We reached a point in the history of humanity where we consciously need to pause for a while and reflect on the future of our businesses, our personal lives and the lives of future generations.

Humans have achieved a lot! We ventured out in space, found cures for many diseases, increased our average age, and explored the furthest corners of this planet. At the same time, however, we lost almost 50% of our rainforests, we breathe polluted air, see our oceans drowning in plastic, witness the majority of species reaching the brink of extinction and our natural resources diminishing.


Profit and market share are the dominant factors companies and industries aim for, but this strategy proved not to be sustainable over the long run. Our global economy is built on the natural world. Millions of jobs depend on healthy oceans, forests, soil, or other environments, so a further depletion of nature brings us closer and closer to that day X when Mother Nature simply will have nothing more to give. Already today, we use more resources than our planet can replenish. So a course correction is not only necessary; it is inevitable!

The exploitation of nature and excessive emission of greenhouse gases awakened a real monster. Climate Change is no longer a potential danger that is somewhere up the horizon; it is the greatest threat humankind has ever seen, and it will challenge us in many different ways. Storms, floods, heat waves and droughts are some of the events we are already witnessing more frequently. And while we are still discussing if climate change is man-made or not, the clock is ticking. According to an extensive report released by the United Nations in 2017, we have barely ten years left to halt global warming at 1.5 degrees. Everything beyond that comes very close to the point of no return - a level of heat in the atmosphere that might trigger events we won't be able to stop anymore. Scientists warned us for decades but we did not take them seriously and continued to trade our future for short-term profits. Even today, we still don't seem to understand that we are running towards a catastrophe of enormous magnitude. In 2018 alone, the ten major natural disasters worldwide caused damage of $85 Billion. This amount doesn't include the increasing cost of health care as people are suffering from pollution, water shortage, or sea level rise. But it doesn't end here. The warming climate is an ideal breeding ground for Malaria and Dengue fever. Storms can contaminate water sources and cause the spread of infectious diseases. If our oceans continue to heat up, fish stocks will further decline due to a lack of oxygen. Poverty and malnourishment will reach unprecedented highs and lead to displacement and conflicts. The war over water and food will become a daily topic in our news.


Climate Change is not a single incident. It starts with what we see today, but it will launch an avalanche of further events that will push life as we know it to the limit - also to our limit. So the question should not be if we can afford climate action; it should be if we can afford not to act. We need to find a way to unite all countries around the world in this joint endeavour to tackle this crisis efficiently.

So what we urgently require are unity and global efforts of Governments, the public and private sectors and every one of us to reach this single most important goal in human history. We need to start treating this crisis as a crisis and stop discussing if we can afford climate action. As consumers, we need to take responsibility for our actions and lifestyles rather than leaning back, waiting for our leaders to find common ground.

Our level of technology opens up an array of possibilities and here is where we have many options for future growth. Renewable energy, waste management, recycling, sustainable fishing, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, packaging or food and beverage - all these industries have tremendous potential for sustainable growth. What we need now is the collective acknowledgement that we have to act - all of us! The days are gone that we can wait for others to solve the problem. Every one of us takes thousands of decisions daily. Let's turn these decisions into conscious choices that will support life for us and our future generations!

If you need further inspiration on sustainability and how your business can reduce its carbon footprint reach out to me or book me as a corporate trainer for your team.

Let's create change - together!

Palm Oil - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Could you imagine that, while munching on your breakfast or doing your laundry you are supporting one of the worst crimes that are committed to our environment these days? Probably not, but unfortunately, it's quite likely the case. The reason behind is Palm Oil. 
Palm Oil is used in a myriad of products. The WWF estimates around 50% of packed items in the grocery shops to contain palm oil. 
From margarine to lipstick, biscuits to candles, chocolate to laundry detergent, processed food to shower gel, palm oil is found in an incredible range of everyday products. The qualities of palm oil lie in the versatility and cheap production. Being semi-solid at room temperature, it's high melting point makes it an ideal product for cooking, baking, and frying. Animal fats have the same quality, but palm oil is by far cheaper in production, and the fruit offers a two-for-one deal as both, the fleshy outer part as well as the stone provide usable oil and can be separated for different purposes. But it's not only in our groceries. Almost 50% of the palm oil imported to the EU is used as biofuel.

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Considering the low production cost and high versatility, there is no alternative to palm oil at the moment. The demand for the product exploded in the late 80's and today we are using 66 tons of it every year. However, the downside of this wonder crop is devastating. 

Oil palm plantations currently cover more than 27 million hectares of the Earth’s surface, which equals the size of New Zealand, and is mainly grown in South East Asia, Africa and the Amazonas region. This land was not just available - the industries have invaded it. Forests and human settlements have been destroyed and replaced by monoculture plantations, containing virtually no biodiversity. Indigenous people who have inhabited and protected the rainforest over decades have been brutally driven from their land. Every single day, hundreds of acres of natural rainforest are being bulldozed away to make room for further plantations. The destruction of this indigenous forest is killing whole ecosystems. Borneo, for instance, is a mere paradise of biodiversity. Approximately 5,000 plants are endemic to the island and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Among them the "Rafflesia", a carnivorous plant and at the same time the largest flower in the world, reaching over 100 centimeters (39 in) in diameter, and weighing up to 10 kilograms.


We don't know how many of these plants could be medical cures, helping to fight life-threatening diseases. Roundly 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients while 99% of these tropical trees and plants have not even been tested by scientists, yet.

Deforestation doesn't only kill indigenous plants; it also causes a radical decline of natural habitat to species like Orang Utans, Borneo Elephants, and Sumatra Tigers, who are pushed to the verge of extinction. Almost 50% of the Orang Utan Population has been killed within the last ten years. The great ape that shares 97% of DNA with us humans could be extinct within the next three decades.


And it doesn't end here. Deforestation has an immense impact on our climate. Rainforests worldwide are absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and are responsible for approximately 30% of oxygen production. They naturally grow on peatland. Peat is an organic material created by the composting of plants. This condensed form of plant mass is storing vast amounts of carbon. Peat swamps are covering approximately 30-45% of the tropics, representing around 10% of all peatlands worldwide. Half of this reservoir is located in Indonesia, the number one producer of Palm Oil. So why is this a problem? 


