The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you will make one.
I had several people email me a link to this article from the New York Times, entitled “That Buzz in Your Ear May Be Green Noise“.
I had actually already scanned this article, it being part of my Huffington Post feed, but after it was brought to my attention I went back and read it again.
Here is what I feel to be the crux of the article:
An environmentally conscientious consumer is left to wonder: are low-energy compact fluorescent bulbs better than standard incandescents, even if they contain traces of mercury? Which salad is more earth-friendly, the one made with organic mixed greens trucked from thousands of miles away, or the one with lettuce raised on nearby industrial farms? Should they support nuclear power as a clean alternative to coal?
If even well-intentioned activists are feeling overwhelmed, the average S.U.V. driver must be tuning out. And some environmentalists fear that the public might begin to ignore their message before any meaningful change can be accomplished.
OK. So basically, we are looking at two different kinds of paralysis.
- In the first instance, paralysis due to fear of making a wrong decision.
- In the second, paralysis because of an inability to begin or a ceasing to care, due to too much information and way too much detail (“green fatigue”), as well as a growing sense of irritation from being preached at and being told that you’re living your life all wrong.
I think it follows that we are dealing with two types of people:
- People who are saying, “Tell me what to do.”
- People who are saying, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
So. I made a list. It started off as ways to fight paralysis. In your own mind and in the mind of those around you. It turned into…something else. A little more upbeat. So officially I’m going with:
15 Ways to Stay Motivated & Motivate Others,
(but I’m open to suggestions).
- Admit you don’t have all the answers. And learn to deal with that. It’s not a character flaw.
- Realize that no one else has all the answers, either. Not so-called experts, scientists, priests or your parents. They are just as likely as you to be misinformed, and it is not a character flaw in them either.
- Understand that inaction is, in fact, an action. And often, the wrong one.
- Don’t take other people’s word for it. Do your own research whenever you can, but take the science with a grain of salt. Theories are debunked all the time. New ones evolve. That’s science. It’s wonderful. But in any case, an educated guess is better than a random choice.
- Go with your gut. Most times, doing what you think is right will be the best choice. Deep down, you have good instincts about what the right choices are. Sometimes you will be wrong. This will teach you how to be right more often.
- Accept that you will make mistakes. That’s human and perfectly acceptable. Let go and move on. Blame only comes into play when you knowingly make the same mistake again.
- Know that there are some people who will never start something without being pushed. Push everyone you know, and push all the time. Our best friends are the ones who shoved us to be better people.
- Don’t second-guess yourself. You are capable of great things. Act like you believe that, and one day you will look back at all the great things you did, that you never believed yourself capable of.
- Don’t second-guess others. They too are capable of unbelievable things.
- Don’t dismiss advice out-of-hand just because it’s advice. Sometimes people do know what they are talking about. They’re just looking to save you a bit of trouble.
- Stay positive. Harping on the negative makes people feel helpless. Focus on the doing; look for the action.
- Do something. Other somethings will follow.
- Be creative. It is the easiest way to avoid being destructive.
- Be a role-model. No matter how insignificant you may feel your contributions may be, someone is noticing. For many of us, this someone is your child, who believes that you are the most powerful person in the world. Strive to be worthy of that belief.
- Be enthusiastic. Emerson famously said that “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” It is a trait that is both admirable and infectious. While, yes, it can be annoying, it can also be endearing. No one can resist the magnetism of a truly enthusiastic and earnest endeavor.
I am amused but not really surprised by how this article was published in the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times. Being environmentally responsible is still considered a “movement”, something currently in vogue and likely to pass. Ultimately, earth friendliness is still being marketed as a consumable product and a fashion trend.
I don’t see it that way. I see taking action to protect the earth, our shared environment, as a personal and social responsibility. I see the solution as being a change in mindset and an acceptance in personal accountability. I see this as the solution to most things.
I have a pile of index cards in front of me with quotes I used as a foundation for my list. I thought maybe you’d like to see them:
Success is 99% failure. -Soichiro Honda
A long dispute means both parties are wrong. -Voltaire
There is no fatigue so wearisome as that which comes from lack of work. -Charles Haddon Spurgeon
When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice. -William James
Talk happiness. The world is sad enough without your woe. No path is wholly rough. -Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Do not believe that he who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. His life has much difficulty and sadness and remains far behind yours. Were it otherwise he would never have been able to find those words. -Rainer Maria Rilke
Life is easier than you think; all that is necessary is to accept the impossible, do without the indispensable, and bear the intolerable. -Kathleen Norris