Tag Archives: sustainable living

My constitution

The previous post raised this curious idea of drawing up your own constitution.  As a simple example, this post will outline the constitution that has served me very well for several years.

Here goes…

I grant myself sole responsibility over this body-mind that I have been dealt. This responsibility includes protection, nurturing and development and shall be carried out within the confines of planet Earth.

We all owe it to ourselves and to society to look after ourselves. As an added bonus, taking good care of yourself invariably reduces your environmental footprint.

I grant myself authority over the labour of my body-mind. This labour shall be carried out from a clean and effortless mental state and there shall be no unjustified delays or unhealthy excesses.

One of the saddest things in our modern world is that most people are conditioned to chase happiness through consumption rather than creation. Getting control over your creative powers is key to living a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life.

I will maximize the quality of my human interactions, while controlling the quantity. Every interaction must fill the other person’s bucket, even if it is just a drop.

The bucket analogy comes from a simple little book by Tom Rath. It simply states that we should strive to impart goodness on everyone we interact with. This is a very good general rule for life.

I will employ a strict zero waste policy to cut out the self-destructive misuse of mental capacity. Every self-destructive mindset shall immediately be quashed with a WTF thought.

We only get a finite amount of mental processing power over the course of our lives. Using this processing power to generate valuable new ideas is optimal, spending it on stuff like routine tasks and entertainment is neutral, but wasting it on self-destructive thought processes is just idiotic. Such a waste of our finite mental capacity truly qualifies as a WTF moment and can be dismissed with a somewhat embarrassed smile and a shake of the head.

I will continuously accelerate my evolution towards the fully rational emotional being. Performance and experience enhancing emotions are strongly encouraged, but primitive self-defeating emotions will be gradually starved out.

Humans are undoubtedly emotional creatures. Unfortunately, several emotional responses that served us well over the vast majority of our evolution have become totally out of date in our modern world. If we are to live happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable lives, we need to eradicate the primitive emotional responses that make us depressed, self-destructive, financially irresponsible and environmentally unsustainable.

So, that’s it. Five simple points that keep me on the straight and narrow. What would your constitution look like?

PS: Why should you take lifestyle advice from a random guy on the internet? Good question. Take a look at the effects that these guidelines had on my life and decide for yourself.

The importance of buying the right home

This blog is all about building intelligent micro-environments where happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable living happens naturally. You don’t get any better opportunities for micro-environment construction than in your own home.

For this reason, we will build a separate chapter in the One in a Billion project dedicated to this crucial topic. We will look at three critical aspects of your home: its location, its size and its contents. Th e importance of each of these will be briefly outlined below.

Location, location, location

It is well known that the three most important things to look out for when house hunting is location, location and location. Once you have bought a home, you can change many things about it, but you cannot change its location. This aspect therefore has to carry the biggest weight.

As far as this blog is concerned, the most important criterion in selection of a home is minimization of travel distance. For example, if you can intelligently select the location of your home to replace your 30 minute car commute with a 10 minute bicycle trip, you will become happier from escaping stressful rush-hour traffic, healthier from getting automatic exercise every day, wealthier from the huge savings brought by biking instead of driving, and more sustainable for the same reason.

We will also look at several other location-specific factors impacting health, wealth and happiness, but travel time remains the most important one.

Size

The size of your home directly impacts its costs (mortgage and maintenance), its environmental impact (mostly energy consumption for temperature control, lighting and appliances), and its demand for your time (maintenance and gardening).

A person who has evolved beyond the primitive consumerist mindset will obviously favour these advantages of a smaller home over the materialistic appeal of a large home. The willingness to settle for a smaller home can also make it possible to buy in the ideal location, bringing many additional benefits.

Stuff

There are many choices when it comes to filling your home with stuff. The choices you make here will have important impacts on your home’s environmental impact, running costs, livability and productivity.

We will take a look at several of these important choices with a special focus on building an environment for increasing productivity.