The peatlands of Borneo formed over the past 20 million years and built up layers of peat that reach up to 20 meters, storing massive amounts of carbon. During deforestation large areas of the rainforest are cut and burned down to the ground to make space for further palm oil plantations. The smoke produced by the fires contains tremendous amounts of aerosols and toxic gases, which can cause severe health problems to humans and animals.
During the burning process, the carbon stored in soil and trees is being transformed into Carbon Dioxide and released into the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas and one of the major contributors to global warming. 
So the destruction of rainforest for palm oil plantations is not only eradicating whole ecosystems and animal species but is also causing severe health problems and contributes immensely to climate change. 


Considering the high amounts of palm oil used today, it is not very likely that industries will stop using it over the next years. However, there is a way to grow palm oil in a more sustainable way that doesn't require further destruction of rainforest. The Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), initiated by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) consists of representatives of Palm Oil Producers and NGO's in the effort to grow palm oil sustainably and prevent further deforestation. To date, the RSPO has helped to conserve nearly 190.000 hectares of land which equals the size of 250,000 soccer fields.


So what can we do in our day to day life to ensure we are not contributing to the loss of further habitat? When doing your groceries next time, watch out for products featuring the labels of RSPO or Green Palm. Those labels guarantee that no rain forest was burned for the production of the palm oil used in that product. 

The majority of industries are still using the radical methods, but if we as consumers stand up against the destruction of our environment by choosing sustainable products over unsustainable ones, the industries have no choice other than adapting their production methods. Please support the WWF and other organizations in their efforts to protect our planet earth. 

If this article is helpful, please share it with our family and friends and spread the word about the problems caused by palm oil. Together we can make a difference. I look forward to reading your thoughts and ideas!

Climate Change Is Real! Act Now!

Climate Change is a fact, even though certain high-ranking Politicians try to denounce it as a hoax to increase profits and sneak out of their responsibility to take actions towards more sustainable industries.
It is true that climate has naturally changed over the centuries, but we cannot deny any longer, that humans are the primary factor of the global warming we are witnessing today. 
Over the past decades, we developed a lifestyle causing overproduction, exploitation of natural resources, destruction of natural habitats and violation of animal rights. We want more value for less money, are choosing comfort over common sense and often close our eyes from reality in order not to be confronted with the ugly truth. 


If we opened those eyes just a little bit, we could witness the global disasters our current lifestyle is causing. Massive deforestation, pollution of land, air and seas, tons of plastic waste in our oceans, toxins in rivers and crops and extinction of entire species in lightning speed. Where does this lead? To our own damage as nature is firing back with massive force. We have never witnessed such high numbers of floods, typhoons, hurricanes, droughts, and heatwaves. And that's not the end. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.6 million people die each year from causes directly attributable to air pollution. 


Will it end here? No, it will become worse! Far worse! Climate change will have devastating consequences, extreme heat waves and droughts will make several areas in the world inhabitable, which will result in wars for resources and massive migration of humans, trying to survive. The number of immigrants fleeing their countries that we are witnessing today will be nothing compared to the number of people that will urge into those areas that are still livable. Click here to watch the official trailer for the documentary "Before the Flood" directed by Leonardo Di Caprio in cooperation with National Geographic to get an idea of the situation we are already facing today. 


So how much longer will it take until we wake up? How much longer will we ignore the signs until we finally take action and feel responsible for the damage we are doing to our planet? 

Confronting people with such facts, I often hear that the governments have to step in, that the industries need to make changes and that the individual doesn't have the power to create change. Indeed, governments should step in, and industries should change, but corruption and greed for profit are often closer to their hearts than our future. So it's on us to surrender to this downward spiral or to do something about it.  Every single individual can make a change on each and every day! 

It all starts with a plan. Be it your home or workplace; you can make significant changes to reduce your carbon footprint today.

1. Sign petitions and engage your community to stand up against corruption, inactive politicians, oil companies and other industries that are destroying our remaining natural habitats.

2. Educate yourself on the topic and spread the word about global warming. Engage your family, friends, colleagues, and bosses in supporting you in your efforts. Teaming up with others will enable you to have an even more significant impact. 

3. Recycle as much as possible and reduce the plastic in your household.
Replace individual plastic bottles with dispensers or drink tap water, if it's safe to do so. For further ideas on reducing plastic read my article "The future of our Oceans".

4. Turn electrical equipment off when not in use. This counts for heatings, AC's, lights, electronic devices etc. in your home, office or hotel rooms. Only wash when your washing machine is full and ask hotel staff to replace towels and bed sheets only every other day. 

5. Recycle paper in your home or office. Some companies offer to pick up shredded paper and recycle it for further use. This will save a large number of trees from being cut just for paper production. 

6. Reduce heating/AC. Reducing your heating by 1⁰C can reduce your energy consumption by 8%. The same counts for Air Conditioning. By setting your AC 1⁰C higher, you will not only save energy but reduce your monthly bill. Set the AC level at a fixed level of 23⁰C or higher. 

7. Fit energy saving light bulbs - LEDs can save 90% of lighting energy costs. Switch off lights when not in use.

8. Use more public transportation and share your car with friends and colleagues on the way to work. You will not only reduce the amount of CO2 emissions but also save a considerable amount of money.

9. Save water. Reduce your shower time and don't let water run unused. 

10. Replace old electrical items like refrigerators or water boilers with energy efficient ones of energy rating A++.

11. For short journeys, walk or cycle.

12. When replacing your car, make sure you choose a low emission vehicle.

13. Buy local and in season. Avoid imported food and only eat fruits and vegetables that are growing at this time in your own country. If you have a garden or balcony, try growing your own.

14. Reduce your consumption of meat. The meat industry is one of the major contributors to global warming. By reducing meat you will not only positively contribute to the wellbeing of our environment but also to your own. 

15. Calculate your carbon footprint and learn where you can make changes that will positively impact our environment. Click here for a personal carbon footprint calculator and here to calculate the carbon footprint at your office.

16. Offset your carbon footprint with a donation and enable the planting of trees or other environmental causes. Click here to take action.

As always, please spread the word about this cause, like and share this article with family, friends, and colleagues and let me know what you are doing to contribute to a healthier environment. I look forward to hearing from you!

The Pursuit of Happiness

We all want it, we eagerly work for it, and yet it seems to be out of reach for so many of us. When it comes to obtaining happiness, we often look at all the wrong places. 

