What do my kids think is important to me?
I've been spending a bit of time lately thinking about that. The thing is, there are lots of things that are important to me, and I'd like to think that they are kind of absorbing through osmosis the ones that are high ranking on my life priority list, that somehow they have an inbuilt way of sifting through the stuff that I talk about most (which, to their ears, is probably things like "stop yelling in the house!", "don't wipe toothpaste on the mirror!" and "picking your nose is GROSS!!") to recognise the stuff that actually really matters; the values I hope they absorb and the type of human being I hope they become.
But are they picking up what I'm putting down? Am I really living out my values in a way that they can see and understand?
I started thinking about this after reading an article talking about the environmental impact of our lifestyle choices, particularly our diet. The guy who wrote the article had recently given up meat in an effort to mitigate some of his environmental impact, but pointed out that he had two children, and that his procreation choices would have more negative environmental consequences than quitting meat could ever counteract. Wowee. I have three children - should I give up everything but lentils to try and rebalance the scales? I wondered.
Perhaps some more achievable goals. Like doing my best to ensure they grow up to be the most generous-hearted, fairly-minded, ethically-driven adventurers the world has ever known, and pioneers in building a better, more respectful, less wasteful world.
No problem. Already on my agenda.
Which brings me back to my original question. How am I going with that? What do they actually think is important to me? Are they the values I most want them to take away from the time they spend with me? And not just my kids, for that matter, but everyone who witnesses and is connected to my life?
It's worth pondering, I think. So here they are - some of my core principles for living. I think this list is a work in progress for me; I'm sure there are more that will emerge as life goes on. But you've got to start somewhere, right?
Experiences are so much more important than things
Travel. Do things. Spend time with people and try new stuff. Don't die wondering. And most definitely don't buy into the lie that things will make you happy.
Respect stuff and what has gone into making it
Of course, we all still need some stuff. Buy things for a good reason - because you really need it, or really love it - and do everything you can to make it last. Find out what resources have been used to produce it and respect the person who has made it.
People are more important than anything
We were made to need each other; to connect. Don't let anything get in the way of that. Don't trample on people to get what you want - whether that's a train ticket, a job promotion, or a cheap cushion.
Life is about more than the here and now
The choices of generations before us have shaped the world we live in today; the choices we make - about how we treat each other, the Earth, our traditions, our aspirations - will shape the world to come. Choose wisely.
When it comes down to it, making ethical consumer choices is an important way to live out principles like these. Wanderlust People is one way you can bring treasures from around the world home, and know that you are supporting the people, places and traditions that crafted them. What a relief!
How about you? What are your principles for living? What would you add?