn’t mean it will always be that way.” Then, from that more empowered mindset, you can decide that rather than focusing on what CAN’T be achieved, you can focus on what IS in your power to change.

I accepted that I couldn’t be there picking out every bottle and can from my parents’ bin on a daily basis, but at least when I did drop by, I could take a quick peek and pull out an item or two. Other positive actions I decided to take included doing my flatmate’s recycling on a weekly basis, removing stuff from my friends’ bins and doing a spot of dumpster diving in our apartment building’s refuse area (I know, I know – it’s not exactly chic, but then again, neither is landfill). When I think of how much recycling I’ve saved over the last year alone, the weird looks I’ve received from my fellow building residents are totally worth it.

Grow From One To Two, To A Force To Be Reckoned With.

At times, you might feel like you’re the only person who cares about your cause – that your dream is ‘unrealistic’. Perhaps you’re someone who is driven to end world hunger, or take a stand for world peace. You could be someone who has a passion for speaking up on behalf of those who are persecuted and have no voice. As one person on your own, you might not feel as if your impact could be very powerful.

But what if you start looking for someone else like you? (there’ll always be at least one person out there who’ll share your passion and belief in something that can create better circumstances for the world and humanity). Then there’ll be two of you. From there you can become three, then four and so on…

ONE Is The Magic Number

Everything that has ever changed the history of the world started with one person. Every business, every political party, every revolutionary movement. They all began with one, single person who believed in something enough to make a stand and NOT give up. You can be one of those people too. We all have the opportunity to be ‘the one’ that makes a difference. What’s more, you can start today. What with? – Just ONE simple action.

Personally, I’m heading down to the dumpster ;) … what are YOU going to do today? Share with me below…

“One person can make a difference and every person should try.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy