WHAT DO YOU VALUE?
In a perfect world, you should be able to list your values without much pause. But with the hardships of modern life—where chores and deadlines and social obligations easily occupy a majority of your time—it’s easy to let living your values take a back seat.
According to the 2018 World Happiness Report (yes, it’s a thing), though income per capita has more than doubled since 1972 in the United States, average happiness has declined. In the report, Jeffrey D. Sachs, director at Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development, attributes declining happiness to physical and mental health epidemics, such as poor diet and depression. Although government policies can alleviate these issues (by providing health resources to underserved communities, for example) you don’t have to wait for help from the powers-that-be—you can change your own happiness outlook.
“Bottom-up programs of positive psychology and wellness at schools, workplaces and in the community can help individuals to change their own behaviors, overcome addictions and pursue life strategies (such as meditation) to bolster their personal well-being and the well-being of friends, family and community,” Sachs writes in the report. “The evidence is large and showing that such life-change strategies can be highly effective.”
One such strategy? Designing your life around your values to live more bravely and authentically. For example, if you value the environment, try making small lifestyle tweaks, such as biking instead of driving to work or following a plant-based diet. These simple actions can help you walk the proverbial walk and allow you to stand fearlessly behind your decisions—whether you switch careers, finally take control of your health or find contentment in your relationships.
Your values are important. Here are a few opportunities to bring them to life.
YOU VALUE: THE ENVIRONMENT
If you’re a loyal Delicious Living reader, you likely already care about protecting the environment and are concerned over the effects of climate change, which range from threatened agriculture to more devastating floods and hurricanes. According to a 2018 Gallup poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans think the government should be doing more for the environment, such as limiting oil drilling in public lands and curbing emissions through alternative energy development. Policy is vital to limiting global warming. But these easy, everyday actions can have big environmental payoffs, too.
Live it: Reduce your plastic consumption
Researchers estimate 17 billion pounds of plastic trash are dumped into the oceans every year, creating monumental piles of oceanic plastic trash spanning the globe.
This is obviously bad for sea life. And it’s bad for you, too. Several studies have found that microplastics—teensy pieces of plastic that have broken off of larger pieces—are working their way into our global food system. A 2015 report published in Environmental Science & Technology discovered that sea salt contained polyethylene and cellophane, types of plastic found in common consumer products.
Part of the reason so much plastic ends up in the ocean is because just a fraction of plastic is actually recycled. A 2015 report by the Environmental Protection Agency found that an abysmal 9.1 percent of plastic was recycled in 2015. And plastic grocery bags are almost never recycled, because the thin film gums up recycling equipment.
The best solution? Reduce your overall plastic use. Keep a canvas tote bag in your car so you’ll always have a nonplastic shopping solution. It’s also a good idea to purchase several smaller cloth bags to buy produce and bulk items. Ask your natural retailer to point you to the natural living aisle of the grocery store—there are reusable plastic alternatives for everything from plastic wrap to sandwich bags to straws.