Thoughts for a Healthy, Sustainable, Peaceful World
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way you are right.”
Over the course of 25 years working in the environmental sustainability field, including founding and running one of the largest sustainability organizations in Rhode Island, I have found that solutions exist for virtually every ecological challenge now facing humanity. Given the number and variety of solutions available, I have wondered why they aren’t more widely used, especially by those with the resources and ability to do so. Over the years, as I spent time learning from experts in the field and from some of the wisest and most enlightened human beings ever to walk the planet, I began to understand how few things have a greater impact in determining the quality of our lives than understanding the nature of the mind and how we use thoughts.
In understanding the human condition, it’s clear to me that what I – and most human beings – do is to make stuff up (thoughts) in a never-ending attempt to explain life. Sometimes these explanations are right, and sometimes they’re not, yet, amazingly, there are countless instances of people relating to life as if their thoughts were right, when they are not. In my own life I have found many instances of this phenomenon: losing something and thinking, “I know this person moved it,” only to find it had fallen behind a cushion; believing someone to be unkind and later finding the person didn’t hear what I’d said or was dealing with their own life challenges that impacted their behavior. I’ve even noticed vast extremes of thoughts and judgments people have about one another as they fall in and out of love over the course of a relationship. As I really began to understand this phenomenon, I was astonished to see what human beings have done to ourselves, each other, and to this planet, because of something as simple as a thought. Just consider these:
- The world is flat
- Earth is the center of the universe
- Animals lack intelligence and don’t have feelings
- People of color or women lack the capability of white men
- Women spending too much time in the woods are suspect
- Certain races or ethnicities are bad and should be eliminated through genocide
- Asbestos, DDT or cigarettes are safe for human health
- Or, recently, that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction
These thoughts have shaped the course of humanity and affected the lives of almost everyone alive today — and we now know that none of them is even true.
Thoughts are incredibly powerful in that they can be used as a tool to create things. A spear, the wheel, Stonehenge, the Pyramids, Roman aqueducts, the printing press, wagons, trains, automobiles, flight, space travel, skyscrapers, cities, dams, splitting the atom, unlocking the human genome, transplanting organs, super computers, nanotechnology, and every single work of art…all began with a thought. In a very real sense, we use thoughts to create our lives including our health, relationships, homes, careers, and life’s purpose. The thoughts or stories we have about ourselves and our lives determine the choices we make. Thoughts about being incapable or having low self-worth will lead to a different outcome than beliefs of being able, competent and empowered. Thoughts shape our individual and, combined, collective lives.
My life experiences and time in the environmental sustainability movement has afforded me a unique perspective on many important issues of our time: health care, building, energy, transit, education, resource use, and economic and community development. I have seen that we have the technology to:
- Grow food virtually anywhere the sun shines – in our homes, on rooftops, in our yards, schools and communities
- Build homes that consume one-tenth the energy of typical buildings, use healthy, non-toxic alternatives for almost every aspect of their construction and can be built for less than $10,000
- Dramatically reduce energy waste and meet all of our needs from clean, renewable energy resources
- Cure the majority of illness through diet and lifestyle changes
- Live close to home or travel the world without ever needing to own your own car
- Reinvent business models and redefine success as not merely making money, but contributing to the greater societal good
- Design communities that support healthy, happy, long lives that offer deep connections with others and dramatic reductions in resource use, demonstrating that solutions for a healthy, sustainable, peaceful world are everywhere.
Clearly, thoughts play a vital role in all these choices. Thoughts of being responsible for the health of one’s community versus feeling “it’s someone else’s problem,” or that there are no problems, will impact the actions we take. Thoughts are indeed powerful tools that can be used to grow and evolve, help others and uplift humanity. They may also be used in ways that hurt ourselves and others. Clearly, our species is just beginning to understand the power and capability of thoughts and their role in creating our lives, both individually and collectively. If we can ever harness and focus the infinite potential of our species and use thoughts to create, collaborate and achieve things working together that none of us could ever accomplish alone, I am convinced that we can create a healthy, sustainable, peaceful world for everyone.
© 2015 Bradley Grove Hyson, All Rights Reserved