"You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself."
Arianna Huffington recently said at Urban Zen NYC's "Conversations on Sustainable Wellness" series, "If there's one thing the world is starving for, it's wisdom, and health is connected to wisdom."
We couldn't agree with her more, as we need wise and productive change now! The world is in turmoil and, until we can come together in a healthy way, life will be even more challenging than it need be. Amidst the confusion, there is a crucial need to bring business leaders to this same understanding, as they are in a position to make lasting and effective differences. This is the very purpose of LOHAS, or Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability.
As we are all well aware, times have changed. What we were talking about three years ago is now happening: bringing bags to the grocery store, using CFL light bulbs, driving a hybrid car. Thankfully, these are all accepted as normal. We've got the green bit going, got recycling sorted, so now it's about ensuring that green assets are fully sustainable so that everyone participates. We need to be inspired. It may be the right thing to do, but it has to be worth it to turn computers off at night or refit a whole office with recyclable materials.
LOHAS is a wonderful and innovative global phenomenon bigger in Asia than even in the West. The Chinese word for LOHAS translates as "happy living," and there it has spread like wildfire. The concept wraps traditional Asian values, beliefs, philosophy and cultural understanding in a cool, Western package, which is very attractive to the younger generation. There are LOHAS department stores, energy bars and restaurants, to name a few. Amazingly, director Ted Ning has conducted LOHAS tours of Boulder, Colo. for Japanese businessmen who are fascinated to see what a healthy and sustainable lifestyle looks like in a living environment.
As change is where it's at, the theme of this year's LOHAS forum is the "Future of Possibilities." "If we took a snapshot of how everyone is right now, there's a real frantic energy," believes Ted Ning. "Everyone seems to be on the run going everywhere and anywhere, busily trying to make things happen. Two words that reflect the world this year could be 'instability' and 'uncertainty.' If we look at Japan, the Middle East, the weather, everything is changing and is really uncertain, and no one knows what's going to happen next."
Doom and gloom can be depressing, but the upside means there are many possibilities ahead. Out of the mud comes new growth, like a beautiful lotus flower. The "Future of Possibilities" forum is at the cutting edge. Among many speakers is brilliant futurist Jean Houston, founder of the Mystery School and author of many new-thought books, talking about "Understanding the Great Mystery"; and Dan Millman, bestselling author of "The Peaceful Warrior" and "The Four Purposes of Life," talking about "The Business of Living -- On Purpose."
In our book "Be the Change," Jean Houston said:
We must find the way that speaks to our innate capacity for knowing, for being, for entering into those wisdom states that give us the intuitive knowledge of what we are and what we must do in this most important time, for what we do now will most profoundly make a difference to our future.
Also speaking is Chris Kilham, whom CNN has called "the Indiana Jones of Natural Medicine." He will tell "Tales from the Medicine Trail," while John Peterson, founder of the Arlington Institute, will talk about "2012: The Shift We have Been Waiting For."
And to top it all, the former keyboardist for Santana, Freddie Ravel, will be headlining the closing in a "Tune Up for Success."
Participants come looking for meaning and value-based purposes. That's why LOHAS is a beacon showing how business can be profitable, even in these difficult times. Yogis and successful "green" companies will be rubbing shoulders with Coca Cola, Walmart, a Russian trade association, and prominent Chinese and Japanese business leaders, all sharing sustainable practices and new ways of thinking.
"Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability" describes a marketplace focused on health, the environment, social justice, personal development and sustainable living. One in four Americans is part of this group -- nearly 41 million people. They are the future of business and also the future of progressive social, environmental and economic change.
We will be at this exciting event, as we have been for the past few years, for you never know whom you will meet -- last year we found business cards made from elephant pooh while Ed overdosed on delicious organic chocolate!
The LOHAS Forum will take place June 22 to 24 in Boulder, Colo. It provides a cross section of thoughtful and progressive executives and is known for fantastic networking with decision makers who are involved in LOHAS businesses. There will also be a special regional event on May 12 in Minneapolis, Minn.
What can you do to make life more healthy or sustainable in your world? Do comment below.
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See our award-winning book, "Be the Change: How Meditation Can Transform You and the World," with forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman and contributions from Marianne Williamson, Dan Millman, Jean Houston, Jane Fonda, Ram Dass, Byron Katie, Ellen Burstyn and many others.
Our three meditation CDs -- "Metta: Loving-Kindness and Forgiveness," "Samadhi: Breath Awareness and Insight" and "Yoga Nidra: Inner Conscious Relaxation" -- are available at www.EdandDebShapiro.com.