How happy are you?
Come on, be honest with yourself. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your current happiness levels? Have a cup of tea and a short think about it. When you get back to reading start to think about your thinking (BOOM mind blown right there). While thinking about your thinking processes might be new (and very tricky… our brains can go very fast) for some folks, it’s a pretty important part of personal growth. When you think back over what it was that you assessed to decide your current levels of happiness what did you think about? Did you compare your life to someone else’s? This can be easy to do in the age of social media as your neighbours, best friends, high school arch nemesis and their dog can all be social media ‘celebs’ posting photos of the very best parts of their lives and excluding the ugly bits. Perhaps it was thought’s of lack, stress, over-work and the pile of bills that you have to pay. Comparison of our lives to the lives of others, from a material point of view, and thoughts of lack can often leave us on the fruitless ‘search for happiness’, though external gains. Rather than conducting an inside job (which sounds totally mafia-like and very top secret) to find the happy stuff.
What I have learnt in life is that all good books have the word ‘Thrive’ in the title. You may remember a while back (if you have stuck around a while and bother to read all my blabbing) I became OBSESSED with Arianna Huffingtons book ‘Thrive’. A book that looks at reframing the way that we measure our success. I like to think of it as a possible structure for a new economic system. And as many of you eco-heads out there know, a new economic system is going to be the catalyst for real sustainability minded changes in the World. Thrive: An environmentally conscious lifestyle guide to better health and true wealth, a book by my fellow Ethical Writers Co gal pal Kamea Chayne (unintentionally…. when I spoke to Kamea she admitted she wasn’t aware of the content of the other Thrive) takes some of the premise of Huffington’s book and extends it out to a step by step holistic living guide. The comparison between the two thrives starts and ends at the fact they are both showing that happiness is not something we seek externally, and that the way the royal ‘we’ conduct ourselves is not really working for us. And in this sense both books are INCREDIBLY important sustainability reads. Why? Because unhappy people are designed to be unhappy. Our economic system needs growth, how do we get growth? People go to work long hours and buy stuff. Making people feel undesirable, or not up to societies standard, is marketing industry standard. They want you to believe that buying happiness is 100% possible and that happiness is the latest Louis Vuitton handbag. When we buy stuff we use resources, when we throw it away we create waste and on a planet with limited resource and space to throw things away this model is unsustainable!
Please don’t run away and hide. ‘Holistic’ is a term that’s commonly associated with deep green circles. You might see it on a flyer for drum circles, reiki, or tantric sex workshops. Truthfully I am a total new-age-aholic. My yoga studies and sustainability leadership uni classes have seen me deep seated in new-age thinking despite my straight science background. What Chayne has successfully done through Thrive is to provide a ‘new-agey’ way of living in a very ‘non-new-agey’ factual manner. Because as much as the acupuncturists and reiki masters have (rightly… it comes from a new-age background) taken control of the term ‘holistic’ ,what holism actually entails is looking at the bigger picture and all the connections between everything living and non living (you can learn more from the scary wombat above). Which is why the term is widely used in sustainability circles. We are not separate from any of our external factors. Without the sun we wouldn’t have food, without trees our air quality reduces, without bees pollination of plants would be VERY difficult and time consuming, without water we wouldn’t have beer (and that would really suck). All is one! Through Thrive Chayne shows us how all-can-be-one in our own lives with her simple, well researched and not at all ‘airy fairy lets go to a drum circle and do laughter yoga’ kind of way. And not that there is anything wrong with drum circle laughter yoga, I would attend, especially if it were on the beach in Byron and there was some beer available, it’s just not going to be everyones idea of a good time.
I’m going to start by saying that my copy of Thrive was sent to me by Chanye because she is really nice. I don’t accept freebies very often but I know the heart and soul that went into this writing process and I love to
procrastinate from uni assignments read. So it was totally OK in my books to say OK to someone else’s book. Also… I don’t do sponsored posts so this isn’t paid for in anything other than books. Chayne has also been sweet enough to provide three copies of her book baby to give away, which, as a self publisher is INCREDIBLY generous. Much gratitude to you Chayne. Ok provisos aside, this is the bit where I tell you about the bits between the front and back cover. Something that can be summed up in two (thrown around in academia all the time) words ‘Concise’ and ‘Precise’. Chayne doesn’t crap on. Nor is she a boring writer. Thrive is a six part book with twenty four ready to implement chapters on how to live more holistically. They are well researched, easy to ready and come with brilliant chapter summaries if you are one of those types of people who get so into the reading process they forget what it was they read by the end of the chapter (so guilty of this). The sections are:
In each section you will look internally and externally at all the parts of your life and how they fit together to make a happier and healthier you and a happier and healthier planet. Because when you are in balance you can shine on out into the wider world around you and influence the balance around you in your community, and the natural environment. Not shiny? Totally understand. If you don’t like to shine (as in ‘piss off I’m not shiny you weird hippie’) you can look at it like this. If you do something as simple as change your laundry detergent to a natural non-polluting one, you are saving the planet and smelling good. Double win. If you took five minutes to walk around the park when you are angry and feel like going for retail therapy you might just save yourself some money, prevent unethical labour practices in manufacturing of the cheap-fix item you would have purchased, reduce landfill (when you throw that ugly sale sweater purchase away), improve your health, have a greater understanding of the nature in your local area, and reduce your stress levels. Also shhhhh….. don’t tell anyone, that little ‘walk in the park’ technique is actually a form of active meditation but your ‘hippie’ ways stay between you, me and the park and your retail therapy money gets to stay in your bank account.