If you ask Millennials today what they pursue in life, it is very likely that the answer is wealth and fame. This is not a phenomenon of that generation in particular but has been the primary goal of many generations before. Money is seen as the gate to personal freedom, security, fun and lasting happiness, and this perception is significantly fueled by media and a whole bunch of so-called "motivational coaches" that are posting an abundance of photos of successful people in Ferraris and yachts on their Instagram profiles. But is that perception sustainable? If we asked the same youngsters 30 years later, would their definition of happiness still be the same?

Science conducted many studies on happiness, and unlike the younger generation, people in their 40's, 50's and 60's define different contributors to feeling happy. Whereas money does have a positive impact, especially on poor people reaching a certain level of wealth, the effect stagnates once a satisfying amount of funds has been accumulated. In another study, the 10% of the super-rich in the United States were asked if money made them happier and the majority of them declined. 
So if money and fame alone don't bring life-long happiness what does? 

Throughout my career, I have met many people from different cultural and religious backgrounds. I travelled frequently, mainly within South East Asia, and made an interesting observation. People, living simple lives, don't only smile the most but generally seem to be happy. I saw people having barely more than the clothes they wore, happily sharing their food with me. While our wealthy Western societies often come across as greedy and even hostile, those people seem to have overall contentment that withstands the struggles of their lives. 


So how do people, having so much less than we, reach such levels of happiness? The answer lies in the very different approach to life. If you study the far eastern cultures, you will notice a much higher focus on family, community and care for each other, whereas Western societies often equate happiness with career, possessions and ego. While Far Eastern holistic teachers preach contentment, gratitude and balance, our western leaders talk about money, success and status. And this is where our modern lifestyle wreaks havoc. 

In our pursuit of happiness, eager to build a career, be successful and rich, we often don't even realise how years pass by, how we neglect our family and friends and become more and more solitary along the way. We make ourselves slaves to companies that would replace us in no time. We sacrifice our leisure time to answer phone calls and emails 24/7. We have hundreds of friends online, but hardly any real ones. Our lives are exposed on Social Media, but no one is there for us when we struggle with real problems. We live in a society that favours the strong and independent, but hardly anyone cares how it really looks inside of us. 1 out of 5 Americans reports today that they feel lonely.  
So with all the efforts, we spend in reaching happiness, we actually achieve the exact opposite. We are stressed out and lonely, often not able to find the way out of that daily rat race. 

After all, it doesn't come as a surprise that research confirms that neither money nor fame or possessions cause long-term happiness. In fact, the main contributor to lasting contentment is the quality of our relationships. And it goes even further. In the 'Harvard Study of Adult Development', a study that tracked the lives of 724 men over a span of 75 years, the scientists found out that our social connections have a direct impact on our physical and mental health and even our lifespan. People that are satisfied with their relationships face overall fewer health issues across all levels of status and income. To watch the video about the study click here.


This may come as a surprise, but having healthy relationships are a basic human need. From the early stages of our existence, humans were social beings. Living in groups and forming tribes has not only enabled our survival but also nourished our need for belonging. The desire to bond is deeply anchored in our "Emotional Brain". Yes, there is such a thing as an Emotional Brain or scientifically called the Limbic System. This part of our brain is roughly 50 million years old and the storehouse of our emotions.  

So even though our tribes evolved into societies, we no longer hunt our food and don't have to worry to be eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger, our basic human needs are still the same. Naturally, this will evoke clashes with today's modern lifestyle and the values we get instilled by mainstream media. 

We don't have to travel back in time and live in caves to reach an overall better state of mind, but there are some actions you can take to improve your overall happiness and well-being. Here are some of my personal favourites:

1. Give and care
Doing good has a positive impact on health and happiness, no matter if the support goes toward humans, animals or other causes like environmental projects. Giving is providing a person with a sense of satisfaction and meaning which is crucial to obtaining happiness. If you need some inspiration on causes to engage in, check out my article "What's your Cause?". 

2. Empower yourself and others
Empowerment is an essential tool to enable personal growth, satisfaction, improved skills, and self-esteem. Companies empowering their employees, witness higher motivation, increased levels of identification with the job, and less turnover in staff compared to employers that restrict responsibility, deny trust, and micromanage their workforce. 
Parents empowering their children are raising future leaders. A child who sees their own value is not only more likely to surmount obstacles but to assist others in difficult situations.  

3. Leave that dreadful job
Our school system requires us to decide on our future career at a very early age. However, graduates are often far away from knowing what they really want in life. In fact, the majority of students choose a career because their parents advise them to do so or because it sounds promising, not because they are passionate about it. So few years down the road, many people realise that they are going in the wrong direction and feel that nagging desire to break out of their daily routine. As per a study, anonymously conducted by Gallup in 2017, only 15% of people worldwide are engaged in their job. A whopping 62 are disconnected and basically sleep-walk through the day, and a sad 23% literally hate their job and even undermine their co-worker's accomplishments. Due to their financial situations or lack of inspiration, many of them stay in their positions, living a life full of frustration and even depression. So if you are one of them, know, that you're not alone and it's never too late to take a different direction. Change doesn't happen overnight, but it will happen once you start working diligently towards it.

4. Exercise
Breaking a sweat is not only a means to shed those annoying pounds around your waistline but it's also proven to release endorphins in your brain and boost your immune system. So do that jog in the park or get a gym buddy. Your physical and mental fitness will benefit likewise. 


5. Change your thoughts
From personal experience, I can tell you that changing the way you think will have a tremendous impact on your life. As kids, we are usually carefree and full of joy, but not many can carry this positive mindset on into their adult lives. We are busy focusing on "what is" rather than "what we want". We see our struggles, complain about them, contemplate why we have to deal with them and feel sorry for ourselves rather than keeping our minds focused on what we want to happen, who we want to become and where we want to go. This negative thought pattern gets another boost as soon as we watch the news on TV or when we gossip about our colleagues. If you see yourself in this scenario, you have to break that cycle. Rather than complaining about what is, dream about what could be, rather than indulging in self-pity, imagine how you will feel once you overcome the struggle. Realize that there are situations in life you cannot control, so go with the flow and let the storm pass. Whatever you think, will become a reality in your life so make sure you're aware of where your thoughts wander.

