For Earth Day 2021: Hope is a Muscle…

Earth Day Planet as Heart Against Green Grass

Started in 1970, this Thursday 22 April is the 51st celebration of Earth Day. At they state their mission as to “diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide” and work with “more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet”.

For a history of Earth Day click here >>

This week as we approach Earth Day, I almost fell into a funk (it’s so easy to do if you pay attention to what’s going on in the world).

But what specifically started my “almost funk” was reading that our forests’ destruction increased significantly in 2020 – and that according to the University of Maryland, 2020 was the 3rd worst year for deforestation since 2002.

Initially, the COVID pandemic seemed to have been “good” for the natural world. Many areas of the world had less human traffic and therefore other species (like migrating birds and turtles laying eggs) benefited. People flew less and factories shut down which resulted in less smog and pollution. Read last year’s Earth Day post on the benefits to the environment of doing less.

Yet the pandemic has also made it easier for government and corporations to fly under the radar and do more destructive things. Naomi Klein talks about this in her book, The Shock Doctrine (The Rise of Disaster Capitalism), describing how those in power use disasters where people are distracted to fly under the radar and do unethical or unpopular things.

Margaret Mead citizens quoteSo, where do we go from here?

It’s so easy to see all the ongoing destruction or poor decisions and feel hopeless. I know I start down that path sometimes…

But where does the path of hopelessness take us? Where does it take you?

Most of us, when we feel hopeless, give up. We stop trying. And that’s the LAST thing our earth needs right now. Because:

  • If we keep doing the same things, then we stay on the same path. Nothing changes.
  • But if we do things differently, especially if many of us do things differently, then things can’t help but shift. Other people, organizations, our politicians – they have to move with us or get left behind.

We must choose (active) hope…

I’d rather be accused of being naive than do nothing.

Because doing nothing means nothing will ever change. Whereas doing something, hoping combined with positive action, can’t help but do some good.

And hope is also good for the soul…

It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make changes required possible. Greta Thunberg

If there’s one person who gives me hope, it’s Greta Thunberg

She’s like a slow-release firecracker. She speaks her mind. She speaks truth to power. And she challenges everyone around her to do something, and do it now.

In honour of Earth Day I will be watching I am Greta. I’ve watched enough documentaries that are depressing, and Greta makes me feel hopeful.

My whole life I have seen things and thought, “But it doesn’t have to be this way!” And been dismissed as naive.

But here I am, making a living (currently over at The Coaching Tools Company) making a difference. And here I am, growing Fierce Kindness, where I plan to bring together Personal Development and Action to (hopefully!) make an even bigger difference in the world. And knowing that I am working towards that – gives me hope.

Stuck in Hopelessness?

It’s easy to get stuck thinking things are hopeless. And this is the tricky part.

Because in order to feel motivated to do things differently, we must FEEL. And when we see all the terrible things happening in the world, that can get uncomfortable – fast.

  • How do you feel knowing that in 2 years Tokyo Electric Power is planning to dump 1 million tonnes of contaminated water from Fukushima into the sea?
  • How do you feel knowing that in Yemen there is a humanitarian crisis with MILLIONS of people in need – children in particular. The war means that people are not farming/growing crops and the situation is so dire that an entire generation may not reach adulthood as a result of disease and starvation.

I know I have to stop myself from thinking too much about this stuff. Because I get upset, angry, frustrated. And often tearful.

And from there it’s easy to feel powerless. Which quickly leads to hopelessness. And then we end up switching off and doing nothing.

And when we’re constantly seeing terrible things on the news (and dealing with our own struggles during COVID) it’s easy to feel “Compassion Fatigue”.

But instead of feeling hopeless, glossing over or repressing how it feels, I encourage you to consciously FEEL.

But don’t go too deep. Just go far enough so you connect to enough anger and strength that you’re willing to do something.

Use your anger and frustration as FUEL

Ask yourself:

  1. What am I already doing to make the world a better place? Connect with that, and remember why you’re doing it for renewed motivation.
    • And if you’re feeling compassion fatigue or struggling during COVID for example, you can stop here. If not:
  2. Ask, what else can I do? Do I feel strongly enough about this to do more?

But lastly, and importantly, don’t should on yourself.

Don’t worry about what you should do, worry about what you can do. Gloria Steinem

Any action you take doesn’t need to directly relate to an issue that upsets you. Just be sure you’re doing something consciously to make the world a better place… Because that in itself is hopeful.

The Problem with Hopelessness…

…is that it takes us to a big, dark hole.

And that helps no-one.

So we must choose to be positive, be hopeful and do what we can.

None of us know what the future holds. What movements might rise up. What a big corporation may suddenly decide to do. What planetary shifts might still occur. It just takes one big thing.

Hope is a muscle.

And we must build it within ourselves.

We must choose hope. Because what else is there?

Fierce Kindness LogoWrap-up

I believe that personal growth and action are inextricably linked: that when we contribute and make a difference this boosts our self-esteem and gives our lives meaning.

And meaning is an essential part of our happiness. And so we have a full and beautiful, virtuous circle.

Change the world. Start with you!


I’ll leave you with 3 areas to ponder:

  1. Who and what gives you hope?
  2. When it comes to this planet earth, what are you most passionate about? What are you unwilling to give up on?
  3. As Earth Day approaches:
    • What are you already doing for nature, the planet, the environment or to make the world a better place?
    • Where might you go next?

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Image of Earth as Heart on Green Grass by Khanthachai C via Shutterstock

Image of Sunflower by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay

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