Thursday, June 26, 2014

How to Share Your Conscious Values (Without Putting Others Off!)

Relationships can be somewhat complicated, and may require a delicate balance, as well as a certain amount of compromise when it comes to individual lifestyles.  New friendships can also be difficult to negotiate in the beginning. Expressing your opinions and conveying your values early on is tricky, as you may not wish to come off as moralizing or shaming, however you also wish to remain steadfast in the practices that you have established in your life, and that have brought you personal joy.  Here are some kind and effective ways to let your family and friends understand who you are and what is important to you:

1. Share Beautiful and Inspiring Pictures . . . . 

Take advantage of our visually influenced culture by sharing images of your healthy, happy, nature-loving lifestyle by posting on social media with just a short, descriptive caption. Try not to go overboard, as we all have friends who do just that.  We may have even done it ourselves.  So, if it feels too much like "work" to promote and share your values, or if you are trying to hard to convert others, it’s probably safe to assume this will backfire and have the opposite effect of what you had intended.  Sharing should bring joy to you, as well as those you are sharing with, and it should reflect who you are as an individual.  You are not your designer clothing, your lunch entree, or the car you drive, so try to find things that are more personal and speak to what makes you unique.

Raven at Sunset ~ Great Lakes Region

2. Share Personal Stories . . . . 

There's a saying that goes, "facts tell, but stories sell" . . . . not that I'm trying to sell you anything here.  My point is that people relate to personal stories much more deeply than they do with a list of facts.  Yes, facts are definitely important, however when you are able to open up to someone about an experience that transformed your life for the better, you will have a far greater impact on that person.  Perhaps you found yourself stuck in a deep rut of unhealthy eating habits, a stressful environment, or drinking to excess as a way to loosen up.  What did you find was your catalyst for change?  Or, perhaps you read an article about the horrific practices within the food industry that caused you heartache and got you thinking about the foods you consume and where they come from. Whatever your reasons for adopting your current values and clinging to them with tenacity, make sure your story is a story about you ~ what changed (or helped maintain) who you are and how you feel ~ and not a sermon on why someone else should change or feel the way you do.  Also, you may want to use this conversation as a good time to learn about others' values.  When we open our hearts and our minds, we never know what we may learn.

3. Share Amazingly Good-For-You Recipes & Food by Hosting a Get-Together . . . . 

If you're already on the path of eating a healthy, plant-based diet, or, if you are still in the process of learning how, I believe a really great way to share (and perhaps learn from others!) is to invite friends and family to a casual get-together which highlights plant-based foods.  I have done this in the past without revealing that every dish was plant-based, and even the toughest crowd was amazed at how good everything tasted.  This gives you a fantastic opportunity to introduce others to hearty, yet healthy veg dishes without coming off as “radical” or “picky” about food. With this one really fun event, you are opening up your home, offering great-tasting noms, and perhaps a new way of thinking about food. On the other hand, if you are invited to someone else's shindig, offer to bring a plant-based dish. This will give you the opportunity to share not only what you have prepared, but also one of your important values . . . . and, you will be sure that there is something for you to eat, in case the menu is limited otherwise.

White Bean Dip w/Toasted Pita Triangles

4. Share Your Fitness Pursuits . . . . 

Perhaps there is a yoga class you have been wanting to try, or maybe you are looking for a walking partner to keep you motivated.   Doing these activities together can help strengthen an existing relationship, or help a new friendship blossom quickly.  If you both have a desire to exercise and eat healthily, together you can seek a variety of workout activities, as well as delicious plant-based fare. The choices are unlimited . . . . walking, biking, swimming, going to the gym, yoga, pilates classes, or even team events like softball or volleyball.  While the yoga thing may not be your favorite bonding activity, you may eventually decide to pursue one-on-one yoga instruction as a means to find both peace and fitness in your life. You never know the effect another person's values (or your own!) may have until you invite people in.

5. Sharing Gifts that Reflect Your Values . . . . 

If an opportunity for gifting is in your future, use it as an avenue to express to your friends and family a little something about yourself. Put some thought into a gift that both reflects your values and will be useful to, or appreciated by your friend. If  plant-based, healthy eating is important to you, bake something amazing and slip a little recipe card in with it.  Or, if you’re passionate about recycling, make or seek out eco-friendly or upcycled creations to present to your friend.  If reducing your carbon footprint is an important issue to you, consider planting a tree, or giving carbon credits in someone’s name.  Many years ago, my fiance (God rest his soul) and I started doing things to offset our carbon footprint by planting trees, getting our homes off the grid with solar, geothermal and wind power, driving hybrid vehicles, donating to the carbon offset fund, etc.  Every little bit makes a difference, so share these ideas with others who feel the same way you do!

Eco-Friendly Gift Ideas

Using some or all of these methods to express your individual values can help set your relationships with your family and friends on a new and inspiring path, and can also create great opportunities for bonding and learning more about each other. May all your relationships flourish and endure!

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