6. Set boundaries
Kindness brings joy into your life, but sometimes our sympathy and willingness to help, reach a level which is only beneficial to those who receive them. If you are one of those gentle souls, that love to be there for others, your kindness might often get exploited. Particularly women are prone to exhaust themselves in their efforts to please everyone around them. Saying no sometimes doesn't mean you're not kind. It just means that you respect your own needs as much as you respect others. Whoever doesn't appreciate that, should probably not be part of your life in the first place.

7. Overcome Ego
Ego causes many unnecessary conflicts in life, not only for others but also for oneself, but usually, people are not even aware that they are acting out of ego. If you often feel in competition with others, are always in need to be right, are trying to take control or rule jealously over your partner, you need to be aware that ego has taken over your life. Ego is a sense of self, and while people around you might sense your ego as arrogance, it can also be a sign of low self-esteem.  Once you realise that ego is running the show, it is time to do some self-reflection and identify its drivers. One thing is clear; ego will always stand in your way and be a significant obstacle that's keeping you from living a happy life. But realising and acknowledging the problem is the first important step toward change, and the only one who can make change happen is you. 

8. De-clutter your life
Have you ever enjoyed that freeing feeling of ridding yourself of things you no longer need? Isn't it like a breath of fresh air? Unfortunately, we don't do that often enough, yet de-cluttering brings space to breathe and unfold. And this counts for everything, from your closet to your friends and acquaintances, from stuff in your house to appointments scheduled in your calendar. So go through your closet and get everything out you haven't worn in a year or longer. There are plenty of people in need that will be happy to receive some new items. Check your address book and delete every person that neither offers you real friendship nor joy or value. Get out that awful and tasteless gift you got for your last birthday and just kept out of politeness. Rid yourself of everything that doesn't bring value in any way and see your life improve immediately. 

9. Collect experiences, not stuff
Humans are hoarders by nature and hunters for bargains. As soon as a sale is on, we tend to buy things we don't need. The longer we live in the same place, the fuller the space gets. Break the cycle and replace stuff with experiences. Be it an activity in your city you have never done before, learning a new skill, pursuing a new hobby or travelling to places and collecting memories.  Next time you want to buy something, ask yourself the question "do I really need that"? If not, skip it and spend the money on an experience that makes your heart jump!

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10. Go offline regularly
The world wide web, as well as social media, offer an endless stream of information. It's an excellent source of knowledge but can be draining at times. When the first thing you do in the morning is to check your newsfeed, or you catch yourself using your smartphone while having dinner with your spouse, it's time to give it a break. Real life conversations and interactions are crucial for human being's need to bond, so don't deny yourself the pleasure of a good chat with your friends and loved ones. 

11. Practise self-care
I have experienced it myself and witnessed it so often on others. We get caught up in obligations from job, family, and friends, and there is never time left for ourselves. When you find yourself running 24/7, when you can't remember the last time you read a book, watched a movie, got a nice haircut or did anything else just for yourself, it's time to hit the brakes. The more we give to others, the more they will expect from us, but it is not your sole purpose in life to be there for everyone around you. Plan some regular timeout in your calendar and defend this time by all means. You only have one body, one health and one mind so make sure to take good care of it. 

12. Count your blessings
Sometimes we have to pause for a moment and remember that many people would walk through desert and snow to get what we have. Life is always as good as you make it so instead of focusing on what you lack or what is not going so well at the moment, count the things that make you happy. If you live in safety, have a roof over your head, a job, food on the table and a family, you have a lot more than millions of people on this planet. Focusing on your blessings will shift your entire experience and invite more good things into your life. 

13. Connect to nature
We probably knew it already, but science proved that spending time outdoors has a healing effect on our bodies and minds. Nature contributes to our physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality. For an even deeper experience take off your shoes and walk barefoot on the ground. 


14. Choose your tribe
With the quality of relationships being the primary factor for happiness, choosing your inner circle wisely is extremely important. 
Your friends should want to see you happy, healthy and thriving. If you sense any greediness or jealousy when things are going well in your life, reconsider if those are the right people to trust. If you see your friends vanishing once you struggle, get another tribe. Go with the motto of the three Musketeers, "One for all, and all for One" and don't lower your standards at any time. 

What are your bullet-proof methods that keep you happy in your life? I look forward to hearing from you!

A Call For Tolerance!

When I switch on the TV these days or check the news online, I start to shiver sometimes. The amount of aggression I see it not only shocking, it's scaring me. I understand that topics like illegal immegration are loaded with emotions and involve a lot of challenges, and either side has the right to raise their concerns and be heard. But what I see when I scroll through the comments on articles, reaches from insults to bare hatred and threats towards people stating their opinion. It seems that some people forget any courtesy and decency when it comes to defending "their territory". 

The definition of tolerance is "the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with". This ability should be a skill we have developed continuously from the moment we started interacting with others as children, up to our adultery. And yet, so many of our fellow citizens seem to have difficulties in accepting another's point of view. Unfortunately, those verbal attacks are not limited to social media and opinions. Offensive hatred towards people of colour, immigrants and refugees seems to increase on a daily basis, and it does not even stop for kids. I'm starting to ask myself "Is this what we are? Haven't we learned from our mistakes and can it indeed occur that history is repeating itself?

Various individuals in official positions ignite this rage, and it serves a clear purpose. Public depreciation of specific ethnic groups and fueling fears are a means of manipulation and systematic separation aiming to gain control and power. But is that what we want? After all, it is on us to let our minds get intoxicated by obvious propaganda or to embrace empathy and openness towards people of different cultural backgrounds. 

No matter where we were born, no matter the colour of our skin, no matter our religious belief, we are all humans, living on this planet earth. So why are we fighting each other?

A recent experiment which went viral on Social Media gave a positive example of how people's negative perception of other nationalities can change in seconds. A group of people, born and raised in different countries made a DNA test. Each of them was convinced to be a "pure" national of his country. When the test results were revealed to them, they learned that all of them were a colourful mix of different origins. Many of them had traits of exactly that nationality they were raging against before, and all of a sudden, they had to embrace this ancestry as a part of themselves, instead of rejecting it. If you haven't seen the video yet, you can watch it here. 

So what is the learning from this? It is simple. We are all a colourful mix of different origins! None of us is "pure", and everyone has a unique DNA. Not one matches another.

