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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MOGO Workshop Changes Lives, Changes the World

The MOGO group, after a day of sharing, learning, connecting and eating!

The MOGO group, after a day of sharing, learning, connecting and eating!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a proud employee of the Institute for Humane Education, but I also volunteered to organize a MOGO Workshop for IHE here in Portland. It was held last weekend, and it was truly an amazing and transforming experience.

If you don’t know, MOGO stands for “Most Good” which refers to doing the most good and least harm for all people, animals and the planet. The MOGO Workshop was based around the 7 keys that IHE President and author  Zoe Weil writes about in her book Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle for a Better World and Meaningful Life. The 7 keys are:

  1. Live Your Epitaph
  2. Pursue Joy Through Service
  3. Make Connections and Self-Reflect
  4. Model Your Message and Work for Change
  5. Find and Create Community
  6. Take Responsibility
  7. Strive for Balance
Two volunteers spend a couple minutes getting the vaguest idea of what life must be like for battery hens.

Two volunteers spend a couple minutes getting the vaguest idea of what life must be like for battery hens.

Throughout the day, Zoe used these 7 keys as the basis for helping participants explore, question, reflect, think critically and define their values, the impact of their personal choices and the power of systemic change. Zoe used a variety of interactive strategies during the workshop. She started almost immediately by having people think about and list all the challenges of the world, the ones about which they’re most passionate, and what skills they have for helping solve those challenges. It was a very revealing exercise.  Some of the other activities included having people write their epitaphs, share experiences of joy through service and write out their MOGO Action Plan, as well as exploring the impact of our product choices on ourselves, other people, animals and the earth and learning about the ways other concerned citizens are creating positive change in the world.

As the local organizer, I was able to invite several of my friends and colleagues, and there were also several people there who didn’t know anything about the MOGO principle but were curious about the concept. Sweetpea Baking Company generously donated some yummy vegan donuts, which were quickly consumed (I jealously snagged a few extra for myself – not very MOGO, I know). And, Papa G’s catered an awesome vegan, organic, mostly-local lunch of enchilada pie, salad, corn, beans and rice, cornbread, and the best pear cobbler I’ve ever had (even better than my husband’s!). We were also fortunate that it was a beautiful, sunny day!

Everyone seemed to have a terrific experience (the evaluations were all very positive), and I think people left with a stronger sense of community and purpose, and the feeling that we all indeed can make a powerful positive difference in our lives and in the world.

IHE Prez and MOGO Workshop facilitator Zoe Weil. She totally rocks!

IHE Prez and MOGO Workshop facilitator Zoe Weil. She totally rocks!

I’m looking forward to connecting more with the participants and spreading the MOGO principle all over Portland…and the world!

~ 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