But sometimes, thinking big (or, more specifically, trying to lead a deeply rewarding life brimming with love and creativity while casually saving the world) comes at a cost.
Big overwhelm. Big despair. Big inaction.
What can one person do?
How can little old me make a dent in this wacky, plastic-riddled planet?
Give up. Eat cheese.
But the thing is, there are ways you can steer the world in a different direction – without having to head-up a reforestation not-for-profit run by dispossessed orangutans.
The tiniest positive actions can produce the mightiest ripple effects, and by thinking small and acting locally, we collectively do epic shit. Don’t believe me? Here are eight suspiciously easy and powerfully effective actions you can take today.
1. Smile more. Has a stranger ever smiled at you so sincerely, so sweetly, that whatever stormy mindset you were inhabiting simply… dissipates? Indiscriminate smiling disrupts despair and inspires people on the receiving end to have a little more faith in humanity, and a touch more optimism about the state of the world. Compassion is contagious. Aaaaaand kind, happy people are less inclined to pillage the planet.
2. Lend a brother, sister, stranger a hand. The more we engender community and connectedness, the less fucked-up and lonely we’ll feel. And the less alone we feel, the less we’ll need to shop for endangered primate pantaloons and plastic wrapped beauty products to make us ‘lovable’. People you help pay it forward, and the World Kindness Index goes gangbusters. This can be as simple as holding a door open for someone, or as structured as weekly volunteering.
3. Look at things and say HOLY SHIT. Holy shit! That’s an epic mountain. Holy shit! What a crazy beautiful bird. Holy shit! Check the glimmer on that wave. Holy shit! Is that technicolour sky-arc even real? Marvelling at the natural world reminds us that it’s sacred, and sacred things are worth protecting.
4. Work less. If it weren’t for the money, would you still do your job? Perhaps not. But money is essential for survival, and maybe even accumulating a little wealth. Ain’t it? Depends on your personal pocket dictionary. If you define ‘survival’ as a big house, two cars, gadgets and exotic getaways, that’ll cost you a pile of coins. If you see ‘wealth’ as an ever-increasing number in the bank, that’ll rely on well-paid, likely laborious work.
But what if your definition of survival was simpler and more frugal, less reliant on loans and long hours in the office? What if your definition of wealth was living in a supportive community, connected with family and friends, enjoying ample time to indulge your creativity and inspiration? What if generosity, goodwill, homegrown veggies and hand-me-down jumpers constituted your version of success? What if you worked less while growing more abundant in time – pursuing a way of life that didn’t cost quite so much or look quite so flash, but afforded you a joy and prosperity no credit card ever could? Yep, it’s tough. Our (western) world spins on money. But if we all took a couple of steps back from The Machine, maybe it would get crusty, rusty and eventually grind to a halt. Then the plants, insects and furry things will reclaim the world while we cheers to our early retirement and celebrate everything money can’t buy.
5. Be a walking, talking Love Llama. It’s tempting to wage war on climate change, go into battle with big corporations, talk smack about fracking and the people who do it. But blaming and name calling builds higher walls between us, inspiring defensiveness and anger. We keep spinning our wheels, failing to get anywhere, becoming increasingly polarised. We forget that we all, collectively, want the same things: security, freedom, love. We all, collectively, deserve respect – regardless of differences in opinion. What if instead of yelling at our ‘adversaries’, we said, ‘I hear you. I see you… even if we don’t see eye-to-eye. Will you agree to hear me? Let’s have a hug, you big ole confuzzled CEO’. Kindness prevails. Love wins. Be the llama.
6. Have a yarn with an oldie. Not only are older folks fabulously wise, they also remember a time when less was more, life was slower, and people took care of their shoes. There’s so much to learn from our elders. Sit down and listen, kid.
7. Work on your insides. If there are things eating you up; poor body image, perfectionism, self-loathing, guilt, shame or fear… get to work. Healing yourself is an act of defiance and an instrument of change. Healing yourself frees up your time and energy in the long run, so you can focus on having a wildly enjoyable life while being of service. Healing yourself is role modelling, inspiring others to do the same. Healing yourself, to be a happier, healthier, more loving human isn’t selfish – it’s step one towards a better world.
8. Eat eggs on toast. No one gets far on an empty stomach. Clarity, purpose and better decision making starts with balanced blood sugars. Eat up.
That concludes today’s seminar in small, unassuming actions that slowly, ever so gently, steer civilization in a healthier direction. Have more ideas? Share ‘em.
About Catie Payne
Catie Payne is a word nerd, early bird and kind of absurd. She has a rescue greyhound named Daaave who is semi-famous on Instagram and thinks he’s a cat. By day, she runs a creative copywriting business from a sunny desk somewhere in Tassie. Also by day, she volunteers, hangs out on organic farms and badgers people about saving the planet. Catie has a background in communications, media and advertising, is a qualified naturopath and herbalist, and has held a pen license for over two decades.
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