Sunday, 9 March 2008

Drive instead of fly whenever you can. Walk instead of drive whenever you can.

It's simple. Planes and cars cause emissions which contribute to global warming and holes in the sky. We all know this, right? If you don't believe in global warming (which some people don't, and I am not willing to fight about that right now), you cannot deny that both planes and cars create pollution. And pollution is Not a Good Thing. But being enviro-friendly and green is not the only reason to follow this simple rule.

Fact is, unless you literally can't get to where you're going by car (like, there's an ocean in the way), or you really don't have the time to spend (like, you have to be at a wedding in a day and it's on the other side of the world), driving is more fun. You get to follow tangents, accidentally discover cafes and people and natural wonders you may not have even known were there. Roadtrips are the best way to travel, in my not so humble opinion. Don't be in such a hurry. That old axiom about the journey being more important than the destination? Spot on. Curiosity is a sign of an active, intelligent, interested mind. And, let's face it, all airports are essentially the same (I have been in a few in my time, I know), whereas roads aren't. Roads twist and lead to unexpected places. Embracing adventure is always worthwhile. Be curious. Follow your "I wonder where that leads..." musings.

The same is true of walking instead of driving. It may take longer, but you see so much more. You will notice the odd house on the corner that you've driven by a million times without seeing. You'll meet the funny little old lady at the bottom of the road who makes the best cookies this side of the date-line. Plus, it's healthier (hypothetical cookie-making ladies aside). Walking counts as exercise, and if, like me, you are not a fan of exercise, it is a good way to get some without noticing too much. When you walk, you can stop and look at stuff which in a car you don't even register until you've passed. Tiny bookshops. Weird plants.

How does this make the world a better place? Well, there is the obvious green stuff. Reduce your carbon footprint. Reduce emissions. All good things to do. (And, yes, if everyone did it, it would make a difference.) But also, by exercising your natural curiosity, you make yourself a better person. When you're curious, you judge less. You learn that not knowing something is fine. Going to find out is fun. That's how you learn more stuff. Being curious means you listen to stories. You learn more stuff like that too. Plus, going somewhere slower means you're not in such a blasted hurry all the time. You give yourself time for the journey. And that makes for a far less stressed outlook on life. Yes, sometimes you need cream NOW for the meal that has to be ready in an hour, and then you don't have time to stroll to the shop, but giving yourself that time every now and then means you will be in better contact with your world. And that makes a big difference.

Someone who is genuinely curious about the world, and interested, and willing to learn inspires others to be so too. Many people are scared to admit they don't know stuff. That's silly. Everyone has stuff they don't know. Encouraging your natural curiosity will get you past that. You'll realise that learning is more fun than pretending you already know. AND you may help others get over their fear of asking. Or finding out. And, frankly, if we all stopped poncing around pretending to know more than we really do, we'd learn a whole lot more, and be a lot kinder to people who don't know the stuff we do. And the world would be a better place.

So. Your challenge. WALK this week. Walk instead of driving. Just once. Give yourself time to get to where you're going. Don't be afraid to take detours. Or stop and chat to someone. Or have a look at that park you drive past every day. Take the slow route somewhere. See what adventures you can find. Then come back and tell me about it.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

If everybody just...

How many times have you heard this: "If everybody just recycled..." ; "If everybody just smiled at strangers..."; "If everybody just picked up one piece of litter..."

The world would be a better place right?

Well, here's my challenge. Once a week I'll post one thing that you can do, and it won't be a huge thing, that will make the world a better place. One thing which, if everybody just did it occasionally, things would get better. The world is changed in increments, not in huge gestures (although sometimes huge gestures help).

I have spent far too much time in recent years getting frustrated and irritable about the stuff people do that is thoughtless and hateful and inconsiderate. If I can get just a few people to consider the little things I propose, maybe I can actually make a difference. I won't post anything here I wouldn't, or couldn't, or won't do myself. So maybe it'll help me be a better human being too.

My plan is that there will be several sections:

1. Things you can do to make yourself happier and healthier. Because frankly, happy people who feel good are nicer to be around. And people who are good to be around, make the world better.

2. Ways to make other people feel good. For the same reason as the last.

3. 'Green' stuff. Environmental issues. I'm not going to be asking anyone to join Greenpeace. But small everyday things you can do to slow our environmental decline.

4. The Big Issues. Because, let's face it, they're there. And they need to be addressed. But in small ways.

There may be other stuff. I will probably make up a lot of it as I go along. I'll try and seriously get to 101 things. If I do, at that point I'll decide whether to carry on or not.

So... who's up for the challenge?

ETA: I realise this has been done like a bazillion times. I don't care. It's for me as much as anyone else. If you care to come along for the ride, please do. If not, then don't.