But isn't that what makes us special and beautiful? 


So wouldn't it be nice if we tried to understand and learn from each other instead of meeting with mistrust and hate? Wouldn't it be nice, if we supported each other, rather than fighting a potential enemy? Wouldn't it be nice if our children grew up in peace instead of war?

I think it is time to stand up against discrimination and hatred, no matter where it occurs!

What are your thoughts on this? I'd love to hear from you!


Little Insect - Huge Impact!

Honeybees are some of the most undervalued species on earth. Seen as an annoying or even aggressive insect that may well sting you, bees are often killed to protect oneself from an alleged attack. But unlike wasps, the more aggressive relatives, honeybees are more peaceful than commonly believed and only attack when provoked. And even more - they are critically endangered. You may think "What do I care? It's just another insect", but you will once you realise the tremendous benefit bees have in our life. In fact, if bees die - we die just shortly after. Why is that?

Bees are incredibly important in pollinating crops. The process of pollination enables the plant to grow its fruits, and those fruits make a significant part of our food. In fact, out of the 100 crop species that provide us with 90% of our food, 70% are pollinated by bees. If you enjoy foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cherries, blueberries, beets, potatoes, kiwi, peppers, papaya, watermelon, coffee, oranges, apples, buckwheat, carrots, strawberries, avocados, plums, almonds, pears, eggplant, tomatoes and grapes - to name only a few - be aware that those items will no longer be available if we don't start putting actions in place to save this little insect. 


But what is putting the life of bees at risk?

1. Increasing urbanisation
The rapid expansion of cities and concrete plastered areas leave less room for bees. Even our gardens, often meticulously maintained like parks, lack diversity of plants and flowers. Especially bumblebees who nest on the ground have to fly longer distances to find their preferred species-rich floral patches. Bumblebees are not producing honey but are crucial in pollinating plants and flowers. 

2. Monocultures
Monoculture is an industrial type of farming and defined as a field composed of a single crop species. Such fields are easy to grow and maintain and therefore lower in cost which leaves higher profits for the farmers. No wonder that the new procedure took the agricultural world by storm. However, the disadvantages are not deniable. Monocultures not only deteriorate the soil but also destroy local biodiversity. Honeybees are the primary means of pollinating monocultures yet, that lack of diversity has a negative impact on the insects. 
Like humans, bees require a balanced diet, and monocultures offer the insects only one type of pollen as a food source which can lead to nutrient deficiencies. Moreover, certain crops only bloom for a limited time, leaving bees short of nectar and pollen for several months of the year. Popular monoculture crops like wheat and corn do not provide nectar or pollen at all. Without diversity, however, bees and their larvae are more likely to get affected by microbes and pathogens. 


3. Pesticides & GMO's
The negative impact of pesticides on bees has caused heated discussions over the past years. While companies like Monsanto, the manufacturer of a whole range of highly toxic pesticides and genetically modified crops, are denying the danger, science can prove them wrong. Pesticides do not only cause mass-collapses among bees and other insects but also have a profoundly harmful impact on us humans, with young and unborn children being at highest risk. Not only the pesticides cause reason for concern, but also GMO's (Genetically Modified Organism) have an impact which can't even be fully assessed yet. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines them as organisms whose DNA has been altered in a non-natural way. The reason for the alteration is a higher resistance to pest and viruses along with a higher tolerance to pesticides and herbicides. The problem with GMO's is twofold. Genetically modified crops have lower nutritional value for pollinators like bees and butterflies which is weakening their immune system and causing a higher risk of starvation and infection through bacteria.
The other significant threat is that pesticides and herbicides are commonly used with GMO's and therefore might be toxic to the insects. 


So what can we do as individuals to save the life of honey bees and other insects that are crucial for sustaining our food source? Here are 10 ways you can help bees to survive:

1. Plant flowers
A diversity of floral patches in your garden is not only nice to look at but provides insects with a large table of nutrient-rich food. Not all plants are equally attractive to bees so here some examples of flowers that makes a good variety:
Spring: Lilacs, Penstemon, Lavender, Sage, Verbena, and Wisteria. 
Summer: Mint, Cosmos, Squash, Tomatoes, Pumpkins, Sunflowers, Oregano, Rosemary, Poppies, Black-Eyed Susan, Passion Flower Vine, Honeysuckle. 
Fall: Fuschia, Mint, Bush Sunflower, Sage, Verbena, Toadflax

2. Leave room for weeds
Weeds are not always bad, and some plants classified as weeds make colourful patches in your garden. Wildflowers such as Clover and Dandelions are excellent food sources for insects. If you want to get rid of weed, let it bloom first for the bees and then before it goes to seed, pull it out or trim it back.


3. Don't use chemicals and pesticides
Pesticides and herbicides are the worst insect killers of all and the major culprits in Colony Collapse Disorder in beehivees. Especially when used during the blossoming season, pesticides can get into pollen and nectar and be transported back to the beehive where it eventually ends up in our honey.

4. Buy local, raw honey
Majority of honey sold in supermarkets is neither raw nor natural but often contaminated with pesticides. Instead, buy from a local farmers market where you can have a chat with the beekeepers and get an understanding if their bees are kept sustainably and naturally. Let's support our local businesses and give a sign towards food industries that we are choosing to live a natural and healthy life.


5. Leave a small water basin outside your home. 
Believe it or not - even bees get thirsty and need to drink. Leaving a small water basin with little stones or pebbles ensures the insects can drink safely without drowning.

6. Offer sugar water to compensate for lack of plants. 
If you don't have an own garden or balcony but still want to help, place a spoon with sugar water outside your window to provide tired bees and bumblebees with energy.


7. Buy locally, eat seasonally.
Buying from a farmer that you know means knowing if the food comes from monocultures or not. While eating seasonally used to be normal two decades ago,  today supermarkets offer summer fruit like strawberries year-round which forces farmers to use unnatural ways to make produce grow out of season. We have the option to choose where our food comes from, how it is grown and what impact it has on the ecological balance of our environment. 


