Yesterday, I reported on my not so green moment, when I chose to drive instead of riding my bike. And I went through the meditative exercise of retracing my thoughts during those decisive seconds. Buried in that bag of thoughts, are some personal truths about why my actions do not match my green thoughts and promises. Today I want to reopen the bag and look at each random thought for insights:
‘Laziness. Priorities. A drop in the invisible cloud of CO2. It won’t make a difference. I am having so much fun, don’t want to be bothered. Habit. Comfort. Convenience. How bad is it anyway, to drive such short distance once or twice a day? It can’t hurt that much. Effort, I don’t want to make the effort. The weather wasn’t even that nice. My time is precious. The extra time spent biking, I can use doing other ‘more productive’, more important things, such as working on green projects. Nothing is going to happen if I drive instead of biking. No consequences. I don’t have the discipline. What’s in it for me? The car, so fast, such a proven entity. I can zip in and out of places. I know, I should bike. But it’s such a small thing. Today, I can ’sin’, only once, maybe twice. I will get it right some other time. Ah! the immediate pleasure of blogging away, versus the higher satisfaction of a clean conscience. Big, instant pleasure over small dent in my green conscience. Pleasure wins. I can’t even see that CO2 anyway. It’s invisible. A crime without the evidence to prove it. Everybody else is driving anyway, or almost everyone. I am too wrapped up into the moment. The present supersedes any hypothetical concerns about the consequence of my small actions for the whole planet, myself included. There are two issues. The lack of immediate consequence for my action. And the dilution of personal responsibility, the big pot problem.’
Here is the list of 16 psychological barriers that are a part of me, and I dare to make the leap, most of my fellow human beings as well:
- I am inherently lazy, and will opt for what is the easiest, most convenient solution.
- Becoming green is only one of many personal priorities, behind others such as work, family, and social obligations.
- Behavior change is made up of many many small actions. Taken separately, each action feels ridiculously small and insignificant.
- When I pollute the air with my car, there is not physical evidence for me to see, and experience directly.
- I am a pleasure driven creature. It is hard to sacrifice immediate pleasure for a higher future benefit.
- I am a creature of habit, and I don’t like change.
- I do not like to sacrifice my comfort.
- I am already pressed for time, and am not willing to trade off some of my current activities for greening efforts.
- I am constantly comparing the personal rewards from my various activities, and will choose the ones that bring highest rewards.
- If there are no direct negative consequences to my actions, I will continue to engage in the same behavior.
- If there are no direct positive rewards to my actions, I have little incentive to engage in those actions.
- I do not have the personal discipline to be green.
- I console myself with the idea, that tomorrow I will take action, just not today.
- Most of the clues I get from the outside world are not helping, and only reinforces my existing habits.
- I tend to live in the present, and have a hard time adjusting my behavior to accommodate future imperatives.
- The emissions I generate get lost in the big pot called Global Warming. Gone, without my name written on them. Anonymous.
See, how much can be learned from just looking inside! I invite you all to go through the same exercise. Next time you find yourself wavering in your green-ness. Stop and sit with your thoughts. Write them down, and mine them for your own insights, just as I did here. From that newly gained consciousness, I guarantee you, a new behavior will emerge soon. It is also important to share what you find, as it will help take the global warming debate to a deeper level.