It’s Earth Day today. Perhaps this is the kicker you need to finally give up plastic, start buying organic or quit shopping at the supermarket. Or perhaps it’s just another opportunity to feel guilty for not doing that stuff when you know you should.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Earth Day is an incredible initiative. The Earth Day movement has mobilised a powerful network of activists to make a difference on a global scale for 46 years – can you believe that? Their 100% focus is to protect our planet for future generations. I don’t actually think there is any more important cause for humanity. And there’s so much each of us can do. From carrying a reusable shopping bag to installing solar panels on our roofs. I”m not one of those people who thinks that what we do on an individual level is too small to make a difference. I honestly believe that the ripple effect from every one of our tiny, personal actions can change the world. There are so many things we can do to set that ripple in motion. But that’s just the thing. There’s SO MUCH TO DO.
It’s overwhelming. And you probably have some other priorities in your life as well. Like keeping children alive, getting out of the house with matching shoes, somehow coming up with 3 meals a day and managing to appear competent in front of colleagues. We’re mostly so occupied keeping ourselves afloat, we barely have time to spare a thought for the fate of the planet. It’s tough enough just getting to the supermarket each week. The idea of evaluating the ethics behind the producers of each product we buy, racing about to 4 other shops to support the local economy and figuring out how to afford the switch to organic is enough to tip us over the edge.
Where on earth do we start? (see what I did there..) You know how they ask you to fit your own oxygen mask before helping others? Maybe for the sake of the planet, we should start by helping ourselves. It’s so much easier to feel compassion for another when we’ve learned the lesson of compassion for ourselves. If we cared enough about ourselves to allow the things we need into our lives, we might be able to spare some energy for others – and for the planet. When you approach a task from the perspective of guilt, your motivation quickly fades. There’s simply not enough power behind it. Filling your life with an endless list of ‘shoulds’ is exhausting. You burn out.
What does it mean to have compassion for ourselves? Rest when you need it. Look after your body. Take time to listen to what your spirit desires. What do you think it would look like if more people had compassion for themselves? How would it feel to spend time with people who were well rested, fulfilled and emotionally available to give? Wouldn’t the world be a kinder, more thoughtful place? Wouldn’t there be more people with time and energy to make a real, lasting difference?
I love this quote at the moment:
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive – Howard Thurman
What makes you come alive? I reckon you know deep down, and I’d hazard a guess that you’re not doing as much of it as you like. When we allow ourselves to step into that flow and do the thing we love, we really do come alive. We have more energy, and we see opportunities to share it around. I think what the Earth needs on this Earth day is more people who have allowed themselves to come alive. Sure, we need people to shop locally, eat organic food, stop buying single use plastic, divest from fossil fuels, install solar panels, consume less stuff, support ethical companies and quit with wasting all that food. But if all the people we need to do that are head down, bum up, burning themselves out trying to win at the rat race, we’re not going to get anywhere.
On this Earth day what are you doing for you? Ask what makes you come alive. Listen to what you need and have enough compassion for yourself to allow it. Light the fire within that burns long enough and powerful enough to give you the energy to make a difference.
Are You Ready for One Small Change?
Does allowing yourself to come alive feel like an impossible dream? For a lot of people, it’s close to impossible to find your flow when you’re knee-deep in busy. If a slower, simpler life feels like the first step for you, you might be interested in something I call One Small Change. Every week I write a suggestion of one small change you might like to make. Each suggestion is designed to try for a week and see if you think it could help you to live a slower, simpler, more meaningful life. You can sign up to receive an update every week, or just pop in here whenever you feel like a change. Find out more about One Small Change.