"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves." The words of Mahatma Gandhi, an extraordinary man and a true exception to the limitations that seem to hold back most of the human race. Thankfully for the rest of us (certainly for those that no longer want to be held back, or, as importantly, to hold back others), it's never too late to make some positive changes. So, in the spirit of Gandhi himself, here's a few ways in which we can all remake ourselves for the greater good. Here goes nothing...
Stop using pollutants
Our bodies are made up of 70 per cent water and almost all plants and animals need it to survive, yet it's estimated that only 2 per cent of all the water left on our planet is drinkable, and that most of that is polluted anyway. Why? Because of all of the waste we keep pumping into it. Containing contaminants that range from suntan lotion to hair dye, facial wipes and lipstick, our planet's lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater are becoming a dangerous chemical cocktail, so look into what impact your beauty products are having on the environment (and by proxy on your health) and source anti-polluting alternatives wherever possible.
Think about your eating habits
Without naming names, did you know that a particularly popular fizzy drink contains at least six potentially very harmful chemical additives? Researching what you eat will highlight things like whether it contains toxic GMOs (genetically modified organisms); whether the eggs you eat are laid by hens cruelly kept in tiny cages; whether the meat you're buying is factory farmed and treated with hormones or antibiotics; and whether the vegetables you're eating have been picked by someone paid a pittance - all of which should be avoided. Meat-free Monday is a great initiative to introduce too; having one vegetarian meal a week might not seem like a big deal, but raising livestock emits a massive amount of greenhouse gases and cutting meat out just once a week has the same positive environmental impact as driving a hybrid car.
Regular exercise isn't just a brilliant way for you personally to get a free hit of happy hormone, endorphin, it's also undeniably good for your health, which in turn means less trips to the doctor and less strain on our already stretched NHS. Plus, we live in a society where (whether consciously or not) we are constantly comparing ourselves to others - with fitness, your only competition is yourself, so you'll start to feel more confident and less concerned with the ins and outs of other people's lives too.
Go a day without complaining
What with thoughtless memes and outright trolling, there's a lot of ugliness that's thrown at people by people that don't even know said people these days. It's not good, for anyone, so flip it and start upping your positivity quotient. OK, there might not be any cucumbers left in Tesco, it might be cold and rainy outside, or Monday morning might fast be approaching, but every time you complain, you're heaping a big dollop of negative energy not just into your life, but into the world overall. Complaining breeds complaining, so before you start waxing lyrical about your peeves, stop and try to think of a way to solve the problem - there will be other cucumbers; you're lucky to have a warm, dry home; and, Monday marks a fresh week full of fresh opportunities. If you can't solve it, move on. Life's too short.
It's all very well being appalled at how badly the trains are running, or shocked that you've found out your favourite cosmetics are tested on animals, but in order to make change happen, you need to take positive action. When petitions that you support pop up on your social media feed, sign them; if you really feel the road outside your child's school needs a lower speed limit, write to the council and your local MP; if you're outraged by the government's treatment of the refugee crisis, stage a march or mass meeting and call them out on it. Turn your mental complaints into tweets, Facebook posts, forums, letters and meetings in a measured and pro-active manner and you'll find your voice and actions have the capacity to make a profound impact on the topics that niggle you.
Sounds simple. Is simple. You might think karma's a load of airy-fairy nonsense, but thousands of years of philosophical thinking would disagree: what you put out into the world is what you get back. If someone irks you and you lose your rag, you'll irk them and likely irk the person who they go on to tell; it's a whole chain of unnecessary negative energy that can be stopped short if you take a step back and assess if the situation is really worth all the aggravation. Smiling at a stranger, carrying someone's bags who's clearly struggling, or giving a fellow passenger the 20p he needs on the bus to pay for his ticket are all small, simple acts of kindness; practice them whenever you can.