Friday, October 14, 2011

What is necessary for people to change?

The word that we use the most in environmental discussion is “change”. People have to change the way they perceive things, change their attitude towards the environment, change the way they use resources, change many things. Change seems to be a magic word. But if things were so easy, we would be living in an almost perfect world.

Changing habits is one of the most difficult things a person can do. Sometimes we don’t change because we don’t want to lose comfort, because we’re quite lazy, or we’re afraid of what can happen. Maybe we don’t change because we are used to so many good things and never tried to live without them.

Irvin Yalom wrote about change in his interesting book Staring at the Sun. The book is about how people perceive death, and how it can change their lives. When people face what Yalom calls an “awakening experience”, they start to see life in a different way. An awakening experience can be the loss of a loved-one, the breakup of an intimate relationship, a trauma, an illness, the loss of a job, retirement, and other situations in which the person seems to lose control of his or her life. To help overcoming this kind of situation, some people start doing what they thought was necessary before, but they never did, maybe because of the reasons written above. Some people donate their time, and money, to help other people and animals, some of them help environmental organizations, some stop eating meat, some get involved in politics, and so on.

We always hear about a person who changed his or her life suddenly because of an awakening experience (to see recent examples of that, click here, and here). No one has any doubt that a way to change one’s life is having a hard time. Being aware of that, we may think: is it really necessary to wait for such experiences to behave differently? Why not start doing today what we always thought to be the best for us, for other people, and for the environment?

Questions for discussion: Do you have something you’ve always wanted to do regarding environmental issues? Are you motivated to change?

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