While I am writing this post on Friday, it will actually go “live” on Monday, May 14, which happens to be my 50th birthday. I have pondered whether or not I should publicly disclose this milestone, but (unless it has been edited out), since it appears here, I have obviously concluded that I should.
Reaching this milestone has led me to do a lot of reflecting on my life, and what I have learned in my half-century of living. While there are many days I feel like I haven’t learned anything at all, other days remind me that I have, and have led me to write about them.
For example, just a little over a month ago, I wrote about the lessons that I have learned from my garden, including the fact that we cannot control everything, and that there is beauty all around us if we just take the time to look.
This got me to thinking about the broader lessons that I have learned from my increased awareness and involvement in living “green.” I think I have always been concerned about the environment, but didn’t consciously realize this until I was in my late 20s. And, I really kicked it into high gear as I entered my 30s and have been there ever since.
These green life lessons are simple yet powerful, and I thought I would share them here as a kind of birthday gift to Care2 readers.
Tread lightly. This expression is used to remind people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly by minimizing their impact to the environment. People are encouraged to do this is by respecting the rights of others, and by avoiding sensitive or protected areas.
If you think about it, this lesson is even more powerful if we apply it to the people in our lives, so that we minimize our negative impact on them. As I have learned, this is one of the hardest lessons to learn. While we might think we know what is best for others, and even think we come from a place of caring, it is not our place to tell others how to live. Just as we are encouraged not to spook animals by keeping our distance, by literally “treading lightly,” we also need to proceed with caution with our loved ones, and respect their rights, especially when it comes to their sensitive areas.
Clean up after yourself and pick up your trash. I have learned that this one is really connected to treading lightly in our relationships. While many of us know to do this in the literal real-world sense, often when it comes to the people in our lives, we neglect to do this.
There are many people who can’t, or don’t, acknowledge when they are wrong or that they have hurt somebody. Many people think that it is sign of weakness to apologize, or see their relationships as a game to be won. If you combine this with trampling over somebody, it is a surefire way to damage, if not kill, your relationship.
Take care of things. This one directly relates to the two above. I wrote about this when I wrote about what my garden has taught me. If you neglect or ignore things in your garden, you not only run the risk of killing them off, but, at the very least, they will not thrive and live a healthy life. This is true for the important people in our lives. If we take them for granted by burying ourselves in work, or things, or other people, our relationships will not be healthy and happy and can certainly die as well.
Everything has a cost. Those of us who try to buy only earth-friendly products and organic or local food, know that we often pay a bit more than conventional products. And, this increased cost is often the biggest complaint by people who don’t buy organic products. But, they often fail to see the big picture: it costs more to produce. And, like with anything else, you get what you pay for.
This goes for the choices we make in life, the decisions we make, and even those we avoid making. We pay in different ways through the costs to our relationships, our time, our health, and even our happiness. I have learned the value of looking at all of the consequences, even those that might initially be hidden, and to look at both the good and the bad of each. When I do this, it brings me peace of mind and makes me feel that I am truly in control of my own life.