15 Tips for Cultivating a More Humane Life

(Note: Short on time today, so I’m posting a slightly revised version of a post I did about 8 months ago. I still think it’s relevant, so hope you enjoy it!)

There are a ton of tips out there for making green and responsible choices — choose compact fluorescents, drive less, buy organic and fair-trade, use cloth bags, etc. These are all terrific, simple things that most of us can do; but, it’s also important for us to examine the bigger picture — to have a vision and connection and purpose in helping create the world we want for all. Here are 15 tips for cultivating a more humane life:

  1. Seek out inspiration, knowledge and support. Read, view and explore widely and deeply. Find role models whose bits of wisdom resonate with you. Find inspiring and meaningful quotes, visuals and other tidbits. Surround yourself with empowering and supportive people. The humane journey can feel lonely, but there are a lot of people out there working for a humane world; we need to connect with and learn from each other.
  2. Go plant-based, local, organic, unprocessed, seasonal, fair trade as much as you can. Our daily food choices have such an enormous impact on ourselves, other people, animals and the earth that they deserve special consideration.
  3. Build community in your neighborhood. This could mean something as complex as developing and living in a co-housing community, or something as simple as getting to know your neighbors, holding a neighborhood potluck, or sharing tools and other resources. We love and respect what we know. When we know each other, we have a better chance of treating each other with kindness and respect and of being more concerned about the impacts of our actions on others.
  4. Love your “enemy”. Finding compassion for those whose actions we abhor is one of the most challenging tasks we can ask of ourselves. But it is so essential to explore others’ points of view, and to develop tolerance and understanding for those who don’t share our views. We are all more than just the pieces of ourselves. Learn to find and love the positive pieces of others.
  5. Learn skills for communicating compassionately. We can’t build a humane community if we can’t listen, and if we’re making judgments and assumptions about others. Cooperate. Build bridges. Communicate to understand and connect, rather than to convince.
  6. Teach others & share the joys and power of what you’ve discovered, without proselytizing. If you can show people that they can live humanely while still meeting all their needs and finding happiness and fulfillment, you have the potential to influence their future choices and the lenses through which they view the world.
  7. Extend your circle of compassion to all beings and the earth. See non-human animals not just as biodiverse species to be respected, but as individual beings, each deserving respect and equal consideration. Immerse yourself in the natural world so that your reverence and respect can grow and flourish.
  8. Reduce your footprint. We can make conscious and careful choices and still have a huge ecological footprint. Hybrid cars, giant eco-houses and green travel to faraway countries are all greener ways of living, but they all still have a significant impact on the earth. Find ways to reduce your impact and live a meaningful, joyful life.
  9. Pay attention to the influence of media and advertising. A lot of our need for stuff comes from people telling us we’re not healthy-whole-sexy-successful-worthy-intelligent-interesting-normal unless we buy a bunch of products or choose a certain lifestyle. Make your choices with awareness and intention, rather than because you’re feeling inadequate or fearful or lonely or bored, and learn to know when someone is trying to manipulate you.
  10. Expand your global awareness and connection. Make room for everyone. We North Americans pat ourselves on the back for our eco-friendly choices, but we still consume the earth at an alarming rate, leaving much less for our brothers and sisters around the world. We also need to be aware of the choices our corporations and governments make in regard to other countries, and to speak out when those choices are poor ones.
  11. Examine your lenses. As activist Laura Moretti says, “That’s the nice thing about beliefs. Just because you’ve put your faith in them doesn’t make them true.” Learn to view the world through a humane lens: see the impact of your choices, the influence of your words and interactions with others, the example you set for children. Ask yourself if the choices you make every day (and the influences of those choices) reflect the kind of world you want for yourself and for future generations.
  12. Do some small something every day to make the world a better place. Celebrate the small victories and habits.
  13. Pause every day to count your blessings. Remember the journeys of your neighbors, especially those around the world who have much less. If we pause to reflect on all that we have and to feel gratitude for that, we’re much less likely to feel deprived and thus feel the desire to have more.
  14. Exercise your own power and responsibility. It’s not up to the government or scientists or industry or technology to fix things. We each need to step up and create the world we want. We can recognize the power each of us has — in our daily choices and in supporting (or refusing to support) certain systems — and use that power wisely.
  15. Expand your creativity. There are so many ways to solve problems and to fulfill our needs without depriving or destroying others. Take advantage of your creativity to explore them. Look for “third side” and “both/and” solutions that benefit all.