Filed under: Home

PS: Why should you take lifestyle advice from a random guy on the internet? Good question. Take a look at the effects that these guidelines had on my life and decide for yourself.

The action plan

OK, now that we finally have all of the formalities out of the way we can get to the really important stuff: the practical action steps towards building yourself a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life. The current version of this action plan is subdivided into 10 main categories, each of which will take quite a few posts to convey.

Three additional posts will follow at the end of each main category: one to estimate the potential impact that widespread adoption of this action step can have on our various global crises, one that will estimate the personal benefits that these action steps will bring to the one implementing them and one that discusses the resistances people experience to making these vital lifestyle changes. These estimates will be broken down as follows:

Crisis mitigation:

  • Climate change – carbon footprint reduction
  • Resource depletion – ecological footprint reduction
  • Economic crisis – sovereign debt reduction
  • Social inequality – increase in social mobility
  • Societal complexity – reduction in interdependence and increase in adaptability

Personal benefits:

  • Health – increase in functionality of body/mind and longevity
  • Wealth – increase in earning power and financial resilience
  • Happiness – joy in day-to-day living and overall life satisfaction

Resistances:

The resistances to change we experience will be described according to the general One in a Billion theory: the current macro-environment we live in simply makes happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable living totally unnatural. These posts will simply discuss this point in more detail especially as it pertains to each particular category of action steps.

Filed under: Introduction

Crunch some numbers

People (and counties) are constantly measuring themselves up against each other. This can be a good thing and lead to some healthy progress, but unfortunately, we tend to measure progress and prosperity in all the wrong ways.

People (and countries) still value conspicuous consumption very highly. For individuals, this can be reflected in a massive house, many fancy cars and a walk-in wardrobe with enough clothes and shoes to open a small retail outlet. For countries, it is that all-important measure called GDP.

Now there is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition, but if most of the contestants in the race are running in the wrong direction, you have a problem. The real goal is a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life, but unfortunately, most of us are constantly becoming unhappier, unhealthier, more broke and an ever-growing burden on the planet.

The fundamental mindset that has gotten us running in the wrong direction is called consumerism. As we have discussed before, consumerism does not bring any happiness and presents a big threat to our environment, our economy and our social structures. We really have to start running in the right direction.

The correct measures of individual success are linked on the right-hand sidebar of this blog under “lifestyle calculators” and the correct measure of success for a country is called the Happy Planet Index. Please determine how you are faring in this crucial race and then please make a commitment to at least start running in the right direction.

Filed under: Introduction – Key concepts

Sustainability is cool

One of the primary reasons for our tardy adoption of more sustainable lifestyles is that conspicuous consumerism is still perceived to be very cool. The advertising industry continuously bombards us with brightly colored promises of happiness-through-consumption, celebrities cruise around in massive cars and cover themselves with all manner of bling, and the self-destructive mindset of “keeping up with the Joneses” is still very much engrained in the public mindset.

This seriously needs to change. The fact is that human beings, young and old, have a fundamental desire to fit in, to be perceived as cool. Therefore, as long as the consumption of ever increasing quantities of miscellaneous stuff is perceived to be cool, we will remain a society of totally unsustainable consumers. 

We desperately need to bring a new definition of cool to the public consciousness: sustainable living. Really, if you think about it, sustainability is super-cool. I don’t know about you, but if I see someone living a sustainable lifestyle, my respect for that person grows tremendously. A sustainable lifestyle implies that a person is highly informed about the state of the world, a great benefactor to future generations and a true leader setting the trend for others to follow. 

Now just imagine that you learn about this person’s sustainable lifestyle, meet him/her to find a genuinely happy person just radiating vibrant health and then hear from someone else that this person is also financially secure and makes generous contributions to various important charities. 

What would be your impression of such a person? Who do you think is cooler; this person or someone cruising around in the latest and biggest SUV (bought on credit)?

Think about it.

Filed under: Introduction – Key concepts