Here’s a rather generic question we often encounter that might just hold something deeper. This is a question we’re faced with almost everyday by multiple people in the plethora of shops we visit.
‘Would you like a bag?’
I try to live a life as green as I can (the good kind of green), and one thing I always try to do is to not take a plastic bag when I go to a shop. Either I’ll have an old one with me or put what I’ve bought in a rucksack, or just hold it in my hands.
I did that this evening when over-indulging in some melt-in-the-middle chocolate pudding and cookies (there was also some stuffed peppers to balance it out). The cashier, as always, offered me a bag and, as usual, I declined and used my own. It got me thinking about why I consciously make this choice and have got into this habit.
I am someone who thinks that we have an amazing world in our hands, and it is our responsibility to look after it. To keep it safe, clean, and able to thrive in a vibrant future.
The thought of a plastic bag I take contributing to the supermarket’s demand for more bags to be made, and knowing that bag will hang around for hundreds of years is something that’s more than enough to dissuade me from taking that bag.
But is that the whole story? And is this in fact that the way to appeal to people to be green? Or to do anything for that matter? I looked at my thought process and realised that my rationing makes more sense if I rephrased the question I was asking myself. Rather than the question being ‘Are you an environmental activist?’ Because that is a difficult question for us as individuals to answer and will invariable be ‘No’. The better question is:
‘What kind of person do I want to be?’
Do you want to be someone that pollutes the earth with plastic waste or do you want to be someone who made a choice not to add to the problem? There may be millions upon millions of people in America, China, India, Europe and more who will contribute a billion times more than you ever will. A drop in the ocean is an understatement in your environmental impact.
The particular environmental issue may not be something that resonates with you, but this is where the bigger issue comes in. The value for you, is to make that choice for YOU. It is about choosing and being the person you want to be.
It is not enough to say ‘it won’t make any difference’ and ‘everyone else does it’, because you are looking externally at factors and decisions that are outside of you.
Looking externally is not speaking to your true self and is ignoring the person you are. And so this thought process becomes not about taking a plastic bag from Tesco, it becomes about everything you do with your life. Once you stop looking externally and instead look from within your own heart, everything becomes clearer. Choices become simpler. Your thoughts become more focused. You feel more in-tune. And that’s because you’re singing your song, and not a monotonous drone of the larger world that isn’t quite sure whether it should be singing along with everyone else or not.
Doing this employs what I like to call Telescope Thinking, a term I adapted from a fantastic talk from Simon Anhalt’s TED Talk entitled ‘Which country does the most good for the world?’ (have a watch of it, it’s fascinating).
What I mean by this is to hold your view of the world from within yourself, and then look out upon the world from there. Now this sounds obvious. It’s what we physically do with our eyes and our brains.
But before you dismiss it, think about it. How often when you are deciding what action to take do you put yourself in someone else’s head? How much do you think about what other people will think of you, or what others are doing in the same situation? If you’re a human being, then the answer to those questions is probably a lot. It’s a human trait and totally understandable. But by taking that view, we actually ignore our own voice and undermine our own value.
Give this a try the next time you need to make a decision or you’re just walking down the street. It might be choosing what you’re wearing to work, what music to put on, or whether to take a plastic bag after shopping. Notice your thought process and observe it. When you’re making those choices, reel it back to you, then look out upon your decision.
For example, say you were deciding what to wear to work, and yesterday you bought a particularly loud jumper that you absolutely loved. When making this decision one might think ‘People won’t like this at work’ or ‘I might stand out a bit too much’.
You see how that the decision there is actually being made externally. You’re actually allowing other people to make the decision for you.
And they haven’t even asked you to! Instead, reel it back in and say ‘Do I like this jumper?‘ And ‘Would I like to wear this jumper today?‘ I think you’ll find the answer to former questions were a resounding ‘No’ to the jumper, and the latter a resounding ‘Yes’.
This is what I mean by looking from within yourself and then out onto the world.
Telescope Thinking: the viewfinder of the telescope and the beginning of it being you, and your view on the world forever spreading outwards from that point.
What you’ll find it gives you is a truer picture of who you are. And in my experience, it will make you happier. That’s because you’ll be living a life that is true to you and to your choices. Free yourself and start using that telescope!
Guest post by Ioan Holland.
If you enjoyed this post, why not check out ’10 Ways to Find Joy in the Everyday’?
Categories: Mirror Mirror: Self Improvement