10 Easy Ways to Go Green

Today is Earth Day.

Sometimes we look at environmental issues as being too big for just one person to solve; on the global scale, they are. That doesn’t mean that each of us can’t do our part to improve the environment.

Here is a quick list of 10 easy ways for anyone to start going green.

  1. Change your driving habits
    • Walk
    • Ride a bike
    • Use Public Transport
    • Move closer to work
    • Carpool
  2. Check out used before buying new
    • Garage sales
    • Flea markets
    • Classified ads
    • craigslist
    • Kijiji
  3. Buy or use local
    • Farmer’s Markets
    • Market farms
    • Greenhouses
    • Crafters and artisans
  4. Set back your thermostats
    • Furnace
    • Hot water tank
    • Air conditioner
  5. Recycle
    • Household
    • Compost
    • Office
    • Thift Stores
    • Consignment shops
  6. Conserve water
    • Low-flow shower head
    • Shorter showers
    • Low-flush toilets
    • Give up bottled water
  7. Change your light bulbs
    • Use compact fluorescent
    • Use LED holiday lights
    • Turn off lights as your leave rooms
    • Use lower wattage bulbs, where possible
  8. Use energy efficient appliances
    • Energy star rated
    • Mid or high-efficiency furnace
    • Clothesline
  9. Reduce chemical use
    • Natural pesticides
    • Natural fertilizers
    • Biodegradable household cleaners
    • Phosphate free products
  10. Extend the life of your electronics
    • Don’t upgrade to every new gadget
    • Extend the life of entertainment equipment by one year
    • Buy used instead of new

Quotes and Questions – Decisiveness

Quotes:

  • “Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days… What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • “People begin to become successful the minute they decide to be.” —Harvey Mackay
  • “Choice determines direction… Decision determines destiny…” —Doug Firebaugh
  • “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by traffic from both sides.” —Margaret Thatcher

Questions:

  1. What decisions will you make, even when you’re uncertain about them, to help you take control of your own life?
  2. What goals are you working towards? Do your decisions align with these goals?
  3. Have you ever missed an opportunity because you waited too long before making a decision? 

6 Secrets of Stress Management

As the weather begins to warm-up, we’re making our summer vacation plans. The past two years of restrictions and lock-downs put something of a crimp in our usual vacation travel.

Instead of sitting around moaning about our circumstances, we took advantage of the break. We engaged in a few more hobby activities than normal. We tackled a few jobs around the house and went out for more nieghbourhood walks than usual.

This year we have plans. We’re looking forward to visiting family and getting our camping in our trailer.

Right now, I’m sitting here, enjoying a coffee and taking it easy, I’m thinking about stress. We all have stress; there’s no way to avoid it. In fact, some degree of stress is a good thing. Just as the stress of weights during exercise can help build muscle, so life-stress can build emotional, psychological or mental “muscle”.

Stress becomes a problem when it controls us. If you want to remain balanced, you need to manage the stress in your life.

How do you do that? Here are six secrets of stress management:

  1. Know yourself: If you don’t have a clear sense of who you are and what you stand for, people and circumstances will try to shape you. Trying to be someone or something you are not is stressful.
  2. Set clear goals: Define what you want or need to do. If there’s a big, undefined task looming in your subconscious, you’re going to be stressed about not getting it accomplished. Setting clear goals allows you to see the end and set the steps toward reaching the goal. Just meeting each of the milestones leading to a completed task can go a long way to reducing stress.
  3. Set your priorities: You can’t do everything all at once. You can set your goals and know the steps to reach those goals, but if you don’t know where to begin, you’re going to build stress. Figure out the priorities and you’ll know where to begin.
  4. Set your focus: Once you know where to begin, focus on that task. If you try and focus on more than one thing at a time, all things will suffer.
  5. Delegate: You can’t do it all yourself. You can plan a major project, set all the steps, plan dates for the deliverables and then stress over all that needs doing. Get the team involved. Even Jesus enlisted 12 disciples.
  6. Relax: Take a break. Successful weight-trainers know constant stress on the muscles will soon become counter-productive and even damaging. They know their muscles need to have periods of relaxation to get the best benefit from training. Stress can compound. You need to take breaks to relax and refresh, thereby coming back stronger.

