I talked to a friend recently who said she is losing sleep over the current political situation. Fear that the entire system will fall apart, fear of nuclear holocaust, fear of her rights and the rights of people she cares about being stripped away. Global Warming, financial crash, and more.
The stress is causing health problems, decreasing her ability to see answers and possibilities. She watches cable news all day long, listens to it in her car, and is overwhelmed.
Simple answer: turn it off. What good is it? There are two major possibilities: there are answers, and people will find them. Or, there are no answers, and we’re all going to die. “If you aren’t terrified, you aren’t paying attention” she said.
In neither case, whether there are answers that can be found, or whether there are not, is “terrified” the optimal response. If there are answers, they will be found by the people who remain calm and centered, while recognizing the challenges. If there are not, what point is there in spending your last days in terror? Why not connect with and comfort the people you love, enjoy life to the last moment? Existentially, there is no change at all: we are all going to die. We’ve ALWAYS been on the path to death. And it is just as valid to say: “we’re going to die. Happiness is a foolish illusion.”
Well, lemme know how that works out for you, o.k?
There is a wonderful moment in Danny Boyle’s movie SUNSHINE where a character knows she is going to die. There is no escape. She does not rave, or rant, or curl into a ball, or run in circles and tear her hair. She sits quietly and contemplates a flower, a smile on her face. THAT is the most logical response to the inevitable.
But the truth is, disaster is NOT inevitable. It merely seems more probable than it did at another time in your life. I can respect that. But whether you wish to be a part of the solution, or wish to be of comfort to those you love, or you simply wish to live your time in as meaningful a manner as possible…”terrified” isn’t the optimal response, especially if it interrupts sleep, drops you into a stress tunnel, makes it harder to enjoy the beauty of life in the days you have.
Again, the steps to healing our country apply here:
- Love yourself. Comfort yourself, heal yourself, protect yourself as if you were your own most beloved child. Remember the scene in Aliens where Ripley is trapped on the platform, betrayed and abandoned by the android pilot (she thinks) 90 seconds left until nuclear destruction, and here comes the Alien queen with blood on her mind? What does she do? She still looks for a way out, a way to fight or survive, something to do…and when she realizes there is nothing tells the frightened child in her arms: “close your eyes, sweetheart.” THAT is the proper relationship between the child and adult portions of your personality: the ADULT fights, and plans, and works, and PROTECTS THAT CHILD. It is not the child’s job to worry. It is her job to play, to dream, to dance. And when you create the proper relationship between these aspects, you unleash the full joy of your life, as well as your full creative potential. IF THERE IS AN ANSWER, THIS IS HOW YOU WILL FIND IT. IF THERE IS NO ANSWER, YOU STILL HAVE PEACE.
- Love another person. See the above. We can do more for others than we can for ourselves, all too often. Anyone who rails against the selfishness of humanity has deleted infinite examples of this in the lives of mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, who give EVERYTHING to their families, sacrificing endlessly, toiling at jobs they hate to provide food and shelter and comfort. Shifting from “poor little me” to “I will DIE before I fail my family” is a major life switch. Fear is “fight or flight”. Depression is fear with nothing to fight and no where to run. Clarity shows you what can be done, and also how to die if there is nothing. But you have to step out of your ego, and into the reality of who and what we really are. I promise that all the men and women we admire, the leaders and change-artists, the people who have opened the way to new possibilities were human just like us…but found something larger than themselves to believe in.
- Understand human history without guilt, blame, or shame. The secret to human life is understanding the person in the mirror. The reasons for your own failings and screw-ups will tell you all you need to know about our history as a species, which is on a continuum with animal behavior, which is on a continuum with basic material reality. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. You’ve done the best you can with the resources you have AND SO HAS EVERYONE ELSE. Love combined with strength gives you the perspective to embrace all humanity, forgive it, and see that there is nothing at all special about today’s world. The Huns have ALWAYS been about to come over the hill. Death and destruction has always been a possibility. And yet the wise have pointed the way to optimal performance, and joy. Study them. Find your way to peace and joy and power. If not, you are stealing the gift your fathers and mothers gave you, and withholding it from the children who need your strength.
- Find your tribe. For God’s sake, stop internet arguing with trolls, children, sleepers and smiling monsters. Why are you listening to doom and gloom all day? Are you sorting through information preparing to vote? Are you deciding on what positive action to take? Or are you just beating the hell out of yourself, to no end but a morbid curiosity. Does it increase your capacity to solve problems, or comfort and love the people around you? If the problems are solved by others, will you have spent that time well? And if this is the end, will you have spent that time well? IF NOT, WHY ARE YOU BOTHERING? If you can dig down to the place inside you that knows how to deal with reality directly, offer that strength to your tribe, the people who share your values. And to those who think this concept is exclusionary…it is not. You are functioning in an illusion of separation. I have never met a human being who, given time, I could not find commonality with. Unfortunately, as there is not infinite time and energy, I must prioritize to those who can be reached more readily. In my case, that is anyone willing to share their thoughts honestly and courteously and willing to compare those thoughts to a map of reality, asking not “does it make sense to me?” but “is it true? DOES IT WORK?” I don’t care if you can convince yourself–everyone can convince themselves. Does it WORK? Do you get good results by doing it? Decrease pain and gain pleasure? Avoid past mistakes? THAT INQUIRY is at the core of my tribe-building. I could give a damn about your politics, which are entirely secondary to your philosophy, whether you consciously refine it or not.
- WIN. Set up life so that you can win. How?
- Decide CLEARLY what you want to achieve today. Default goal: to improve 1% in amplitude and congruence of body, mind and spirit. Just 1%. If you have a better goal, great. But this one will get you started.
- Clarify your MOTIVATIONS for wanting this. All of the reasons you want these things. Connect to your driving emotional triggers. The people you love, the things you care about, your past victories, your future dreams. Dwell in them and FLOOD yourself with positive emotions. The “Morning Ritual” is perfect for this.
- Only after you are vibrating with positive emotions do you ask “what do I do to make it happen?” Get that? Forget about a “to do” list until you are clear on goals and motivations, filled with positive emotions and intent. A “to do” list without a clear goal is just swimming in circles until you become exhausted and drown. Actions without driving emotions is setting out on a road trip with an empty tank. There could be answers all around you, and you’d never see them, because stress creates tunnel vision if you aren’t centered.
You win if you experience your desired emotions today. Nothing else. If you win a million dollars and the person of your dreams says “yes” and you bench press 500 pounds YOU LOSE if you don’t feel JOY in connection with them. And the voice that says “if you aren’t miserable you won’t achieve” is just lying to you. If you don’t believe that, try the experiment: for one week try it my way. Every day for JUST ONE WEEK start with clarity and positive emotions. Record your results. See if you aren’t doing more, achieving more, and enjoying it more.
Prove me wrong, or you are letting your demons win.
That’s all for right now. You can win, every day, day after day. And with those positive emotions YOU WILL HAVE WON BEFORE YOU STEP OUT OF THE DOOR. And at the end of the day, you’ll realize you got what you really wanted: contribution and growth…and enjoyed every step of the process.