8. Don't harm or kill bees.
Bees are not aggressive by nature and won't sting you unless they feel threatened. So if a bee comes close to you or even sits down on your hand, don't make hectic movements by trying to chase her away. Be aware that a bee usually dies after a sting so don't make it reach this point.
Other than wasps, bees are vegetarian and not interested in your lunch meats. To avoid mistaking bees for wasps, get familiar with the differences in looks. Bees are darker with a more round, hairy body while wasps are slim and smooth with a flashy pattern of black and yellow stripes. 







9. Spread the word about bees and engage your community.
Multiply your efforts by engaging your family, friends, and community. Tie up with local beekeepers in your region and offer giving information to schools and universities. Educate your children about bees and their importance to our environment so they can engage their friends and classmates. 

10. Support petitions for the protection of bees or initiate one on your own.
The more people are getting aware of the alerting situation bees, and other pollinating insects are in, the better we can stand our ground against the destruction of our flora and fauna. 

As always, please share this information with your family, friends, and colleagues and lets work together for a healthier environment. I look forward to hearing about your activities and initiatives to protect our honeybees! 

The Future Of Our Oceans

The future of our oceans is a topic that occupies the minds of environmentalists, celebrities and politicians these days. The disastrous impact of plastic pollution and what each of us can do to reverse the damaging process has finally reached our attention. But first, let me give you some insights on the problem and its consequences for all living creatures on earth.

Plastic is used in almost every household, from detergent and shampoo bottles to grocery bags, from our classic toothbrush to disposable tableware. The advantages the material offers are obvious; plastic is versatile, lightweight, flexible, moisture resistant, durable, and relatively inexpensive. However, our massive over-consumption is creating a threat to our environment we never faced before. Our planet is suffocating from the tons of waste produced every single day. 
Unfortunately, only a minimal number of plastic items are getting recycled as most countries are lacking efficient systems, and the production of new plastics is simply cheaper than recycling used ones. 
Consequently, lots of plastic ends up in regular trash bins to get burnt together with all other kinds of waste or is simply tossed in the bushes. The quality of being highly durable which makes plastic so attractive to use hits us in the neck when it comes to degradability. Plastic lasts for centuries so the waste we produce every single day is adding up in lightning speed. 
Confronted with such threat, it is frustrating to contemplate that the entire problem could be avoided in the first place. Convenience, over-consumption, careless use and littering are the main contributors to the issue which is not only compromising flora and fauna but also us humans.  


In 2015 experts revealed a staggering number of 19 billion pounds of plastic waste ending up in our oceans every year. Such amount would cover an area, 34 times the size of Manhattan! This number could double by 2025 if we don't significantly change our behaviour.  It's obvious that we are not only dealing with an aesthetic problem but a global trauma whose consequences cannot even be anticipated entirely yet. To give you a clearer picture of the impact of plastic pollution on our planet, I collected 4 examples of what our current lifestyle is doing to our planet:

Death of Marine animals:
Our oceans are the natural habitat of marine mammals like whales, dolphins, seals, otters and polar bears as well as roundly 20,000 species of fishes and 350 species of marine birds. All those species depend on the oceans to feed themselves and their young. While hunting for food, aquatic animals are mistaking the colourful plastic debris for fish and plankton and end up with stomachs full of toxic and indigestible waste. 
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration revealed that plastic waste kills 100,000 marine mammals every year as well as millions of birds and fishes. 


Death of Coral Reefs:
The negative impact of plastic waste is not only a threat to marine animals but is also increasingly endangering the life of corals. Items trapped in reefs are having a severe impact on coral health. In the Asia Pacific Oceans alone, more than 11 billion pieces of plastic can be found. Those pieces are not only blocking light and oxygen from corals but are also getting heavily inhabited by bacteria, infecting the corals with diseases. The contact of corals with plastic results in an 84% higher likelihood of coral diseases. Coral diseases are not reversible making the impact even more disastrous.
Many marine species rely on corals for food and protection so the death of coral reefs will result in the extinction of many other species. 


Impact on Humans:
Plastic is a so-called long-lasting pollutant, meaning it is not biodegradable or not entirely breaking down. Even worse, although not biodegradable, plastic can be fragmented into tiny particles that are often not even visible to the human eye. Spreading across our oceans they are ultimately ingested by marine animals. 
Studies by Dr Richard Thompson at the University of Plymouth, UK revealed already back in 2004 that those plastic particles can be found on beaches and waters in Europe, the Americas, Australia, Africa and Antarctica. What does this mean?  The previously mentioned 19 billion pounds of plastic waste that float around in our oceans are slowly getting fragmented into tiny particles, ingested by fishes and landing back on our dinner plates. The impact on our health has yet to be revealed however the toxicity of plastic waste is a given. 


Decrease of oxygen on our planet:
Have you ever asked yourself where the oxygen is coming from we are breathing every day and which is crucial to our survival?
Well, around 28% come from rainforests and a whopping 70% from our oceans. You might ask how the oceans can produce oxygen. It works like that. The oceans are home to marine plants like phytoplankton, kelp, and algal plankton that live in it. These plants need energy, same as all living organisms on this planet, which they achieve during photosynthesis. The byproduct of photosynthesis is oxygen which makes this process a perfect symbiosis between land and sea and gives proof that mother nature is nothing short than a genius masterpiece. 
So if we continue to destroy our rainforests and oceans, the time will come that we are running out of breath.

Sir David Attenborough, Broadcaster, conservationist and vice-president at Fauna & Flora International made the pollution of our oceans by plastic the main topic in the last episode of his latest series "The Blue Planet II". Being asked about how serious the issue is, he stated:


"It could hardly be more serious. I suppose, for me, the thing that is so galling about plastic pollution, in particular, is that it is so utterly unnecessary. The plastic in our oceans ought never to have got there in the first place – much of it perhaps ought not to have even been manufactured at all. And yet it is there, in unbelievable quantities, causing untold harm to marine wildlife.
And, of course, once it’s in the sea, it doesn’t really break down properly – it remains there for decades or even centuries. So unless we get to grips with this quickly, we will soon find our oceans completely dominated by plastic. It’s a prospect that hardly bears thinking about."

Watch here a trailer out of the last episode.


