Can a Green Lifestyle Make You Happier?

Nature Mountains 19

Last week, I read a New York Times article written by a social scientist who moved to a cabin in the woods, joined by his wife, cats, and three boys. They don’t have power, hot water, a microwave, or a washing machine. Most shocking of all, they don’t even have a coffee maker.

Referring to the inconveniences that come with their new lifestyle, the writer explained that it takes them longer to heat leftovers, prepare drinking water (which must be boiled first) and wash the dishes.

That said, the writer seems very excited. His family doesn’t have to commute or inhale fumes. The kids in particular seem happier and have all but forgotten about YouTube and cell phones. Having taken up swimming, biking, exploring, and kayaking, the whole family feels tired at the end the day, although in a pleasant way.

I’m not suggesting everyone move to a cabin in the woods. That’s neither realistic nor enjoyable. For example, as some of the article readers point out in the comments section, the author’s idyllic retreat may not turn out to be so great once winter arrives, what with water pipes freezing and ice covering the windows and the walls.

Nevertheless, the article raises two valid points. First, most of us have grown too dependent on modern amenities. Second, reducing the intensity of this connection will not only make us “green,” but also happier and connected to nature.

I have written before about the importance of making “green” convenient and affordable. Yet we shouldn’t forget the ability of a green lifestyle to make you happier. Here are some ways to achieve this:

1. Press the “off” button. Go for a hike rather than watch TV or sit down at your computer. No need to wear hiking gear or shoes. Your local park will do.

    Green Benefit: Decreased power consumption.

    Well-being Benefit: Nothing beats stress like breathing in fresh air amid trees and plants.

2. Reconnect with food. We often forget about the pleasures of cooking. Ignore precooked meals and buy the best quality ingredients you can find (organic if possible, or from a local farm).

    Green Benefit: Less pollution from local food, which doesn’t need to be transported from far away. If you buy organic, this will result in fewer pesticides being used.

    Well-being Benefit: food will taste better. If you cook with your partner and kids, you will all relearn to derive pleasure from the most important task humans faced throughout most of our history.

3. Cancel your gym membership. We’ve come to believe that we must join a gym to be fit. But that’s not true. House chores can be a fantastic way of being active. So is shoveling snow. Consider taking up gardening and growing herbs and vegetables. Cut your grass with a manual lawnmower. Park further away from the office and walk to work, preferably someplace where you can encounter nature. Go for a sprint. Play with your kids as if you were a child yourself.

Green Benefit: no driving or commuting to a gym equals less pollution and less congestion (it also puts more money back in your pocket).

Well-being benefit: feeling tired at the end of the day because you were active beats feeling tired because you put 10k on a treadmill. Trust me on that one.

Do you have any suggestions to lead a green lifestyle that makes you happy?

Explore posts in the same categories: Fun, Green

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