Self-sustainability… wait, what is it exactly?

Sustainability… A very trendy word painted everywhere in green shiny letters… So used and abused that most people have lost sight of its meaning.

However, when understood and applied properly, it is one of the most powerful rules of living, both when it comes to a long term environmental vision of course, but also when it comes to ourselves.

It is a notion that really rings a bell to me when it comes to defining the core of my work with Exploring Happy.

So, what is sustainability, when it comes to oneself? What is « self-sustainability »?

Being self-sustainable express itself in various ways :

  • Having a long-term vision about your life and putting your intentions in that direction : What is your «why »? where, who, what do you want to be in 5 years from now? 10 years? How could you design your life in the most respectful and loving way possible to get closer from that intention? Think about the kind of world you want to live in, and you want your childrens, and more broadly next generations to live? Would you like to contribute to this? If yes, how? Try to see your bigger picture.
  • Doing things with awareness : get to know yourself, with your strengths, your talents, your bright sides, your happy places but also your weakness, your shadows,your limiting beliefs, and your patterns. So you know the reason why you do the things you do. Here again, it is about your bigger picture. It is about bringing you the tools to be able to position yourself towards what is the best for you, what maximises your potential. It is understanding what stands between you and your long term vision, and use that self-awareness to see more clearly the possible paths and opportunities that life provides.
  • Developing self-respect : Identify and embody your values, so that you can really ground yourself, be in your center, and know what is non-negotiable, but also what compromises can be done when it feels necessary or right. Identify what is or isn’t good for you, create the social and professional surrounding that is right for you.
  • Nourishing your self-worth : do your best to maximize situations that make you grow and feed your intellect and your soul, put yourself out there in a way to allow you to be the best version of yourself, to develop your talents and make yourself and others happy. Also, never forget that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so spend as much time as possible with the people that believe in you, that support you, that see the beauty in you, that LOVE you! And vice versa, of course. So go find your tribe!
  • Having a holistic, balanced approach of your life : mind, body and spirit. The previous points become quite weak if you don’t cultivate balance in your life, by exercising, having a healthy diet, have fun, nourish your passions, whatever they are. It does not have to be big, it just has to work for you. And last but not least, having a spiritual practice through yoga and meditation is a major asset for a balanced and more peaceful life. Only 10 minutes of meditation a day can have a huge impact.
  • Being patient : again and again and again. You won’t get there in a week, a month, a year. It is a slow and gentle journey. Some things will be easier to implement in your life habits than others. And it is ok. Shifting your positioning and growing is all about the journey. This brings us to the last, but not least, three points.
  • Cultivating self-love : Accept yourself the way you are. Awareness is an important part of it, but acceptance, surrendering, and appreciation are major for your balance and your happiness. You are the only person that can fully know what is good for you and how you can make it happen. Having time for yourself, whatever shape it takes, is good, and has to be promoted. By taking care of yourself, you will be in a much better place to take care of others and contribute.
  • Being altruistic : It is as equally important to care about yourself as it is to care about others. Pay it forward. Save a part of your time to help others, either people you know, or random stranger. Practice random acts of kindness, you will be amazed about how it will nourrish your sense of-self love, self-worth, self-respect.You will feel part of something bigger than yourself, you will feel like contribute, even with small actions. But do it with awareness, with balance : respect your needs so you can take care of others.
  • Getting rid of guilt : this list is certainly not a manifesto for perfection. You are a human being. Seeking perfection for yourself or others is naive, pointless, and counterproductive. This quest will create nothing but resistances, guilt, pain. Accept yourself as you are. Set intentions, and accept that you will not be in that perfect mindset and behavior all the time. You might at the top of it for weeks and then have few days or weeks down. What you have to seek the highest possible self-awareness and self-respect. So you can understand what you do and why you do it, even when it is a questionable behavior. And be ok with that, because you know why you do things, and you gotta own it. The good and the bad. The yin and the yang. You are both, the whole journey is to find your very own personal balance with your beauty and your shadows. And simply commit to do the best you can, knowing that it will fluctuate from a day to another.

After reading this, you might maybe think : Ok, sure, I agree with this in theory, but I can’t do or be all of that, there is so much work to do, I am already discouraged before even starting! I don’t have time, I am so busy, I feel so drained, I don’t even know where or how to start…

I’ll answer you this : as I wrote above, it is not at all about being perfect. Of course, you have a busy, surely stressful life. I am sure you are tired and feel like you don’t have the energy and the motivation. Believe me, I know that place very well. It is about taking gentle baby steps towards a better version of yourself, and a life that suits you better. Create some healthy, self-sustainable habits that will slowly shift your behavior in order to put you in a positive loop, personally, professionally. It is the place where energy, motivation, and inspiration will start to grow.

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Originally published at heleneschmit.wordpress.com on April 13, 2016.