Reading all those devastating facts, you might feel overwhelmed by the damage that is already done. But don't surrender reality too early! It's not too late to reverse the train. Some countries already have some systems in place to support the reduction of waste; others don't. But even if you live in a country that's not at the forefront of environmental awareness, there is so much you can do on your own, with your family or with your community. Wouldn't it make you feel uplifting being an ambassador of such cause and inspiring people around you? Sounds good but you don't know where to start?  No problem, I've got your back. Here are 11 ideas you may want to implement in your daily life. Some of them might seem insignificant, but if many people are making small changes in their lifestyle, it can have a huge impact.  

1. Do you really need that plastic bag?
Many of you might have experienced it. You stop at the petrol station and, while filling up your gas, you feel like having a piece of candy. So you get into the store to give in your cravings. You buy that chocolate bar, and your sweet delight is handed out to you in a small plastic bag. You take that bag to the car, take out the candy and munch on it immediately. As it is a small bag, you don't know what to do with it so you toss it in the trash. That plastic bag had a purpose for no more than 10 seconds. Next time leave the bag at the counter and maybe even encourage the salesperson not to give them out unless customers explicitly as for one. It sounds so simple but can easily save hundreds of bags a day. 

2. Say no to plastic straws
Lots of drinks are served with straws, especially in fast food chains but also traditional restaurants and bars. Inform your waiter while ordering that you don't want to have a plastic straw. If you can't let go of it, use a paper straw or bring a stainless steel straw. 


3. Carry your groceries in a foldable trolley
Everybody has to do his groceries at least once a week. The produce aisle has plastic bags nicely placed everywhere to carry your lose items.  Once you reach the cashier, your trolley is usually fully loaded and a friendly staff member might help you pack all your items in further plastic bags. You soon have 4, 5 or 6 bags in your trolley. Some well-thinking folks around you might reuse those bags as trash bags at home but why not avoid them in the first place?  About 1 million plastic bags are used every minute, and a single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade! Simply get yourself a little portable trolley that can be folded away. You can comfortably move your trolley like a suitcase and don't even need to carry any bags.

4. Buy boxes, not bottles.
We can't avoid doing our laundry, but we can prevent additional trash by purchasing laundry detergent in carton boxes instead of plastic ones. Cardboard can be more easily recycled and made into more products than plastic.

5. Get your Starbucks in a tumbler
Who doesn't love his daily intake of coffee, especially in the morning on the way to work? But what is so comfortably offered for takeaway is producing a tremendous amount of waste. So why not taking a tumbler with you and getting your hot beverage the environmentally friendly way? Some shops are even giving discounts for bringing your own mug. 

6. Skip the gum
Chewing gum was originally made from tree sap, but today synthetic rubber is used to produce the popular candy. So you're not only chewing on plastic but even on toxic plastic as its containing the chemical vinyl acetate which caused tumours in lab rats. Even though its possible to recycle chewing gum, the majority ends up in standard trash bins if not on the streets or in the bushes where they might further cause severe health risks to birds that are mistaking them for food. 

7. Use regular coffee beans instead of coffee capsules
Coffee capsules are super trendy these days, especially among singles. And doesn't your daily jolt of caffeine taste even better if you imagine that Georges Clooney just freshly brewed it for you? However, capsules are not only multiple times more expensive than a regular pack of beans; those capsules produce a huge amount of waste. Technically, they are fully recyclable, and many of you may well-meaningly place them in the recycle bin. In fact, only a negligible amount of capsules are getting recycled, the rest ends up in the landfills. The reason is that those capsules are made of a mixture of aluminium and plastic which makes the recycling process not only difficult but expensive. In the year 2015, an estimated 3 million pods were consumed per day in Australia alone!
Companies like Nespresso are trying to come up with solutions to recycle the capsules, but the results so far are less than encouraging. So until a satisfying solution is found here the traditional pack of beans remains the best option.


8. Make your own juice
Instead of buying juice in plastic bottles, make your own freshly-squeezed juice or simply eat fresh fruit. Not only does this cut down on plastic waste, but it's also better for you because you'll be getting more vitamins and antioxidants and less high fructose corn syrup.

9. Clean green
There's no need for multiple plastic bottles of tile cleaner, toilet cleaner, and window cleaner if you have a few basics on hand like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon. So avoid those toxic chemicals by making your own cleaning products and save some trash and cash on top of it. 

10. Prepare your own food instead of ordering online
Ordering food online became so convenient that regular food preparation at home feels like a dreadful task. Plenty of online applications are featuring a wide variety of restaurants, delivering your lunch right to your doorstep. However, the food packaging creates an immense amount of plastic waste that, in most cases, is not getting recycled. So rather prepare your own food at home and bring it to work in little containers. This will not only have a positive impact on nature, but also on your health and your wallet!

11. Don't litter!
Being out in nature is one of the best things to do. But those little camping adventures often end up in reckless littering. Disposable plates and cutlery are cheap, light to carry and easy to get rid of. This results in many great outdoor places sadly turning into dumps of trash. Show nature and others campers respect and take your trash with you once you leave the site. For an even more environmentally friendly experience, replace any disposable tableware with proper pick-nick equipment that can be washed and reused in your next outdoor adventure. 

I hope those ideas are helping you reduce the amount of plastic in your household. Take additional steps by spreading them among your family, friends and community to make an even greater impact. And please don't forget to share your success stories with me! I can't wait to hear from you! 

Time For Kindness

Today's world is loaded with stress. Mastering the split between career and family and climbing up the corporate ladder is a tough one, making people often feel left alone in their efforts to please everyone around them. And then there are these days, where just everything seems to go wrong...

The alarm goes off far before you are ready to face the day, you try to grab some bites for breakfast but are already running late. On the way to work you drop the kids at school but can't find a parking lot. You reach work late and get a warning from your boss. Once you finally reach your desk, a huge load of emails piled up in your inbox. The day is packed with tight deadlines and meetings and you have to stay longer to finish the load. On the way back you need to get your groceries at the supermarket and while you cross the parking, both hands full of heavy bags, it starts to rain. On the remaining way home, an accident happened and you get stuck in traffic and by the time you could finally spend some quality time with our partner, you start a fight over a minor little thing. The days pass, your stress is piling up and latest by Wednesday you are desperately longing for the weekend to get some well deserved time out. 


Sounds like you? Then take a deep breath now because sometimes, withing all this chaos, something beautiful happens and this changes everything....

