Updated: Mar 15, 2020
Read mindfully and try not to judge, my intention is not to tell anyone that these methods demonstrate the best way to live but my hope is that everyone can carefully analyse each possible piece to the puzzle that makes our souls sad and spot the ones that may be decreasing your own personal happiness (and thus your net positive potential for the rest of existence). I understand that 'happiness' can be a contentious word- here it means the best version of yourself. They do involve lifestyle changes, but in scrutinising these one by one and fully comprehending the reasons they may be limiting our potential- however insignificant they may initially appear- we may discover that our happiness is being supressed by an unconscious burden of guilt that can be lifted.
Relinquishing this unconscious guilt involves a serious look at the way we live. It involves not taking anything as an assumption but instead deeply considering our lifestyle down to the smallest detail. Here is a list of possible areas of unchecked guilt that we often carry, from this list we can begin to consider the micro-changes to implement in our lives, to test how we feel. All these activities carry a negative effect somewhere but however distant that damage appears, it may well be contributing unnecessarily to an internal feeling of guilt deep inside us. Try to let it go and see how you begin to feel… The list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a starting point to opening our conscious minds and becoming more receptive to the potential for ongoing, positive change through continuing awareness and the desire for compassion in our lives. Our decisions as individuals can lead to a World full of Love.
Clothes- consider where they come from, who made them and what kind of industry your purchase is supporting. Charity shops in the UK are cheap and have massive choice, plus you can choose which charities you prefer to support. There are also loads of wonderful, ethical brands around doing great things for workers and the environment. I will do a post about some of these companies soon.
Technology- cutting back on unnecessary purchases and over-use can be liberating. We feel bad that we are distracted from our families and friends and we regret not using our time on earth in beautiful ways. Connect with something real and step away from your screens, try phone free days and ban technologies from the bedroom, enjoy an evening reading or a morning walking with your phone switched off and left out of sight. You will notice how hard it is to do, as we start by feeling unconnected from the world. Look for real connections and soon that difficulty will shift.
Animal Products- I didn’t even realise how guilty I had been feeling until I stopped participating in the destructive areas of this industry- a feeling of compassion I never thought possible overcame me. Limiting your involvement in causing such blatant suffering and unneccesary death is a big guilt release. Try a vegan day or start by going vegetarian. I am writing a 'Vegan 101' and 'ethical eating' blog in an attempt to understand a whole range of vegan and food issues that come up everyday, I hope that it will create some interesting and friendly discussion on this often confusing and polarising topic.
Transportation- It is impossible to be unaware of the negative effects of over use of fossil fuels, we know the unforgivable environmental damage we cause and whose bulging pockets we fill. Taking steps to reduce our carbon footprints has so many incredible impacts. Bike lanes are ever increasing and lift share schemes are more and more accessible. Flying is a tough one and a big personal struggle for me. Trying to decrease your number of flights helps massively and paying into effective carbon neutralising schemes (like Gold Standard), or launching your own tree planting campaign helps relinquish some of the guilt and relieve some environmental pressure. Self-Carbon-Taxing is a wonderful solution in the face of a government too scared to question the fossil fuel monsters. There are loads of carbon calculators to figure out how much you are creating. I do not advocate living however you want and simply paying into neutralising schemes, but to help offset what you do create will certainly help to some extent. Walking and cycling whenever possible are such brilliant steps to help the planet and yourself.
Food and Drink- If you feel guilty when you eat an unealthy, unethical meal, its an easy double win. Eat well from companies that wont ruin the planet for profits and you will feel great physically and mentally. We all know the guilty feeling of getting drunk and doing something stupid, not to mention the hangover that ruins the following day. Take control and spend your time (and money) more wisely. Supporting a local organic veg-box scheme is a beautiful and simple step to connect to ethical, seasonal produce, plus it will cut out huge (often hidden and unavoidable) levels of plastic from your food shop.
Plastic- Cut back on plastic use, this is quite easy if you simply become mindful of what you are using and make good decisions every day. You will feel good for it and the oceans will thank you. I have been attempting to live zero waste for a while now and have been amazed at how easy it is (at least to cut down by 90%) with a few simple steps. Check out my 'living zero-waste' post for some scary facts, ideas and inspiration.
These categories make a great start. The key is to be mindful of what you use and what real costs it involves. Any change in any category will help you feel great. We are attempting a consciousness revolution to work toward a world that is better in every way. Changes are involved, and change is hard but when the benefits are so far and wide and your own happiness and joy are the biproduct; these changes are clearly the conscious choice. Everytime we purchase something we are making a political statement- so vote wisely.