2020. A new year. A new decade. We’re almost a month in, and this is the time where resolutions start fading away and the stresses of the ‘real world’ hold us back. So here is a list of 20 ways to live a better 2020. All of the suggestions are simple. Small changes, after all, can have big results.
You’ll see the list divided into two subcategories: A Better You and A Better World. The first ten suggestion are about your life. Things you can do to make your days easier, healthier, and happier. The second ten are about your community, your country, and the world as a whole. These are suggestions that will help combat ‘the big stuff’ – even if only in little ways.
Have any more? Add them to the comments below. We’d love to read through them!
A Better 2020 For You
1. Read Ingredients
By now we all know that sugar is bad for you. And many put that soft drink away or choose not to buy the chocolate bar. But the obvious sugars aren’t even the real culprits – not for anyone even slightly health-focused at least. Food manufacturers add sugar to dozens of products to increase flavour or extend shelf life, and you’ll find this naughty substance in things like bread, sandwich ham, smoked chicken, and many of the commercially available sauces. Do you really know how much sugar you’re still consuming? Take a look at the ingredients next time you shop and make changes accordingly.
2. Organic and Free Range
You are what you eat. And if you eat food that’s been pumped full of chemicals, treated, or otherwise chemically processed, your body will spend most of its energy trying to eliminate toxins. Add in other lifestyle factors such as pollution and stress, and it’s no wonder that the world has seen a drastic increase in the rise of autoimmune diseases. So we need to do what we can to give our bodies the chance to heal. Buying free-range and organic is often a matter of finances, and not everyone can afford to live that lifestyle. But start slowly and do what you can. We live in a capitalist world – if more people buy organic and free-range, the demand will slowly go up, bringing the price down. Eventually.
3. Be Mindful While You’re Eating
Mindfulness certainly needs no introduction, and the practice, along with meditation as a whole, has become very mainstream. Many have also become mindful of what they consume. Veganism has taken over the world (more on this in a bit), it’s pretty common not to drink alcohol, and smoking stopped being cool back in the 1990s.
But you can take this one step further and be mindful while you’re eating. How many of us wolf down food in the middle of conversation? And how many of us spend time on our phones or reading a book while mindlessly shuffling food into our system? Of course, we may be well aware that the food we’re consuming is fresh or tasty, but, this year, challenge yourself to really stop the world while you’re eating. Focus on your food. The flavours. The textures. The unique combinations. You’ll automatically eat slower, get full quicker, and enjoy your food more.
4. Make Sure Your Boots Are Made For Walking
Choosing not to walk is often a matter of a) convenience, b) practicality and c) safety. In the case of the latter two, by all means, take a car, hop on a bus, call an Uber, take a flight – but if it’s a case of the former, take a moment to reconsider. Do you really need to take your car to the corner cafe? Probably not. It’s just more convenient. But by choosing to walk, you not only help combat carbon emissions, but you also do something good for your body. 10k steps a day are only one extra walk away! Make that your motto for 2020!
5. Combat Stress
Stress is one of the world’s biggest silent killers. It can seem impossible to combat stress. But here are some suggestions that may help:
Meditation can be daunting, of course. But in today’s world, there are many easy ways to start a meditation practice. Join a meditation practice in your neighbourhood, download one of the many apps available online, or sign up for Transcendental Meditation Intro course. Cutting back on expenses? Insight Timer is a great free app that caters to all levels of meditation experience.
The breath is a primal life force – it characterises your life from the second you’re born till the second you die. And yet many of us breathe incorrectly. Spend some time focusing on your breath. Experiment with the Wim Hof Method. Or simply do breath meditations. You’ll feel the difference pretty quickly.
8. Move & Stretch
Our bodies are magical, and yet most of us cannot use them to their full potential. But it’s never too late to start. Move more. Stretch more. Be kinder. And be grateful. It doesn’t really matter what movement you start doing – the 10k steps a day challenge is a great and easy one to start with – but anything from yoga to martial arts to dancing will do the trick.
13-year-old girls were on to something with the concept of a diary. It doesn’t matter whether you start Morning Pages (made famous by Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) or an evening journaling ritual, but jot your thoughts down and see how quickly stress melts way, realisations are made, and ideas are born.
10. Hug A Pet
And if you don’t have a pet? Try your hand at dog-sitting or volunteer at a shelter. Animals are kind, loving, and pure – and they share their energy and goodness with everyone around them!
A Better 2020 For The World
11. There’s More To Recycling Than Recycling
We all know that the world is producing way more waste than it should, and we all try to do our bit and recycle what we can. But it seems that we haven’t been properly educated in how the recycling system really works – and this lack of knowledge can result in your recyclable material not being recyclable at all. Even worse, it may “contaminate” an entire pile of recycling or a whole truckload. Common non-recyclables that often end up in the recycling bin include soft plastic bags, pizza boxes, gift wrapping, coffee cups, receipts, and shredded paper. Wild Minimalist wrote a whole article on this and the reasons behind it all. Read it here.
