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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

Let's find ways to Flourish!

Stop Chasing and Start Cultivating Happiness

Sometimes it seems like western culture is obsessed with happiness. Perhaps you know people who are almost like adrenaline junkies chasing their happiness. But I think a big part of the problem here is that we have a poor understanding of what happiness is and that leads us to pursue what is inherently fleeting.

So, if you really want those good feelings on a long-term basis, regardless of what life brings us, that is possible, but we need to revise the way that we define happiness.

It can be hard to know where to begin when we try to define happiness. With so many different definitions out there, and the highly personal aspects of the concept of being happy, defining the word happiness presents a unique challenge.

It is also important to understand the meaning of a few other terms within the context of happiness and greater overall wellness to better understand what we mean when we say we are happy, and what we are really seeking in our quest for overall wellbeing.

Happiness

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Could Deep Ecology be the Solution?

Deep ecology is an environmental philosophy introduced by Arne Naess in 1984 which recognizes the inherent value of all living beings and promotes the idea that they have moral and legal rights to live and flourish as humans do.

This philosophy looks deeper into our relationship with the natural world for a more holistic approach to environmentalism. Instead of promoting the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity for human purposes such as resource extraction, deep ecology recognizes the intrinsic value these systems hold, regardless of utility to humans.

The deep ecology framework is not anthropocentric, meaning that all living beings are viewed as our equals and that we are part of a whole.

As a whole, we cannot all thrive to our full potential until all parts of the whole are free to do so. Deep ecology encourages the shift from egocentric living to ecocentric living.

Fundamental principles of Deep Ecology

  1. The well-being and of human and non-human life on earth have...
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How yoga helps you relate to the natural world

"Yoga makes you harmonious with nature and teaches you to be joyfully curious about your inner world." - Debasish Mridha

Yoga is a mind-body practice that has been around for thousands of years and continues to be a popular method of exercise and wellness today.

And good news, it is not just for the fit and flexible. There is a yoga practice for every body type and ability.

Some physical benefits of practicing yoga include increased flexibility, increased muscle tone and strength, lowered blood pressure, better posture, and improved balance.

These physical benefits are accompanied by many mental benefits as well. Yoga practices often incorporate meditation and breathing exercises in order to reduce stress, increase awareness of your body and movements, aid in sleep, and increase mental clarity.

But even beyond the physical and mental benefits, when we connect deeply with our bodies, we begin to find a new relationship to ourselves and the natural world. Our bodies are made of the...

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From the Flourishing Community

In honour of the 100th edition of the Flourishing Fridays newsletter, I thought it would be great to profile some of the amazing work that folks in this community are doing. Sharing some inspiration and celebrating our wins, big and small. Together we are learning about how to live more sustainably, how to spread the ideas of green living and to enjoy life more!

What an amazing and inspiring list!

Aditya is helping to educate others about the importance of protecting wilderness.

AJ fixes appliances, builds with reclaimed lumber, raises bees and enjoys time in nature.

AK – promotes thrifted fashion for badass Millennials on her social media accounts.

Angelika got small recycling bins for her condo complex and avoids wasting food.

Anuradha – runs sustainable clothing companies using all traditional textiles and zero waste production that also provides employment for women in India.

Amanda is eating more local food and loves to support local businesses.

Anders helps kids in...

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Students and seniors find symbiosis

Do you remember your time as a student where affordable housing meant multiple roommates, and sketchy landlords? Do you perhaps also know a senior who has extra space but lacks good social connections and may be isolated?

An unlikely match: seniors and students

Although these two demographic groups might seem like polar opposites, they actually have housing needs which are quite complimentary.

Let’s look at students first. Students require affordable housing, as they are at a point in their lives where they are trying to finance their education while balancing schoolwork, part-time jobs, and other expenses that occur at this age.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of affordable housing in many cities around the world. More specifically, affordable housing located on or near university campuses can be quite hard to come by. First of all, a large number of students attending a single university may cause a significant increase in demand for nearby student housing. This...

