Each New Year’s Eve we resolve to make some sort of positive life altering change for the coming year. According to Nielsen’s 2015 ratings report, the top 5 resolutions are:

  1. Stay fit and healthy
  2. Lose weight
  3. Enjoy life to the fullest
  4. Spend less, save more
  5. Spend more time with family and friends

So, let’s break it down, take a look and see how we can truly turn our resolutions into a meaningful 2017 while looking forward to an even more meaningful future for all.

1: Stay fit and healthy:

Well, who doesn’t want that? Assuming you are already fit and healthy it would make sense to keep it that way. And if not, which most of us aren’t, how do we arrive at such physical perfection? Simply focusing on eating sustainable food pretty much puts us on the perfect diet and helps save the planet. These are whole foods that are local, organic, have little to no packaging and are fresh (not filled with preservatives and covered in petroleum based plastic). farmers-market-2

As for exercise, perhaps we could find ways to expend energy that brings meaning to our lives and helps others, too. I don’t know about you, but while exercise is clearly important, the idea of paying to run around and lift heavy things inside a building seems a bit silly. Not to mention the paradox of the use of energy to power gyms, so that we can…use energy? Why can’t this energy be used in ways that are useful and sustainable? The first thing that comes to mind is working in a garden. Muscles build up impressively when squatting, pulling weeds, hauling soil, and even just being out in the warm summer sun. Community gardens can also lead to a sense of belonging in a community. Consider the physical difference between going out for dinner to a sit-down restaurant, where most of the food is likely cooked in unhealthy and excess oils, and the portion sizes are far too large, in comparison to chopping vegetables and cooking a meal, then doing your own dishes. You will consume less, and expend more energy!  Healthy local sustainable food and happy fun exercise- problem solved.  Or wait- why does this even have to singularly apply to how physically fit we are? What if our methods of increasing physical health could increase mental/spiritual health as well? (See #3) According to the American Institute of Stress, 60% of human illness and disease is directly connected to stress.  A happy healthy mind is one capable of experiencing the existing moment, one able to find joy in simply being alive. The sad reality of chasing the perfect job, the dream of “success”, the latest greatest car, most impressive house, and the perfect body is a sure way to forever feel “unsatisfied”.  Which is also the perfect segue to #2…

2: Lose weight:

Why? No, really. If the motivation is to be healthy (refer to Stay fit and healthy) great! If the motivation is to be socially accepted, to look like a toy doll or a magazine model– you’re barking up a sad and unhealthy tree. So, let’s move on to number 3.

3: Enjoy life to the fullest:

Define please. Seriously, this concept isn’t singular. Some see this as taking a marker to ye’ old bucket list. Some see this as finally achieving everything in that dusty dream book in the basement. You know, the one with magazine cutouts of fancy cars, second homes and exotic vacations. To some though, this means realizing how beautiful life actually is. It means detaching from being emotionally connected to things and becoming mindful. Literally a Stop and Smell the Roses concept. The only way to do that is to even notice that the roses are there. That means to start with, you own your smart-phone, your television, your laptop- those things don’t own you. nature-murderInstead of seeing a tree lined field as a potential new chain store with rows of fancy new homes behind it you realize that, it is in a way part of your own existence. You learn to love nature not as a source of stuff but as a source of life, and you learn to love you not as a consumer of that stuff but as a protector of life. Ahhh…balance. True, the scale is already tipped, but “better late than never” has never been so profound a phrase.

4: Spend less save more:

Oops, covered this a bit in the previous…it’s a common theme.  When you spend less you save more money and coincidentally you generally save more of the planet, more rights for humans and your own happiness. I’ll break it down to a few examples.

Food– When we purchase sustainable food (See #1) and cook it ourselves and don’t waste that food we are making one of the biggest positive impacts on the planet, our wallets and our waistlines. 40% of earth’s surface is used for agriculture (most of which is growing monoculture crops that rarely end up on a dinner plate). Most of the crops in the United States are grown to feed cows, for beef, and eating such enormous amounts of said beef is worse for the environment than driving a car. Also making it a priority to purchase just what we need- and eat what we purchase will save us money and reduce the demand for that massive need for more agriculture. Not to mention, right now as Americans we waste 50% of our food.  That’s right…50 PERCENT!

Clothing– It keeps you warm and it’s against the law to not wear it. Look, clothing is artistic opportunity. There’s nothing more fun than hitting the thrift store for a look almost no one else will have. Sure there are a few things like underclothes and shoes that need to be purchased new, but getting over the idea that there’s personal value in having a pair of pumps for every outfit is not only insane but inhumane. The textile industry gets top awards year after year for the most inhumane labor practices for policies such as child labor, zero safety regulations and pennies per hour pay.

Generally Everything Else– Just think about every single item you are considering buying whether it’s a big purchase like a home or a little impulse purchase that some marketing psychologist figured out how to perfectly place as you make your way to the checkout counter. Think about where it was made, what natural resources went into making it, how were the people treated that made it, and most of all how much power does the company that made it have over our everyday lives. The only way we can have a government for the people is for the corporations to lose their voices in our legislation so that our voices can be heard. They’re sneaky little rascals, doing everything from writing laws that solely benefit them to finding their ways to actually run our Federal Departments and Councils.

5: Spend more time with family and friends:

We’ll add a few words like meaningful, valuable, and quality to this one. Get outside, get unplugged, have conversations, tell stories and laugh. Be creative and connect. Instead of a day at the shopping mall try a day in the woods, the garden, or in the kitchen cooking up something new. Beyond family and friends, we need community now more than ever. We need compassion, love, and cooperation. There is no lack of volunteer opportunities, empty board and commission seats to fill and grassroots movements that all need people willing to make a difference for a better future.

RESOLVE to live a more meaningful life in 2017.

RESOLVE to make earth friendly conscious decisions in 2017.

RESOLVE to get involved, to engage and to inspire in 2017.

RESOLVE to #DoBetterIn2017 Share this hashtag on social media! Share your ideas and what YOU are doing to make your life, the lives of your loved ones, your community and OUR planet…better.

Audrey L Elder

Living Life Outside the Box