Mind Becomes Matter: How Your Thoughts Can Help Or Hurt The Planet
It All Starts In The Mind
Sustainable living is more than just a buzzword; it's a philosophy, a way of thinking. At its heart lies the goal of having a net positive effect on the earth and the people in it as a result of conscious and informed choices.
Without a sustainable mindset, sustainable living just won’t stick.
In this blog post we’re going to talk about the power of your thoughts, the tenets of a sustainable mindset, and some simple strategies to shift your thinking. Let’s dive in!
How Your Beliefs Determine Your Actions
It was Albert Einstein who famously said, "Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.”
If we’ve created the environmental predicament we’re in because of the way we think, then we need to change the way we think to get out of it.
Cognitive psychology posits that human behaviour occurs along a mental and emotional pathway. An easy formula for visualising this pathway is: thought + emotion = decision. This pathway operates in each of our minds, built on (and influenced by) the foundation of our unique core values and motivations.
For example, say you’re a person who values planning ahead (value/motivation). You think about moving house next week (thought) + you start to feel worried (emotion) = you call to confirm that your friend can help you move (decision).
While this process happens automatically and often unconsciously, it’s possible to harness the power of attention to change your thought patterns, and in turn change your actions.
Walking a Different Pathway
Sustainable living is undeniably linked to a sustainable thinking, because your thoughts impact your behaviour.
Picture this. You’re in a coffee shop, and the person in line ahead of you orders, and then takes out a travel mug and hands it to the barista to make their coffee in. You think nothing of it, and step up to order your regular coffee in a disposable takeaway cup.
What might your respective mental pathways look like? For the person ahead of you, it might look something like this:
Thought: I get a coffee every day (5 disposable cups per week), and I know that only around 6% of plastic waste is actually recycled.
Emotion: I feel concerned about the amount of waste I’ll generate. I feel a sense of responsibility as a citizen of the earth.
Decision: I’m going to carry a reusable cup with me to use for my daily coffee.
Thought: I get a coffee from this café every day because it’s convenient.
Emotion: I feel rushed in the mornings, and I just want something quick and easy.
Decision: Use disposable coffee cups daily.
Practical Steps to Cultivate a Sustainable Mindset
Based on the example above, it becomes pretty clear that often we can’t think different until we know different.
It’s hard to experience thoughts or emotions that motivate sustainable decisions when you don’t know much about sustainability, and the environmental impact of your daily choices.
Let’s explore some practical steps you can take to start moving the needle of your thoughts and actions towards sustainability:
1 | Take Inventory of Your Values
Our core values are the foundation that our thoughts and emotions are built on. Start by reflecting on your core values when it comes to the planet, nature, the next generation, and your beliefs about being a responsible citizen of the earth.
Values you might connect with to motivate sustainable living include love for animals, love for your children and their children, non-violence, respect for nature in all its forms, empathy, and responsibility.
2 | Educate Yourself
The goal of sustainable living isn’t to be perfect, it’s to make meaningful profess. Commit to becoming a lifelong learner, and stay informed about environmental and social issues that relate to your daily choices. Read books, watch documentaries, and follow reliable online sources that provide valuable insights.
If you’re not sure where to begin with your research, start by looking into the environmental impact of your commuting habits, your water and electricity usage, your waste production, your purchasing decisions, or other daily routines.
3 | Commit To Micro Meaningful Actions
Small actions create significant ripples. Once you’ve done some research on the impact of your everyday choices, decide one or two micro meaningful actions that you can commit to changing. Start using a reusable coffee mug or reusable shopping bags; replace a household item with a lower waste alternative; shop local and support ethical business.
4 | Start a Conversation
We can’t all know everything about everything, so tapping into the shared knowledge of your community is a great way to shift your mindset and change your choices! Share your sustainability journey with others and engage in conversations with friends, family, and your community about ways to be better citizens of the earth. We might not always agree, but we can always learn from each other. Talking about sustainability is also a great way to remain accountable for making better choices.
The mind is powerful. Sustainable living is undeniably linked to a sustainable thinking, because your thoughts impact your behaviour. By bringing attention to the way you think about sustainability, you can change the way you act.
By nurturing an earth-loving mindset, we can pave the way for a better future—for ourselves and generations to come.
Thank you for reading! If you found this blog post informative and inspiring, share it with your friends and spread the message of sustainability.