The other day I heard my teenage daughter speaking to a group of friends, over a zoom call , planning a coffee date at an expensive café, when one of her friends mentioned: Yaar let’s not waste money and splurge….’
“That sounds interesting” …. I thought to myself.
But the pertinent question here is: what exactly is sustainability ? Isn’t it the most talked about word today?. Be it your drawing room conversations, discussion point among friends, parents talking to their children about future, meetings and conferences in corporates . Different countries and governments at the highest levels are speaking loudly about sustainability. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seem to be getting a lot of importance . Many large corporates provide immense support towards the achievements of these goals.
The goal of sustainable development to my mind is, to meet the needs of today, without compromising the needs of tomorrow. This means we cannot continue using current levels of resources as this will not leave enough for future generations.
Over the past couple of decades a lot of work has been done by the UN and other countries to work in the direction of creating a sustainable planet. In fact, in the preamble to the 2030 Agenda, world leaders affirmed that they are: “Determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and the future.”
There is enough and more data to show that the efforts are moving upwards, but is that getting the desired results?
Let us look around to see where we are heading and ask ourselves the following questions:
- Is the world a better place from the economic perspective.? How many people still live below the poverty line? Are the key resources for food, clothing, shelter, education, medical facilities available to all, across the world? Has the gap between the have and have nots widened or has it narrowed over the years? The answers to the above questions is: anyone’s guess indeed.
- Are we now better off as a society?. Are we more inclusive or exclusive as a human race? What about human values? Where and what are they?
- Are we becoming more progressive or regressive as people?. What about the crime rate, divorce rates, school and college dropouts, drug abuse, crime against women, lack of integrity, non-tolerance, and the list can go on. Have we really progressed towards achieving this goal of creating a sustainable future?. Pertinent question! Isn’t it?
- What to talk about the environment? . The ecosystem is gasping for breath. Climate change, water shortage, global warming, untimely rains, air pollution, melting of the glaciers, overflowing inland water bodies, erosion of wildlife, forest fires, poor quality of flora and fauna, earthquakes are all the big monsters that are staring at humanity.
In the light of all of this, I wonder what actually is sustainability. Is this only on paper or may be for conversations in the drawing rooms of the urban social elites and for discussions in the so-called high and mighty forums. The irony is that there is so much focus around sustainability and we are becoming more and more un-sustainable . There is a saying” what we focus on expands.” Where are we going wrong? Obviously, we are not focusing on the right things.
Let us step back and think – who is the creator of this invasion of these necessary resources? Who is causing misuse and abuse of the natural resources, who is only bothered about greed and not the need, who wants to only concentrate on becoming richer, who is becoming more and more “Me centric” . This ongoing questionnaire in my mind is creating a turbulence.
The answer stands stark and clear. It is obviously the human mind. The lock down days were testimony to this fact. When humans got locked in, nature bloomed.
The human mind has immense potential. The potential to create a beautiful world or to destroy all that nature has provided in abundance and make this world a nightmarish reality.
The one and only thing that is distinct in humans is the ability to think and act. All actions good or bad are an outcome of a thought originating in a human mind which turns it into actions . Steve Jobs conceived the idea of a smart phone in his mind and then acted on making this a reality. The reality that has become a game changer. We live in a different world. A world that could be termed as The “world before Steve Jobs'' & the “world after Steve Jobs''. We cannot even imagine our existence without a smartphone today. It has thrown many industries out of business, impacted the way people work, live and communicate and has created huge possibilities for mankind. Such is the impact of thoughts.
On the other end of the spectrum, we observe enough examples of destruction, hatred ,crime, addiction, abuse, exploitation, non -tolerance, racism .dis-respect, .non inclusivity and the list goes on . We all witnessed 9/11in the US. This was also an outcome of a destructive human thought which caused destruction of a level that was unimaginable.
Such is the power of the human mind ! It becomes imperative to ask ourselves ,what are we doing to channelise this angel or this devil called human mind.
Who is working towards orientation of the human minds in a manner that creates a sustainable world?
What are we giving to our children as a legacy? Legacy in terms of values and behaviours, towards self- awareness and towards taking ownership.
I am tempted to infer that we are not doing much towards any of the above aspects. In certain pockets of humankind there is some thought and awareness about the correlation between thoughts and actions. However, that may be just an iota.
Let us imagine a world where everyone is conscious of preserving every drop of water. Everyone is inclined and does plant a tree at a defined interval, there is conservation of power and our harvests and farm produce are protected. A world where no one smokes or pollutes the environment in any other way. Imagine a world where water bodies are protected and are kept clean.
Imagine the world where every citizen takes responsibility for imbibing the moral values, practices respect, and equality, tolerance and collaboration with all the people around, spreading love and peace all around.
Imagine what that world would look like……
While speaking to a friend the other day about this utopian imagination and he said that it sounded like a dream and dreams seldom became a reality. History is a witness to the fact that most of the great innovations became a reality, because someone, somewhere dared to dream, someone somewhere lost his sleep because his/her dreams did not let him sleep.
To my mind there is a burning need to create that awareness amongst all of us about leading life in a mindful manner.. .
But what is Mindfulness? In very simple terms being aware of your ACTIONS in the present moment is mindfulness. Having said that, I think most people would agree that being present in the moment is valuable and gets us the best results. But knowing about mindfulness is not equal to practicing mindfulness. I have heard people saying “Oh I know what mindfulness is and then they dismiss it like old news. But in reality they may have never tried practicing it. Just wanting to be mindful does not make it so. One has to practice it and decode the state of mind. The good news is that with practice and with living life consciously one can achieve a state of mindfulness over a period of time.
The not so good news is that decoding your beliefs and forming new beliefs to create a different mindset is not easy, however it is possible . A mindset coach helps you to understand the present beliefs and brings about a sustainable transformation, a mindset coach can hold your hand on all twists and turns to create the desired breakthroughs.
In order to create a sustainable and a beautiful world, we humans need to give up the attitude of ‘One Upmanship’ against nature. At times we need to lose to be a ‘sinner.
Once the very cause of this mayhem, the human mind is oriented towards creating a different world, the dream of a sustainable world will no longer remain a dream and humans will not have to be ‘locked in’ to see nature bloom.