~ Marsha

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Worldchanging World-Saving Actions Must Include Humane Education and MOGO Living

Last week’s Earth Day celebration passed with the usual green this and eco that. But this year also brought more attention to how both Earth Day and the concept of green have started to lose a bit of their shine, with their cooption by multinational corporations and other companies trying to cash in on our desire to do good. There’s also the growing revelation that taking those itty bitty steps for the planet, while better than nothing, isn’t nearly enough to save us – or the earth – from ourselves.

As Worldchanging says,

“We’ll only head off disaster by taking steps — together — that are massive, societal and thorough. Most of what needs to be done involves political engagement, systems redesign, and cultural change. It can’t be done in an afternoon and then forgotten about.”

Worldchanging has created a list of 10 “big, difficult, world-changing concepts” essential for helping create the just, compassionate, sustainable world we want (and need). Here’s their list:

1.    Eliminate nuclear weapons.
2.    Stabilize the bottom billion.
3.    Create a globally transparent society.
4.    Be prepared, globally.
5.    Empower women.
6.    Enable a future forward diet.
7.    Document all life.
8.    Negotiate an effective climate treaty.
9.    Build bright green cities.
10.    Build no new highways.

If you check out the full post, you can see their explanations about the problems that each of these concepts solves and why it’s important.

All of the above are admiral, desirable elements of a humane world. But, one essential concept that’s missing from the top of their list is:

1.    Integrate comprehensive humane education and MOGO living into all areas of our lives.

If we’re taught from a young age to live with integrity, compassion and wisdom; if we’re given the tools and knowledge to put our deepest values into action; if we learn to pay attention to the impact of our choices and to do the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet; if we’re encouraged to think critically and creatively and to find solutions that work for all; if we’re inspired to look at the world through a lens of interconnectedness; if we’re empowered to make positive personal choices and to transform systems, we can create a truly humane world.

We’re going to have a challenging time accomplishing all that other stuff on their list if we don’t collectively have the passion, the skills and the integrity to create that world, and those are things that have to be nurtured and taught.

~ Marsha

15 Ways to Cultivate a More Humane Life

There are a ton of tips out there for making green choices — choose compact fluorescents, drive less, buy organic, use cloth bags, etc. These are all terrific, simple things that most of us can do; but, it’s also important to examine the bigger picture — to have a vision and connection and purpose in helping create the world we want. This isn’t a complete list, but it’s a definitely start: here are 15 ways to cultivate a more humane life:

  1. Seek out inspiration and knowledge and support. Read widely and deeply. Find role models whose bits of wisdom you can use. Find inspiring and meaningful quotes and other tidbits. Surround yourself with inspiration and supportive people. The humane journey can feel lonely, but there are a lot of us out there; we need to connect with each other and learn from each other.
  2. Go vegan, local, organic, whole & unprocessed, seasonal, fair trade non-GMO as much as you can. Our daily food choices have such an enormous impact that they deserve special consideration.
  3. Build community in your neighborhood. This could mean something as complex as developing and living in a co-housing community, or something as simple as getting to know your neighbors, holding a neighborhood potluck, or borrowing and lending tools. We love and respect what we know. When we know each other, we have a better chance of treating each other better and of being more concerned about the impacts of our actions on others.
  4. Love your enemy. Finding compassion for those whose actions we abhor is one of the most challenging tasks we can ask of ourselves. But it is so essential to explore others’ point of view, and to develop tolerance for those who don’t share our views.
  5. Learn skills for communicating well with others. You can’t build a humane community if you can’t listen. Cooperate. Build bridges.
  6. Teach others & share the joys and power of what you’ve discovered, without prostelytizing. If you can show people that they can live humanely and still meet all their needs and find happiness and fulfillment, you have the potential to influence their future choices.
  7. Extend your circle of compassion to all beings. See non-human animals not just as biodiverse species to be respected, but as individuals each deserving respect and equal consideration.
  8. Reduce your footprint. You can still be a 3 R’s fan and have a huge footprint. Hybrid cars, giant eco-houses and green travel to faraway countries are all greener ways of living, but they all still have a significant impact on the earth. We can reduce our impact and live a meaningful, joyful life.
  9. Pay attention to the impact of media and advertising. A lot of our need for stuff comes from people telling us we’re not healthy-whole-sexy-successful-worthy-intelligent-interesting-normal unless we buy a bunch of products or choose a certain lifestyle. Make sure that you’re making your choices with awareness and intention, rather than because you’re feeling inadequate or fearful or lonely or bored.
  10. Expand your global awareness and connection. Make room for everyone. We North Americans pat ourselves on the back for our eco-friendly choices, but we still consume the earth at an alarming rate, leaving much less for our brothers and sisters around the world. We also need to be aware of the choices our corporations and governments make in regard to other countries, and speak out when those choices are poor ones.
  11. Examine your lenses. As activist Laura Moretti says, “That’s the nice thing about beliefs. Just because you’ve put your faith in them doesn’t make them true.” Learn to view the world through a humane lens: see the impact of your choices, the influence of your words and interactions with others, the example you set for children. Ask yourself if the choices you make every day (and the influences of those choices) reflect the kind of world you want for yourself and for future generations.
  12. Do some small something every day to make the world a better place. Celebrate the small victories and habits.
  13. Stop every day and count your blessings. Remember the journeys of your neighbors, especially those around the world who have much less. If we pause to be thankful, we’re less likely to feel deprived and thus need to have more.
  14. Exercise your own power and responsibility. It’s not up to the government or scientists or industry or technology to fix things. We each need to step up. We also can recognize the power each individual has and use that power wisely.
  15. Expand your creativity. There are so many ways to solve problems and to fulfill our needs without depriving or destroying others. Explore them.

What would you add to the list?

~ Marsha

The Simple Life: 3 Sites With Simple Tips for Sustainable Living

“50 Simple Actions for Fixing the Planet,” “10 Easy Ways to Lower Your Carbon Footprint,” “5 Fast & Fun Things You Can Do to Help the Earth That Don’t Actually Require You to Make Any Changes in Your Life Whatsoever.” Our society – especially here in the U.S. – seems to want it quick, simple, painless, convenient, and cool. And, if it also makes money or washes your car, added bonus! So, there are tons of guides out there catering to our addiction to fun and easy – recommending ways we can take tiny steps that make a tiny difference for sustainable living and protecting the planet.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, we’re going to have to do a lot more than change to compact fluorescents and switch to canvas shopping bags to create a humane, sustainable, just world. But, sometimes thinking the deep thoughts and making the big changes can feel overwhelming, and we need to take a breather, focusing on baby steps and simple solutions.

So here are three resources for those times:

50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth

First published back in the early 90s, the book offered – as the title states – 50 simple actions that people could take to reduce their negative impact and increase their positive impact on the planet. This updated version is more than a book focused on “critical issues” rather than specific small actions; it also includes a companion website with expanded content and resources, such as a blog, a tip of the day, challenges, news, forums, success stories and more. The website also links to numerous other groups concerned about these same issues. When you need a quick fix, go right to the Tip of the Day.

Cool People Care

Got five minutes? Sign up to receive the free daily “5 Minutes of Caring” tip, which provides a quick suggestion for doing something positive. The whole Cool People Care site is focused on showing people “how to change the world in whatever time you have.” It includes a blog, articles, and other resources.

Ideal Bite

Looking for easy-peasy green tips & products? Sign up for Ideal Bite’s free daily “bite-sized ideas for light green living.” In addition to the daily tip delivered to your inbox, you can visit the IB website to cruise the blog, view the tip library, or submit your own tip.

~ Marsha

(Note: This was originally posted on Humane Connection, the blog I do as part of my “day job.”)