How to live a healthy and environmental friendly lifestyle

  • Very simply told. What is an appropriate lifestyle? What is environment friendly lifestyle? How to maintain Work-life balance?


Lifestyle is an indicator of how we choose to do with our lives. It means the measures we adopt and the controls we exercise in leading our lives. Our tomorrow is shaped by our Lifestyle of today – how we exercise our free-will and chart our destiny. 


1. What is an appropriate lifestyle?

A good lifestyle establishes harmony between body and mind, society and environment, self and God. It also means that we raise the bar when there is conformity of interest and strike the right balance when there is conflict of interest.


Health is a good indicator of body-mind harmony, while Environment is a good indicator of society-nature harmony, and Evolution is a good indicator of self-God harmony.


In short, harmony is ensured when we adopt Health-appropriate, Environment-appropriate and Evolution-appropriate lifestyles.


Health-appropriate Lifestyle

Health is the common factor which bridges our Physical, Physiological and Psychological layers. Health is the biggest wealth, they say; however, we can regain lost wealth, but not lost health. Health-appropriate lifestyle is exercising due diligence in respect of Food, Exercise and Habits.


Food: The impact of food on our health has been discussed in detail in another article, ‘Food for Thought’. Suffice to say that body is made exclusively of food – good control over food leaves its footprints on our physical, physiological and psychological well-being.


Exercise: Our body design was made thousands of years back to suit the conditions prevailing then. It was meant to weather hostile environment and physically demanding lifestyle. Suddenly (actually, in the last few decades), human lifestyle has become comfort-driven.


The down-side is that it may take many centuries/ millennia more for the body to adjust to the changed conditions. Until then, we need to play as per the original intent/plot. Exercise, where we burn up calories and tone up muscles by physical exertion, is the only way to maintain homeostasis.


Habits: Habit is a standardized response to fulfil body and mental needs, and to manage environmental opportunities and threats. The major problem with habits is that good habits are difficult to pick and bad habits are difficult to kick. A shrewd operator/ outsider can easily spot the chinks in individuals and exploit it for raking in profits. Another major problem is that the line separating habits from addiction is a thin one – many people fall prey to temptations. Sin-foods (Alcohol, Sugar, Cigarettes) industry thrives on this human frailty. 


2. What happens if we ignore health-appropriate lifestyle?

Every misuse and disuse of body/ mind leaves its scar! We can command an empire, also afford the best medical care; but health follows a trajectory of its own. Another lesson we learn the hard way is that we cannot overlook health today and try to retrieve it on a later date. Also, when an individual is temporarily sick, entire family rallies behind; however, if an individual is chronically sick, family members take turns or even dive for cover.


An intelligent one goes for the ‘prevention-is-better-than-cure’ option.


Environment-appropriate Lifestyle

It is to live in sync with nature. As a corollary, it means not to remain divorced from nature. They say that nature has enough resources to satisfy human need, but not human greed. Also, nature has the in-built ability to repair, renew and recover if given time. But people who grow up on a staple diet of, ‘enjoy today, for who knows if tomorrow will ever come’ opt for too-much and too-soon! 


Generally, it is not the have-nots who damage nature – it is the haves (the wealthy ones and the developed nations). They waste so much and so fast that nature cannot keep pace. Increase in wealth index and improvement in living standards have become synonyms for disruption of eco-balance. With respect to Environment, we can adopt a Collaborative, Artificial or Disruptive lifestyle.


Collaborative Lifestyle: It means living in sync with nature – reducing consumption/wastage and being eco-friendly.


Reducing Consumption means taking from nature only what is needed for an exemplary living. It is the anti-thesis of consumerism. In a consumerism driven economy, people consume to satisfy their ego, not stomach. Minimalism not only means possessing the bare minimum, but also not demanding too much from nature – it is a way of life alright, but more of an attitude, actually.


Reducing Wastage: Wastage is an essential by-product of processing and storage. So, the more refined food, or more packaged goods we opt for, the more we add to environment’s burden. Also, rise of consumerism means increase in consumption and the accompanying wastage. Reducing wastage means reversing the trend. Humans need to move away from materialistic mind-set. 


Being Eco-friendly: We must avoid things that do not suit Mother Nature just as we avoid foods which do not suit us or won’t feed our mother with things she cannot digest. 


It means avoiding things which cannot be recycled (Micro-plastics/ Radio-actives). It also means replenishing when we consume (If a tree is cut, another one is planted). It may even be a simple thing like wearing a dress that suits the local climate, also not wearing dress which suits another skin; like eating food which is local, also not eating food which belongs to a different region, etc. It also means following local traditions and customs and avoiding alien culture/ lifestyles.


Artificial Lifestyle: It is to live in an artificial/ unnatural environment with the attendant run on natural resources. It is driven by Comfort-culture, Gadget-culture and Celebrity-culture.


