It’s only noon and I’ve already been happy and sad about at least a dozen things today. On the happy list were my yoga class and a friend’s visit. A bad hair day and my dog throwing up made the sad list. In the big scheme of things, these trivial personal events are not memorable. They appear and vanish like wispy clouds on a summer’s day. On the contrary, there are events that are not personal, but are able to fracture the very core of my physical, emotional and spiritual foundations for long periods of time. From Columbine to 9/11 to Paris to San Bernardino, these egregious acts of hatred affect the collective consciousness of all humanity. There’s no ignoring, no going back and no getting over them. Something has been broken that can never be fixed.
If terrorism is not enough to get you down, violent acts and injustices in the world continue to bubble up to the surface in the overflowing caldron of hatred and greed. Poverty, global warming, sex trafficking, tainted food, polluted water, depleted resources and extinct species, to name a few. They all destroy and kill, although some more blatant than others.
Yet, life goes on as usual. Every day, the sun rises and sets. People go to work. Kids go to school. Given what is happening in the world, how can we continue to live without imploding with hate, anger, violence and depression ourselves? How can we have any hope of saving humanity from its own maligned actions?
Nobody has all the answers, and no one person can save the world or change an entire belief system ingrained in certain cultures or religions. The only things we have the power to change are our own thoughts and actions. As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Here are a few ways to help heal your heart and restore your hope in humankind.
Take a media break
Being too attached to the news can be emotionally taxing and toxic because most of what’s reported is bad news. Take a day or two a week away from the news. It will still be there when you come back. The constant barrage of the same horrific stories day in and day out is sure to wear your spirit down. Instead, go outside and appreciate nature and the beauty that surrounds you.
Pray or meditate
Prayer and meditation have been practiced since the beginning of time and often bring people together to create good in the world. They give us comfort and hope in dire times by allowing us to believe in a higher power while turning over our problems and worries.
There are too many different problems in the world for any one human being, community or nation to solve. Instead of trying to tackle all of them, pick one that you have a passion for solving and find other like-minded people. Sign petitions. Join grass roots efforts. Write letters to your government representatives. Start a blog or your own organization.
Knowledge is power. When you determine where to focus your efforts, be sure to learn everything you can about it —not just one side, but all the viewpoints. Things move quickly, and education is always the best offense in advancing positive change.
Live with love
The best way to create more love and peace in the world is to create more love and peace in your own heart. At the beginning of each day, set an intention to think and act from a place of love. Be kind and giving to others. Like attracts like.
There are plenty of people, animals and causes that could use your time, money, products or expertise. Sometimes you don’t have to look any farther than your own family and community. If you can help one person live a better life, you are changing the world. And, you’ll feel great doing it!
Live in gratitude
If you’re reading this, chances are you live in a country where violence is not the norm. Where water is safe to drink, freedom of speech is allowed, children are afforded an education, people of different faiths and religions coexist, and marriage is a personal choice. For all of that and so much more, be thankful.
Focus on the good
Don’t let the heinous acts of others overshadow all the good in the world. Spend time each day focusing on all that’s right and good in your family, community or the world. People have triumphed over wars, plagues and other tragedies. The have forgiven each other for hateful acts. They have not only survived, but also thrived in the face of adversity, sometimes for the better. Have faith in humankind. There is hope.
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Inspiring personal growth, professional success and positive change. Author of The Goddess of Happiness, Vita’s Will and Note to Self: Love (Book & Screenplay). Lover of food, fashion, fitness, funky music, dogs, dancing, cooking, laughter and anything Italian.