For those of you who have been receiving our monthly roundups for years, you might remember us sharing about the Wrong Bus Syndrome … a simple-yet-powerful analogy for how and why we find ourselves headed in the wrong direction by Wangari Maathai, a 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
While Maathai writes about The Wrong Bus Syndrome in her book The Challenge for Africa, it has so many applications for each and every one of our lives … especially now. As Wangari Maathai puts it: “Like travelers who have boarded the wrong bus, many people and communities are heading in the wrong direction or traveling on the wrong path, while allowing others (often their leaders) to lead them further from their desired destination.” Who are you following through these “Covid Times”?
We all know how much trouble we get in when we get on the wrong bus, headed in the wrong direction. When we realize that we are on the wrong bus, it should be a pivotal point in our lives – so why don’t we just get off? We are buying toxic products, eating processed food, drinking water from plastic bottles, wasting resources, and are so disconnected that we don’t feel directly responsible for most of what we do. Living and making choices on a daily basis, while thinking that every action we make doesn’t matter, as if the meat we are eating from a factory farm or that tomato picked by an illegal worker doesn’t affect us all, makes us believe somehow that it’s all OK, since it’s just what is … what society almost “normalizes”.
It isn’t normal though.
There are options. We have choices. We can either be part of the solution, or part of the problem. We need not accept what is actually in our own worst interest. Each of us has the ability to get off of the Wrong Bus. We have the power to make choices for ourselves. Good ones. Conscious ones. So, why don’t we? It could simply be that we do not have the information.
Personally, I always took great pride in making the “best” decisions for myself and especially for my first born, but, as I learned more, and cared more, I realized how unconscious many of my decisions were, and how I was travelling on the wrong bus, without even realizing it. Once I knew, I couldn’t unknow. I got off that bus, but … I didn’t know what other buses were available – it was disconcerting, unnerving and certainly lonely.
My family and friends were still on the bus that I had gotten off of, and weren’t all supportive of my change of direction, but I was determined. I am so grateful for where I am today, but I keep an open-mind, asking for new information and using what I learn to get onto the bus that makes the most sense for me, at any given time. It’s truly a journey. More and more of us think we do not have time to get off the Wrong Bus. This might be a reality. I am sure that I would change much more if I could dedicate even more of my time getting on many more “right buses” … but there are meals to make, and walks to take, and sleep to have too … but every day is an opportunity. There are many reasons why we get stuck on the Wrong Bus: 1 // It’s not a good time for change. Change is never convenient, but it’s worth it! Our efforts will always pay off in the long run. 2 // We don’t have the time to change. Many of us feel strapped for time. The good news is that the Right Bus often saves us time. As we integrate better habits into our lives like cooking from scratch or meditation, they are so enriching that they become a chosen priority in our lives and the time feels well spent. 3 // We don’t have the money to change. We either invest in our health now, or later. It’s not about cost, as much as it’s about value. Ask yourself: Do you value your wellness? We all know to save for our retirement, financially speaking, but how are you investing in your body and mind today? 4 // We don’t know that we are on the Wrong Bus. Maybe we just don’t realize it, maybe we’ve been given the wrong directions by someone who is misinformed, maybe we don’t know how or what questions to ask, maybe we are being intentionally mislead, or maybe we just saw everyone on a certain bus and got on ourselves. Ask questions, look around, talk to others, and consider your destination. You will make much better decisions for yourself and for those who count on you as their mentor or leader. Choose to get on the Right Bus … it might be different than your neighbour’s bus, family’s bus or friend’s bus … there are so many options, and they are uniquely yours to discover. When you find your bus, you will realize that you have not only found a healthier way of life and work, but you will also connect with others on the same bus … a community of people headed in the same direction, embracing a common journey. If you have found yourself on the Wrong Bus, or if our society ends up on the Wrong Bus together, let’s have the strength to pull over, get off, reorient ourselves, and set off in the right direction again!
We are here to offer you support, as always …