Comfort-culture: We become slave of comforts, thanks to enormous progress in white-goods industry. Though, the comforts we want should be decided by need and affordability, yet it is more often decided by (easy) availability and bandwagon effect (to keep up with the Joneses)!


Gadget-culture: Convenience is the main driving force behind this culture. When fingers can do everything, with the touch of a screen or the click of a button, why run around on legs? It makes the obsessed person an addict/ couch-potato (which means physically inactive). If AI takes over in the near future, it will make everyone a zombie/ robot as well (which means mentally inactive)! Wow, double whammy!!


Celebrity-culture: We want to copy Celebrities, never mind whether it is advisable or not. Considering that most of the celebrities lead a double life (their private and public life are poles apart) they are not worth emulating anyway.


Artificial lifestyle is based on the experimental and herd mind-sets of individuals. Experimental mind-set makes people want to improve or improvise, while herd mind-set makes everyone run with the sheep next-door. We spend time and money aping attractive or famous personalities irrespective of whether our role-models practice what they preach or not – glamour rules the roost. 


Societies want to copy alien cultures irrespective of whether the customs are appropriate or not.    Nations want to copy (developed) nations in economic and technological fields irrespective of whether the anticipated progress is beneficial or befitting – ‘one-upmanship’ rules the roost.  


The downside of artificial lifestyle is that it may totally disregard individual body conditions and the Cosmic Order. Individuals fall victims of lifestyle diseases, living-on-loan culture, false sense-of-security, etc.


Disruptive Lifestyle: It means pursuing a lifestyle which positively harms environment – sometimes temporarily, other times permanently. It means Exhausting Resources, Polluting Environment and Assaulting Earth.


Exploiting resources: Resources are what we take from Nature. With impunity and with utter disregard for nature’s ability to renew, we extract hydrocarbons, minerals and ground-water. Deforestation is another cruel game played by the greedy on lesser-fortunate people. Eco-unfriendly tourism often results in undue run on scarce resources.


Polluting Environment: Pollution is a disease we give to nature. Waste is generated during process (due to poor technology or excessive refinement), redundancy (due to excess production or obsolescence), or scraping (due to wear and tear or date expiry). With utter disregard for Nature’s sensitivity, we indulge in land, water, heat (global-warming), air, even outer-space pollution. Add to this some unusual pollution - sound, light, microwave/ mobile radiation, etc.


Assaulting Earth: It means disturbing fragile eco-system. Atomic explosions in under-sea locales, super-massive dams where tectonic-faults exist, heavy construction in eco-sensitive areas are examples of how human activity does irreparable damage. While pollution is a slow-poison delivered over a period of time, endangering is a one-time murder.

The paradox about environment-disturbing lifestyle is that everyone wants a friendly environ, but no one wants to do anything about it. Interestingly, the beneficiaries do not directly disrupt nature – they use proxies to avoid ownership/ guilt (rich nations denuding Amazon-forests, for example).


3. What happens if we ignore environment-appropriate lifestyle?

Well, history has the nasty habit of haunting those who forget to learn lessons. In cosmos there is nothing like a free lunch – everything has to be paid for. Our greed and deeds visit us, may be in the same form or different form, may be in the same generation or subsequent ones, but with greater intensity. It is up to the individual and society to ‘give-and-take-respect’.


Humans think that they are too smart in indulging in what pleases them and Nature is too dumb to take note of it. But what they forget is that if humans are intelligent, Nature has the collective intellectual power of all humans put together plus other intelligent beings (animals and plants …) which constitute its Bio-sphere. Like human body, it has excellent feedback mechanism. Never underestimate its powers. 


Also nature is emotionally stable unlike most humans who are emotionally immature. So, when Nature is harmed, it doesn’t retaliate with vengeance – it simply recalibrates its behaviour. Humans cry foul when they experience nature’s recalibrated behaviour (Storms, Wildfires, Floods, Arctic weather), especially if they cannot bear it. 


It is then they raise many rational and irrational questions about merciless God, but the fundamental question, why ravage Mother Nature in the first place, is conveniently pushed to the side-lines.


Evolution-appropriate Lifestyle

Evolution is not what we do something outside of our everyday life – it is something we do during the course of our routine life. It pertains to how we manage the interphase between Me-and-Me, Me-and-World and Me-and-God. Needless to say, if we spend disproportionately longer time in one, say, work-life, it comes at the cost of another, say, love-life.


Me and me interphase: It refers to our personal life – how we handle our past memories, present developments and future plans. In short, it reflects if we are at peace with ourselves!


Managing Memories is not letting memory/ emotions hijack our balance through excessive negative sentiments (anger/ hatred), etc. It also means learning to traverse Samsara without drowning in its waters.


