Minimalist Habits in the New Eco-friendly World

Finally we have made the big step toward an Eco-friendly world right here in New York by banning plastic disposable shopping bags. This is long overdue. Hopefully this is just the first in many changes toward a better earth, to come.

This wonderful culture change goes hand in hand with a minimal existence. Less waste, less clutter, re-using, retaining only that which adds value. In the end “minimal” and “environmentally friendly” are the same thing.

But with that being said, I see as I go shopping that there are many people that still have a difficult time adjusting to this bag-less change.

I am at the self checkout at the local market and I see most people PAYING for a paper bag to load their groceries in. When I see this I just lower my head swinging it back and forth. This is just replacing one waste for another, and unfortunately stores are forced to supply these paper bags to make up for negligence and ignorance.

C’mon people, it’s time to build the habit of bringing your own reusable bags. Most grocery stores sell ones right there at the registers; pretty ones. These ones are fine and dandy, and very sturdy. Buuuuuut they are a bit bulky for my taste. I prefer something that I can store in an easy to “grab and go” place; something minimal (of course). It is for this reason that I use Timomo reusable grocery bags, or “pocket bags” as I like to call them. When not in use they fold up into a pouch the size of your palm and can be stored literally in your back pocket. These bags, and others like them can be found online, and at most variety retail stores (Target, Wal-Mart n such).

But whatever we prefer, go with it. This is hardly the difficult part of this whole change. The difficult part is building the habit of USING the bag.

For this reason, I wish to bestow some tips/tricks that will make establishing these habits smoother:

  1. Keep the shopping bag/s stored in the vehicle. It makes no sense to keep them in the home, as likelihood is we’ll only forget to grab them when it’s time to go out an shop. This brings me to tip number ….
  2. After we return home with our shopping goods (bagged of course), and have unloaded the bag/s, make a point to fold up the bag/s and put them with our “away supplies”. Ya know, the pile of stuff we keep close to the front door for when we leave the home. Stuff like our keys, coat, and hat. This way, the next time we leave the home we will have the bag/s to stash back in the vehicle. Either that, or just bring the bag/s back to the vehicle right away.
  3. In the event we DO forget to bring our bag/s in the market, and we find ourselves at the register when we realize this, please resist the temptation to buy a bag there (paper or otherwise) for the sake of time and saving a little bit of embarrassment. This actually hinders the process of building the good habit of remembering to bring the bag/s in next time…… and actually begins a NEW habit of just buying one every time. It takes two minutes to push our merch to the side, go to our vehicle, and get the shopping bag/s. PLUS, the time delay and embarrassment serve as an excellent reminder to get the bag/s next time; nothing sticks to the memory like a time lagging embarrassing moment. If we gotta get back on line and wait again at the checkout, so be it. The more of a hassle it is, the less likely we will make that mistake again.

No one said establishing good habits was easy, but as long as we establish a pattern, stick to it, and never let ourselves take the easy path,  we will get into the rhythm in no time.

 

 

Purifying the Mind

Without doubt the most difficult ongoing task in the journey of living a life of intention, is that of clearing the mind of negative thoughts and emotions. These things clutter the mind, robbing us of peace and focus. I myself frequently struggle with this, as this is has no destination, it’s just an ongoing journey. This is something we cannot  “beat ourselves up” over,  just because it is human nature to dwell on the negative.

    There are however some common practices we can implement in our lives to help us on this journey:

  1. Healthy body, healthy mind. – With regular exercise, and a healthy diet, we improve the mind in every way. We become more rational, understanding, and more joyful.
  2. becoming more Mindful – Through practices like Meditation and Yoga, one can improve their ability to be more aware of where they are and what they are doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around them.
  3. Apply the THINK method in all that we say – Everybody knows that our thoughts influence our actions, but what we often forget (or fail to realize) is that this concept works in reverse too. Improve our actions, and our thoughts and attitude will soon follow. It is for this reason I recommend the THINK method in all social interactions. That is, before we say something we should THINK about what we are going to say.

            Is what we have to say …

    • True
    • Helpful
    • Inspiring
    • Necessary
    • Kind

                Before a single conversation point is spoken, it must match this criteria.

I am always seeking new tools to assist in journey of mental stability/peace. I have found many. Most are too much of a time commitment for what they offer, and others haven’t worked to well at all (not for me anyway). These however have been invaluable, and the results are immediate.

Some Daily/Weekly Healthy Practices

Through my years I have learned through trial and error some wonderful habits that have been invaluable toward maintaining a healthy, peaceful, and low stress life. they have been solace during times of depression, a boost during times of laziness, and offered hope during times of hopelessness. I would very much like to share these habits in the hopes they can help others:

 

Sunshine – An absolute MUST every single day. I go outside and let the sun shine on me. Even if only for 15 minutes (no less than that). Cloudy day? Doesn’t matter. The sun still shines through the clouds. It only means I have to stay out even longer. There is of course the benefit of vitamin D, but I am convinced it is so much more than that. The sun has a way of lifting my spirits, reminding me that I am loved, and reassuring me that whatever my issues/problems are, they’re insignificant in the bigger picture.

Water – I drink water and lots of it. I am not going to go over all the benefits having a persistent water drinking habit, but I will say that we are healthier in every way with a water habit. I am not going to say that lack of water causes illness, but I will say that for most illnesses out there, had the person had a water consumption rhythm, illness would have been avoided. Most illness happens when the body is unable to fight a threat, but in order to do that the body needs some necessary elements. Water is the primary of these.

Exercise – Not an every day practice for me, but at least three times a week.  For me, this is full on cardio. I ride bicycle or I am in spin class. If I can’t do either of those, I am running. This is a practice I enjoy very much, and THAT is the key. Exercise becomes consistent when it is something we can enjoy. I strongly suggest everyone find an physically active activity that they can enjoy, and keep a steady habit of it. One that gets the heart rate up, keeps us sweating, and muscles aching. I don’t think I have to sell the health benefits of this; both mental and physical.

Meditation – I take the time daily to relax and contemplate my day/life. Soft contemplation, free of emotion. Then I let go of these thoughts and take the time to let them pass, clear my head and just relax. I incorporate breathing exercises. Meditation is a daily routine for me, for roughly 15 min.

Yoga – This is really just an extension of exercise and meditation combine. I do Yoga on rare occasion in class. But I do have a weekly practice of doing chair/office Yoga while I work. During the course of a work day I will take maybe 15 minutes to do some poses and relieve tension.

Smile – I try to make a conscience effort to do this even if I don’t want to. Seems foolish?? Well I have found that actions can determine attitude. This has been very successful. I have been amazed at how much doing good, has had me feeling good.

Read – The path to assured growth. Always learning. I take an hour, at least three times a week to read. Even if just for entertainment it still contributed to our growth. It expands the mind and imagination. If what we are reading is educational in itself, even better.

Listen to Soothing Music – This i will often do during meditation/contemplation. It helps me focus, helps me relax. 

 

These have been my daily and weekly habits that facilitate my minimalist life of focus and joy. I sincerely hope others will adopt some of these. For those who do, I guarantee results.