Start defining what makes you (un)happy

In order to change permanent habits or, in other words, alter your way of living, you need to start with mindset. Your outlook doesn’t necessarily have to be positive: all you need to do is to actually admit things that make you unhappy. Defining which aspects of your life bring happiness and which cause suffering, can make you more insightful. Once you have performed something similar to what SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is, you’ll be surprised how many things you pursue just because somebody else does. Whether it’s poor finances management to keep up with society’s imposed standards of living or unhealthy shopping habits – you need to acknowledge them all. After reading thousands of self-help books (which won’t help unless you are ready to change your direction), I understood that sustainable living includes choices that aren’t so easy. To be precise, they are rather difficult because they are uncommon. Think of it as swimming against the tide. It’s indeed challenging.

Learn How To Love

Believe it or not, sustainable living starts with love. Whether it’s appreciating the environment, family or the things you do – the “love” component is key. The more love you’ll give, the more you’ll get in return. When I downloaded the Elbi app and decided that each month I’ll donate a small amount of my earnings, it made a huge difference in my life. It seemed like a great way to reduce the excessive coffee drinking or buying little things that I never needed to make small donations, instead. The app allows you to discover good causes and lets you choose a charity close to your heart. This is extremely rare in the social media age where we prefer to express our empathy for tragic accidents via share, like or live conversation rather than actually doing good deeds. For the first time in my life, I was proud of something I did and something that wasn’t related to my work or personal life. I started spreading love and it was finding its way back to me.

Become a conscious consumer

Image courtesy of Rent Boutique

Religiously following trends makes us contribute to excessive consumerism. We are used to changing and updating our wardrobes each season and splashing out money on clothing whenever the season changes. Our wardrobes are filled with garments, sold to us at an affordable price tag only because of environmentally destructive production processes. Not only such fashion choices contribute to our unhappiness, but also make us constantly in need for something. In order to change that unhealthy cycle, I started adopting shared economy principles when it comes down to fashion as well. When I signed up for Rent Boutique, an online platform for fashion merchandise rentals, I immediately saw the change that everyone was talking about. There is nothing more satisfactory than being able to decrease your spending on luxury fashion by renting your dream accessories or lustrous dresses. That way, on each occasion you can magically transform yourself, knowing that you won’t spend a fortunate or fill your entire wardrobe with heels or glittery dresses. Besides, that’s not only positive for you, but also for the industry: decrease in returns, lengthened product lifecycles and sounder customers.

Use social media responsibly

Comparisons. Assumptions. Excessive usage. These are some common social media struggles when we fail to draw a line between what’s healthy and what’s damaging to our mental state. I realized that social media and the lifestyles it portrays have left me with an overwhelmingly long to-do list. I shaped my life, future plans and ambitions based on what the social media society would consider a successful life. After years spent fulfilling expectations that weren’t mine, I decided to apply sustainable living principles here as well. Mobile applications, such as Flipd (an app that allows you to lock your phone for a certain amount of time to remain distraction-free) or Offtime (another app that blocks distracting apps and filters communications), can give you a grasp of what it feels like to take control of your social media usage. As one study on dangers of social media to mental health, puts it: 

“For all the hazards associated with social media, it has opened up a world of increased connection, idea sharing, learning and an unprecedented opportunity to expand one’s worldview.” Hence, always know that a coin has two sides.

Image courtesy of Unsplash/Cristina Gottardi

Main takeaways?

By following these key four messages above and adding something new each day, I began to lead a life that’s more sustainable. Whether it was relationships or items I was buying at the store – new approach fueled my life with so much positivity. However, I know that there’s so much potential out there and there will always be more ways to improve the quality of our lives. Yet, you have to look at it wisely: things take time and pushing them won’t take you far. If it’s your moment – you’ll know it and the new chapter will begin without you even noticing it.