You wake up and your spouse prepared a surprise breakfast for you. You reach your kids' school and a stranger offers you the last parking lot with a smile. You reach your desk and find a freshly brewed cup of coffee with a note from your colleague. Your boss passes by to thank you for a job well done. Once you leave the supermarket, a friendly stranger offers to carry your bags to your car. The sun is shining and you reach home in no time where you spend a lovely and relaxing evening with your family.  


How did you feel reading the first version of the story? Did you find yourself in it and did you feel that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach while you were thinking of your own daily grind? And when you read the second version of the story, was there maybe a little smile on your face? A feeling of gratitude and joy while imagining the nice deeds others did for you? Haven't those nice little gestures changed your entire day?

Let me ask you a question and please be honest with yourself.


Princess Diana once made the following beautiful statement:
"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you".


The next time you feel stress and anger soaring, pause for a moment, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Reflect on all the good things in your life with gratitude and then open your eyes with a smile. Pass on that smile to others and carry out that random act of kindness to the next person you meet. You never know what the someone is going through, therefore, be kind - always!  

What's Your Cause?

Scientifically proven, good deeds have a positive impact on our health. Doing good doesn't only make us feel happier, it reduces stress, improves mental health, and is said to increase our overall lifespan. 
So why are we not engaging in causes more often?
I get it, our lives are busy, and sometimes money is limited, and it's difficult to spend from an empty pocket. But doing good doesn't always mean donating to charities or building schools in Africa. Good deeds start with kindness, attention and caring. Giving a smile to a stranger on the bus, helping your elderly neighbour carrying the grocery bags up the stairs, giving some water and food to the stray cats in your area or picking up some trash lying on the streets. Good Deeds involve everything that makes our lives a little better, no matter if you do them towards other humans, towards animals or mother nature.
So what is the cause you resonate most with and how can you find out if you are not sure about it? 

1. Contemplate a bit on when you feel best. Is it the interaction with others that makes you happy? Is your heart jumping a little when the neighbour's puppy greets you with a wagging tail? Are kids magically attracted by you or do you feel particularly at peace once you're out in nature? Whatever makes you connect to your true self, that's your element.

2. Reflect on what your good at. What are your talents others might benefit from? Are you good with animals?  Do you feel compassion towards elderly or disadvantaged people? Do you have a love for cooking or nourishing others?

No matter what it is, your talent can benefit others in need. To give you some ideas how you can use your passion to be of service to others, I gathered 11 different initiatives you can engage in without spending a lot of time or money: 

1. Walking dogs
Animal shelters are usually overcrowded and understaffed. So if you like to be out in nature and are good with animals, take a pup on your next stroll and do something for your own and the animal's wellbeing.
Shelters usually help in giving information on how to engage with a dog in case you are not experienced, so give it a try on your next walk in the park and maybe get a new best friend.


2. Volunteer in a homeless shelter.
Many people faced tragic circumstances in their lives and lost everything they owned. Being rock bottom, they often have no other place to stay than on the streets. Being excluded from their community, and without a job or home, it is tough to find way back in life. Show them that they are not forgotten and support shelters in their efforts to care for the underprivileged in our society. Be it cooking, handing out food, donating clothes or offering grooming services, every help will be much appreciated.

3. Clean your community.
Our world has reached a sad record in plastic pollution, and this un-degradable waste is not only toxic to the environment but also to ourselves. Spend a couple of hours cleaning up your local park, beach or kids playgrounds. There is no such initiative planned in your city? Then take the bull by the horns and initiate one yourself, engage your fellow citizens and enjoy a more clean and safe environment to live in.

4. Spend a day in an elderly home and give some time and company.
Many elderly people are spending their last years in loneliness and boredom without having families to take care of them. Being left alone in a home that is not their own and without familiar faces around them, they often feel abandoned and lost. If you have a good sense of compassion and care, check with an elderly home near you who of the residents are getting rarely or no visits at all and give some company in reading or conversation.


5. Donate blood
A relatively simple but significant form of support is donating blood. If you are not facing any health issues or diseases, you should be fit for giving some of your blood to people facing life-threatening conditions through accidents or other incidents. Check the donation schedule in your local community and help save lives. 

6. Babysitting
Especially single moms are facing extreme conditions in some countries where sufficient daycare for their little ones is not available. Having to care for your baby all by yourself is an enormous task in itself. Having to raise a child while sustaining life is sometimes close to impossible and often results in poverty and dependence on governmental aid. So if you have time and love kids, help those single mums to retain their lives for themselves and their little ones. 

7. Coach kids
If you are a sports enthusiast and enjoy spending times with kids, engage in some sports clubs and offer to train football, athletics or other sports on a volunteer basis. Many schools and clubs have only limited funds and coaches engaging the kids in sports activities are rare. 


8. Donate your unused clothes to charity.
We all have those pair of jeans we used to fit in, this pullover we got for our birthday but never wore it or our kid's clothes that don't fit anymore. If it makes you feel bad to throw them, what about donating them to charity? Feels much better, right? So go through your closet, get out the possessions you haven't used for over a year and donate them to a good cause. If it's a children's home, a homeless shelter or a refugee camp, your precious items will find a thankful new owner. 

9. Help elderly people with household chores.
You don't always have to look far to do a good deed, sometimes opportunities are in close vicinity. Helping elderly citizens in your neighbourhood or community doing the groceries, mowing the lawn or doing maintenance work in their homes will not only help them in their daily life but also make them feel integrated and appreciated despite their age. 

10. Engage your colleagues in recycling and energy saving.
Act as an ambassador of a good cause and engage your colleagues in various environmentally caring initiatives. From recycling paper, switching off lights and air conditioning when leaving the rooms to bringing reusable water bottles and installing dispensers rather than using plastic bottles, there are numerous ways of making a difference as a group of like-minded people. 

11. Buy a drink or dish for a person in need.
Several restaurants and cafes offer the possibility of buying an extra item for a person in need. So next time you are enjoying a coffee with a friend, get a second one that can be used by a person, who otherwise, would not be able to afford it. Your favourite coffee shop doesn't offer such initiative, yet? Encourage them to join you in your efforts to do good.

These are just some of the many ways you can help on a daily basis. Whatever it is that you love to do, your talents and passions can be even more valuable by using them for a good cause.
As Richelle E. Goodrich in her book "Smile Anyway" states: 
“Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone's day.” 

So what's your good deed this week? I'd love to hear from you!