Sustainability is a topic that is widely discussed and debated. You will hear this topic come up in many different forums, such as the debate stage, environmental rallies, and even over the dinner table. More and more Americans are becoming aware of sustainability. But does being aware of the topic change anything? There is a true relationship between our own relationships and sustainability. This reminded me of the “Just Say Hi” campaign that was started in 2016 by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. This celebrity endorsed program answered an easy question. When you encounter a person with special needs what should you say? The answer was simple, “Just say hi”. This campaign encouraged people to “Just say hi” to those in wheelchairs, in walkers, and even just typical strangers that you meet. This outreach of kindness is small in nature but spurs people to see others and truly connect. I think this is an innovative approach to mindfulness. Being mindful of the others around you, especially those that are less able and by extension less fortunate than you. To highlight the need of all people to relate and feel that they are part of the bigger world around them, including your world. This is where mindfulness begins.
Mindfulness and sustainability have been explored through many different topics. A few years ago, Marc Cohen participated in a TED Talk. He talked about how wellness is very multidimensional. These dimensions include physical, emotional, sexual, and social wellness. He defined wellness as being fully present in the moment and living your life to the fullest. He discussed that as a whole we are participating in the over consumption of our resources. He said that this over consumption is actually killing us. The scariest data that he brought up was that lifestyle is responsible for sixty percent of deaths on the planet. He elaborated on that stating that every 3.6 seconds someone dies from malnutrition. This is in stark contrast to his next point that every .9 seconds someone dies from over consumption, a rate four times greater. This was eye-opening for me, and a reflective moment. Over consumption, also known as gluttony, is one of the seven deadly sins. This behavior has been warned against, and in different religions and cultures gluttony was so shameful people dare not do it. Society has changed and so has this behavior. Our over indulgence is not only killing us, but it is not sustainable. It has been scientifically proven that we are using resources faster than they can be replenished. Marc Cohen asserts that we need to balance our egocentric selfish actions with selfless actions.
The concept that mindfulness can lead to sustainability is also explored in the article “Mindfulness and Sustainability.” Firstly, the article discusses our sustainability issues and climate change and ultimately how those can be solved through mindfulness. At an individual level mindfulness starts a chain reaction of events. As one becomes more mindful of themselves, they also become more mindful of others. An individual will begin to have different values, while increasing their compassion and empathy toward others that they know and don’t know. This is crucial, becoming compassionate toward the unknown begins to make you aware that your actions impact others in a ripple effect. You should care about the impact of your actions even if you don’t know those are being impacted. The second is one’s own well-being. As a person is more and more mindful they will seek to be more physically fit, eating better, and living a more healthy and fulfilling life. A healthy lifestyle is less consumptive lifestyle. As you are now focused on what is good for you and not what is pleasurable. Lastly, the article talks about gaining more clarity into one’s values. These values will be rooted in the good of the community. Gluttony and other traits are considered sins because they damage a community and are not good for the society as whole, however large or small. The article also discusses meditation as a way to become more mindful. I did try to meditate, and the article did say that this would take practice. Moreover, the article said that meditation is believed to get better with practice. After I meditated, I felt more at peace, and I was not as focused on my problems. The problems and issues that I found plaguing me before I meditated were no longer being thought about. However, I did find myself being tired and less able to focus on the next task ahead of me which was homework. I do feel that after reading this article that mindfulness has a true correlation to spurring actions of sustainability.
Mindfulness, to me, is connectedness. It is connecting as a community, as society, and as a global population to each other. I believe that we all need to be mindful of each other whether or not you know them. Each of our choices daily can effect people on the other side of the globe that we have never met nor did we ever mean to effect their lives. In my research on sweatshops this is becoming more and more true. Within the overconsumption of our American society we are encouraging and, in some ways, demanding that sweatshops exist so that we can have “more”. Our need for “more” is what is driving the sweatshops and effecting others that we have never met. Therefore, in order to be more connected and mindful I do believe that we should all participate in the “Just Say Hi” campaign. That one act alone can connect you to someone you have never met, and let’s that person know I am aware and I am mindful.