Just a little more about the content.
While I can’t provide you the whole Thrive read here. I am going to give you some fast stats from the book along with a little except from one of the sections I really enjoyed. Here are some prompts from Thrive to get you thinking about happiness in your life and what holistic living might mean to you and the interconnectivity between all things:
- Happiness is neither a destination or a single goal to be achieved. It is a process and a way of living.
- Gratitude not only enhance one’s personal well-being and relationship with others, but also makes one more energetic, forgiving, helpful and satisfied with life.
- Stress has been connected to all the leading causes of weather: heart disease, cancer, accidents, cirrhosis, suicides, etc. Chronic stress can also accelerate the ageing process.
- Bearing grudges harbours negative emotions, planning payback or waiting for an apology can both potentially contribute to adverse health effects by perpetuating anger and elevating your blood pressure.
- Research has shown that sustained increases in happiness can be more easily achieved through changing what you do rather than changing your circumstances.
- Giving support may be more beneficial to one’s health than receiving support. A study found that people who gave more to loved ones and neighbours lived longer than those who gave less.
- As living creatures what do we need to survive? We need diverse, nutritious sources of food, sunlight, clean air, and clean water- things only nature can give to us. Unfortunately nature knows no boundaries. Damages in another city’s eco system or even another continents can flow through ours and pollute our drinking water.
When you start thinking of the planet as a whole it gets difficult to un-think this thought. Which can be tricky when you don’t quite know how to go about making each of your daily actions more aligned with wanting to live a more enviro friendly and healthy lifestyle. Fortunately Thrive provides you useful tips to get you on track. From stretching and sleeping better to knowing how the heck Dibutyl Phthalate can affect your body, there are small tips that anyone can easily take on board. Thrive isn’t an encyclopaedia of knowledge on any particular topic, just a short, sweet and concise overview of all the places you can start to make change.
Nourish the world with kindness.
My favourite bit is the ‘Nourish’ section specifically the part looking at conforming to diets, detox, and all the fad stuff that you see EVERY DAY on social media. I wrote a bit about eating when I reviewed the book The Ethics of What We Eat, but what has baffled me of late is the way that some passionate food group prescribers are interacting with their fellow humans. The latest scandal is one specific Vegan vlogger and her boyfriend (I’m not going to name names because quite frankly I don’t think they need more attention as it gives them a bigger platform to bully from) who have taken their advocacy just a little too far. While their work is powerful and has a wide reach, bullying people from a ‘dietary platform’ standpoint is not an effective way to promote your lifestyle choices, particularly when you are attacking the individual you are trying to convert to your way of eating based on something as shallow and unrelated as looks. It does take two to tango but it is quite clear in this dietary debate that one team is being pretty unreasonable and rude. As we all know, hate breeds hate. And if you are encouraging a more loving and peaceful planet for ALL species why not start by being kind in your interactions with your own. Rather than hurl abuse why not post vegan treats! I would be way more persuaded by delicious food than unpalatable insults regardless of what people were trying to get me to change in my life.
Chayne uses her section Nourish to shake off all the extremes of food that we see in media and bring it back to nourishing your soul and the planet. For some people this may include animal products from responsible sources in their diet. Everybody has a different body and belief system. While it’s ok to discuss (not preach) your food-beliefs with others it’s up to them to decide what works best for their bodies. Fad eating can lead to illness and eating disorders like orthorexia. So why not shed the idea that you have to label your way of eating and just eat what your body responds well to. That being said, it has been researched that a diet with more plants is better than one with animal products but it’s up to you to work out if that is true for your body. I’m not an entirely plant based eater however I have eliminated most meats (aside from the occasional sustainable seafood/shellfish meal) all dairy (which apparently make my skin awful…a recent discovery), eggs (I’ve never eaten despite growing up with mountains of chickens because they upset my stomach) and I still sometimes us honey to sweeten raw treats/ smoothies. I also haven’t ruled out eating meat left overs if the time comes than an animal ends up in the bin because someone doesn’t eat it (not very ethical or sustainable to have a life and protein go to waste). It’s frustrating from time to time when people try to ask what category your food choices fit into but I have given up with labelling and just say ‘trying to be more sustainable’. The result of this is kind of cool because a lot of people want to ask about sustainable eating and sustainability after that. Or sometimes they just like to talk about weather and climate change! Much better than the debate that sometimes comes from stating you are one specific thing (vegan, vegetarian, paleo, raw etc) because people associate you with some of the images, positive or negative, from the media.
After all that thought and crapping on about a very non-waffly-book here comes the reward for your patience and reading stamina! You can win a copy for yourself. Hooray! I have three to give away. I’m ok with international postage but currently a bit penniless (the launch of my online vintage boho clothing shop should help with that soon) so if you do get drawn out of the hat and you live far away I will try to get the book to you ASAFP (as soon as financially possible). I’m personally hoping that Huffington and Chayne get together and have a cuppa because I think the two Thrive authors together could change the economy and the individual for a better planet.
Let us know any thoughts you might have from reading this post. Comment below if you would like to win yourself a copy of Thrive and I will add you to the random prize draw at 5pm May 25th (AEST)