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Teaching on the Tundra with Dr. Ryan Brook

"This course changed my life." That is what I heard repeatedly from students who returned from their 2 week experience on the tundra with my former classmate and now colleague, Dr. Ryan Brook. I was intrigued. I don't care how great a teacher you are, it is pretty rare to have students say that your course changed their lives.

But here were multiple students each year professing this same message to me after their tundra experience. And then, I got the phone call that would change my life, and my husband's life and make it so much richer - all while doing crazy amounts of work for long hours and virtually no pay.

And I loved it.

 

 

Dr. Ryan Brook, University of Saskatchewan, Associate Professor

Of course, that phone call was from my former classmate, Ryan Brook. Ryan was now teaching a version of the course that I took when he was the teaching assistant, called Wildlife and Ethnoecology in the Manitoba Coastal Region. What a mouthful that was, but it was a great...

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Reduce your eco-anxiety with this technique

Mindfulness is a term that you are likely to hear and read about quite often. It has become a bit of a buzzword, but despite its recent popularity, mindfulness isn’t a new fad. It's actually a basic human ability that anyone can tap into. Essentially, mindfulness is the ability to centre oneself in the present moment and become aware of our actions without becoming overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Even though you may understand the basic premise of mindfulness, it can still be difficult to achieve, and actually feel the positive impacts in your daily life, especially during stressful times (like a pandemic) or when we have other life challenges. But, this is when we actually need it most.

One of the ways mindfulness can help improve your life is through its ability to reduce stress. Mindfulness is being recommended for people going through a variety of especially stressful situations such as serious illness and can be used to also help us at least in part,...

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How the Breath Helps the Mind

Research shows that there are tangible health benefits of hitting pause on our routines and taking a few deep breaths. Our heart rate drops, blood pressure lowers almost immediately, the brain is flooded with oxygen, and our creativity increases while anxiety drops. If we do this deep breathing in nature the benefits are multiplied. We see positive effects on our immune systems and learning.
 
Studies on the health benefits of deep breathing in the forest have been explored for decades already. And you probably have already noticed this yourself, the age-old saying, “take a breath” when confronting a challenge really does help most situations.
 
 
It is what I did instinctively on September 3rd, 2013 at the age of 42 as I sat in my doctor’s office and she walked in briskly to give me the results, “it’s positive”…wait, that’s good, right? Wrong. “It is cancer”. 
 
So, I ask a few more meaningless...
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The bliss of biophilia - indoors!

Why is it that plants, windows with views of greenspace, nature-depicting art pieces, and other natural elements brighten up our indoor environments? Given the choice, most people prefer to spend time in a room that contains these elements instead of a room that is closed off to the outside world. In fact, access to daylight and the outdoors is even a requirement of humane-treatment in some situations like incarceration.

We know that spending time outside is good for our psychological and physiological health. As seen with activities such as gardening, forest bathing, and simply spending time outdoors, nature has restorative properties that we can all benefit from!

So, is it possible that we can access these benefits from indoor environments as well? The answer is yes! Biophilic design is a design strategy that incorporates natural elements into the built environment in order to increase human wellbeing. 

Biophilic design is based on the concept of “biophilia” which...

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Why does gardening make us happy?

Have you noticed that spending time in nature is a great way to enhance your physical and mental wellbeing? Well, you are not alone! There is a reason that gardening and walking outdoors and spending time in nature is such a lasting activity that people keep coming back to - and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are you growing a garden, perhaps for the first time? It turns out there are benefits to us beyond the joy of watching plants grow and reaping the harvest of our efforts. For starters gardening gives us enjoyable light physical activity and, the psychological benefits of gardening include reduced stress, increased happiness, and overall mood enhancement. To learn more about the benefits of gardening, click here!

Similarly, forest bathing - spending time immersing yourself in nature and connecting to the natural world, provides individuals with significant psychological and physiological improvements such as reduced anxiety, stress relief, decreased blood pressure and...

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