Stress is never eliminated, but it can be managed and controlled. A few simple steps and you can make stress work to your advantage.

Quotes and Questions – Motivation

Quotes:

  • “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” —Edith Wharton
  • “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” —H.G. Wells
  • “Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.” —Christopher Morley
  • “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” —Tony Robbins and countless others

Questions:

  • What happened yesterday that you are going to overcome today?
  • What are you doing to spread light to those around you?

Are we addicted to mediocrity?

I wish I had written this, or something like this:

The one possible weakness of this otherwise terrific little volume (The Dip, by Seth Godin) is that it is aimed solely at people who are creative, intelligent and want to succeed. Those who are mediocre, unmotivated or just coasting through life will probably not get much from Godin. He is not an elitist, but his message is squarely aimed at those who want to succeed or at least achieve excellence. ~Know a Dip from a Dead End.

I’ve read most of Seth Godin’s output: books, magazine articles, blog posts, etc. I’ve often thought there was a disconnect between the new generation of forward-thinking consumers Seth writes about, and the people I encounter day-to-day.

I was watching television a couple of weeks ago and this commercial came on that made no sense whatsoever. (I don’t remember the product.) I complained about the stupidity of it and the three others watching with me spent ten or a dozen minutes explaining what they felt the advertiser was trying to say. They did not see anything incongruous about having to take ten minutes to explain a 30–second ad spot.

There are at least three reasons why most people accept mediocrity:

  1. We have become inured to bad customer interaction in all its forms. There’s a sense that bad marketing and desultory customer service is the normal cost of doing business. We may be entertained by creative advertising at Super Bowl time, but we expect something that shouts the latest no-interest, no-payment “deal” at our local furniture outlet.
  2. Most people will sacrifice quality for convenience. It doesn’t matter that WestJet has great customer service if the Air Canada flight gets me there 30 minutes earlier. We’ll eat tasteless produce from Safeway rather than spend an extra hour and five more dollars at the farmer’s market.
  3. People find it hard to break with tradition. My grandfather drove a GM product, my father drove a GM product, I’m going to drive a GM product. So what if the bank adds to its already obscene profits by raising my fees, I’ve banked there all my life and I don’t want to change.

These are my quick and dirty thoughts, with lots of room for discussion and debate. I agree with Richard Pachter that there are those that seek constant improvement. But I also think they are in the minority.

How about you? What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

5 ways to get the most out of life lessons

Oscar Wilde said, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes,” and Rita Mae Brown said, “Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement.”

Experience can teach us much if we open ourselves to the lessons it contains. But we must be careful. The results of our bad judgements can create so much fear that we’re unwilling to try and learn new things.

Here are five ways we can take the best advantage of our experiences:

  1. Keep aware of the past – To learn from our experiences, we must be able to recall what we have done. Then they can serve as guides for the future.
  2. Let go of the past – Don’t hang on to the past too tightly. Don’t waste energy wishing for the “good old days” or being afraid to try something new, because of past experiences. Give yourself permission to make mistakes.
  3. Don’t make the same mistake twice – Learn from your bad judgement. If you’re still making the same mistakes five years later, you’re missing the point.
  4. Make the most of each experience – As new experiences come along, don’t spend too much time analyzing. Jump in and get the most from it. Then, if there are lessons to learn, take the time to study.
  5. Live your life to the full – life is not just random moments or individual events. Life is the sum total of all you do and are. Don’t live your life as if it is some sort of checklist where you can’t move to the next experience until the previous one is complete.

I’ll finish with another quotation, this from Henry David Thoreau. “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life…”

Carpe Diem!