Brenda Cooper

2013: Five ideas for all of us

WindmillsAs I was doing my 2012 predictions analysis, I decided I was bored with that game.   I suppose because I have neither won big or truly lost for a few years.  So on to a new game, and one I hope will yield more results even though I’ll never be able to measure them.

Here’s the game.  Come up with five important things to do and do them.  I’ve always believed that we create the future.  Not that we have 100% control, of course.  But each choice we make changes an outcome, and good outcomes add up.   If I choose to be greedy or depressed, then certain other things ensue.  If I choose to be happy or to donate to a particular cause, other things happen.

So what are five things that it would be good for everyone to consider this year?

Get serious about alternative energy.  Man-made climate change is happening. We still don’t understand the impacts or the costs, but we are starting to understand that they are huge.  We must shift away from fossil fuel.  We need to do this to be safe (geopolitical and climate and environmental safety all need this change). Fossil fuel is a finite resource and we know how to use infinite resources now.   Fossil fuel is dirty and we know how to be cleaner.  The shift will cost us.  The good stuff costs more.  We’ll pay for fancy lattes but we want dirt-cheap sludge for energy?  Time to buck up.  It will pay off handily.

There is at least something each of us can do individually.  Conserve.  Drive less. Buy an electric car.  Ride our bikes to work.  Put up solar panels.  Just do something, and then something else, and then something else again.

Question our own beliefs. Read the other side.  Talk civilly to someone who holds the opposite view and listen to him or her.  Change itself is not actually as important as being more open.  Staying ossified inside political slogans that are probably lies or exaggeration is not very helpful for anyone.   The bigger world needs enough compromise to get things done, and empathy is a great step towards compromise.

Learn.  Pick up a few good non-fiction books or follow blogs or read good newspapers.  There’s so much happening in the world that it’s hard for even voracious readers to keep up.  The casual consumer of the morning newscast is falling behind.  So is the FaceBook addict.  See the idea above about questioning beliefs. I did decide to read more nonfiction in 2012.   I read a few sections of the e-version of the New York Times every day. Non-fiction books I read included 6 Degrees, Imagine: How Creativity Works, Made to Stick, and Thinking, Fast and Slow.  They weren’t quite as entertaining as fiction.  But I learned a lot.

Be healthier.  What that means for each of us is different.  But if we’re healthy, we’re more likely to have the energy to follow our dreams, keep up with our families, and do something for the world.

Do something for someone else.  Pick a charity or a cause or decide to do a random act of kindness once a week or once a month.  I read an article today about how some people who lost their homes because of Sandy are now feeling grateful.  It could have been worse – they could have lost a child in Newtown.  Helping others is the best way to stop being grumpy about our own problems.   It loops all the way back to the empathy that we might get if we listen to others.

Wishing everyone a good 2013!