This comes up as a quote on my tea bag tag from time to time.
I once started a yoga class with this quote, then chickened out a bit and encouraged people just to focus on how their choices in class could impact their experience of the practice. I say chickened out because I wholeheartedly believe that this is true, that each of our actions matter, and that small incremental change is precisely what changes the world. Probably would have been more inspiring if I stuck with the OG quote.
However, there is good reason to soften or qualify this quote. It can feel like a lot of pressure the last thing I want is for you to develop a case of orthorexia (eating so healthy you can’t eat anything) or eco-anxiety (breaking down when you forget your reusable bags at the grocery story). While there are many positive choices we can make, we are also human, we make mistakes and forget things, and it takes us time to develop new ways of thinking and being.
Despite the effort necessary to change, there is a way to grow in a positive directions without putting the pressure on. The trick is to remove judgement from the process. It doesn’t make all of you good or bad if you do or don’t make a certain choice, it just has an effect. So notice, what are the effects – or lack of effects – that result from your decisions?
Some dude who sells fancy stuff said “discipline is remembering what you want,” and I agree. It’s remembering when someone shoves a dozen cookies in your face that you want to feel healthy, not have a sugar high and crash, and/or not get diabetes. It’s remembering that the thing you want that was made in China is not worth having a child worker make it for you. It’s remembering that giving someone a piece of your mind, while tempting in the moment, may have grave consequences for you (and for said person). Each choice you make has an impact.
When you know this and can reflect on it, you’re able to pick your battles and make choices that align with your deeper values. You may have forgotten your reusable bags, but you can still be kind to the cashier.
What do YOU value? Health? Justice? Your children? How do you want the ripple effect of your life to go out into the world? Remembering your values and acting according to them is the best way to ensure your choices are changing the world in the direction your deepest heart & self desire.
Take a moment now to ask yourself two questions:
1. What are my top 5 values?
2. If someone else were to look at my daily life, what would they say my top 5 values are? (Even better, ask someone else so you can get an outside perspective on yourself)
You may see some stark contrasts! A great opportunity to refine your perspective, and perhaps your choices too.
What did you learn from this exercise? What do you value the most in your life and what imprint do you want to make with your life? In the comments below, share what you value, and any choices you’d like to change to make a positive impact on the world.