Thursday, January 15, 2009

making choices

APLS Carnival This Month: "What mental tricks do you use on yourself to help you make the right choices, even when they make life a little harder? Or, conversely, does your mind play games that trick you into making the wrong decisions?"

In some cases, the biggest trigger in my brain when I'm making a choice is what will people think. Now, many people would be surprised to hear this coming from me, I'm not a 'go with the crowd' type of person. However, I'm thinking of very specific people's opinions when I consider this. My friend who had to give up her worms when she moved and convinced me to get some so she could live vicariously- she would be very disappointed if I gave up composting because of one little ant infestation. Or, would I be willing to admit that I turned the heat up a few degrees to my friend who I am constantly badgering to lower her thermostat?

Other times, it's intrigue with the science behind things. Flushing my toilet with grey water is still fascinating to me, the brilliant pressure system, how much water is necessary, actually noticing the effects when someone else uses the pipes I share with my neighbors. Or, the mathematics- every month is a push to see if I can get closer to the 90% reduction. What exactly contributed to that increase or decrease in gas/electricity/water. Recently my electricity usage skyrocketed, and I felt a distinct loss of control. I truly enjoying knowing where each number comes from and that I chose to use that much.

Most of all, I don't offer my mind the option to want something I don't need. I can't remember the last time I went to the mall. I check out prices online before shopping, and then I only need to go to one store and can head directly to the aisle I know my item is in. I don't watch tv and therefore don't see the ads there. When I am out, I'm often out with other vegetarians, people who know me as an eco-nut and friends who would be more surprised if I didn't chose the sustainable option.

However, there are plenty of things that I don't do. I wanted to bike more this summer, but it really didn't happen. I rationalized that I was in grad school and away 12 hours a day so it was okay. That wasn't a perfect reason, but I can live with my imperfections and the occasional drive down the road to get groceries in my semi-gas-guzzling vehicle.


  1. Ooh, another person with a scientific mind! My own post for this carnival went off on a very sciencey tangent, which some people appreciated more than others!

    Thanks for your contribution to the carnival!

  2. We also use environmental selection as a way to help manage our choices and have enjoyed some unexpected benefits.

    I feel much more relaxed and happy shopping at a farmers market or thrift store than I ever did at a mall! The pace is slower and there is a greater sense of discovery.

    Your posts on electricity bills have me thinking I need to analyze ours more carefully - thanks!

  3. Oooh, are you doing Riot for Austerity? I'll be back soon to search your blog for relevant posts as I'm quite intrigued. I totally relate to "what people think" helping you to make the right decisions, and goals, like Riot for Austerity, give a concrete way to measure my success, so I'm looking for more of that type of motivation.

  4. Steph- my electricity situation is extreme, but tracking the numbers is really interesting. My provider (national grid) makes a graph for me which is cool to study.

    GR- I do Riot, and not only does the calculator help me see things concretely, I'm also subscribed to the email list, so I get all sorts of inspiration from them.

  5. CAT@VWXYNot: that tangent was a bit of a doozy for me to handle.

    crstn85: Handling imperfections and dealing with them has been difficult for me to accept too. Which is strange since I'm my own worst critic. But I guess this is the beauty that is me - a living contradiction. I have a tendency to forget that my actions are a result of choices I've decided to make. This post was a good reminder.


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