Updated: Dec 1, 2020
Mitigating the climate crisis isn’t just about the number of planes we fly or the amount of beef we eat. In order to make a real change, we need to adapt a different attitude about our role on this planet.
Up until recently, I tended to think of humans as a kind of stain on the earth. I thought about all the ways we’ve exploited nature and killed one another, and the only logical conclusion I could come to was we’re not meant to be here.
Then I traveled around the country for a month and couldn’t stop imagining how native people lived with each different landscape I crossed. I kept thinking of how humans must’ve adapted to each climate and weather pattern. I imagined what clothing they made out of which animals and what their diets consisted of. I envisioned which aspects of nature would feel miraculous and which would feel like a curse.
I’ve only begun to immerse myself in education about Indigenous people and how they lived with the land, but it’s made one thing clear: we aren’t a mistake. We’re an evolution.
The way Indigenous people lived with the land was how we’re intended to live: in partnership with the earth. It’s what’s happened since that has led us astray.
But maybe all of this—the wars, the greed, the disconnect, the climate crisis—is inevitable because it’s part of human evolution. That would mean no moment in our history has been a mistake.
It does not mean we’re powerless as to what comes next. However we got here, we get to choose the next chapter. I believe we can choose to reclaim our role in nature.
We need to remember that we are part of nature, not separate from it. Even everything we’ve created—the planes, the cars, the skyscrapers, the plastic—is part of nature too because we’ve made them out of earthly materials. We’ve manipulated things found on this earth and made them into something new, but they’re still of this earth.
That means we have every responsibility to care for what we’ve made, even after we’re done using it. We can’t throw something in a landfill and pretend it’s gone forever. We created it, so we need to take care of it.
I think the only way to get there is by starting with ourselves. Here’s how I see us—each of us—going inward to find climate solutions.
Step 1: Tap into Introspection & Mindfulness
We spend so much of our time pushing away the negative emotions by pacifying and distracting ourselves. Rather than feeling loneliness, we scroll through social media, shop online, eat, binge-watch shows, whatever.
We tune out to make the bad feelings go away, but we don’t get to the root of the problem. It’s inhibiting our potential.
We need to get introspective, get mindful, even if it means experiencing those negative emotions—especially if it means experiencing those negative emotions. When we can feel the depths of loneliness or grief or despair, it expands our capacity to feel joy and abundance and connection. We can’t have one without the other.
Getting in touch with those emotions is the only way to see ourselves clearly and figure out our unique role in the world.
Step 2: Be Authentic
Once we know who we are and what we’re meant to be doing, we have to let everything else go.
We have to stop pretending to be someone else. Stop pretending our lives are perfect. Show up as we are—the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is how we connect with one another, by showing up as ourselves.
I am so sick of seeing Instagram influencers out in public posing in their impractical hats and layers of makeup. We all see you here in the real world. You look ridiculous.
Posting pictures of your perfect-looking life only makes people feel bad in comparison. People follow you because it feeds some deep-seated cycle of feeling like they’re not enough and trying to be more like you. It feeds the cycle of negativity and distraction. You’re preying on insecurity.
Then, to make ourselves feel better, we post a picture of our perfect-looking life to pretend our lives are just as glamorous, making others feel less-than by comparison.
No one’s life is perfect. Can we all collectively agree to stop pretending they are?
What if we showed true joy and authentic relationships? What if we talked about the hard work that goes into making something look easy and shared inspiration rather than pain-point marketing?
Can you imagine if women’s magazines were full of ways to lean into your strengths and confidence rather than make-up tips and “must have” clothes for this season?
We would be capable of so much more.
Step 3: Create True Connection
This authenticity is what leads to true connection with others.
Right now, we’re physically isolated from other people and it sucks; I’m not going to deny that for a second. I miss practicing yoga alongside my community and grocery shopping without anxiety. I miss hugging my family.
Even in this strange version of reality, true connection is what will keep us going. And if we can’t do it in person, we can at least show up authentically online.
Authentic connection allows us to see ourselves in each other. We realize we’re not so different; we realize everyone is struggling with something. It makes us more compassionate, more empathetic. It widens our perspective and teaches us more about the human experience.
We see the humans behind the people we politically oppose. We realize both sides of an argument are coming from a desire to protect the ones we love. We see that we’re part of the bigger picture together.
Step 4: Take Care
Along this journey of connecting, 3 things happen: we start to take better care of ourselves, we start to take better care of each other, and we start to take better care of the earth.
When we tune into ourselves, we see ourselves as precious. We start to take better care of ourselves.
When we connect with someone else, we feel compassion for them. We start to take better care of others.
When we see ourselves as part of humanity, we see our role on this earth. We realize the natural world is finite and precious, and we start to take better care of it.
That’s it. Simple, but not easy. I honestly believe if we can commit to seeing ourselves clearly, the rest will flow and we’ll create a new paradigm.