I’m no expert, but sometimes the world seems pretty crazy. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, so I had to do a few things to take care of myself. Here are some suggestions. They worked for me; maybe one will work for you.
1. Reach out.
Contact the people you know—your family, your friends—and talk to them. Don’t call to commiserate about how crazy the world seems or how bad things are. Call to check in on them. Call to let them know that you’re thinking about them. Tell them about something fun you have planned for the weekend. Tell them about the funny face your cat made this morning. Tell them about the band award your kid earned. Ask them about their kids. Ask them about their summer plans.
I followed my own advice by calling the aunt I hadn’t spoken to in a while. We caught up and connected. I emailed my other aunt, and we have plans to see each other in a few weeks. I went out to dinner with the Book Club Moms, and I had lunch with an old friend. Reaching out is good exercise.
2. Educate yourself.
Sometimes the world isn’t so scary if you find out some information. Do you find political science confusing? Do some reading about it—you can find textbooks at the library and scholarly articles online. Make your own interpretation of facts that you discover. How good is your background in history? Consider a class at your local community college. Are you like me, a person who was bored by history in high school, but now finds it fascinating and wishes desperately that she had paid attention? There are some pretty cool history books out there—not just my personal addiction, historical fiction set in World War II. I remember listening to the book on CD (oh boy am I dating myself) of “The People’s History of the United States” on a road trip many years ago. My 8-year-old daughter found it fascinating; my sister and I loved it because it was narrated by Matt Damon. Whatever it takes to get educated, the sacrifice is worth it.
I followed my own advice with this one by dragging out my economics and accounting books (not on CD.) I was only taking these classes three years ago, but the refresher was good for me. I found a nonfiction book that researches the role of ordinary German citizens in the Holocaust. It’s not pretty. But it is helpful in understanding the merge between the individual and collective mindset.
3. Take action.
Never underestimate the power of doing something, no matter how small. The truth is, nothing is insignificant. If you help someone cross the street, it’s important. Look around your world and take stock of what needs to be done and see if you can find a way to be part of the doing. Get vaccinated. Bring some toiletries to a homeless shelter. Campaign for a candidate you believe in. Attend a public meeting. Coach a team. Join a committee. Volunteer for an agency or organization that needs people with your skills. We all have something to contribute. When you take action, you stake a claim to the events of the world around you. A part of whatever happens next belongs to you. Take some positive action, and it will ripple out into the world, eventually impacting people you don’t even know. Maybe the world won’t feel so crazy.
Lately, my action has been speaking in high schools about suicide, and it’s probably helping me as much or more than the kids. If one kid feels better because of something I said, I’ll feel like I won the lottery!
Let’s keep this one short and sweet, shall we? Skipping a stone of positivity, improving the world one ripple at a time.