12. Choose Plant-Based
The current state of the meat and dairy industry needs no elaboration, and the problems with the industry are manifold, including health, animal cruelty, and global warming. Time Magazine, in their recent Special Climate Issue (September 2019; printed), explains that beef production alone is responsible for about a fifth (equalling 2.9 gigatonnes) of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions (a primary factor in the rise of global warming).
The world’s drive towards veganism in an effort to counteract this has certainly reached epic proportions. But you’ll notice the term “plant-based” in the above heading – not vegan. The two are similar, but not interchangeable. Someone who focuses on plant-based will use what is natural in the world to cook great-tasting meals. Someone who is vegan may do the same. But many who choose veganism to combat animal cruelty and not health purposes will simply replace their steak or burger patty or chicken nugget with a vegan alternative, which are often heavily processed. That’s the health part.
But there’s more to it on the animal cruelty front. For example, consider bees and the almond industry, which has been growing considerably to produce the massive amounts of almond milk demanded by consumers. An article published in The Guardian earlier this month – aptly titled The Deadly Truth Behind Your Almond Milk Obsession – explains the horrors of bee homicide that can be traced back to the almond industry (almonds depend on bees for pollination) – wiping out 50 billion bees in the winter period of 2018-2019 alone.
Not all vegan alternatives come at such cost. But rather than proposing veganism, we propose plant-based. The key here is not to seek replacements but to eliminate what we can as best we can.
13. Make An Ethiopian Change
Ethiopia made it into the news all over the world towards the end of July 2019. Why? Because Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, launched a campaign to plant four billion trees in Ethiopia before autumn to combat deforestation and global warming. The country planted 350 million trees in one day, with everyone from farmers, environmentalists, students, urban professionals, and government officials getting their hands dirty to plant.
According to an article published in the NY Times, about 900 million hectares of land is available to support forests, and if trees were to be planted on all of that land, they (when matured) could take up about two-thirds of the carbon that has been released into the atmosphere due to the human activity since the Industrial Revolution.
Perhaps you cannot plant 350 million trees or lead a campaign to get a whole nation to join in. But you can plant one.
14. An Apple A Day
Most of us live our little lives, well aware of the humanitarian efforts of others – those “others” who can affect thousands and instigate change and really do make a difference. But all of us can do something to help someone in need. Perhaps you can’t rid the world of hunger. Perhaps you can’t save one person from hunger forever – or even for a day. But you can do a little something. Easy suggestion? Keep a bag of apples – or equivalent – in your car and give one to every homeless or hungry person who comes your way. If you can do more, great. If you can’t, at least you’re doing something.
15. Love More
All of the steps above come down to one thing: Love. Love more. Love more deeply. And share that love. Love yourself by looking after your health and managing your stress levels. Love your neighbour by being kind and caring. And love your world by trying to make a difference in any way you can. If 2020 can be a year of more love, then it will be a better year indeed. Here are some more easy ways that you can share the love and make the world better, even if only for one person:
16. Converse More
Have a conversation with your neighbour, your security guard, cleaning staff, or the car guard. Everyone has an interesting story to tell. And acknowledging someone who often isn’t acknowledged adequately makes a world of difference to that one person. It’s worth it.
17. Buy Groceries For Someone Else
Perhaps your parents, siblings, or friends. It doesn’t need to be a full grocery shop if you can’t afford that. Keep it simple! Found an awesome 2-for-1 deal or equivalent? Buy it anyway and drop off the extra with someone you care about without expecting anything in return. Kind gestures go a long way.
18. Coffee It Forward
The concept of “paying it forward” is an age-old idea where “the beneficiary of a good deed [repays] the kindness to others instead of to the original benefactor”. There are many ways to do this but a very simple one is to pay for the coffee of the person behind you in a queue at a coffee shop. Given today’s dietary requirements, perhaps just ask how they take it before paying.
19. Adopt A Granny
Many elderly people suffer from loneliness. Even if they have children and grandchildren, everyone lives busy lives these days and loved ones may not have the time to spend with the elderly in a nursing home. Many nursing homes have a solution to this and offer volunteer programmes where you can spend time with someone in the nursing home. Have a chat, play a game, or complete a puzzle – there are a gazillion things to do. Not only will you help someone in need, but you’ll undoubtedly learn much yourself. Simply check with a nursing home near you and see if they offer such a programme. And, if not, maybe you can start one.
20. Hug a Pet
Yes, this has been mentioned before because being around animals has tremendous benefits. But if you volunteer at a shelter, you’re also spreading the love and making the world a better place. No animal deserves to be hurt, hungry, or lonely.
Have more suggestions to live a better 2020? Pop them in the comments below and we’ll share them with the I Love Foodies community.
Article Date: January 2020
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