Sustainability, Responsibility and Self-Discipline

My aim was to write more regular about my experiences getting my body used to running and lake swimming, or pondering shifts in my mind. So what was not sustainable? The running and swimming while travelling with my 10 year old son or pondering without responsibility and self-discipline?

Is it the same sustainability approach we can all take to sustain our way of living as a human race?

The world today seems good for some, good enough to live a happy life. To be able to earn a good living and save up for retirement. Even though, some studies find that the richer the country the more unhappy the citizens. So are people not thinking about sustainability? To be able to sustain a way of living beyond one’s own life and for children and grandchildren? Likely not always from one’s own motivation because life is so busy. We were travelling in places with much denser populations than New Zealand and my son made the very interesting observation: Everyone is in it for themselves. We got shoved and pushed and regarded as an obstacle on people’s quests to get places fast, especially in train stations and airports.

In some sprawling urban parts in the US saving on plastic bags is not on anyone’s radar. When I politely refused plastic bags, most agreed and said: true we don’t need so many plastic bags. It seems a small thing when the US has huge coal and fuel subsidies. The lack of footpaths, cyclists and public transport is astonishing. I can see that walking or cycling is a dangerous thing and driving is safer (and cheaper than public transport). It seems the country has not adopted electric cars much. On my trip around Northern Michigan and urban outer Chicago and Detroit I did not see one electric car or charging station. I’m sure there are some around but not like in New Zealand with almost every town signposting a charging station. Maybe everyone is charging at home.

For lots of people in developed countries, the world is already not good for lots of reasons. Add eco anxiety, I can see where the feeling of being helpless becomes overwhelming. Money could probably fix everything but it hasn’t so far. Anxiety and overwhelm are not helpful so it’s important to get professional help when it’s experienced.

Thinking about sustainability opens the door to taking responsibility. Not only environmental responsibility. Responsibility for oneself and our actions. For one’s mental attitudes and physical requirements and to see the power one has. Observing and listening into one’s own ability to sustain the approach taken. It’s not like being at fault. Fault is a word for a thing that’s misbehaving, like a faulty switch, I suggested to my son. The responsibility-fault thinking can lead to the negative spiral leading to anxiety and overwhelm because it focuses on mistakes. Will Smith explains it very well.

Once I take responsibility I can apply self-discipline. Like making sure I get enough sleep and enough fresh air. To turn the phone off, to recognise the desire for a quick fix of entertainment and instant gratification and let it go. To take a deep breath and enjoy the wonderful nature in New Zealand and the power we all have to sustain a beautiful life.

Published by Anja O'Connor

Small business & system sympathiser, healthy business advocate.

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