“Don’t take anything for granted.”
It took our species tens of thousands of years to get to 1 billion humans on Earth. That happened in around the year 1800. Just 220 years later, we’re now at 8 billion humans. There are some harsh realities that will surface in the wake of our exponential growth curve. The gross depletion of Earth’s resources is inevitable. We must face the responsibilities and challenges that our children’s generation will face over the next 100+ years. I remain a staunch optimist. I believe in the limitless potential of our species and world. Improving our odds of success lies in our ability to accept the brutal facts of our reality and develop our best and most hopeful plans for the future accordingly. Here are the lessons I’ll be sharing with my children based on what I’ve learned in 2020:
- Don’t buy the hype
TV news is entertainment, fueled by advertising dollars. Social media is also entertainment, fueled by advertising dollars. None of it is real. Unhooked from devices, you will experience the richness of life. The things you experience first-person is your reality, your footprint on Earth, and nothing can ever replace it. Of course, you must be educated about the world at large and the people around us. Social media is a dangerous way to consume your education, due to the way it can so easily be manipulated. Instead, read publications with subscription revenue models, committed to journalistic integrity. Focus on local news outlets, scientific journals, and academia. And especially be sure to read viewpoints that oppose your own so you can challenge yourself and ensure true diversity of thought.
- Show up
90% of making your dreams happen is about just showing up. Day after day, no matter what your mood is. If you enjoy the process of work with a pure heart, contribute with a spirit of service, and ignore the outcomes, you can’t lose. The fundamental idea is “unattachment” — living with intentional effort but remaining unattached to personal gain. For a reminder on this, read “The Bhagavad Gita”.
- Be present
Avoid letting the anxieties, tensions, and regrets consume you. Try to “eat” each second of your life like the sweet nectar it is. Whether it’s a great experience or a negative one, embrace it. Listen to the words, feel the pain, laugh with your full belly, enjoy the intricate details. Immerse yourself in each moment to the best of your ability, and you will never regret it. Any distractions that pull you away from the moment are poison. Time is the one asset that you never get back. For a reminder on this, watch “The Last Dance”. Michael Jordan achieved many great things, but his biggest lesson for us humans was about the power of what you could achieve if you are both prepared and completely immersed within the moment (as he was on the court).
- Believe in yourself
The negatives voices in our own heads telling us “I can’t” start very early in our lives. Every failure and disappointment reinforces that voice and makes it louder and stronger. It takes a significant amount of constant energy to address those negative thoughts and force yourself to acknowledge your gifts. This doesn’t mean self-critical thoughts are all “bad” and should be swept under the rug. These thoughts usually contain some truth. Embrace the truth in these messages, take note of the lesson, think of what you may want to work on to address it, and then let the thought pass. Constantly remind yourself of your greatness. Write down your affirmations and speak them aloud, especially when it feels awkward to do so. Use meditation to attain control over your thoughts so that they can never control you. Channel your inner Kanye West and speak words that reinforce the greatness inside you!
- Cherish your health
Sustainable living gives you the resources to flourish, no matter what changes happen in the world climate. Human beings have been blessed with an incredible biological system and we were also born with freedom of choice. We can thrive with a diverse vegetarian diet. Many of our worst viruses, human diseases, and ecological destruction, is caused by feeding on animals. As our population grows, these problems may only get worse, unless we draw some lines in the sand. Living an active life, keeping your needs minimal, and attaining the skills to be able to survive on a small patch of land, sets you up to thrive no matter what happens on Earth in the days ahead.
- Empathy is life
The system is rigged. Institutional racism and classism pervade every country and culture on Earth, particularly the US. However, as humans, we have control, we can work to make the world better. Our species has built the future over and over again. We can do it again. But it starts with you. Examine your world, use your own judgment. Something that your elders may feel is “normal”, may not be okay. If it doesn’t feel right to you and agitates your moral compass, don’t hesitate to question it. Lead with curiosity. Be willing to be wrong. Listen with an open mind. Most importantly, try to see the world from the other person’s eyes. Feel their pain, embrace their hopes and joys, walk a mile in their shoes. Other people surround you to widen your reality and become part of your experience.
The future is on you, we believe in you!