Managing developments is not letting senses and ego run away as per their whim and fancy. It also means applying the lessons we learnt from our experiences and history for our/ others benefit.


Managing Future is not letting environmental uncertainties or self-doubts or expectations of self/others overwhelm us. It also means learning to win wars without fighting one.


Me and world interphase: It refers to our secular life – how we handle professional, interpersonal and cultural transactions. In short, it reflects if we live in harmony with objects, people and situations around us!


Work-life: It is how we progress through a profession/ trade. It starts when we take up a vocation as decided by our education, training or aptitude. It theoretically ends at age 60 or with retirement. Work life is important to earn regular income; however, in the contemporary world, which is obsessed with competition and success, many spent inordinately long time in chasing fame and fantasies.


Love-life: It is how we maintain relationships in family and friends circles, social and cultural forums. Love-life is a long-term investment/ old-age insurance. If we invest time at crucial phases of family-life, we can reap its benefits at a later point. Often we take liberties with near and dear ones, ignoring our duties at times and overdoing it at other times.


Cultural-life: It is how we communicate with others, entertain ourselves and pass the batons to future generations. They help us to utilize God-given gifts for noble/ creative purposes.


Me and God interphase: It refers to our spiritual life – how we manage our deeds, devotion to God and understanding of Truth. In short, it reflects if we are in sync with Cosmic Order!


Deeds: It refers to doing our duties with the best of our abilities, contributing to others welfare and conforming to righteous values.


God faith: It refers to remembering Him without effort, loving Him without expectations and surrendering to Him without reservations.


Truth understanding: It refers to appreciating the reality of Unity, the non-reality of ‘infinity’ and the same-ness of Unity &Individual. 


4. How to adopt an evolution-appropriate lifestyle?

Undue focus or obsession on one pursuit to the exclusion of other can disturb life-balance. Consequently, those who ignore or fail the tight-rope walk end up paying a price, some call it death, others call it rebirth.


Work-life, Love-life and Spiritual-life imbalance: A day has 24 hours – we are supposed to spend 8 hours each on sleep and profession. The remaining 8 hours are meant for life-maintenance, family-time and relaxation-time. Overdoing one encroaches on the others. It can be avoided if they are loyal to work instead of organizations. Digressions may be necessitated at times (exam time for children and project time for adults), but what is important is to revert to the normal mode at the first opportunity, or find a way to make up for the lost time. 


Also, it is a known fact that stomach ‘contracts’ its hunger if food is not eaten in the right quantity. It is true for mind also. Work demands focus – concentration means contraction of mind, which is a desirable trait in acquiring knowledge or performing tasks. However, the natural tendency of mind is to expand. The more we stretch/ challenge it, the more creative/ productive it becomes. So, remaining focussed on work all day affects mental health and creativity.

Besides, many people take the desire-driven personal-life (sometimes even the action-packed work-life), which fill our adulthood, well into the retired station, though post-retirement should be reserved for other pursuits. They also forget that retired life is the time to clear our bucket-list (but not adding to it) and pass on the wisdom-baton to deserving candidates (but not running after more knowledge or different experiences).


5. How do we balance life processes/ evolutionary pursuits?

It is an immature mind which adopts an ‘All-work-and-no-play’ attitude: It is not rocket-science to understand how it makes ‘Jack-a-dull-boy’ at childhood and ‘Weekend-father’ syndrome at adulthood. If foundation is crooked, the superstructure is bound to be skewed as well – the reason why most people spend time in repairing damages post-facto. 


An arrogant mind adopts a ‘Might-is-right’ attitude: Humans may live divorced from nature, but Nature is not divorced from its constituent units. It neither goes to them with a begging-bowl to mend their ways, nor wait patiently for the Nostradamus’ doomsday predictions to come true. It simply recalibrates its response. Might is not right always! Or, perhaps it is right – but it is nature calling the shots, though mortals think otherwise!


A sensible mind adopts a ‘Make-hay-while-the-sun-shines’ attitude: It conveys why we should effect lifestyle changes when going is good. If we ignore, it is said that time and tide do not wait. If we miss the bus, may be another one is round the corner; but what if there is none at all? 


In Summary

1. Life is full of choices – if we exercise options, we prosper, if we ignore, we suffer! Similarly, what one generation invests in, that the succeeding generations inherit!! What we sow, that we reap!!!

2. Exercising choice is a true indicator of our emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity. As a corollary, we cannot be instinctive in our decisions or wishful in our behaviour.


3. Lifestyle theory assumes that there is abundance of opportunities and we exercise the right choice. Conversely, it also assumes that there are no threats and we don’t exercise the wrong choice.

4. Right choice reinforces our confidence, while wrong choice refines our judgement. Both add to wisdom quotient. 

5. Lifestyle improvement is a lifelong endeavour.

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