Choose Your Attitude
When first thinking of sustainability, I wanted to share how every blade of grass, every leaf, every apple core, and egg shell gets composted at my house. Then, I realized that most residents of Boyle Street live in apartments and might not have the chance or inclination to have a tub of red wigglers in their kitchens.
So, I really had to think about what makes a whole community sustainable, one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient. A place where people can live with their basic needs met, with dignity, and with the opportunity to pursue lives of satisfaction and happiness, all without denying others in the present and future.
While it’s way beyond me to address most of that, one thing that makes a quick and real difference is how happy and content individual residents are. I know when I’m happy I share the good feelings, compliment the person ahead of me in the grocery store, let people in the traffic line. Unfortunately, when I’m unhappy that can get spread around too, like feeling annoyed when the person ahead hogs the grocery line, or honking a horn at the driver stopped in the middle of traffic.
I had the occasion to think about general attitudes of happiness when I started reading dog training books that espouse the Alpha method. This method is based on being the pack leader and being dominant towards your dog. It occurred to me that there are two types of people: those who view the world as a friendly place and those who view it as an unfriendly (competitive) place. The latter think in terms of dominance and subscribe to the Alpha theory.
This isn’t just dog training but a lifestyle. I started out thinking in those terms with my 75 lb lab, but then I realized I could not love him and dominate him at the same time. So, I can try to dominate my dog with the view that the world (in this case my dog) is unfriendly and we must struggle to stay on top, or I can view the world as a friendly place and operate with love and patience determining my actions and attitudes. It’s a little Catch 22 – a little chicken and egg – which comes first?
The attitude you take creates your environment, while some would argue that your environment and what happens to you brings about your state of mind. I say you have a choice of attitude. I dream of a Boyle Street where all residents live in the spirit of cooperation, look out for each others’ well-being, and spread goodwill freely. In the meanwhile, I promise to lay off the horn.
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.