If one of your goals in the new year is to become more conscious about the things you consume (whether it’s food or material goods) and find ways to be more involved in your community, Most Good, Least Harm should definitely be on your reading list. The book is set up as a little guide for improving your life-- Part 1 (“Looking Inward”) focuses on ways you can better yourself by making conscious choices to live how you want others to remember you (known as “Live Your Epitaph”), and Part 2 is all about “Choosing Outward,” and achieving happiness by helping others. Simply put, the “MOGO” (most good) philosophy is all about living the best life possible by choosing to seek out ways to make the world a better place.
Books like this can easily come across as idealistic, because sure it all sounds great and it’s common sense that we should try to help others and make the world better and blah blah. The thing is, it’s easy enough to go through life without really trying to do anything. Being excited about the idea of volunteering with an animal rescue group is one thing, but the trick to improving yourself (and for doing anything, really) is to keep that inspiration going. That’s why this book is awesome—instead of just leaving it up to you to figure out, it lists tons of ideas you can use and questions you can ask yourself to keep up with a MOGO lifestyle. Here's part of a little quiz that appears in the "Activism" section:
1. What issues or problems most concern you? Are you particularly drawn to solve problems such as poverty, inadequate education, child abuse, food insecurity, genetic engineering, animal cruelty, global climate change, sweatshop labor, escalating worldwide slavery, peak oil, media monopolies, HIV/AIDS, nuclear weapons, genocide, resource depletion, pollution? Is there a community issue that you feel passionately about? Beyond your family and friends, who and what do you care most about?Regarding consumerism, everything about a product—from the material to the production and distribution—has an effect on our environment. (This is another common sense thing that we all know, but whether or not you choose to make it something that's important to you is just that, a choice.) The same is true for food. Whether you're looking to eliminate/decrease your meat consumption or just want to start buying produce locally, it's so important to be a conscious eater. What you choose to consume is a direct reflection of your beliefs, values, and how willing you are to do your own research about things.
2. What skills and talents do you have that could be combined with your concerns above to enable you to make a difference? (p.133)
The book also has practical information about how to involve yourself locally, which is what I’ll be working on this year. It really is a helpful little guidebook if you want to start making small changes here and there but don't quite know where to start, and in the back there’s a pretty extensive recommendation list for relevant books/films/organizations. I find myself flipping through it often when I’m looking for a new read or a recommendation for a friend.
Happy new year, guys! Hopefully this inspires a few of you.