I can’t attribute all of my success to nature, but I’m willing to give it the majority of the credit.
I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors and to me being environmentally responsible feels like the right thing to do. What I’ve recently realized, however, is that through my outdoor hobbies and actions to become environmentally responsible, I’ve also developed skills that have helped me get through college, develop great friendships, and become an entrepreneur with the freedom to travel the world.
I believe respect, discipline, education, conservation, and health are key attributes to a well-rounded and successful life; Here’s how my love for nature has helped foster them:
When I was younger I embraced the classic teenage mindset: disregard as many rules as you can without getting caught and always play it cool. I wanted to be like the Lords of Dogtown or the Lost… surf crew, but it turns out that it’s pretty hard for rebels without a cause stay motivated.
There’s no doubt that my attachment to surfing at an early age was as much related to being in nature as it was the adrenaline rush of a steep take-off or deep barrel. I dreamed of surfing exotic breaks and spent as much time at the beach as possible, body surfing or kayaking when the waves weren’t surfable. As I got better at surfing and graduated to better surf breaks I developed a respect for both the power of the ocean and the locals of the lineup because both will kick your ass if you disrespect them.
Respect came in handy with the new hobbies I developed in parallel to surfing too. Backpacking, fishing, hiking all require both a respect for mother nature and your peers. Whether it’s trail etiquette or fishing regulations, a common respect for outdoor culture is essential to the integrity of the community.
Applying these same lessons to my academic and professional life turned out to have similar rewards. When I showed respect for my professors and employers they returned that respect which made school and work easier and more rewarding.
What started as a thrill and natural curiosity for me matured into a deeper understanding and respect, which has paid dividends in all aspects of my life. As we learn the value of respect we find that others respect us back, which is one of the biggest rewards in life. When you can look another man in the eyes and exchange respect, you’ve reached a social summit.
Takeaway: You can’t expect to receive respect if you don’t first give it.
Conservation & Discipline
Conserving resources is a cornerstone of the environmentally conscious, but I’ve realized that these eco-initiated habits have reverberated through other parts of my life as well. Saving resources directly saves you money on your utility bill, but more importantly, developing habits like checking to make sure the lights are off before you leave home cultivates a mindset that helps you be more efficient in other aspects of life.
Breaking habits is difficult… unless you have the right motivation. My initial inspiration of conserving resources gave me the momentum I needed to kick old habits and develop new ones. My discipline to develop new habits has been invaluable in self-improvement and entrepreneurship too.
The key to this concept is realizing that even our smallest habits add up over time to have a big impact. A penny saved is a penny earned, right? If you can successfully condition yourself to eat less meat by weaning yourself from it, you can also teach yourself a new language or save up for your next big trip, just by having the discipline to take action every day.
Takeaway: Conservation and discipline are easier to develop when backed by a passion.
Mind the impact your diet has on the environment and you’ll see that it has a positive impact on your body too. There’s a new diet every day and finding the one that suits your life is up to you. While we don’t know much about how effective these #trending diets are, one thing we do know for sure is that some things are better for you than others.
I’ve found that eating a primarily plant-based diet helps my physical health. And when I feel good, I do good. You don’t have to go vegan to dramatically reduce your environmental impact. The meat industry is so resource intensive, that any reduction in the amount of meat you consume will considerably reduce your impact.
Here’s a simple plan for beginners: Reduce Your Meat Impact
Needless to say, being mindful about the environmental impact of other things like chemical cleaners and plastics will also have a positive impact on your personal health.
Takeaway: Minding your health is also good for the environment.
Be Informed (Educate Yo’self!)
If we’re going to make an impact on the way humans influence the environment we have to be willing to stand up for what we know is right.
I’ve realized that if I’m going to stand up for something I believe in, it’s a good idea to be able to speak to it. In order to prevent myself from looking like a kook when environmental topics come up at the dinner table I do my best to stay informed. Like you, I’m also busy surviving and squeezing in some outdoor time, but luckily I’ve found a way to stay up on things that isn’t that time consuming.
Just dedicate 2 hours a week – that’s 20min a day and Sunday’s off!
Being well informed about your personal and political stance is especially important in post election America. You don’t want to be the guy that gets all hot to trot about global warming in room full of Trump supporters only to find yourself unable to articulate the reasons you support your beliefs. We have enough people spouting out what they believe without anything to back it up other than the fact that they saw a headline in their Facebook feed. If you take a little time to be informed you won’t be that guy.
Takeaway: Don’t be that guy. Stay informed in 20min or less a day.
For more on the environment and minimalism: