I don’t know if you’re like me, but I get overwhelmed when reading up about world issues, and how dire everything seems, drowning in guilt and good intentions, and in the end, I just get paralyzed by it all and end up doing nothing while feeling very unhappy.
As a way to try to offset that paralysis, I decided to try implementing just one small change at a time. Every time the megaphone-wielding perfectionist in my head started in about how it’s not enough, that’s never going to make a difference, don’t I realize that the world is ending because of me, etc., I was then able to just tell her that it’s more than I was doing before, and it might be only a small step, but at least it is a step forward. Generally that shuts her up (…temporarily), and calm returns.
Examples of small changes I’ve made?
- Bringing an empty bento (and cutlery, cloth napkin, etc.) with me on days downtown that I know my team will be grabbing something to-go to accommodate out-of-town folks. I don’t end up being anti-social by bringing my own lunch (“I’ll just see you guys in an hour when you get back!”), and I don’t wind up in front of a mountain of styrofoam and plastic spoons either. Win!
- Finally (finally!) sourcing non-child-slave-labour chocolate to hand out for Hallowe’en this year. Next year’s dream? Seeing if I can find a bean-to-bar maker that does Hallowe’en-sized offerings. Unlikely, but you never know. Actually The Boy and I are currently looking into Dare, who makes those little square caramels that we got exactly zero of this year. Tune in next October for the verdict.
- Hunting down someone at each of the charities that randomly mail me cards/stationery/scarves/calendars/etc. for fundraising, and asking them to take me off their solicitation list for once and for all. (This is surprisingly difficult to do.)
It’s nothing earth-shattering, and maybe some of those are totally ingrained and old-hat for all y’all, but for me they were new actions addressing little things that kept nagging at me. The cumulative effect of knowing I’ve taken those baby steps over the past couple months has been incredibly freeing: I feel happier, less daunted and — most relevantly — eager to find more small changes I can implement and maintain as habits.
With that in mind, I decided to address one of my guilty pleasures when working downtown: snacking at the local coffee shop. Now, I’ve been bringing my own mug with me everywhere for years (it’s a slim 12oz thermos and I love it) but every time I give in to a cookie or muffin craving, I kick myself for not bringing a substitute for the crinkly paper bag the smiling staff invariably hand me my treat in. Especially since I made myself linen sandwich/snack bags a couple years ago!
The action is a simple one: tuck a cloth snack bag in my work bag, and remember to pull it out if I order a baked treat. I test-drove this three times last week — and didn’t get nearly as many weird looks as I’d feared. One barista exclaimed over the cuteness of the bag, even. A good start: we’ll see if I remember to do it regularly or not!