Fashion, Food, Home Decor, Personal Care

A Mindful Challenge

Happy 2018! Before launching into this blog post, I wanted to say thanks so much to everyone for taking the time to read this blog. When I launched Developing Style earlier in 2017, I had no idea where this adventure would take me. All I knew is that I had a passion for women’s entrepreneurship and global style that I wanted to share with others. I knew that the women I’ve met had stories that needed to be told. And, finally, I knew that many of us are looking to be a little more aware of how we spend our dollars – both for saving and for impact. I’m so grateful to everyone who has expressed their support for the women I’ve profiled, their businesses, and all the causes that benefit them. Thank you.

New Year, New Options

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. That said, the New Year does put me into an especially reflective mood. It gets me thinking about what I have done well and what I can improve upon in the coming year. Perhaps you’re the same way, considering what behaviors you can tweak to yield new outcomes. With that in mind, I’m inviting you to join a challenge for the month of January. Pick one thing in your life that is a necessity. Perhaps it’s your toothbrush. Or, it might be a daily cup of coffee. Whatever it is, think of one thing that you must buy during the month of January. Here’s the challenge: find a new place from which to buy that product. But not just any new place. A company that makes that product in an ethical, sustainable manner. Or one that gives back to a community in a way that is meaningful to you.

 

I know what you might be thinking. Devi, how on earth do I find an ethical toothbrush? Where would I begin? Won’t it be more expensive than the generic brand? How do I know it’s actually ethical? You’d be surprised what even 10 minutes of research can uncover. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, the Fair Trade Certified site is a great place to start your search. You can also use the Give Well site to vet other companies you want to support. You’d be surprised how many companies have a social enterprise component to them, such as Ajiri Tea. You can also scroll through this blog. I might have covered a product that you’re looking for – such as that coveted cup of ethical coffee. If you’ve done a bit of research and you’re having a hard time finding a good source for a product, just reach out to me. I’m here and happy to help. After all, that’s part of what my blog is all about. You get bonus points if you can pick up that product at a local shop rather than ordering it online (something I’m guilty of doing, but trying to change in 2018). Whatever it is that you’re looking for, I can almost guarantee that there is an ethically-run business somewhere out there that produces what you’re looking for.

Mindfully yours

Whatever you end up buying, part of the point of this challenge is to do so mindfully. What does this mean? When you click “buy” or hand over your payment to the cashier, think about where that product is coming from. Think about the person who made it. What might life be like for that individual? How far did your item have to travel to get into your hands? When you use the product, how do you feel? How does it feel knowing that you’ve tried something new, and maybe helped someone out in the process? If it’s something that you use fairly regularly, might you even consider purchasing another one down the line?
There is a lot to be said for mindfulness and how far it can take you in your buying (or saving) habits. It might make you appreciate the things you do have a bit more. It might even help you save money in the long run because you may realize that you don’t actually need as much. Perhaps “fewer, but better” might become your go-to slogan of 2018 for you.
If you’re interested in getting a bit more into mindfulness this year, here are a few tips that have helped me in my practice:

  • Begin and end each day by taking a few minutes to just breathe, making note of your thoughts and feelings in that given moment
  • Whenever possible, find 5-10 minutes each day to simply be mindful of your present state, whatever that may be. Try not to judge whether that’s good or bad, just make note of where you are. This can be while you are walking, sitting or lying down.
  • Pick one quick activity you do each day, whether that’s brushing your teeth, drinking your morning cup of coffee, or washing dishes. While doing that activity, simply notice each sensation fully. If you’re washing dishes, for example, notice the temperature of the water. How do the dishes feel in your hands. Are there any emotions that come up for you?
  • If your mind wanders during any of the activities mentioned above, just make note of it and return to the present moment.

I’m admittedly no master of the mindfulness technique, but these small exercises do help quite a lot. I find that I’m more present (when I’m spending time with family and friends, I’m actually there rather than having my mind 1 million miles away). I’m also more productive – I can focus on one task at a time and get it done! Finally, I’m more content. I’m less focused on what others have and are doing and more on being grateful for what I currently have. If you’re looking for more mindfulness resources in the new year, here are some that have really helped me:

  • Mindful.org has a great set of free articles and tips for advancing your practice.
  • Headspace had a number of great little tips and an App that you can download for your morning commute or evening meditation.
  • One book that really transformed my approach to mindfulness is The Miracle of Mindfulness. Written by Thich Nhat Hanh, the book identifies simple and straightforward ways to approach mindfulness in everyday life.

New Beginnings

If you do take on the challenge I’ve laid out above, I would LOVE to hear from you. How was the experience? What did you learn? Did you like it or were you annoyed that you had to go out of your way to try out something new? Did incorporating the practice of mindfulness while purchasing that product change the way you viewed your purchase?
However you approach purchases in the new year, I wish you all a wonderful 2018. I anticipate a number of exciting new transformations on the blog and look forward to sharing this adventure with you in the coming year!

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