3 minute read

Advice given on April 5, 2022.

Becoming an Expert

Hey Jay,

I spend a lot of time trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible. For example I don’t just toss things into recycling, I wash them out, and sort them by the material type. I maintain a compost pile to allow natural material to compost. I even take timed (short) showers every other day to conserve water. At what point (if any) am I an environmental expert?



Sounds like you’re quite green indeed! Interesting question, makes me want to know why you want to be an “expert” at all. Does it matter how other people perceive your environmental credentials? Are you looking to obtain a job or pivot to a role that is in the environmental space? If your goal is at all related to your profession, then I suspect there will be limits to how far your environmental actions in your personal life can take you. Generally for professional advancement it is more advantageous to either have educational credentials in the field, or have on-the-job experience, which you could obtain at any level within the target industry.

Job-stuff aside, if you simply want to brag to your friends and family about how environmental you are, then I suppose this question is a bit simpler. The idea of being an “expert” is a bit vague and hard to pin down, as you’ve realized. Especially for something like being “environmentally-friendly,” as our understanding of the environment and climate is steadily evolving. There is the popular “10,000 hours makes you an expert” line of thinking, which I believe was proposed by Malcolm Gladwell. So maybe you should estimate the hours you dedicate to your environmental behaviors, and once they tally up to about 10,000 hours, you can just start calling yourself an environmental expert.

Stay clean,



Hey Jay,

To be candid, things have been going pretty well for me recently. After a few years of regular exercise, I am feeling pretty fit and trim. I have just moved into a new job that is much more rewarding in all aspects, which is also making me happier. However I realize that right now, as well as for the past few years, things have not been going so well for many people. So, in a sense I think I feel a bit guilty about my successes and my happiness. How can I enjoy my life without this guilt? I don’t try to go around rubbing my happiness in other peoples’ faces, but sometimes I feel like I am just flexing unnecessarily when I talk about how well work is going, or how great I feel after a workout. Have any advice for me?



Wow you sound like such a nice person! It is truly very considerate of you to keep other peoples’ experiences in your thoughts even as things are going so well for you. Unless you are walking around boasting about your life, I don’t think you really have anything to worry about, and it doesn’t sound like you do much bragging. If you feel like you are in a good place, and have the time to spare, it might be fulfilling for you to volunteer in your community. When you volunteer, you can contribute to bringing happiness into the lives of people in your community who may not currently be in as privileged a position as you are. Even if you want to volunteer and help clean up a park, an activity that does not require direct interaction with others, as you pick up litter you may think to yourself that some person will visit the park later and have a better experience because they didn’t have to look at trash. So my advice is simple, just try to be proactive and give back if you are feeling guilty about your happiness.