Title: How to Be Alive
Author: Colin Beavan
2016 – Nonfiction – Self Help/Each Other Help/Reference Guide
Source: TLC Book Tours
The Story: It all started when Colin Beavan conducted a year-long radical experiment during which he tried to reduce his carbon footprint and his physical impact on the world. After the year was up, he retained many of his new habits and began speaking out about how the rest of us could do the same, how even one person making small decisions can change not only his or her own life, but that of someone else…and the world. How to Be Alive seeks to make each of us a little more aware and mindful of the life choices we are making and where we might need to switch things up to be happier, more productive, and more meaningful.
Review: Okay, I’m gonna be brutally honest here, because what kind of ethical book blogger would I be if I didn’t? Getting through How to Be Alive was tough for me. Here’s why. Lately I’ve been feeling very much defeated in life. Things at home have been rough since before the holidays, changes at work are throwing me off, and I’m entering into some new seasons in my life that are bringing uncertainty and fear. I constantly feel a mixture of stress, anxiety, meaninglessness, depression, and sadness. I’ve been questioning my life choices and wondering what my purpose is. So yeah, reading this book about how to be alive and live a meaningful life was a little tough, although extremely timely.
A lot of the book focuses on general questions for how to begin and conduct a lifequest. Peppered with personal stories backed up by science, Beavan sets out to show readers how becoming more mindful and aware and making small life changes for the better can lead to increased happiness, self-worth, and more, while also making the world a better place. He argues that even small steps, like starting a community garden or reaching out to a neighbor, can be the starting point toward a more meaningful life. Addressing topics ranging from the importance of community to what we should eat, Beavan believes that all of us, working together, can change our lives, and the world, for the better.
Many of his ideas and tips are small and easy to implement. For example, invite friends on a shopping trip to the local farmers’ market. Buy fresh, local ingredients for a meal, return home, and cook a fantastic meal to enjoy with those friends. Or reach out to a neighbor in need. Recycle. Ride a bike just a little more and use the car just a little less. Disconnect from screens for a day. Spend time with those important to us. Stand up against injustice by writing to our representative in government.
In my personal life, I’ve noticed that when I’m living more intentionally and less on autopilot, I’m happier and probably a lot more fun to be around. I’ve been learning that life is more about the experiences and the people, less about the stuff I own or how much money I make. For me, some of the best moments in life are when my friends and I play basketball in the park, try out a new local restaurant, do yoga with a friend from college, or spend a weekend away seeing a favorite indie artist’s show on her first tour. And while, yes, these are small things, by making intentional decisions, surrounding myself with positive people, and making small lifestyle changes, my happiness grows. And with it, my sphere of influence and my ability to impact the world. So if you are looking for meaning or purpose, start here. Make a few small, healthy changes. Make new friends. Pick up a fulfilling hobby. We only get one life. How do you want to spend it?