You are remarkably capable of impacting the culture around you.

This is something often overlooked. You look at your surroundings and think, “this impacts me, this is how the world works”, while neglecting to notice how much you impact your surroundings and the people around you.

I have a friend who is a total taste-maker for me. She’s my go-to for discovering natural deodorant recipes, Eco-friendly toothpastes, or ethical tech magazines, and even got me hooked on sleeveless muscle tees.

She’s not actively telling me to go buy these things, use her recipes, or lop the sleeves off my t-shirts. She merely sets the example, uses them and loves them, and I catch on. Humans work like this.

This has set me to wondering… we respond so well to seeing other people do something and get value out of it, and yet humans continually create apps, businesses and more that remove the human influence.

Example time…you want more people to take up meditating because it’s such a valuable practice. What do you do?

You dream up fancy meditation apps, you program VR consoles for immersive meditation experiences, you write books on how to meditate. And once you figure out those programs and services, you flip to marketing your new product.

Very zen, huh?

I’ve tried or interacted with all of these meditation products, never got me to meditate consistently. Never got me to WANT to meditate consistently.

What makes you want to meditate?

More likely it’s seeing someone like Thich Nhat Hanh practically floating in his mellow af zen monk state.

Or you see a friend who used to be a manic stress-machine suddenly mellow out and get a glow up. When you ask what changed (was it botox?) and she says meditation, NOW you’re interested in meditation.

What I’m getting at here is that when your behaviors model the change you want to see in others, they respond. Want calmer people in your life? Be calmer (or act calm until you feel it, maybe try that meditation stuff) and others around you will recognize and mirror your calm state.

If you want to see climate change reversed…skip the ranty Instagram post and just stop using Amazon, plant a garden, build soil health, and start showing the love to your local food coop and farmers market. And when friends notice the change, share why generously.

And if your close friends don’t care…write about it, record a video, do something to help others discover the behaviors that make the change you (and your fellow tribe of believers) seek to make happen.

I read the new issue of Offscreen magazine last night. It had David from Raptitude, Seth Godin, Rachel Botsman and more amazing humans interviewed within and explored the idea of balancing environmentalism, technology, and conscious living. Dreamy, I know.

The mag revived my frustration with seeing so many people want to fix the problems technologies created, with more technology (dig into Winners Take All for more on this topic).

An app won’t stop most of the awful things we see happening in the world today. Community will. Connection will. Setting a better example will…with time.


  1. Imani

    Hi Alexa,
    Thank you for this post. It really is a great reminder.
    The problems we have in the world (such as climate change) just feel so big and out of our control that we overlook the power we can have as individuals.

    Take being vegan for example. I turned vegan because a friend turned vegan and I have in turn inspired other friends to cut down their meat consumption or go vegan. Not by preaching, but just by being as I am. There definitely is something to the saying “be the change you want to see in the world”.

    I have to admit that I sometimes forget that because I live in the tech bubble where “change and innovation” comes in the form of apps :-p

    • alexarohn

      yes! He was really on to something with “be the change” wasn’t he. Amazing how effective just living the life we’d like to see others adopt can bring others along for the ride through innate tribalism. While I do enjoy a good, reasoned argument for a belief, the living example always works even better. This post may need a follow-up though, I recently read Elif Shafak’s “How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division” and she laid out a lovely case for slightly more active engagement, really compelling read. 🙂

  2. Mallory

    So, I happened across your blog on a Seth Godin hunt for inspiration – and I just love this post.

    We really do forget the part we play in our surroundings. It’s so reassuring to think the small changes we make in our lives can have a ripple effect in our communities. Thank you for the reminder!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *