It might be somewhat of a stretch when American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." for him to imagine that his quote could influence people in the 21st century.
Or maybe not.
While stated well over a century ago, his bit of wisdom resonates today in how many people evaluate their lives. Emerson definitely established himself as one who espoused self-reliance and improving one’s life.
In our society we are inundated with messages about making changes, eating better, working harder, and exercising more. It can be difficult to keep track of what we need or are expected to achieve. Monumental shifts in behavior are overwhelming and often lead to disappointment and failure. We try, but don’t succeed.
Maybe Emerson had it right all along. Maybe we need to think about being the acorn.
Setting realistic goals for lifestyle changes and improvements is easier to initiate and definitely can embody a healthier mindset. Try baking with gluten-free flour instead of the usual white flour. Are you at a place in your life knowing that a few adjustments here and there are a good idea, but even the smallest effort might feel daunting?
Make a list. Set some goals. Be the acorn.
So you have a weight goal in mind that is in the double digits. It is achievable, but lose only one pound at a time, otherwise, the health benefits can be negated. Start with a few changes in your diet that won’t hurt too much. Replace your daily soda with water or herbal tea. Instead of mayo add extra tomato to your sandwich. Rather than reaching for a pastry when your afternoon hunger kicks in reach for a crunchy apple and focus on feeling satisfied with each delicious bite. Before long, those small changes will become daily habits that lead to gradual weight loss.
Take Control of Your Finances
Again, small steps. Approach this goal with the mindset of frugality, decluttering, and appreciating what you have rather than what you want. Eliminate unnecessary subscriptions and curtail impulse purchases. Skip the fancy lattes and opt for grinding your own beans and brewing your own coffee. Think of the process as a way to simplify, slow down, and savor the result.
Giving your time to those in need not only helps people who are vulnerable but is also an act of self-care by sharing your kindness and compassion. Often the changes we want to make are in stark contrast to individuals who may be lacking in basic necessities or experiencing trauma. The expensive coffee you decided to forego pales in comparison to someone who may not have enough food.
Perspectives can significantly change when faced with the humility of acknowledging others’ problems. Think about issues in your community that trigger your compassion--possibly homelessness, food deserts, or other forms of inequality? Then carve out a few hours every week to give back to folks affected by such injustices and use the feelings this work elicits to stay on a path of gratitude.
Save the Planet
So this isn’t really a small change, but you can contribute even in the tiniest way because being kind to the planet reflects directly on kindness toward yourself. Remember--little acorn steps. You can reduce your household waste by composting and recycling. Skip the single-use plastic water bottles and keep several reusable bottles for your personal hydration. Leave your car parked and walk to your destination instead. Encourage your family and friends to take similar acorn steps and make little changes that help the planet and our sense of purpose.
Making incremental changes in your life is a mindful way to guide you on an enduring path of self-care that improves your life so that your bigger goals become more attainable. Remember that you have seeds to plant.
Be the acorn.
Would you like to try an easy step that will help you reach your health goals? Try baking with gluten-free flour. You can find a variety of healthy baking recipes online that use this type of baking flour. This simple change is a great first step toward a healthier lifestyle.